Life After CancerThere is no experience like being told you have cancer and very few people can relate to what you are feeling at the time of the diagnosis. The speed and seriousness of the illness require swift and direct action, and can leave you feeling lost, confused, and scared. Joining a support group is an important step during and after your treatment.Cancer support groups are available in hospitals, community centers, and online. Through these groups, you can connect with others who have been through what you’re going through, who understand your fears and concerns and can tell you what to expect. You can receive counseling, which, whether private or in a group setting, has been shown to improve both quality of life during treatment and, in some cases, improve the prognosis. Having the opportunity to speak or write freely about your fears and concerns reduces the risk of feeling depressed and isolated during your treatment. Connecting with, supporting, and receiving support from others can give you feelings of empowerment and control when so much of your life feels out of control because of your illness.Several resources available online can point you to a group in your area. Cancer Support Community provides general information for you to take an immediate and active role in your treatment. Through CSC, you can find support for both you and those around you who are reeling from the diagnosis. You can connect with a local support center through CSC’s Gilda’s Club, which has affiliates throughout the US and Canada, or join the online support network provided. There are also online support groups for specific types of cancer, from Mesothelioma to Breast Cancer to Thyroid Cancer.Joining a support group can provide you and those close to you with valuable information and connect you with a community of people who will be with you through your journey and in to recovery. You don’t have to feel alone.By: David Haas
Monday, October 17, 2011
Guest Posts/Special Topics
Hey guys, so I've decided to give this blog one more feature by adding a guest posts (health care professionals) section as well as a helpful resources and "blogs I think are helpful" area. They will both exist in this post (EDIT: blogs I like/resources were moved to a separate post) which will periodically be updated as submissions come in. If you'd like an article you wrote or a study you need BEP patients or TC patients for, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with what you have in mind. I'm really open to ideas but realize I will not post overly "general" cancer tip articles up here because those are available... all over the internet lol. I know ovarian cancer can also have a BEP regimen and though I know almost nothing about ovarian cancer, I'll gladly work with you to post ovarian cancer patient oriented articles since it's possible they could come by this site (it's #4 on google if you search "bep chemo cycle" and #'s 1 2 and 3 for "bep chemo blog"). Note, I'll also post my opinions of an article underneath the article.
order of posts for easy finding:
Guest Post #1: Life After Cancer by David Haas
Guest Post #2: Exercise and a BEP Regimen by Trevor Bradshaw
Special Topic #1: Medicinal Marijuana and the BEP Patient
Guest Post #1
This article was sent to me by Mr. David Haas who is a Family Hospitality Coordinator and an advocate for cancer patients:
My Review: I very much agree with the message that Mr. Haas is conveying, that support groups are very beneficial towards mental, physical, and emotional well-being during treatment and even after you're on surveillance (which I'm coming to realize is nerve-racking, first surveillance CT is tomorrow). There are two types of support groups: ones made of cancer patients centralized around cancer in general (or a specific cancer type) and ones made of friends and families centralized around the patient (mine's team RaubStrong, complete with blue glow in the dark wristbands that we all wear at our new college homes across the country!). Both are very important because the one's based around cancer allow you to keep up to date on medical terminology and help you be knowledgeable about your cancer but can also provide some emotional relief. The personal support group is more emotional and mental but for obvious reasons, they're not as likely to be knowledgeable about the details of your cancer and have an in depth conversation with you about various aspects of your treatment.
TC patients get jipped a little with the Cancer support groups thing... The fact is, there are only 6000-7000 of us diagnosed around the world every year as opposed to the 180,000 breast cancer diagnoses and 217,000 prostate cancer diagnoses annually. What we do have are online support groups, MacMillan has a great testicular cancer support group/forum (as well as a general community) and obviously there's the forum that I personally find most helpful, the one on tc-cancer.com. General cancer support groups are always a great option but it was never really my thing.. TC's kind of odd in that it's a young man's disease. The average age at the general cancer support groups tends to be a little over the age of people I relate to. I've been to one though once and they were all very nice! Overall, in my opinion every TC patient should ideally have two groups, one filled with friends who know very little about your cancer who just want to hang out (and can provide an escape) as well as a group very knowledgeable (preferably other patients) who can give you tips on how to cope as well as answer questions and even turn you to the right people!
Guest Post #2
This article was sent to me by avid cancer advocate, Mr. Trevor Bradshaw about exercise during a BEP Regimen.
Exercise and a BEP Regimen
A BEP Chemo regimen is not a pleasant experience- there’s no way around it. At its heart it’s a grueling, miserable process centered around lying around or standing at a bed for hours on end while poison shoots into your veins and it often leaves patients depleted and exhausted both mentally and physically. With that in mind it may seem as though physical exercise would be the last thing anyone undergoing a BEP regimen would want to undertake- but it’s actually one of the most important keys (along with drinking A LOT of water) to getting through the experience as easily as possible. No one would expect a chemo patient to go out and start lifting weights like Arnold Schwarzenegger and it wouldn’t be healthy either, but a moderate, low intensity workout absolutely is. Here’s a few that are highly recommended:
WalkingWalking (or jogging if you feel up to it) is a great exercise for a handful of reasons- chiefly among them that it’s remarkably effectively form of cardiovascular exercise, which is perfect not only for getting your blood pumping but also for helping to fight off the increased risk of blood clots due to vein thombrosis. A good trick is to either use a treadmill with a heart rate monitor or get a wristwatch style one and try and keep your heart rate at about 50-60% of your maximum heart rate. Jogging has also been reported to alleviate stress, anxiety, and naseau all of which are nagging side-effects of chemo treatment. Walking or jogging can be more dangerous for testicular cancer patients than ovarian cancer patients as vigorous running has been known to cause testicular pain in some TC patients, but remember- this should be a very low intensity work-out. The other great thing about walking and jogging is that it gives you a chance to head outside for a little bit and get away from that bed!
SwimmingSimilar to walking, swimming is a great exercise to combat the effects of BEP primarily because it’s a full-body cardiovascular exercise, but swimming also is a noted form of strength training as well. Because swimming is one of the gentlest forms of strength training there is it’s often recommended for BEP patients with five day regimens to combat the larger amounts of sitting, standing, and laying around. Just like walking a low intensity swim can ease naseau, relieve anxiety, and increase stamina. Additionally, ovarian cancer patients with acute pelvic pain sometimes report that the buoyancy of the water can alleviate the agony.
Yoga, another gentle, low intensity workout may be the best exercise to fight the affects of BEP chemo. Yoga has been proven to have a significant positive effect for cancer patients, decreasing fatigue, depression, anxiety, pain, and nausea. The best part is you can practice many yoga positions anywhere- including while you receive your treatment! For example in the Savsana pose you lay on your back with your legs slightly apart and your arm slightly away from your body, palm upwards. You should keep your head from tilting backwards (you can use a blanket under your head if you need it), and alternating breathing slowly through each nostril. The key to the pose is to be comfortable and lie quietly without straining for as long as possible.
All in all there’s no doubt that moderate exercise is an integral part of getting through a grueling BEP regimen. For whatever cancer- from testicular cancer to ovarian cancer to testicular mesothelioma- BEP is a tough love treatment that leaves you feeling drained and exhausted. But exhaustion related to chemotherapy is radically different than normal exhaustion, as anyone who has undergone BEP can attest to; sleep and rest don’t make you feel refreshed. Instead the best way to boost your energy, as paradoxical as it may sound, is exercise.
My thoughts: I definitely found this guest post very interesting (we all know I'm a bit of a health nut). I completely agree with what Mr. Bradshaw has to say, that being that BEP chemo patients should seek out low stress physical activities that are not too taxing cardiovascular-ly. So a couple things I'd like to add on/explain/you-get-the-idea.
1. "Vein thrombosis", what is it? Vein thrombosis is the formation of blood clots in our arteries. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is the most commonly experienced form of vein thrombosis. It occurs in deep veins, most commonly in the leg. These blood clots occur due to a lack of activity on the person's behalf, causing the clot to have the time to form as the blood flow "settles". These clots, if left untreated can result in pulmonary embolisms as they can become dislodged from their original location and travel through the artery up to the lung (for those of you who've never heard the term pulmonary embolism... it's not a good thing to have). Hence why continual movement is very important, it prevents the blood from settling.
2. Swimming: though swimming is a great form of exercise, there is one thing to be very careful of; any bacteria in the pool. This is because as a chemo patient, you are immuno-supressed and thus more susceptible to getting nasty skin infections and other conditions from being in a pool because your body cannot fight off these bacteria like it normally could.
Special Topic #1
Alright so this one's just by me but I think it's an important and very controversial topic that has not yet been addressed on this blog. What is it you may ask? The use of medicinal marijuana during BEP chemotherapy, for TC patients in general, as well as cancer patients in general (surprisingly, each has it's own answer!)
To preface this statement: I am not a marijuana user nor have I ever used marijuana for recreational nor medicinal purposes. The sources I am drawing my information from include the tc cancer forum (reference the resources section) and educational websites with solid reputability.
For cancer patients in general: For cancer patients in general who struggle with appetite as well as pain during chemotherapy, yes I do feel that the use of medicinal marijuana is permissible to 1. increase the appetite of the individual preventing weight loss (which could delay and/or throw off a treatment schedule) and 2. ease pain (because nobody should have to be in pain if there are no consequences to their easing their pain.)
Pretty straightforward? Here's where it starts to get tricky..
For TC patients in general: In my opinion TC patients in general (regardless of what treatment they are receiving) should not under any circumstances use marijuana or any other cannaboid. Why? Because Marijuana indirectly affects one's HCG count through chemical reactions in the body and can raise it. What does this mean? As TC patients (and survivors), many of us live by our HCG counts. A high HCG count means a relapse (or can keep you from getting an all clear) even if no tumors are visible throughout any of your scans (the cells may not be densely grouped together enough to show). If using marijuana, doctors may not be able to distinguish whether or not you actually have cancer, and may choose to err on the safe side and prescribe more treatment for you. Long story short, marijuana usage can GET IN THE WAY OF YOUR TREATMENT. This is, in my humble opinion, a good enough reason to avoid using marijuana for medicinal purposes, especially when so many other options are available. (Stanford Medicine, Cancer diagnosis. To see "HCG" scroll down)
For BEP patients: Same story as TC patients except one more thing(for you ovarian cancer patients out there): Bleomycin kills your lung capacity, that's why your doctor may even have you take a Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) before/after your treatment to see if your lungs are still in semi-decent condition. Inhaling smoke would not help that. I am not suggesting that one can get lung cancer from marijuana smoke, just that smoke is not good for the lungs and that since you're already taking bleomycin, why cause your lungs more stress? To the idea of consuming marijuana in the form of edibles and/or by use of a vaporizer, my concerns over a false positive for TC patients still stand.
Anyways, these are just opinions on the proper course of action based upon research as well as experience. If you are consulting the use of marijuana to ease nausea/pain, please have a serious discussion with your doctor before proceeding. (In the US at least) Marijuana is a controlled substance (except for medicinal use in a couple states but the federal government actually has authority over the domain of drugs so instead of answering to the state police, it's the DEA which may come knock on your door.) and should not be consumed without consideration of all possible consequences.
~ Raub Dakwale
Posted by Underdog4life at 9:25 PM