Archives for category: Cancer

cancerFamilies are in the trenches fighting cancer every day. If cancer hasn’t crossed your path,
whether directly or through a loved one, consider yourself lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, I’m going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.

Do. Don’t ask.

It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting – just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.

Gift cards go a long way.

Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate is a perfect way to care for the care givers or the individual.

Remember the siblings.

Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give them someone of equal to the sibling and include them.

Show up

Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.

It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present.  Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.

These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.

Advertisements

We live in the Skin Cancer Capital and Summer is right around the corner and where there is more sun, there is often more skin exposure. May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and we are going to look at some ways you can prevent and detect skin cancer.

Dont be the onePREVENT

Cover up with clothes and sunscreen.

As a rule of thumb, cover up as much as possible. Be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses. Use broad spectrum (UVA/B) sunblock with SPF 15 or higher every day. If you’ll be active outdoors, opt for a water-resistant, UVA or UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. (Sunscreens should be used on babies over six months of age.)

Did you know there is even UV protecting clothing?

  1. Solumbra 100% UV Protection
  2. Coolibar UPF 50+
  3. REI High UV Protection
  4. Columbia Omni-Shade

Avoid harsh sun and tanning.

Avoid getting a sunburned at all costs. Skip the tanning and never use UV tanning beds. The sun is strongest between 10AM and 4PM, so try to avoid the sun during these hours and find some shade. Make sure to keep newborns out of the sun.

DETECT

Perform a head-to-toe self exam.

abcde-of-melanomaThe Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone practices a self examination every month.  Skin cancers found and removed early are, more often than not, curable. You may find having a doctor perform the initial examination will help assure you that any existing spots, moles or freckles are totally normal and treat any that aren’t. After that a routine self exam shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.

 

Get your partner involved.

In addition to seeing your physician annually for a professional skin exam, have your partner keep an eye out for any changes in your skin. Sometimes they see parts of our bodies that we don’t see everyday (like the small of our back or behind your neck). Have a discussion about the importance of paying attention to changes in your skin and make sure you return the favor by keeping an eye on any changes on their skin. Several of the Dermatologists in the area offer free screenings. 

Get regular massages.

First, you should know, it’s not up to your massage therapist to check you for signs of cancer, but it definitely can’t hurt having an extra set of eyes on you! When you are a receiving regular massages, your massage therapist will become familiar with your body and all the little markings that go with it. Sometimes, a massage therapist is a first line of defense since they will notice if a birthmark, freckle, or mole has changed size or shape.  I can’t tell you how many times a week I ask a client about a mole or weirdness, not just because I’m concerned, but to help you become more aware of your body if you aren’t already. I can’t diagnose, but I will let you know if I see something “different”. 

Prevention is only half the battle. And hopefully it’s the only battle you will ever face. If you should happen to find yourself in a different battle, the early detection of skin cancer is paramount. The sooner you catch it, the better your chances are of beating it.

Enjoy your summer, but remember to protect yourself from the sun and bring ANYTHING suspicious to your doctor immediately.

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and while there may be some controversy around wearing pink, we are making this month about YOU, whether you have breast cancer or not. (Men, I’m looking at you too.)

Cancer isn’t predictable and it isn’t pretty, but here are a few simple ways to take care of yourself and honor your breasts.

Lead by Example

Perform monthly self breast exams, get knowledgeable about your body, practice self breast-massage, (Don’t know how, ASK ME! and I can guide you!) and schedule regular mammograms. Make sure you schedule a clinical breast exam with your primary care physician, too. Set a good example for the loved ones around you by incorporating healthy practices. This can include, starting a garden, eating as organic as possible, exercising regularly, and packing healthy lunches for your kids.

breast-cancer-2-RGB-296x300

Talk to Your Family and Friends

Teach your children about self care and good breast health. Tell them about the health risks that come with smoking and alcohol. Talk with your kids, siblings, parents and grandparents about your family’s health history. Consider talking to your sister, mom, or best friend about getting a mammogram – or go together!

Give a Meaningful Gift

Go out of your way to show someone you care. If someone close to you is struggling with cancer, offer to get their groceries, bake them a casserole, take them to a doctor’s appointment, or just be there for them when they need it. A gift doesn’t have to involve money or the purchase of a material item. A sentimental trinket is nice, but having compassion and showing care for someone going through something really difficult is worth so much more.

Get Involved

Consider raising money for a good cause, attending a local event, or starting your own fundraiser during the month of October. Plan a breast health workshop or class in your school, organization, or community. Get involved and make a difference.

Take Care of Yourself

Put in the effort to take care of yourself and this goes beyond eating right. Of course, it’s good to avoid processed foods, but also make sure you are exercising and curbing any habits that negatively affect your health. Replace them with good ones. Turn your 10 minute smoke break into a 10 minute walk break. Avoid staying up to late and try hitting the sack even 20 minutes earlier. Change your monthly Girl’s Night into a Girl’s Spa Day and get massages.

Breast-Massage
It’s all about little changes to make small steps toward health. Breast health goes beyond routine breast exams, it starts with the food you eat and getting outdoors to everything in between.