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Archive for the ‘Self Advocacy’ Category

From the Physician’s Desk … Weekly Blog!

Don’t forget to visit … http://www.LegacyEducators.org and click on “Cancer Information”

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is that time of year again, when American Cancer Society seeks our support. The Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk is being held in many cities throughout the United States. Have you joined a team and offer your financial support?

breast pinkThis could be a template for all other cancers. Imagine for a moment, if there is a walk for a specific cancer every 2 weeks…that would be awesome right?! Prostate Cancer, Colon Cancer, Gastric Cancer, Lung Cancer, Thyroid Cancer, Brain Cancer, etc.,… Imagine the societal impact and the health benefit for the participants too? A walk every 2 weeks…Why not? Just imagine…

Learn more about upcoming American Cancer Society Breast Cancer walk in your city, by clicking HERE and also see the videos below. Who knows, maybe you will see me at one of these walks…be sure to say hello! 🙂

ACS 2015

ACS Video

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Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit my website … www.LegacyEducators.org 

Your Family Friendly Doc … Dr McGann!  

See you next week…

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From the Physician’s Desk … Weekly Blog!

Don’t forget to visit … http://www.LegacyEducators.org and click on “Cancer Information”

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Last week we began on the topic of cancer recurrence. Usually, this is covered during workshops or one-on-one counseling sessions. This is an extensive and important topic for survivors.

It is difficult to address the fear of cancer recurrHopeence and give a definitive prescription on how to treat it. Every patient is different, and therefore, their needs in handling the tough topic of a cancer recurring will also be different. In order to individualize a patient’s care, the patient MUST be involved and willing to become their own advocate, though a love one may also be just as helpful.

  1. The Fear of the cancer coming back once treatment is complete, is absolutely normal.
  2. The Fear of cancer recurrence is usually link to one’s outlook on “Death and Dying”, so it is very important to openly discuss your thoughts about this topic (even if it is with yourself…first, to thine own self be true)
  3. Do not compare your treatment process with someone else’s or try to identify with someone else with a similar cancer (someone will always be doing better or and someone will always be worse)
  4. Be honest with yourself. Say out loud what your needs are…and then get it! Need a hug, need to laugh, need to cry, etc., These are normal range of emotions and needs. Don’t be afraid to fulfill them.
  5. Be ready and willing to let go of the fear. This will allow for healing and make the concerns and associated symptoms less traumatic each year. This too, takes time…
  6. Do not be afraid to seek help. Counseling and guidance from a professional, will ease the (perceived) burden of sharing with friends and family continually. It will also allow for venting, and provide personalized strategies on how best to handle anxiety, depression, etc., without repercussions.  Most cancer centers have such services available…please do ask!
  7. Know that your family and friends DO love and care for you. If they become tired, it is not just you. The care and concern for your well being also weighs heavily on them – in addition to work and other life stressors. Not communicating with them or not sharing, will not make their concern go away…it’s all a part of loving and caring for someone else.

hope-life-people-quotes-Favim.com-426177_largeThe Process: The process is rather extensive for this blog. However, I invite you to please take a moment to read and share this link from the American Cancer Society by clicking HEREThey did a great job of tackling different aspect of the fear of cancer recurrence.

Peace and Blessings!

 

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Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit my website … www.LegacyEducators.org 

Your Family Friendly Doc … Dr McGann!  

See you next week…

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From the Physician’s Desk … Weekly Blog!

Don’t forget to visit … http://www.LegacyEducators.org and click on “Cancer Information”

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A diagnosis of Cancer is a life changing event.

Once treatment is complete, the Fear of the Cancer Coming back (recurring)… is VERY common among cancer survivors…know that you are not alone.

recurrence1Many will attest that cancer diagnosis and treatment is (was) the most difficult thing to deal with.  HOWEVER, once the treatment is completed – surgery, months of chemotherapy, and weeks of radiation therapy, or a combination thereof – it is rather uncommon for a physician to use the other “C” word … Cure, because, the other “C” word would mean the cancer will never come back.

You see…no one can make such a guarantee. Oncologists (cancer doctors) truly does not know and cannot risk giving such a guarantee. Statistics can be given, but that too can be dangerous, as it truly depends on the patient’s personality. If the patients is an optimist (glass half full) then they will always think of being on the positive side of the equation, but if a pessimist (class half empty) then may be more self defeating.

Many patients live in ultimate dread of that post-treatment cancer evaluation/check-up. The mammogram for breast cancer, PSA’s for prostate cancer, colonoscopy for colon cancer, CT scans for lung cancer, the endoscope for head and neck cancer, the pelvic exam for gynecologic cancer, and so on, and so forth can be crippling. Patients often share that their thoughts include questions such as:

  • What if the cancer comes back?
  • What if I must go through those dreadful treatments again?
  • What if it becomes painful?
  • What if it comes back in a different area?
  • What if I ultimately die from this cancer?

New LifeSuch thoughts can be quite burdensome and may lead to heart palpitations, panic and anxiety attacks. These symptoms can occur days (and sometimes weeks/months) leading up to the follow-up appointments. Some patients may resort to living life to the fullest (sky diving, international travels, fulfilling bucket lists, etc.,) while others may abandon living (no plans for the future, no long term savings/retirement, depressed, etc..,). Both responses should be addressed.

While we can definitely do a better job at addressing the individual needs of each survivors… we are lacking the resources and staff. The Oncology community is working very hard to make a change. In the meantime, patients and their family can use an advocacy approach…how can they address their personal fear of cancer recurrence? What can they do to decrease some of the symptoms they are experiencing?

Stay tuned…next week we will review a few strategies to address some of the more common symptoms brought about by the Fear of Cancer Recurrence…

Consider the video below…more next week!

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Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit my website … www.LegacyEducators.org 

Your Family Friendly Doc … Dr McGann!  

See you next week…

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From the Physician’s Desk … Weekly Blog!

Don’t forget to visit … http://www.LegacyEducators.org and click on “Cancer Information”

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Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Americans and claimed ~160,000 precious lives in 2014. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has now mandated coverage for lung cancer screening and we are on the way to saving many lives! However, many “high risk” patients are not aware if their “risk” status and availability for lung cancer screening is available.

Should you have Lung Cancer Screening? You may be a candidate for lung cancer screening if you answer “YES” to ALL of the following:

  • Are you 55 to 74 years old?
  • Are you in fairly good health (no symptoms of disease)?
  • Do you have a long or heavy smoking history? (use this link HERE calculate packs per year smoking history- http://smokingpackyears.com/calculate)
  • Are you still smoking or have quit smoking within the last 15 years?

lung_anatomy_rizwan_nuraniThe National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) was a large clinical trial that looked at using a type of CT scan known as low-dose CT to screen for lung cancer. The cost for a low-dose CT scan as a screening test for lung cancer is generally about $300 for each test, but prices vary widely at different centers.

Medicare recently decided to cover the cost of lung cancer screening, but if you are privately insured ask if your insurer covers lung cancer screening – they just might!

If all of the criteria for lung cancer screening listed above was answered “YES”, then you and your doctor (or other health care provider) should talk about starting screening. I would encourage you to also discuss screening, even if only some of the criteria listed are met, especially if you are concerned. Discussion should include what you can expect from screening, possible benefits and harms, as well as the limitations of screening.

The main benefit is a lower chance of dying of lung cancer, which accounts for many deaths in current and former smokers.

CAN LUNG CANCER BE PREVENTED?

  • Not all lung cancers can be prevented, but there are some ways you can reduce your risk of getting lung cancer
  • The best way to reduce your risk of lung cancer is not to smoke and to avoid breathing in other people’s smoke
  • If you stop smoking before a cancer develops, your damaged lung tissue gradually starts to repair itself
  • No matter what your age or how long you’ve smoked, quitting may lower your risk of lung cancer and help you live longer
  • People who stop smoking before age 50 cut their risk of dying in the next 15 years in half compared with those who continue to smoke

After watching the videos below, you will know more about lung cancer and lung cancer screening than most. Take the time to become an advocate for yourself, family and your community!

Great Video: Learning About the Lungs and Lung Cancer

Is Lung Cancer Screening Right For You?

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Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit my website … www.LegacyEducators.org 

Your Family Friendly Doc … Dr McGann!  

See you next week…

Read Full Post »

From the Physician’s Desk … Weekly Blog!

Don’t forget to visit … http://www.LegacyEducators.org and click on “Cancer Information”

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It use to be that a cancer diagnosis lead to high mortality (death) rates and survivorship came at an extreme cost of post-surgical disfiguring features, neuropathy and other late effects from chemotherapy and radiation therapy as well.  With improved technology and clinical applications of (bench) research, many patients are surviving and doing much better than generation past. As survival continues to improve, quality of life, including fertility preservation has become increasing important to patients and their families.

fertility-preservation

Sperm Banking

I recently received my seasonal St. Jude magazine with the featured topic of preserving fertility. It was great to know that fertility preservation options are now being offered to children undergoing cancer treatments or those who are survivors.  Per their report, “…[it is] estimated that half of adolescent and young adult male cancer patients are at increased risk for infertility, with about 10% of female childhood cancer survivors having acute ovarian failure and an additional 15% entering menopause prematurely.”

fertility

Egg Harvesting

It was noted in their report, that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is currently the only hospital in the U.S. to cover the expense associated with harvesting and storing sperm and eggs until patients reach age 35. That policy eliminates one of the greatest barriers to fertility preservation for many childhood cancer patients:cost. This is GREAT news!

I remain and avid supporter of St. Judes Research Hospital!  Hope to be a visiting professor/clinician there one day. If you are looking for a charity to support, please consider St.Judes!

stjude1

 

 

Fertility Preservation for Young Women with Cancer

Fertility Preservation Options

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Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit my website … www.LegacyEducators.org 

Your Family Friendly Doc … Dr McGann!  

See you next week…

Read Full Post »

From the Physician’s Desk … Weekly Blog!

Don’t forget to visit … http://www.LegacyEducators.org and click on “Cancer Information”

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Survivor – An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted.

repairman with the tool on a white background. 3D image

Once cancer treatment is completed, patients transition from regular (daily, weekly, etc.,) healthcare provider’s attention, to follow-up regimen that is once every 3-4 months, twice/year or annually.  This may seem like an “unknown abyss” and some patient may even suffer a form of separation anxiety. What to do?

Patients are encouraged to become their own advocate. That includes, knowing follow-up guideline recommendations for your specific cancer. One size does not fit all! Ask your doctor to give you an idea of the follow-up plan for the next 2-5yrs…yes, you can ask for that. Many organization, including The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) provides an update and recommendations annually regarding follow-up.

advocacyWhat does SELF-ADVOCACY mean for a cancer survivor? Well, for starters, here is a list of things you should discuss with your doctor at the end of treatment and during follow-up appointments (not all listed below will apply, but should be tailored to be cancer site specific).

  1. Late Effects/Long-Term Psychosocial and Physical Problems – what should I expect? What symptoms should be reported?
  2. Anthracycline-Induced Cardiac Toxicity – Not all chemotherapy affects the heart, but will the chemotherapy used for me affect me heart 20-30yrs down the road? What can be done to lower the risk?
  3. Anxiety and Depression – What symptoms should be looked for and what signs should be reported?
  4. Cognitive Function – What changes should I expect? Is “chemo-brain” real?
  5. Fatigue – Is it associated with treatment? How long will it last?
  6. Talk with your Oncologist and ask questions!

    Pain – What pain level should be tolerable? Can over-the-counter pain meds suffice? Which ones can be taken?

  7. Sexual Function (female/male) – If viagra does not work, are there other options for ED? What can be used to increase sexual desire in a woman?
  8. Sleep Disorders – how do  know if my sleeping problems are associated with past cancer treatment? Will the treatment be any different?
  9. Preventive Health
  10. Healthy Lifestyles
  11. Physical Activity – What is considered low, moderate and intense activity? Any examples? Are there limitations?
  12. Nutrition and Weight Management
  13. Supplement Use – Any specific type to avoid?
  14. Immunizations and Infections – Any immunization that should be avoided?

Self-advocacy is a lot of work! BUT, it is your life..take charge of it!

 

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Remember …

Ipsa Scientia Potestas est    ———  Knowledge itself is power!

Don’t forget to visit my website … www.LegacyEducators.org 

Your Family Friendly Doc … Dr McGann!  

See you next week…

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