Monday, March 25, 2013

The Day That Changed My Life - Myelodysplastic Syndrome

Early last fall, I was elated to be among the attendees at the M.D. Anderson Moon Shots Program Announcement. This announcement still brings a sense of excitement as I recall how they spoke of the cancers that they were focusing on, one in particular stands out - myelodysplastic syndrome.

Myelodysplastic syndrome occurs when the blood-forming cells in the bone marrow are not making healthy blood cells, they are damaged an ineffective to maintain good health. As a result, it may lower the red blood cells, the white blood cells or the platelets. This form of cancer was once referred to as acute myeloid leukemia. However, due to it's distinct effect, it now stands on its own as myeloidysplastic syndrome (MDS).

Although I did not speak personally with Holly Easley, I saw her at the event. Holly is a myeloidysplactic syndrome survivor. She is vibrant with a great style of her own and as a survivor, she wore it well.

For a familiar face, we feature Good Morning America's Robin Roberts who shares her journey with MDS. Battling cancer for the second time was no easy feat. In fact, many were wondering if she would be able to make it through. Thankfully, Ms. Roberts was willing to share her journey with us and in doing so, she not only inspired others, it brought attention to the disease. According to ABC News, bone marrow donors have increased. Be sure to listen to her incredible journey.

While each journey is unique, we all share a common theme - cancer changes our lives forever.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Day That Changed My Life - When Cancer Shows Up

It's never a good time to be diagnosed with cancer. When cancer shows up, it is not welcomed with a sigh of relief. No one exclaims "Great, I was wondering what took you so long." It is one of the most feared diagnosis that one dreads. After the shock settles in, the next step is the journey of the unknown. Will I make it through this? The hope of surviving is very strong.

Survivors are a unique group of people who have endured a major challenge yet somehow, they were able to overcome and achieve a promising future. This week we found some couples who share their journeys with kidney cancer. Listen as Laura Campbell explores the symptoms that she ignored; then there is couple from Poland who were living the American Dream, enjoying their life and accomplishing their goals when they learned that kidney cancer had now come in to shake up their happy lives.

While each journey is unique, we all share a common theme - cancer changes our lives forever.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Day That Changed My Life - Metastatic Cancer Survivor Retreat

A cancer diagnosis goes well beyond the person who is most affected by the disease, it extends to the family and friends. We must also take a moment to give thanks to those who are always trying to find ways to help others who are facing the disease. This week we found a couples retreat for metastatic breast cancer survivors and thought that this would be great to share with you. Listen to the attendees as they share their journey with us.

While each journey is unique, we all share a common theme - cancer changes our lives forever.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Day That Changed My Life - Facing The End of Life

Whenever we hear the news of a famous person facing a terminal illness or any disease, we all extend our love and support. The gift of empathy is a wonderful quality of human beings. As we are all aware, many people are diagnosed with cancer on a daily basis. In fact, someone is hearing those words of a cancer diagnosis right now. The time to say good byes, trying not to focus on death but doing your best to enjoy each day, catching up with everyone you love just to let them know that you love them, crying, putting on a brave face, questioning God, being grateful for the good times, etc. are just a mixture of what occurs with a cancer patient. Today, I was one of those who was touched by the news that Valarie Harper was diagnosed with a terminal cancer which is reported to be in the final stage with a life expectancy of three months. The specific diagnosis is called leptomeningeal carcinomatosis which has affected her brain.

Leptomeningeal carcinomatosis sounds quite scary and however, this disorder is being diagnosed with increasing frequency as patients live longer and as neuro-imaging studies improve. The most common cancers to involve the leptomeninges are breast cancer, lung cancer, and melanomas.Early diagnosis and therapy is critical to preserving neurologic function. Radiation therapy to symptomatic sites and disease visible on neuroimaging studies and intrathecal chemotherapy increases the median survival to 3-6 months. Without treatment, the median survival of patients with this disorder is 4-6 weeks and death occurs from progressive neurologic dysfunction.

A diagnosis of a terminal stage of cancer is very difficult for someone to hear, it is equally difficult for a health care practitioner to deliver. It does not matter how many times the doctor have told a patient that there is nothing more that can be done, each one is a sober reminder that someone is dying and this will not only affect the patient but all who are connected to this person. Our thoughts and prayers are with Valerie Harper, her family and friends. We also pray for all those who are facing cancer on any level.

While each journey is unique, we all share a common theme - cancer changes our lives forever.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Day That Changed My Life - Melissa's Journey

Sometimes it seems like all is well, except a nagging pain that only gets worse. A trip to the hospital and a series of tests reveals that there is a lot more going on. However, it is the diagnosis that scares everyone the most - hearing those words that you have lung cancer and it has spread through your bones is out right frightening. A journey that must be shared with you comes from Melissa Waller. Melissa shares her journey and you can see the courage and hope as she faces lung cancer.

While each journey is unique, we all share a common theme - cancer changes our lives forever.

Learn more of Melissa's journey - The Spirited Warrior