Tuesday, August 30, 2011

guest post: David Haas on the Benefits of Cancer Support Networks

Today's post features a guest post by David Haas who blogs as a cancer patient advocate on the Haas BlaagDavid's post talks about the many benefits of cancer support networks and includes several links to places where you can find support. On a personal level, I've found message boards, blogs and cancer sites a great place to sound off, seek comfort,  find hope, gain knowledge on treatment options, share advice and learn about new research. 

Thank's David!

Benefits Of Cancer Support Networks

Cancer is a hard, ugly disease. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis, painful symptoms, and aggressive treatment can take a huge toll on a person’s physical and emotional health. Whether someone is facing a treatable skin malignancy or a grim mesothelioma prognosis, it can be hard to cope with cancer alone.

The cancer experience is different for everyone, and no two cases are alike. But the common thread among cancer survivors is the need for a strong support system. No scientific evidence supports the claim that cancer support groups can extend survival time, according to the
American Cancer Society. But research suggests that support groups can enhance a person’s life quality.

Relationship And Rapport

While most patients have doctors, family members, and friends who support them, they can most benefit from the support of someone who has been there. Talking to other cancer patients offers a relationship that cannot be established with someone who has not gone through the cancer experience.

Cancer support groups provide the special relationships and rapport that patients need to cope with their disease. Group members can exchange firsthand advice, suggestions, and tips that doctors and supportive loved ones simply cannot share.

Hope And Optimism

Talking with someone who survived cancer to live a healthy, vibrant life offers hope. It helps patients feel more optimistic during treatment and recovery. Support group members describe their discussions with cancer survivors as encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring.

Anonymity And Honesty

Community support networks meet in hospitals, schools, churches, community centers, and homes. They are ideal for becoming more involved within the local cancer community. On the other hand, online support groups offer unique benefits that in-person groups cannot provide. People with cancer often prefer online networks over face-to-face groups. Online cancer support takes the form of blog posts, discussion forums, message boards, and chat rooms populated by cancer patients and survivors.

Since the Internet is an anonymous venue, many people with cancer prefer this type of support. Anonymity enables people to get comfortable enough to share their feelings honestly and openly. The Internet also requires writing, and the process of writing about cancer is an excellent therapeutic tool.

Cancer support groups are ideal for people with any type of cancer including colon cancer, rare aggressive diseases like
mesothelioma, breast cancer, or other malignancies. Not only do these groups teach valuable coping skills, but they also provide some emotional stability for those struggling in an unsteady world of cancer.  Below is a list of some great online cancer support groups:

By: David Haas

Thursday, August 25, 2011

shaken up

I got a text yesterday from wt saying she "felt" it but everything was fine. She's in NY and felt the VA quake. Then last nite we felt one here in CA and felt another one just a few minutes ago. I know a lot of west coasters are making fun of the panic on the east coast because we are used to tremors but c'mon, they are scary! Yeah, I am not a true west coaster having only lived here about 6 years out of my life. I also feel very vunerable right now with the broken leg. Although I finally started walking yesterday without the aide of crutches I still can't get around very well and still need the crutches outside on my hilly street. As I cower under the door jamb, I am reminded that we have no evacuation plan. We've got no emergency cash on hand, our important papers are scattered around, not much extra water, medicine all over the place. I need to at least put together a grab bag of extra diabetic supplies which is easy enough to do since I order everything in a 90 day supply. I can't live without that junk and big quakes and fires have happened here so best be ready.

The past few weeks I've been shaken up on another level. I had my annual eye exam with dilation. This is where they check my eyes for diabetic changes among other things. I've had some retinopothy in the past. Not a great thing to have but nothing too serious and as my eye doc said, it would be unusual for someone who's had diabetes for 26 years not to have some problems. But this time they saw something that looked a little worse. A possible neovascularization. This is when the eye starts making new blood vessels because it isn't getting enough oxygen. The problem is that the new vessels are weaker and can leak and damage the retina and cause blindness. So they wanted me to follow up with another doc in 6 weeks. I only waited 3 weeks cuz I was so scared. Blindness is my biggest fear and something that always lurks in the back of my mind. The doc told me today that not all diabetics get serious problems. Maybe 1 in 10. I'm not sure if that statistic is proven but it does give me some hope. The great news is that my eye problems are not advanced. I'm still in the watch and see phase. Keep my blood glucose in tight control and this spot may dry up on its own. So I'll go back in 6 months and have it checked again. And in the meantime, I have to step up my game. I already do the right thing by checking my sugars several times a day and never skipping a shot but now I have to make some sacrifices. Clean up some bad eating habits, log my carbs and glucose numbers, work on consistency and maybe even make the move to an insulin pump. Lots of hard work but I'm too young to lose my eyes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

life in the slow lane

It's been over two weeks now since I broke my leg and nothing much has changed since my last post. My ass is still sore and I'm still bored. I think boredom is relative. Once school starts again and my leg is healed enough to go back to work, I'm sure I'll long for these care free days of being a couch potato! I do have some productive things I could be working on but instead I watch garbage tv all day, play computer games, surf the web, watch movies and netflix streaming, play with my legos (thanks wt) and read.

I do manage to get out on occasion for some fun, thanks to the wheelchair provided by my insurance and my loving driver, dw:) Did she once write a guest post saying that I wasn't good at asking for help?! My how times have changed! This will be the 1st time ever in her almost 40 year existence that she will be happy when summer "vacation" is over!

Since I've been on the crutches and in the wheelchair, I've learned some stuff. Like people are pretty decent. Lots of them give me smiles and rush to get the door or give me some words of encouragement. I've even been prayed for twice. One man said "Dear Lord, please heal this guy's leg." Uh, thanks? Can't get too upset with that since I was disguised as a guy in my hat, shades and unbumpy chest.

I am lucky in that being stuck in a chair is temporary. While we have scored a couple of nice parking spots because of the leg, it is not an easy life for those with permanent challenges. Yes, the stores and restaurants have to have a handicapped bathroom but try squeezing through a crowded cafe to get to it in a wheelchair. And try getting through some heavy doors on your crutches when there is no magic button that will open them for you. Try getting around in the hills of oakland or streets of san francisco. I won't even try that! It's kind of scary being pushed around in a chair. Now I know how one of my residents felt when she said "I feel like I'm in a horse race." She wanted me to slow down when I was pushing her chair. The world moves fast when you're on oxy!

It hasn't been all bad. DW and I have never had this much time together before. She's by my side almost 24/7 and we are still on excellent speaking terms. She has been so patient with me and I haven't acted too badly, mostly. We look forward to watching ellen reruns every day at 4 and just laughed our asses off at the halloween episode of modern family.