Cancer Blog

Here's our collection of cancer-related stories. We sift through a variety of stories and share the issues that we think matter to cancer patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and survivors. Learn about current events in the cancer community, human interest stories, and promising technology and treatment advances. Tell us what you think in the Comments section at the bottom of each post.

Note: The information contained in this service is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in the service is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment of any illness, condition or disease.



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Ask Peggy Kessler Your Questions

by Dana Demas

Do you have questions about cancer? Peggy Kessler was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. Today, she is celebrating 10 years as a survivor. Peggy wants to share her journey and answer your questions. 

You may have seen Peggy Kessler on TV over the years. She sought a second opinion on the advice of her family. The hospital she treated at, Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), has followed her story online and in commercials for several years. Now, they are asking for your questions. Peggy will provide her responses in a new set of videos. 

Whether you’re a survivor or a caregiver, Peggy is a great resource for support and advice. Ask Peggy a question about her cancer journey, and she’ll be back to answer 10 questions in honor of 10 years.



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A Gratitude Journal: Simple and Powerful

by Dana Demas

“It’s only possible to live happily ever after on a daily basis.” –Margaret Bonanno

Small changes can make a big difference in your outlook. 

I used to be an avid journal writer. I wrote about boys, school, work and all of the smaller day to day stuff. The problem with journaling was, I tended to focus more on the things that were bothering me or confusing me, instead of on all of the good in my life.

I started a Gratitude Journal after losing my dad and a tough break-up the following year. I didn’t have the energy for writing long journal entries after losing two such important people in my life, and I suspect that many people dealing with cancer feel the same weariness. 

A Gratitude Journal is simple – you write down a few things that you are grateful for that day – and it helps us to remember the positive, especially when it seems like there are only problems at our doorstep. 

Here are a few tips for starting a gratitude journal. Just do it. I promise you will find it to be a great comfort:

1. Choose a Journal and keep it by your bed. I bought a simple moleskine journal and I keep it on my nightstand, along with a pile of books and magazines, so it’s always easy to find. 

2. Write when you want to, but at least once a week. This is supposed to be enjoyable, so write when it feels right, with the idea of making the practice a part of your life. You will probably find that once you get started you will naturally write often and your thoughts won’t feel forced. 

3. Keep it simple. I write simple, quick lists of a few items without too much explanation. Again, the idea is to capture happiness and not feel like the journal is a chore. 

4. Be specific. And while brevity is great, include details so the memories come alive (and to avoid repetition). One of the benefits of a Gratitude Journal is flipping through it later to remember good times in the past – especially the small moments that may not have been remembered otherwise. 

5. Be grateful. Remember that the journal is a place for gratitude. Talk about difficult parts of your life, but do it in a positive way. Transform your thinking to realize you are strong enough to handle life’s curveballs.

If you prefer an electronic journal, HappyTapper makes an iPhone app that collects your daily writing. Even better, the web-based HappyRambles emails you each day to share what you are grateful for. Your entries are stored in a secure online gratitude journal.



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Life Lessons Re-Learned: Fighting Cancer with the Bobblehead Dad: CNCA Guest Blog

by Dana Demas

You may have seen them decorating the desks of sports-obsessed co-workers or mounted on the dashboards of restored automobiles at classic car shows. Whether it's old school baseball or football players or miniature animals with oversized wobbling heads, there's something unsettling about the bobblehead doll.

Is it the petrified smiles on their oversized faces? Can it be those eyes with stony gazes that never waver, and appear to look right through you?

Little did Chicagoan Jim Higley know the bobblehead collecting gene he "inherited" from his four older brothers as a young boy would become so ingrained thirtysomething years later. The quintessential worker bee, Jim was so completely immersed in a never-ending loop of commuting, work, single-parenting and, generally, too many responsibilities that, frankly, existing was all he knew.

Sound familiar?

Who knew a randomly checked box on a lab worksheet, perhaps by mistake, during an annual physical would lead to a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test that no one expected to be a problem until it was, and soon shatter Jim's bobbleheaded life forever.

It was during the summer of 2005 that Jim rediscovered his humanity and re-learned many of the lessons he shares in his debut book, Bobblehead Dad: 25 Life Lessons I Forgot I Knew, a wonderful memoir just published by Greenleaf Book Group Press.

Learn a little more about Jim and his life as a single parent of three kids and cancer survivor by watching this YouTube video and perusing this latest CNCA interview with our favorite Bobblehead Dad.

Continue reading>>




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Prostate Cancer: Which Treatment Option Is Right for You?

by Dana Demas

When is radiation therapy or surgery the right treatment option for prostate cancer? Both treatments provide benefits and risks that may make one a better choice than another. Age is the strongest risk factor for prostate cancer, and often plays a key role in choosing between surgery and radiation. See a quick round-up of the pros and cons below, then ask an expert your questions about prostate cancer treatment.

Radiation Therapy

  • Typically requires several weeks of treatment.
  • New technology delivers radiation to the prostate, with better accuracy, minimizing side effects and toxicity.
  • Common side effects may include: skin sensitivity in the area that is treated, diarrhea, and an increase in the frequency or urgency of urination.

Prostatectomy (Surgery)

  • Typically return home in one day.
  • Minimally invasive, but with slight risks of general surgery.
  • Significant risk of incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Most men take 6-12 months to recover erectile function, if a nerve-sparing prostatectomy was performed.

Have more questions about prostate cancer? Ask urologist, Dr. Larry Bans, and radiation oncologist, Dr. Lanceford Chong, during a special webinar hosted by Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Submit a question and they will be back next week to answer them.




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Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Q&A

by Dana Demas

Do you have questions about triple-negative breast cancer?

Ask medical oncologist, Dr. Dennis Citrin, about the unique challenges of this type of breast cancer and emerging research on new treatment options. 

Post your questions in the Comments section. Dr. Citrin will provide answers in the winter issue of Cancer Fighters Thrive™ magazine, available October 1 here or through a free subscription.

About Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Triple-negative breast cancers are not fueled by estrogen, progesterone or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).  Because of this, traditional breast cancer treatments such as Tamoxifen and Herceptin are not effective. Treatment options include chemotherapy, targeted therapy and surgery. About 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers are triple-negative.


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