Xiomara and Jaeden’s Story of Help and Hope

July 17, 2014

Xiomara, 46, had never been affected by cancer until her son Jaeden was suddenly diagnosed at age three with ependymoma, a rare type of brain tumor.

“No one in my family had ever had cancer. When you hear about it, it is totally different than when it actually hits your family – especially a toddler,” she explains.

In 2010, Xiomara noticed that Jaeden began frequently stumbling and falling. “One day he was playing on the floor and he looked up at me and his eyes crossed. I thought it was kind of strange. I told myself, now I’m going to look into this and took him to the pediatrician.”

After Jaeden received an MRI, the doctor called to deliver the news. “He kept saying ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’ When he said the word cancer, I was stunned. He asked me to write down these phone numbers, but I couldn’t write. It is a feeling you just can’t describe. It hits you.”

Jaeden was quickly scheduled for surgery to remove the tumor and spent the following two weeks in the intensive care unit. “It was nerve-racking. My sister came to the hospital and waited 16 hours during the surgery with me. Waiting, waiting and waiting. It was hard on my other two children. My first son couldn’t walk into the room because of the tubes and bandages.”

As part of his treatment plan, Jaeden was transferred to a rehabilitation unit and underwent six weeks of radiation. He also had eye surgery and began outpatient therapy. He will most likely undergo eye surgery in the near future and continues weekly therapy.

Since Jaeden’s diagnosis, Xiomara has received financial assistance through a partnership between CancerCare and The Lavelle Fund. This fund supports programs that help people who are blind and visually impaired lead independent, productive lives.

Jaeden celebrating his seventh birthday

“CancerCare helped me out with medical bills that I had to pay, along with the transportation to vision therapy. If it wasn’t for that I don’t know what I would have done. I’m still struggling as a single parent, but they have helped and I’m very grateful.”

Now seven years old, Jaeden is thriving at school and summer camp. “I’m grateful to know that his tumor is out and that he’s doing as well as he is right now,” says Xiomara. “He’s walking, he’s talking. I still think about it and am still nervous about it. That’s my little angel. He’s a strong little boy.”

 


Understanding Palliative Care

July 11, 2014

Did you know that palliative care helps people at any age and any stage of cancer? Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing you with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness like cancer.

The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both you and your family. You can receive it along with your curative treatment. The palliative care team of doctors, nurses, social workers and other specialists will work together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support.

To get palliative care, ask your doctor for a referral. CancerCare has resources to help you learn more about palliative care and you can also visit Get Palliative Care for additional information.

 


Coping with Lung Cancer: Arlene’s Story

May 27, 2014

Arlene visiting the CancerCare Wig Clinic

During a routine annual check-up with her physician, Arlene C. learned that after 15 years in remission, her lung cancer had returned. “The cancer had come back – an aggressive one. Surgery and chemo. That’s when it all began,” shared Arlene.

Arlene knew that chemo meant she would likely lose her hair and she wanted to prepare herself for the physical change and the accompanying emotions she might experience. Her daughter-in-law mentioned that CancerCare had resources that could help.

After making an appointment at the New York City-based CancerCare Wig Clinic, Arlene and a friend met with an oncology social worker to discuss her treatment and the challenges she was facing. She was also fitted for her new wig and given a care package to help her through the next few months.

“I went to CancerCare and was treated royally,” said Arlene. “I was expecting the hair loss, but it was still a shock to my system. But I didn’t make myself or anyone else nuts over it and, before I turned around, I had hair again.”

Arlene was touched by the care she received and made a donation to the organization and wrote a poem about her experience. “I made a donation in honor of the CancerCare staff who just made my day in many ways with their caring and comfort.”

 

“Daze of Chemo”

By Arlene C.

The doctor called, “We have to talk”

I set the date to learn my fate

Aggressive cancer

Surgery then chemo

The next step was to embark with my children Susan and Mark

Where to go for my chemo?

Mark thought I should be closer to him in Sag Harbor for treatments

But we let that rest and went with the alternative that was best

The calendar was marked for the days, the hours, but not my mind or body

Mark and Susan were with me all the way

I made a promise I couldn’t sway or betray

Where do I begin?

The daze of chemo was upon me

I was never good at acting

But in the end I knew I was going to win a trophy as the best robot

Where do I begin?

My battle began with anxiety, brain loss – especially names

Stomach problems, low blood pressure

All of this caused by the very strong dosage given

However they changed the recipe and I was cooking again

And then the crowing glory

I lost all my hair

Susan bought me a hat

CancerCare gave me a wig

And I amassed some turbans, etc.

Everyday became a chore

Trying to match headwear with outfits

The one good perk was I didn’t have to buy shampoo

Six months later, after two PET scans, I’m clean

Is there anything else to do but thank God and all my friends that prayed for me?

Not done yet

I had my own unveiling

Tossed the turbans, etc. and showed my head off

Everyone loved my new hair do

I truly felt I went from being a robot to queen for a day

 


CancerCare Recognizes the Importance of Cognitive Behavior Therapy for People Affected by Cancer

March 24, 2014

CancerCare Social Work Staff and Training Instructors

CancerCare‘s staff of oncology social workers recently received in-depth training on the use of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anyone affected by a cancer diagnosis. CBT is a therapeutic model that focuses on empowering the client to create coping mechanisms for life stressors and issues that otherwise compromise the quality of life.

“CBT is a model that fits the CancerCare counseling approach and is appropriate for the person with cancer, the caregiver and the bereaved,” said CancerCare Director of Clinical Services William Goeren, LCSW-R, ACSW, BCD.

One featured topic, “Body Image Issues after Cancer Treatment,” explored the multiple factors affecting body image and the outcomes of CBT and mindfulness interventions.

The training was lead by Szilvia Vas, health psychology researcher and member of the British Psychological Society; Andrea Ryder, Macmillan therapist; Ashley Yarwood, Macmillan therapist; and Jeanette McCarthy Macmillan director.

CancerCare provides free services for anyone affected by cancer. View all of CancerCare’s body image resources and learn more about our counseling services.

 


Treatment Update: Breast Cancer With Advances in the Treatment of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer and Highlights from the 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

June 21, 2013

Read about new treatment therapies for breast cancer in our Connect Booklet Treatment Update: Breast Cancer With Advances in the Treatment of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer and Highlights from the 2012 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. In this booklet, we talk about the medications now available and new drugs in development for treating breast cancer. We also describe possible treatment side effects and how to prevent and cope with them.

You can also order free copies from our publications page.


Free Wig Clinics at CancerCare’s National Office in NYC

March 14, 2013

Cancer and its treatments can cause uncomfortable physical changes. Some changes may be managed with medication, such as nausea. Others, such as hair loss, can have a more visible and long-term effect on a person’s quality of life.

CancerCare client Fannie can attest to this all too well. After calling CancerCare to get help and speaking with a professional oncology social worker, she admitted that she was distressed by her hair falling out due to treatments for breast cancer. “It was very scary,” Fannie says. “I felt like I was losing part of myself.”

Thanks to the free wig she received, Fannie feels more comfortable with the changes brought on by her treatments for breast cancer.

Fannie’s social worker informed her about CancerCare’s free wig clinics, where experts help people coping with hair loss get fitted for wigs and offer tips to help better manage physical changes due to treatment. Fannie attended a workshop shortly after, and was fitted for a free wig. “It was like Christmas,” Fannie recalls. “I was almost speechless.” Thanks to the wig she received, Fannie feels more comfortable with the changes brought on by her treatment.

Read CancerCare’s free fact sheet, “Tips for Managing Hair Loss,” to learn about coping with hair loss due to cancer and its treatments.

CancerCare will offer its next free wig clinic at its national headquarters in New York City on Friday, March 22 at 2:00 p.m. We also provide free wigs by appointment in our Norwalk, CT, Ridgewood, NJ and Long Island, NY offices.

Registration is required for all programs; call 800-813-HOPE (4673) or visit www.cancercare.org/community_programs for more information.

View a full calendar of our upcoming community programs and clinics.

Don’t live in the tri-state area of New York? We can help you locate resources in your community. Contact us at info@cancercare.org; or call 800‑813‑HOPE (4673) and a CancerCare oncology social worker can refer you to local resources.


Get Help Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects

March 9, 2012

Patients undergoing chemotherapy can experience various side effects, which can range from discomforting to debilitating. Most side effects are short term, but some can last throughout treatment and even for some time afterward.

CancerCare’s latest Connect Booklet, Understanding and Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects, offers practical information on managing side effects so that treatment goes as smoothly as possible.

Read the booklet to learn how to manage various side effects, including:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • hair loss
  • mouth sores
  • peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
  • and fatigue.

To order free copies of the booklet, call 800-813-HOPE (4673) or use the online order form on our website.

CancerCare also offers more than a dozen Connect Education Workshops on managing various side effects, which can be replayed as podcasts. View the workshops and learn more about our free resources on coping with side effects.


Get Help Managing Cancer-Related Pain

February 6, 2012

A new study found that many patients coping with cancer reported better managing their cancer-related pain after receiving emotional and/or practical support. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also found that education about pain management helped patients learn to better control their pain.

Read more about the study.

Pain is a symptom of cancer and its treatments that can—and should—be controlled. CancerCare’s professional oncology social workers work with people coping with cancer to develop strategies for managing cancer-related pain. It is important for patients to discuss any pain they are experiencing with their health care team, which can include doctors, nurses, social workers, or pain specialists.

CancerCare provides pain-management information in our free publications, Controlling Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know to Get Relief, and “Opening the Door to Effective Pain Management.” Leading medical experts also addressed pain-management techniques during CancerCare’s Connect Education Workshop, “Coping with Cancer Pain: What You Need to Know.”

Learn more about CancerCare’s free resources about pain management.


Most Promising Cancer Treatment Advances of 2011

December 29, 2011

New treatment therapies and promising results from a variety of clinical trials over this year are giving new hope to people affected by cancer. Showcased at the 2011 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), held this past June in Chicago, these advances and breakthroughs in cancer treatments were especially encouraging for people with melanoma, breast cancer, lung cancer and numerous other diagnoses which have been difficult to treat.

CancerCare has compiled these most promising findings in its new booklet, Your Guide to the Latest Cancer Research and Treatments: Highlights from ASCO 2011, available online now. You can also order your free copies from our publications page.


New Booklets on Mouth Pain and Multiple Myeloma

November 23, 2011

CancerCare’s newest Connect Booklet, Managing Oral Mucositis, is now available.

The term “oral mucositis” refers to mouth sores caused by irritation of the mucosa, soft tissues that cover the tongue and inside of the mouth. Our new booklet offers tips on controlling mouth pain and managing this side effect of some cancer treatments.

Read the booklet or order free copies.

Our new e-booklet, Advances in the Treatment of Multiple Myeloma, is now live on www.cancercare.org. The e-booklet describes the different treatment options for multiple myeloma, and offers tips on coping with the emotional and practical challenges of a multiple myeloma diagnosis.

Read the e-booklet.

Like all of CancerCare’s services, our publications are available to you completely free of charge. View all of CancerCare’s in-stock publications.