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.

Oct

26

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The Education of Dee Dee Ricks

by Dana Demas

Tonight, a powerful documentary about breast cancer premieres on HBO. "The Education of Dee Dee Ricks" follows the journeys of two very different women who share a similar diagnosis.

One woman, Dee Dee Ricks, is a wealthy business owner living in Manhattan, with access to the best healthcare and the means to pay $26,000 in charges when her insurance company won't cover the full cost of her double mastectomy. The other woman, Cynthia Dodson, is an office temp worker with no benefits, who is diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer after years of inadequate healthcare.

Dee Dee and Cynthia form a close friendship, and the film chronicles Dee Dee's fight to raise awareness and money for women like Cynthia, who lack the resources to fight cancer the way she did.

Dee Dee began filming as a gift to her sons, in case she lost her battle to cancer. However, her journey soon led her to Dr. Harold Freeman, who runs the Patient Navigation Institute in Harlem, which guides uninsured women through screening and treatment. Through this institute, Dee Dee met Cynthia, and her life was forever changed by Cynthia's struggles to treat her breast cancer.

The moving documentary provides a powerful solution for helping people who don't have access to healthcare: patient navigators. Patient navigators are trained to save lives from cancer and chronic diseases, by providing services to poor and uninsured men and women, including:

  • Informing people about the need for certain recommended examinations and providing timely access to such examinations
  • Eliminating any barriers to timely care across the entire health care continuum
  • A critical function of navigation is to eliminate any and all barriers to timely diagnoses and treatment in patients who have abnormal or suspicious findings

Tune in to HBO tonight at 8:30pm or learn more about patient navigation and how you can get involved.

Oct

13

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Ladies, Your Friends Are Good for Your Health

by Dana Demas

My wonderful Aunt Renee has been fighting colon cancer since April. She went in for a routine colonoscopy, and they discovered a right-sided cancerous tumor. Renee has been an inspiration to all of us. She's been on a rollercoaster of scans and surgeries, but this week she got the long-awaited news that she is free of cancer and her treatment is working.

Renee's journal entry on her CaringBridge page about the power of our relationships was poignant. I thought I'd share it with you this week: 

"And I leave you with this study ladies from Standford: 'I just finished taking an evening class at Stanford. The last lecture was on the mind-body connection - the relationship between stress and disease. The speaker (head of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman, whereas for a woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends.

At first everyone laughed, but he was serious.

Women connect with each other differently and provide support systems that help each other to deal with stress and difficult life experiences. Physically this quality “girlfriend time" helps us to create more serotonin - a neurotransmitter that helps combat depression and can create a general feeling of well being. Women share feelings whereas men often form relationships around activities. They rarely sit down with a buddy and talk about how they feel about certain things or how their personal lives are going. Jobs? Yes. Sports? Yes. Cars? Yes. Fishing, hunting, golf? Yes. But their feelings? Rarely.

Women do it all of the time. We share from our souls with our sisters/mothers, and evidently that is very good for our health He said that spending time with a friend is just as important to our general health as jogging or working out at a gym.

There's a tendency to think that when we are "exercising" we are doing something good for our bodies, but when we are hanging out with friends, we are wasting our time and should be more productively engaged—not true. In fact, he said that failure to create and maintain quality personal relationships with other humans is as dangerous to our physical health as smoking!

So every time you hang out to schmooze with a gal pal, just pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself for doing something good for your health! We are indeed very, very lucky. Sooooo let's toast to our friendship with our girlfriends. Evidently it's very good for our health.'"

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