Clinical Trials

CureForward

Cancer is a complicated disease and no two patients with the same cancer are treated alike. Many patients have a pre-existing disease, like diabetes or high blood pressure which can make it harder to treat the cancer. In some cases chemotherapy raises a patient’s blood sugar and if that patient has diabetes it can be a problem. There are also hundreds of different types of cancer cells which mutate. The good news is, there is constant research being done. As soon as a new drug shows promise of working it goes on to become a clinical trial and for some patients, they might have the opportunity to try it.

Not all hospitals have access to these trials so the patient has to go to the hospital (a teaching hospital) for treatment. Since there are many hospitals around the country doing research who offer clinical trials, its hard for a doctor to know which ones their patient might be a good candidate for. And patients and their caregivers have no idea where to start looking. So where can they find help, the quickest most efficient way possible?

An organization called Cure Forward, launched earlier this year who matches up patients with clinical trials. The matching services is free for patients to participate in, however the cost associated with participating in a trial are still dependent on a variety of factors. So patients can use Cure Forward’s platform for free and accept a trial invitation from a researcher for free, but the cost associated with participating in that trial are not covered by Cure Forward’s platform. If the patient is accepted to participate, the hospital pays the fee. If you are interested, you can read more about Cure Forward here.

Be well and stay informed,

Inge

*** Full disclosure: A representative from this organization sent me an email and asked if I would share their website with you. I am not being paid to endorse them and I checked them out to make sure they are legit. They are.

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When a Patient Has Cancer, The Family Does Too

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Ten days ago the portacath was removed and today I went to the hospital to have the sutures checked. The waiting room was packed, so I found a spot to sit, hoping it wouldn’t take long to see the nurse practitioner. I wasn’t in the chair for more than a few minutes when the man next to me started talking to me about his wife.

He looked worried, no more than that, he seemed anxious. His wife has ovarian cancer that spread to her lungs. He was upset about her diagnosis but it was her attitude that affected him more. In his opinion, she didn’t act like she wanted to get well. She was a smoker and refused to give up cigarettes, even though the cancer was in her lungs. Her excuse was, she smoked since she was twelve so why stop now? I’m thinking, she smoked since she was twelve? What kind of parent lets their kid smoke at that age?

His wife wasn’t keen on the idea of chemotherapy. She didn’t want poison pumped into her body. I understand her feelings but at the same time, I find it interesting she fails to see cigarettes laced with toxic chemicals does the same thing, albeit at a slower rate.

I didn’t say much to the guy. Instead I listened while he expressed his frustration and fear. He looked to be in his forties, so I guessed his wife had to be around the same age. Nobody wants to be a widower at that age. I did advise him to see the hospital social worker and find a cancer patient, family support group for himself. It sounded to me (and I did not tell him this) his wife already made up her mind.

She gave up.

His story isn’t new to me. I’ve talked with at least a handful of people whose sick spouse either refused treatment or only showed up physically for their appointments; meaning they didn’t want to change anything about their lifestyle in order to get well. You can’t force anyone to try to get well. Doctors can administer drugs or perform surgery, but if the patient has mentally checked out, it won’t work.

These patients have the same excuses; “I’ve done this (smoked, ate junk food, drank too much alcohol) all my life. Why change now that I have cancer?” “Its too late anyway.” “I’ve always been this way.”

We tend to forget that cancer affects everyone involved with the patient and coming from a cancer patient’s perspective, the person caring for us can be hit harder emotionally. I focused on getting well and didn’t want to think about “what if” scenarios. My husband and son worried about those things for me.

I can only imagine how hard it is for this guy, but the way I see it, we all have the right to live life on our terms, even if it means living a shorter one. Like Frank Sinatra said, “I did it my way.” Don’t we all like doing things “our way?” We humans can be a stubborn bunch.

What I learned from my cancer trip, was that “my way” nearly killed me. I was willing to change my “tune” and do whatever it took to get well. But that’s me. I can’t force anyone to do anything against their will, nor should I.

Hopefully this man will come to peace with whatever his wife’s outcome is.

Be well,

Inge

What’s in Your Food?

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When I was diagnosed with stage four cancer, five years ago, my diet changed drastically. I went from vegetarian to vegan over night, and read labels on packaged foods for the first time. I researched which foods were the best to eat to have optimum health. Before that, I figured food is food. If it was for sale, it was safe to eat. That’s why we have government agencies who inspect what we eat and they would never approve something that ended up making us sick. That was then and this is now. Unfortunately corporations help create the laws that are supposed to keep us safe. Its the fox watching the hen house and you know who benefits from that.

I learned so much these past five years and the number one lesson is; it’s up to me to do my homework, read ingredients and decide for myself what is healthy for me. I learned to ask questions. Lots of them, especially when I eat out (which is not often). I ask if the food is organic. Does it contain GMOs? For example a friend told me about a new vegan pizza place. She said it was terrific. At first, I was excited. I like pizza, but before I went there, I called and asked if the soy they used is organic or GMO free. The owner said, “I’m sorry our soy is not GMO free or organic.”  That’s all I needed to know. No vegan pizza for me.

Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy. The vegan pizza is a good example. There is plenty of vegan junk food out there. When I was vegetarian (before my cancer diagnosis) I thought I was eating healthy. It never dawned on me that I needed to eat REAL fruits and veggies (and lots of it) to be a healthy vegetarian. Processed foods have all the good stuff processed out and some of them do have vitamins put back in, but wouldn’t you rather eat something right from Mother Nature? No additives. No chemicals. I know I do.

Before you toss that favorite processed food or bag of Doritos in your grocery cart, read the label. If you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients put it back on the shelf. If it contains anything made from soy or corn, including corn syrup, put it back. That includes corn starch. There is an new GMO free corn starch made by Hodgson Mill that I use. Look for GMO free verified on the label. More and more food companies are changing their food suppliers to GMO free, not because they care about your health, they want your money.

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And be sure to limit the amount of processed foods you eat. Fresh foods are better for you because they are “living” food. That’s why they eventually spoil. Anything living will deteriorate. It normal. Food was not meant to outlive you.

Be well and read labels, ask questions,

Inge