THANKSGIVING & CANCER

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE SENT OUT YESTERDAY. HOWEVER, THE MESSAGE IS PERFECT FOR EVERYDAY.

You might think, “I do not want to read or hear about cancer when this is a season of joy, family, food, and gratefulness. THOSE ARE THE VERY REASONS WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT CANCER AS WE PREPARE FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

Wishing you each a blessed Thanksgiving filled with love, compassion, peace, and gratitude.

MOST FEARED WORD?

Cancer, death, heights, spiders, and snakes are words that create great fear. People associate cancer with death almost immediately.

HISTORY OF CANCER:

  • The earliest known descriptions of cancer appear in several papyri from Ancient Egypt
  • Hippocrates described several kinds of cancer, referring to them by the term καρκινος (carcinos), the Greek word for crab. It comes from the appearance of the cut surface of a solid malignant tumor, with “the veins stretched on all sides as the animal the crab has its feet. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cancer).
technologynetworks.com

GOOD NEWS:

SAD NEWS:

  • 113,520 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cancers of the reproductive organs in 2020.
  • Cancer of the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus, is the most common gynecologic cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
  • It is estimated that as many as 33,620 women will die in 2020 from gynecologic cancers. https://www.cinj.org/sites/cinj/files/documents/September.Gynecologic.Cancer.2020.pdf

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF:

  • know your body
  • listen to it
  • provide it with good nutrition
  • exercise
  • hygiene
  • Daily meditation/relaxation
  • preventive care
  • know your family history
  • have regular dental and medical checkups
  • and smile, laugh, and be positive.

The more we do the above, the more we can decrease the fear of the word, cancer. Thank you!

Day 2: Awareness/Knowledge

One purpose of National Gynecologic Cancer Month is to spread awareness, which is defined as the knowledge that something exists. There is a sense of vagueness to the word, awareness.

Instead of awareness, I choose the word knowledge: acts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education.

This morning there was a warning about a railroad crossing in my path ahead. I did not ignore the sign painted on the pavement. I paid attention to where I was walking and stopped at the railroad tracks to be sure there was no train coming.

I made a conscious decision. We, humans, choose our behaviors, actions, and how we do or do not listen to our body’s warning signs. I challenge you to seek medical advice if any of these persist for 2 weeks. Insist on getting an ultrasound or a CT scan.

  • Unusual or bloody discharge (seek medical advice immediately)
  • Bloating
  • Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • Suddenly feeling full from eating even a small portion
  • Painful intercourse
  • Extreme fatigue every day
  • Back or pelvic pain

I hope my Teal Takeover walk each day will inspire you to do the same. If you want to donate to my team or form your own, just go to https://www.classy.org/team/446017. Every penny goes to promoting knowledge and funds for research.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

SEPTEMBER: WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

The main reason: It’s NATIONAL GYNECOLOGIC CANCER MONTH! Each day I will share two things: a photo from that day’s walk and an important fact.

Teal Takeover is our local campaign to raise funds for research and awareness. I invite you to walk or run a 5K with me. Join my team, make a donation, and let’s go! My team is called the Outshiners, because we are going to outshine any challenge we face, even cancer. Here is my link: https://www.classy.org/team/446017.

Today, I am officially starting my walk…and it will be a mile each day. At 81, I am proud to be able to walk that far!!! A beautiful sunrise to start my day.

The more you know about gynecologic cancers, the better! Day 1 facts:

  • Vaginal, Cervical, Uterine (Endometrial), Ovarian, and Vulvar are the 5 major types.
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD), Primary Peritoneal Cancer, and Fallopian are three rare types.

Join me each day as we learn about gynecologic cancers and the reproductive system. Be a part of my team!

GENETIC COUNSELING

CDC BLOG

Who needs genetic counseling:

  • Those with a personal history or family history suggestive of a hereditary cancer syndrome.
  • Had a previous genetic test 3-5+ years ago, but you may want to consider additional testing.
  • Multiple family members with the same type of or related cancers.
  • Rare cancers
  • Ashkenazi Jewish history.

Benefits of genetic counseling:

  • Genetic screening can help calculate the likelihood of a fetus being born with a certain disorder.
  • Provides peace of mind or information for better understanding and decision-making.
  • Appropriate testing will be given.
  • Decision making will be made based on scientific information.

Heredity risk for uterine cancer is about 5 percent. Surgery is the primary treatment for endometrial (uterine) cancer. 

Genetic testing may be appropriate for ovarian cancer:

  • You’ve had or been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • You’ve had at least two types of other cancers.
  • You’re related to someone with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
  • You have Lynch syndrome. Women with this inherited condition have a 9% to 12% chance of getting ovarian cancer in their lifetime.
  • You have at least one relative who’s had cancer and meets the criteria for this type of genetic testing.
  • You had a negative genetic test more than 3 years ago. Testing technology is always improving.

Two main genetic factors increase the risk of cervical cancer:

Other gynecologic cancers:

Genetic test results aren’t always clear-cut. If your test result is negative, you might not be scanned for the mutation. But you could still have another type of genetic change that hasn’t been linked to ovarian cancer yet. A “variant of uncertain significance” result means the lab found a mutation that may or may not be linked to ovarian cancer.

A negative test doesn’t have to be the end of your genetic testing. As with an uncertain result, check with your doctor or genetic counselor to see if there are other options.

Find a Genetics Specialist

There are various ways to access genetic counseling services, including in person, by phone, and by video conference.

Find a genetic counselorexternal icon using the National Society of Genetic Counselors directory.

I welcome your feedback, questions, and comments. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this blog.

WORLD CANCER DAY

What is cancer? Why does the word cause such fear? Why have a day of recognition for it?

A LITTLE HISTORY:

Cancer was named after the crab because the finger-like spreading projections from a cancer called to mind the shape of a crab. The Latin word for crab is cancer.

Galen (130-200 AD)used the term oncos (Greek for swelling) to describe tumors. Oncos is the root word for oncology.

During World War II, those soldiers exposed to mustard gas developed toxic bone marrow suppression. Chemical nitrogen mustard was found to work against a cancer of the lymph nodes called lymphoma. This laid foundation for several new drugs that could be used against cancers.

The later part of the 20th century also saw the development of targeted therapies like Herceptin.

https://www.news-medical.net/health/Cancer-History.aspx

IS CANCER CURABLE?

Cancer is viewed as an enemy and the fear is that there is no cure. Physicians use the term remission to describe when there is no evidence of disease for 5 years.

In March of this year, I will celebrate my 5th year and be considered to be in remission. I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. It has recurred twice. I’ve had chemotherapy and radiation treatments in addition to two surgeries.

As each of us cancer warriors completes our final round of chemotherapy, we ring a bell. The staff stands around applauding our victory.

Let the bells ring around the world today for all the cancer survivors. 16.9 million cancer survivors are alive in the US today out of a population of 332,915,073. Heart disease was the leading cause of death https://www.statista.com/statistics/1254560/leading-causes-of-death-in-the-us-average-number-daily/

Some inspiring words of wisdom :

“Difficult roads can lead to beautiful destinations.”
— Kia Wynn, oral cancer survivor

“There’s always hope beyond what you see.”
— Cora Connor, kidney cancer caregiver

“It’s possible not just to survive, but to thrive and to live a healthy, wonderful life again.”
 Erika Evans, leukemia survivor

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”
— Leslie Medley-Russell, ovarian cancer survivor

In celebrating World Cancer Day, receive a signed copy of my book Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir for just $5.00. Send me a message with your information to kareningalls1941@gmail.com. (All proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research)

Go to:

YOUR LIFE’S QUILT

If you were to create a quilt with each patch representing your life, what would it look like? Would you have the patches represent the lows as well as the highs of your life? Would it show mistakes or failures? What colors would you choose? Would you include lessons you learned, role models who influenced you, or life-changing events?

My life quilt’s background is of many colors. My patches include a central patch with a heart representing my wonderful husband. I have a square of just black, which represents the child abuse. It is small now though it was quite large earlier in life. There are squares for my 3 sons, 8 grandchildren, and 1 for my great grandson. I danced (not always smoothly or easily) through the storm of cancer. Earning my master’s degree was an important goal that impacted my career. Aunt Arleigh has always been an inspiration and there for me. The four stars represent steps in my growing faith and spiritual path from childhood to now.


Writing this blog stimulated my imagination and many memories. Have you begun to design the quilt of your life? I encourage you to do so because it will put your life in perspective, give you a symbolic way to look at it, and for others to perhaps learn something new about you. Just know you can always add or take off a patch. No matter what, the quilt is YOU; that special gift from God.