Benefits of hormone replacement therapy

Yes, it can cause cancer. But it can prevent heart disease, too…

A few friends of mine have to take hormone replacement therapy for a variety of reasons—only one is regular menopause—and after researching HRT, I have to admit that it has some pretty awesome perks in the long run when used in certain cases. The thing is, it can also increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots—depending on when you start it. Studies show that the benefits only outweigh the risks of HRT when you take the therapy soon after menopause begins.

For example, women who take HRT within two years of their last period do not experience these health problems generally, but instead find themselves with reduced hot flashes and vaginal dryness as well as reduced chances of heart disease. Any women taking HRT may benefit from reduced hot flashes, vaginal itching and dryness, and more comfortable intercourse, but in order to get the benefits to the heart, it must typically commence in that brief period following the woman’s final period.

Women who take HRT may also have a lower risk of both bone fractures and colorectal cancer as well. Generally women who begin the therapy before age 60 experience the most positive results.

How to choose the best sunscreen

The SPF factor indicates how effective the particular sunscreen is in preventing UVB rays causing sunburn.

Memorial Day weekend is nearly upon us, which means people will be heading to the beach and pools in droves, as the unofficial start of the summer begins. But along with soaking up the summer heat, comes the potential to soak up summer rays. While feeling the warmth of the sun feels great, it can also be dangerous. Left unprotected, harmful rays of the sun can lead to skin cancer, including the life-threatening melanoma skin cancer.

But with so many sunscreen choices available, how do you know which are the best?

Most importantly, you'll want to apply a sunscreen with either multi-spectrum or broad-spectrum coverage for both UVA and UVB. Most experts recommend a minimum of an SPF 15, but an SPF 30 is ideal. While controversial, many researchers admit that not everyone needs to use a sunscreen higher than 30, but exceptions do exist.
The SPF factor indicates how effective the particular sunscreen is in preventing UVB rays causing sunburn. For example, if you have the type of skin that normally burns in 10 minutes, then an SPF multiplies that amount of time by a factor of 15. What that means is you could potentially be under the sun's rays for 150 minutes (10 times 15) without burning.

Most experts also believe that sunscreens in the form of lotions and creams are better than sprays or powders. With sprays, some of the sunscreen is actually being wasted when sprayed into the air. Additionally, those tiny particulars can be transferred to your lungs.

Additionally, if you plan on going in the water, exercising, or will be sweating, it's recommended to buy a water-resistant sunscreen. Other varieties of sunscreen, like kid-friendly and sensitive skin are beneficial depending on your individual needs.


Arizona woman uses cancer to raise breast implant money

Are you as angry as I am?

Earlier this week an Arizona woman was charged for using fundraising money to buy breast implants. She had claimed to have cancer and then went on to host a fundraiser in which she managed to raise $8000 so that she could afford breast implants. She was honest as far as making it clear that she had planned on using the funds for breast implants, the problem was that she didn’t have cancer in any form.

The ideal that anyone would claim to have cancer for the sake of vanity outrages me. Anyone who has ever sat back and watched a loved one suffer in physical and emotional pain as cancer continued to eat away at the health of the person affected should be angered at this incident. I can only hope that this woman is held accountable, though as it stands she is currently at home on an ankle bracelet.

What makes this story even worse is that she wasn’t just some woman who didn’t necessarily understand the gravity of what she was doing. This woman worked at a hospice. She had to have seen the pain and suffering of at least a few cancer patients, if not several. She took money from individuals who were giving from their hearts.

People were so giving that the kindness of others is what led to her arrest. A doctor had offered to give her 100 percent of her treatment free of cost. This ultimately led to her arrest because her employer had raised questions when she had refused treatment and then went on to notify the authorities that a possible theft had taken place.

New ACS Guidelines for Cancer Survivors

The new American Cancer Society guidelines are three fold, and relate to body weight, diet, and physical activity.

New guidelines for cancer survivors were issued on Thursday, April 26, 2012 from the American Cancer Society (ACS). The new guidelines were issued as a result of increasing evidence in the scientific community showing that physical activity and healthy nutrition after a cancer diagnosis, can both improve the survival chances and decrease the chance that the cancer will come back.

The new American Cancer Society guidelines are three fold, and relate to body weight, diet, and physical activity.

1) Obtain and keep a healthy weight.  Cancer survivors should try to avoid gaining weight during cancer treatment, whether they are a normal weight or overweight. Additionally, losing weight after treatment may be beneficial to cancer survivors who were overweight or obese prior to treatment.

2) Stay physically activity. Exercise is considered safe, according to studies, and can help improve balance, depression, fatigue and muscle strength. After a cancer diagnosis, physical activity reducing the chance of cancer coming back and extends life for several types of cancers, including ovarian, breast, prostate, and colorectal.

3) Eat a healthy diet. Diets high in vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, and fruit and low in processed meats, desserts, high-fat dairy products, low refined grains were seen as having the most health benefits. Taking nutritional, vitamin, or herb supplements didn't produce evidence of living longer. And, according to the American Cancer Society, may result in a shorter life. Because taking any of these supplements, the American Cancer Society recommends speaking to a health care provider.

The new American Cancer Society guidelines were specifically for certain types of cancer, including lung, ovarian, breast, prostate, blood, colon, and blood cancers.

A birthday party to celebrate cancer survivors

It’s all about the smiles


So we’re having a little dinner/birthday party for my mother-in-law who has survived breast cancer. The chemo combined with her cancer drugs have created neural degeneration similar in some aspects to dementia though her decline eventually stopped. Her way of life has been forever altered and now we just try our best to give her some level of normalcy.

Everyone is chipping in with cooking for her birthday party; the only thing that I have to do is bake a cake. While I was in the store buying everything I needed for a cake, I went a little hog wild. I have 'Happy Birthday' candies, icing tubes and multicolored candy confetti.

My cake is going to look more like a cake for a bunch of really little kids. I know she’ll enjoy it though and I’m sure she’ll be happy all day. She teaches me to cherish the little things in life. That’s easily forgotten, especially in today’s modern world of bigger and better objects and events.

In a way it’s refreshing to see joy, true joy. We tend to become happy with new purchases or new events and as a result we overlook the simple pleasures of gardening, making pictures out of clouds or sitting outside and looking up at the stars or even making a wish on chocolate cake covered with bright pink, blue, green and yellow candy decorations and lit with bright, color-changing candles. 

Having fun with cancer

Life only stops when you quit living; get out there and have some fun


Having fun is something that we often take for granted, that is until it’s gone. When a tragic event comes into our lives we often forget the importance of having fun all together. A time of tragedy is when we need to have fun the most. If you’re currently battling cancer or know someone who is fighting with cancer then it’s vital to remember to have fun.

There are numerous ways to experience fun even while you walk down the difficult path of cancer. Take up dancing either by yourself or with friends. Honestly just go all out with it, learn a dance you’ve always wanted to learn, enjoy a large charity dance or take up private lessons. Whatever route you take to dance, just do it and have fun.

Try to take in as many cancer walks as possible. Not only do they offer support, they can be very fun. You don’t have to worry about whether or not you have the physical strength to finish. Just go out there and walk as little or as much as you can.

I started taking my mother-in-law on cancer walks after she had gotten past the worse of her chemotherapy sickness and at the first walk we went on I saw the benefits of that walk. She was met by other survivors and many supportive, caring people. That day I saw a smile on her face and in her eyes that I honestly thought was lost forever. There’s something about taking part in a group walk filled with people who have been there that provides an atmosphere of strength and laughing that you just can’t find anywhere else.

So you have Cancer – Now What?

Finding Strength after a Cancer Diagnoses

Hearing a doctor say that you have cancer is quite a blow. You may feel hopeless, experience fear or even get angry. All of these emotions and reactions are normal, though normal or not you’ll have to move pass them.

You’ll need to find and regain your strength. Over the next couple of months you’re going to be going through everything imaginable and you’ll need to be stronger than you ever thought you were. The good news is that many people have sat where you sit today and they just like you found their inner strength.

Let go

First and foremost, separate yourself from your emotion. Use the energy that you’re using on your emotions to your advantage. Allow yourself to be freed from your emotion and then center that freed up energy. You can’t change anything that has already happened; you have cancer all you can do from here is decide if you’re going to lie down or if you’re going to fight.

Affirm Your Strength

This may sound silly and it’s probably not part of your daily routine, regardless it helps and it works so you owe it to yourself to give it a try. Get up every morning and tell yourself how strong you are. Visualize your strength as you affirm your strength. Being strong is more mental than physical, it draws off of confidence and through building your confidence you’ll build your strength.

Be Realistic

It’s not just about having strength, you also need to keep your strength. You’re going to be going through some intense treatments and you’re going to be sick. I don’t mean you’re going to be feverish and a little nauseous, you’re going to be deathly ill and may even wish for death just so that it can end. You’re also going to have moments when your body hurts everywhere. These experiences can weaken you and steal the strength that you worked so hard for. By keeping this in mind you’ll be able to prepare. This won’t prevent it, yet it’ll help you to remain strong in your darkest moments.

3D Mammography

3D mammography shows the breast in slices, enabling radiologists to detect hidden or very small cancers.

There's a new weapon in town for the fight against breast cancer. It's called breast tomosynthesis. In layman's terms, it's 3D mammography.

3D mammography is similar to the 2D digital mammography widely used today. Patients receive the same amount of compressions. However, while a 2D image takes rough four seconds, a 3D mammography takes an additional 11 seconds.

The 3D mammography also takes a series of low-dose images of the breast, but it takes them from multiple angles. Studies have shown that using a combination of 2D and 3D mammography offers the best breast cancer evaluation. In effect, 3D mammography shows the breast in slices, enabling radiologists to detect hidden or very small cancers.
Breast tomosynthesis enables radiologists to view the inner structures of the breast. The technology may help detect cancers that could have been missed with traditional 2D mammography. 3D mamography allows for better viewing of calcifications. Of particular note, is the evaluation of breasts of women who have dense breast tissue. Using 3D mammography may help eliminate follow up recalls of patients or even biopsies. In other words, it can help reduce the number of false positive callbacks.

It's important to note that one in eight women will get breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Therefore, early detection is of prime importance. Beginning at the age of 40, the American Cancer Society indicates that an annual mammogram is recommended. Women who are at higher risks may require different or more frequent screenings depending on doctor advisement.

This new technology is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Implementing time management into a cancer support and care system

Utilize the strengths of each person involved and you’ll limit frustrations

Developing time management into a care program following a cancer diagnosis is essential in having a support system that caters to the wellbeing of the person diagnosed with cancer and those that are closet to that person. Without time management, you risk having holes within the support system that can lead to frustrations and hurt feelings. Additionally, lack of time management can turn into missed vital appointments.

The first thing you’ll want to consider when creating a time management based care program is the individuals that will be involved in the care plan. Someone who is more free spirited and always late wouldn’t be the best option for scheduling and keeping appointments. You’ll want to consider the personalities of each person and capitalize on individual strengths.

A person who echoes responsibility and is a stickler for promptness would be perfect for taking on the responsibility of handling all doctor’s appointments. Ideally, you’ll have two individuals that’ll fall into this category and they can split this responsibility between them. If there are two people covering appointments you’ll want to remember communication is key, communicate with one another.

Those members that aren’t great at appointments and really just want to enjoy themselves can be extremely beneficial for someone with cancer and can offer something that the responsible members can’t. These family members can provide fun and when someone is going through radiation and/or chemotherapy they need fun more than you may know. The most important thing is to remember that you can’t do it all and you need time management that utilizes the strengths of each individual within the care plan of your loved one.

Next week I’ll be discussing how to find strength after a cancer diagnosis.

What to Expect after a Cancer Diagnoses

Being diagnosed with cancer is a hard blow and each person accepts it differently. Family members are often affected by it as well, which inadvertently bounces back onto the person who has cancer. Sometimes people are lucky and they are surrounded with a support system filled with both family and friends, others aren’t so lucky.

Old family dynamics can often resurface after a cancer diagnoses. The adult children that tended to be the responsible ones in childhood tend to step up and take charge. Some family members don’t want the burden and others just can’t emotionally deal with it.

The cancer patient is often affected in severe ways from these family dynamics. They can become over appreciative to ones that are helping them each day. Sometimes they begin to believe that they are a burden and that they are hurting their children. Other times they can feel neglected and even feel unloved. All of these emotions can get in the way of their critical fight and take away from the energy that they’ll need in the upcoming months.

The best thing today is allow each person to process the cancer diagnoses of their loved one and then develop a support system. This can be difficult especially in the beginning, though it certainly isn’t impossible. Following a cancer diagnoses you’ll want to be remain level headed and learn to control your emotions. You’ll also need to prepare yourself to give up some of your time. Most importantly, you’ll need to reassure your loved one and through reassurance you’ll give him or her strength.

Next week I’ll be going over time management plans that can benefit the one that cancer and the people who are having to provide care and support.