Healing companionship through fly-fishing for men with cancer

fly-fishing for men with cancer

Jim Vihtelic says this is the the first brown trout he has ever caught — and hopefully not the last.

When James Vihtelic began treatment at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center for bladder cancer in 2003, he joined the program’s Bladder Cancer Support Group (PDF). He participated for several years and still drops in occasionally. Though he didn’t realize it thirteen years ago, Jim was about to become a steadfast advocate of support for men with cancer.

“I enjoyed fly-fishing as boy, but didn’t think of it again until I saw a brochure for a cancer support network for men that involved fly-fishing,” he remembers. Continue reading

Autologous donation: Can I donate my own blood before cancer surgery?

autologous donation
If you are facing surgery as treatment for your cancer, you may need a blood transfusion during the surgery. Sometimes people are nervous about receiving another person’s blood. Any blood transfusion may result in minor side effects including fever, chills or hives. Although there is a possibility of a serious reaction, rarely do these occur. Improved donor screening and blood testing procedures have made the nation’s blood supply safer than it has ever been. But there is often the option of making your own blood donation, called an autologous donation, in advance to use during your surgery. Continue reading

Myeloproliferative neoplasms: A collection of rare blood cancers

Called MPNs for short, they may be caused by an abnormal cancer stem cell

myeloproliferative neoplasms

Each MPN is a different condition, but they are thought to be caused by an abnormal cancer stem cell that may have acquired genetic mutations that make it unable to produce blood cells normally


Myeloproliferative neoplasms, or MPNs, are a group of chronic blood cancers with the potential to rapidly progress to a more advanced stage or to an acute leukemia. Though our understanding of why these cancers occur is still evolving, we believe these MPNs can arise from a common cause: genetic alterations within the stem cell that change the way these blood cells grow and divide. Scientists are unraveling the mysteries of these rare cancers, bringing new hope for patients through research and specialized treatment.

mCancerPartner recently talked to Marie Huong Nguyen, M.D., a hematology/oncology MPN specialist at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Nguyen leads multiple clinical trials at U-M to develop new therapies in MPNs. Dr. Nguyen’s MPN and Systemic Mastocytosis Clinic focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients with many different types of MPNs. Continue reading

ICE: End of term reflection paper

Cancer Center patients and staff play important role in educating future doctors

 ICE, or Initial Clinical Experience, is a program for new University of Michigan medical students.

Medical student writes of his experiences in the Breast Cancer Clinic and says he learned more about life and the role of healthcare providers in caring for patients than he ever thought possible.

 

Editor’s note: ICE, or Initial Clinical Experience, is a program for new University of Michigan medical students. Instead of spending their first term only in lecture halls, they are assigned to shadow clinical faculty and other health professionals. This gives them early connections with patients and families and an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of all healthcare team members within the system.

Where is the line between disease and life drawn? This was a question I constantly thought about during my Initial Clinical Experience during my first term as a medical student. I remember the moment I found out I would be placed in the Breast Cancer Clinic and my feeling of dread. I was worried that so early in medical school I would come face-to-face with cancer, and through it, with death. Continue reading

Blue light cystoscopy for bladder cancer

New technique uses a blue light to see more of the bladder cancer tumor

blue light cystoscopy

Blue light cystoscopy offers a significant advance in bladder tumor detection and, in Michigan, is only offered at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center. It uses a special dye, along with a blue light inside the patient to make cancer tumors more visible to surgeons. Left: tumors as seen with a traditional white light; right: the same tumors more visible with a dye and blue light.

 

mCancerPartner sat down recently with Cheryl Lee, M.D., a surgeon and professor of urology, to discuss blue light cystoscopy, a technology that significantly improves the detection of non-muscle invasive (early stage) cancer of the bladder during surgery. Dr. Lee’s research focuses on improving quality of life and surgical outcomes for bladder cancer patients. She is active with the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network, where she has served as president of its Scientific Advisory Board and is currently a member of the Board of Directors. She is Past-Chairman of the Bladder Cancer Think Tank.

mCancerPartner: Can you talk about bladder cancer tumors and the challenges they present in regard to removing all the cancer. Continue reading

Paid sick leave: an important safety net for cancer patients

Sick leave eases financial burden, helps ensure job security

paid sick leaveSome patients with cancer experience a serious financial burden. A new study finds the burden is worse for patients without paid sick leave. In a survey of more than 1,300 patients with stage 3 colorectal cancer, researchers found that only 55% who were employed at the time of diagnosis retained their jobs after treatment. Patients who had paid sick leave were nearly twice as likely to retain their jobs as those without paid sick leave.

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers found that patients without paid sick leave were more likely to report higher personal financial burden. This includes borrowing money, difficulties making credit card payments, reduced spending for food or clothing, or reduced recreational spending. Continue reading