Living the best life you can with a chronic illness

chronic illness“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow,’” wrote Mary Anne Radmacher. Each of us is challenged in some way, be it our health, our work situation, or our interpersonal relationships. Living with any chronic illness takes courage, perseverance, and acceptance. Below are a few principles that may be helpful regardless of the challenge you are facing:

  1. Generosity – When you are living with chronic illness it can be difficult to think of others. But research has shown that giving back can improve your outlook and make you feel better about your particular situation.
  1. Asking for help/support – Chronic conditions can be isolating. Having someone in “your corner” as a trusted supporter – be it a family member, friend, or work colleague can help you cope and remain resilient. Many chronic conditions have support groups that are already established. Find a support group here.
  1. Hobbies – People who pursue their passions, be it wood-working, music, writing, yoga, gardening, or volunteering, have an easier time coping. Plus, getting back into your favorite hobby is a major milestone on the road to recovery.

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Showing support to a friend with a new cancer diagnosis

cancer diagnosisMost of us have heard the Beatles lyric, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” When you have a friend diagnosed with cancer, it is often hard to know how to help. Should you talk about the cancer? Should you avoid talking about the cancer diagnosis? What is the best way to help your friend?

It is helpful for good friends to know there are different ways that people cope with cancer. A range of feelings may occur: anger, fear, anxiety, or blaming themselves (because of something they did or did not do). These initial reactions will likely only last a short time. You may need to be patient and understanding and overlook some behaviors. Continue reading

Diagnosis. Pause. Decision.

When you hear the word “cancer,” the last thing any newly diagnosed patient wants to do is take extra time to decide on treatment. The tendency is for patients to spring into action, often following advice of the first oncologist they see without investigating treatment options or second opinions. However, this isn’t necessarily the best course of action. In fact, Steven Katz, M.D, from the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center leads a research team that studies treatment decision-making. His takeaway to date:

“I’m not talking about waiting months. I’m talking about an extra visit. Take time to discuss options with

second opinion

Lynn Dworzanin (right) with her daughter

your spouse. Get a second opinion if you’re not sure.”

Decisions after cancer diagnosis, in most cases, don’t need to be made as though it’s a medical emergency.

Lynn Dworzanin is a Cancer Center patient who faced some tough decisions. Diagnosed with breast cancer, she had many things on her mind, including her survival, family, body image, over treating her cancer and peace of mind in the future.

Many patients are so afraid for their lives that they don’t stop to think about other Continue reading

You should be talking to your doctor about supplements!

supplements and cancerJust the other day someone asked me about the use of herbs and supplements in their daily diet.

While we were talking, I mentioned I take several supplements, one of which is Vitamin D. My rational and evidenced based research points to the fact that I live in Michigan, one of the northern most states, known for its lack of sunshine during the winter months and therefore decreased sun exposure, which leads to decreased levels of Vitamin D. This sun exposure is what allows our bodies to make Vitamin D. Most people don’t have a nearly enough Vitamin Continue reading

Mastering Medicalese

scanxiety

Betsy de Parry

Unless we happened to choose a career in the medical field, most of us gave up learning medical terminology in high school health or college biology.

Then we get cancer and come face to face with big, incomprehensible words that we’ve done just fine not knowing our whole lives. It’s like going to a foreign land without speaking the language and being unable ask for directions.

Since healing is our destination when we detour to Cancer Land, it helps to understand how to get there. And that means learning at least some Medicalese. I know it’s not easy.

Like most people, I was thoroughly dazed and confused when I was first diagnosed. Not only was I facing a life-threatening disease, but suddenly I was hearing and reading huge words that I didn’t understand. No wonder I felt unequipped to make informed decisions that needed to be made.

And there were lots of mysterious words and phrases. One of my first encounters was with “bilateral inguinal lymphadenopathy.” I figured that bilateral meant both sides and that lymphadenopathy might be swelling of some kind, but inguinal? What the heck was that? Continue reading

Food safety is as simple as ABC: Always Be Careful

food safetyIt’s mid-day and you are trying to figure out what to have for dinner. You decide on meatloaf, but the ground sirloin is in the freezer. Since you have a few hours, you set it on the counter to thaw and proceed to the next thing on your to do list. Despite what your parents may think or what you have done for years, this is not the safest way to thaw meat.

World Health Day, celebrated each year in April, is focused on food safety. Increase your understanding and awareness by following the tips below.

Keep clean

  • Wash hands, for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, before cooking and when switching tasks, such as cutting raw meat to cutting raw vegetables.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with cool running water and a soft brush before cutting, slicing or shredding.

Separate raw and cooked

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