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Jun 17, 2016 · Virtual Cancer Survivorship Series - Please Share Your Thoughts in Cancer

Hi everyone, I am an educator and manager of the Cancer Education Program at Mayo Clinic. We are just in the process of designing a Virtual Cancer Survivor Series to be posted on this site – hopeful to have this later in the year. I would love your feedback on the model and ideas.

This program would allow cancer patients to access online from anywhere with a virtual online survivorship series. The program will offer the patient, family and friends the opportunity to renew, reflect, and gain support while on their individual journey after cancer treatment is completed.

The series will focus on key areas to enhance individual’s health and the opportunity to develop an individualized self-care plan from a holistic perspective while utilizing autonomy. Through this program we strive for participants to learn powerful ways to optimize their body’s healing potential (mind-body-spirit) while honoring their own healing journey after a cancer diagnosis.

This is what we have outlined for the first three sessions – we plan to add on to this for phase II.

Session 1: Transitions After Treatment Ends
• Managing short-term side effects
• Reconnecting with family and friends
• Returning to work
• Creating a new life routine
Media: Short video, links to key resources and group discussion

Session 2: Emotions: Mind + Body Connection
• Fear of recurrence
• PTSD and cancer
• Relationships
• Reconnecting with your partner
• Stress relief and mind-body connection
Media: Short video, links to resources and group discussion

Session 3: Healthy Nutrition + Eating Habits
• Survivorship nutrition focus
• My Plate, Mediterranean and plant-based diets
• Meal planning
• Recipes
Media: Short Slide deck, links to resources, meal planning ideas and a place to share recipes. Introduce wellness coaching concepts.

Jun 17, 2016 · Recently diagnosed and wondering what to expect... in Breast Cancer

Hi @sheenah, I am a nurse and educator with Mayo Clinic Cancer Education Center. Your questions and concerns about chemotherapy are all very normal. I’m wondering how you are doing? I hope that you are not experiencing too many side effects. Most chemotherapy regimens include an anti-nausea medication to prevent it from the beginning. You might also have a prescription available for any breakthrough nausea. If one is not working well, let your team know…there are many to choose from. Anti-nausea drugs can cause constipation too, so keep this in mind…you may need to take miralax or something similar to counteract this effect. As others have mentioned, ginger can really help too. Also, once you have an idea on how you feel during and after chemotherapy, you will get to know when you feel better during the day. Take cues from your body and eat small meals when your appetite is good with little snacks in between. Stay well hydrated with water and juices and take short power naps throughout the day to keep your energy strong. I really like this resource for Nutrition from the NCI http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/eatinghints.pdf. Keep us posted on how things are going.

Jun 3, 2016 · Contribute ideas to the National Cancer Moonshot project in Cancer

Have you heard about the National Cancer Moonshot? This is exciting news to everyone working in the field of cancer. During his 2016 State of the Union address, President Obama announced a national “Moonshot” initiative led by Vice President Biden. This initiative has $1 billion to kick off the work!

In April, a blue ribbon panel of scientific experts, cancer leaders and patient advocates was formed in order to direct the goals of the National Cancer Moonshot initiative. The panel will serve as a working group of the presidentially appointed National Cancer Advisory Board and will provide expert guidance from leaders in the cancer community.

The first priority of the panel is to form working groups to focus on specific topic areas. Ideas, ranging from cancer prevention to advancing understanding of the origins of cancer, to reducing cancer health disparities, may be submitted in the following areas:

  • Cancer clinical trials
  • Data sharing
  • Dissemination and population sciences
  • Immunotherapy, combination therapy, and immunoprevention
  • Pediatric cancers
  • Tumor evolution and progression
  • Other opportunities

The ideas that are submitted will be discussed and considered by the working groups and the blue ribbon panel as they focus on cancer research priorities and opportunities over the next few months. The panel will report its findings to the advisory board this summer.

President Obama stressed that this initiative will be different than others. The Moonshot project needs input from all Americans to provide creative ideas, innovation and direct feedback to be successful.

Ideas can also be submitted by e-mail (cancerresearch@nih.gov), or by calling the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

To sign up for updates on the initiative, visit the website http://www.cancer.gov/research/key-initiatives/moonshot-cancer-initiative. Or follow @Moonshot2020 on Twitter.

Read more on the Living with Cancer blog.

Jun 3, 2016 · At what point do I bring Hospice into the picture? in Cancer

@irvkay312 I thought I’d check in to see how you are doing. I am glad to hear that you have Palliative care involved. You may also be working through many emotions during this time. Perhaps many ups and downs. I wrote about terminal cancer and grief on the Living with Cancer blog. You might find this information helpful. There are many people who have written in on the blog on this topic over the past few years since it was originally posted. Let me know if I can help at all. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/terminal-cancer-diagnosis/bgp-20056361

May 19, 2016 · direction help in Blood Cancers & Disorders

Hi @robbysingh. You can request an appointment for your father to be evaluated at Mayo Clinic through our international office. They can also do a record review prior to him traveling to Mayo Clinic. Here is a link to the International Appointment office http://www.mayoclinic.org/departments-centers/international/appointments

May 11, 2016 · Talking about hair loss with children in Cancer

Hi @pirmir, thanks for connecting here and asking your questions. I wrote a couple of blogs about talking with children on the mayoclinic.org site – Living with Cancer, here are the links- http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/support-while-parenting-through-cancer/bgp-20116200

Also, cancer.net has a good article on Talking with Children about Cancer – http://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/talking-with-family-and-friends/talking-about-cancer/talking-with-your-children

Regarding hair loss specifically, here is a great book to help explain to grandchildren – https://www.amazon.com/Nowhere-Hair-Explains-cancer-children-ebook/dp/B004YL645Q?ie=UTF8&btkr=1&redirect=true&ref_=dp-kindle-redirect

Let me know if you need more information. Keep in touch!

Apr 8, 2016 · Words matter in supporting cancer survivors in Cancer

This blog is getting lot’s of attention on the mayoclinic.org site…let us know what you think?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That didn’t seem true to me as a child, but as an adult, I’ve come to realize that words can be powerful vehicles for either pain or support.

We’d like to believe that family and friends want to offer words of support when hearing about a new cancer diagnosis, treatment decision or prognosis, but sometimes words unintentionally cause pain.

Recently, someone in my family was dealing with her second round of chemotherapy for recurring breast cancer. When asked how she was feeling, her response took many people by surprise.

She said, “I hate when people ask me how I’m feeling because I always wonder if they want me to actually tell them or if I need to protect them by just saying fine.” What seemed like an innocent, well-intentioned question felt unsupportive and insincere to her.

I can humbly admit to having been both the sender and recipient of similar exchanges. Sometimes because of our discomfort with hard conversations or a need to “fix it” we may turn to phrases such as “at least it isn’t terminal”, “I’m sure you’ll be back to your old self soon” or “I know how you must be feeling”.

While these words are meant to encourage, they can come across as minimizing the experience and consequently stop any honest communication about what is really happening for the cancer survivor.

As I mentioned earlier, most people have the best of intentions to provide support during difficult times, but may find it hard to find the right words to convey how they feel.

Perhaps just honestly putting those feelings into words would be helpful. An example might be: “I’m not sure what to say. I really care about you and want to support you. This is such a difficult thing to talk about but most of all; I want to be here for you.”

As a cancer survivor, you’ve have probably heard many comments that felt awkward, hurtful or at best, unhelpful. I’d love to have you share one of them and why it felt hurtful but also, what would have been more helpful? It may be a wonderful way for us to learn from each other.

Read comments here 


Apr 4, 2016 · Healthy diets for cancer patients in Cancer

This is a common question @travelgirl. We can do things to be healthier by eating well. However, there are a lot of myths out there about sugar feeding cancer, and acid vs. alkaline diets and cancer. These are all myths that have been around for years. Here is a link to an article on common myths http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-causes/art-20044714?pg=2.
I wrote about diet and healthy eating a couple of times on the Living with Cancer blog. This blog talks about the Mediterranean diet and cancer survivors (one of the most studied) http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/mediterranean-diet-and-cancer/bgp-20056300. Also this one on Adding Colorful Vegetables and Fruits to Your Diet http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/fruits-and-vegetables-and-cancer/bgp-20056364.

I also wrote a blog called Functional foods give a boost to your wellness…I am adding the article below.

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. June 26, 2014
Living With Cancer

Subscribe to our Living With Cancer e-newsletter to stay up to date on cancer topics.

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What we eat plays a key role in keeping us healthy and protecting from major diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Researchers are studying how certain foods can help enhance health and prevent illness.

Foods such as fruits and vegetables that contain phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemicals made by plants) and antioxidants (man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage), whole grains with natural fiber, low-fat dairy foods, nuts and oils, and oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are now being placed in a new category called functional foods. Functional foods go beyond nutrition and have a positive effect on health.

Functional foods are whole and unprocessed, such as fresh berries, cauliflower or broccoli — or they may have ingredients added to them, such as low-fat yogurt with live cultures.

Specific to cancer, cruciferous vegetables and vegetables in the cabbage family contain phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber that are important to your health.

Vegetables in this family include cauliflower, broccoli, kale and others and have been the focus of study for some time. Here are a few examples of research with functional foods and specific cancer types:

Prostate and breast cancer — Evidence shows that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, can reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer.
Stomach cancer — Scientists are studying a specific component found in cruciferous vegetables called benzyl-isothiocyanate (BITC). It has shown promise in preventing the growth of gastric cancer cells. Additional studies are needed to confirm this in humans.
Lung cancer — The Nurses’ Health Study reported that women who ate more than five servings a week of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of lung cancer. More studies are needed to confirm this finding as well.
Here are a few tips to add more functional foods to your daily routine:

Add more fresh or frozen, ready to use vegetables to soups, salads and casseroles.
Eat fruit with every meal. Keep a bowl of fruit on your table. Berries, apples, bananas, oranges, pears and red grapes are a great idea instead of dessert.
Begin your day with high-fiber cereal. Aim for 5 grams or more of fiber a serving. Try using wheat bran, ground flaxseed over cereal, yogurt or fruit.
Use whole-grain breads and pastas. Look for the wording whole grain as one of the first ingredients and aim for at least 3 grams of fiber a serving.
Eat more whole grains and legumes. Make the switch to brown rice or barley, bulgur and quinoa. Add black beans, lentils and kidney beans to dishes.
Make your snacks count. Try low-fat popcorn, whole wheat crackers, raw vegetables and fresh fruit instead of high-fat or sugary treats.
Go meatless at least once a week. Use lentils, beans, tofu and other sources of protein instead.
Add fish to your menu at least twice a week. Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, anchovies, trout, cod, and others.