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Jul 222017
 

(NC) It can be tough juggling medical appointments, care and treatment options when you or a loved one is

“My diagnosis with advanced cancer has brought my family even closer together. They’ve been right by my side this whole journey,” says Lyall Woznesensky. (Photograph by John Lehmann)

struggling with an acute or chronic illness. But research shows a strong support system is crucial for better physical and mental health.

As a former CFL defensive lineman, Lyall Woznesensky thought he knew how to be strong. He’d played one of the toughest games in sport over eight seasons with six different CFL teams across Canada. But when he was diagnosed with advanced cancer in January 2016, Woznesensky realized that the type of strength he needed to face this challenge wasn’t just physical, it was mental and emotional too. And he couldn’t face it alone.

Since his diagnosis, Woznesensky has leaned on the support and positivity he gets from his two sons, siblings, former CFL teammates and especially his wife of 29 years, Debbie.

“My wife is only 5 foot 3, but she’s stronger than me. She’s the pillar of our family. She keeps my two boys strong and me strong even though she’s gone through a lot,” he explains.

The good news is that although the number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in Canada is increasing, survival rates are also going up. Overall, the five-year net survival for Canadians diagnosed with cancer is around 60 per cent, up from 53 per cent in previous decades.

Woznesensky is one of the growing number who are outliving their cancer diagnosis. He recently received good news from his doctor who said his cancer has receded.

Recently profiled in CancerChanged, a photo-documentary series that celebrates those who are living longer with advanced cancer, Woznesensky shares his journey to bring hope to others dealing with a challenging diagnosis. Read more about his story and others online at saveyourskin.ca/conected.

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Jun 292017
 

(BPT) – Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, with a mere 29 percent one-year survival rate. In 2016, pancreatic cancer became the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, surpassing breast cancer.
The time frame between diagnosis and death is often short. Only 7 percent of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer survive five years. This is incredibly small compared to prostate cancer or breast cancer, where more than 90 percent of patients survive for five years after diagnosis.
“Most people are unaware of how deadly pancreatic cancer is,” says Jim Rolfe, president of Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation. “These chilling statistics can serve as an eye-opener that motivates people to learn more about their risks and contact their health care professional.”
Early detection is important
Although pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, early detection can significantly impact survival rates. The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer approaches 25 percent if cancers are surgically removed while they are still small and have not spread to the lymph nodes.
Know your family, know your risk
Family history is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. When you know more about your genetics and which members of your family have been affected by pancreatic cancer, you can better manage your own health.
To make the process easier, the Rolfe Pancreatic Cancer Foundation has introduced a new series of online tools. Visit www.KnowMyRisk.org to download a worksheet and access other helpful tools that let you explore your family history and become your own health advocate.
Print out the worksheet and call or visit your grandparents, parents and other extended family members. You may not be aware that someone a few generations removed from you was affected by cancer. Having this conversation can be empowering, because once you know your risks you can take charge of your future.
Consider genetic counseling
When considering how personal a cancer or disease diagnosis can be, it is no surprise that medicine is looking at our DNA to uncover information. This makes genetic counselors an important part of the health care team, helping you ask the right questions and uncover familial genetic risk factors.
If you learn you have a history of pancreatic cancer in multiple family members, you should consider meeting with a genetic counselor to assess your level of risk. From there, the counselor and your doctor can decide on a course of action.
To learn more about genetic counseling and find a local certified genetic counselor at the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ database, visit www.KnowMyRisk.org.
Take charge and be empowered
“Don’t take a backseat when it comes to your health,” says Rolfe. “The first step toward early detection of pancreatic cancer is understanding your family history. From there, you can make informed decisions that help you live a full, healthy life.”

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May 172017
 

(NC) A recent report by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer revealed an unmet need to better understand how cancer manifests itself among adolescents and young adults. This could lead to better treatment options for current and future patients.

Nurse Treating Teenage Girl Suffering With Depression

Dr. Annette Hay, senior investigator with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group and assistant professor of hematology at Queen’s University, discusses the importance of clinical trials for this patient population. She highlights the challenges researchers face in getting this valuable data that will help develop improved cancer treatments.

Why is there insufficient research on adolescent and young adult cancer in Canada?

One of the main reasons is low recruitment rates. In 2014, only 3.5 per cent of patients aged 15 to 29 who were receiving treatment at adult cancer centres in Ontario were enrolled in clinical trials.

What are the barriers to clinical trial recruitment?

There are several, both from a policy and systems standpoint. One of the main challenges is that while children are treated at specific pediatric centres, young adults are treated at various centres and often community hospitals. Young adults are often not made aware of clinical trial opportunities. We need to improve coordination between adult cancer care centres and hospitals with clinical trial programs to ensure that young cancer patients know about trials taking place so they have a chance to apply and participate.

We also need to streamline the process to allow both adult and adolescent patients to be studied under one trial. Previously, researchers had to submit separate applications for the study of a treatment on two different patient populations. This is changing in many provinces, as applications for both groups are being reviewed by Health Canada as well as the ethics review boards simultaneously. We need to work to ensure all provinces are following this improved process.

What do you want Canadians impacted by cancer to know about clinical trials?

Clinical trials are safe and highly regulated by Health Canada. Once a treatment is in phase three of a trial, researchers are confident that the treatment works, and it should be viewed as a standard of care.

It’s really important for people to know that they are not “guinea pigs.” By participating in a trial, they could receive treatment and care that could not only prolong their lives, but could provide information that might help future generations.

Learn more about the 2017 Adolescents and Young Adult Cancer report at www.systemperformance.ca/aya-nc.

www.newscanada.com

Nov 252016
 

(BPT) – For the nearly 3 million American men fighting prostate cancer, and the thousands more yet to be diagnosed, silence is not golden. Men who speak up about their disease — to their doctors, loved ones and community — can get the help they need, when they need it, and ensure their treatment plan is tailored to their needs. What’s more, they could use their voice to inspire others to be more vocal, especially about symptoms that may indicate the disease may be getting worse.23265474

While overall prostate cancer numbers have declined, a new study from Northwestern University found an increasing number of newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer are metastatic — meaning the cancer has spread beyond the prostate to other parts of the body. Advanced stage cancers are more difficult to treat, and fewer patients will recover or survive when their disease has progressed. Unfortunately, men with advanced disease often hesitate to speak up about the discomfort they experience. But according to Dr. William Oh, chief of the division of hematology and medical oncology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, speaking up about these warning signs is a key way men can advocate for themselves.

“During treatment, it’s important for men to speak up and share with their doctors any changes in their bodies and symptoms, even if they don’t think the changes are related to their prostate cancer,” Oh says. “As physicians, we’re working to create an environment where men feel comfortable talking about symptoms instead of feeling shame or weakness.”

Men living with advanced prostate cancer may remain silent about symptoms, such as fatigue and difficulty with daily tasks, for different reasons. Some don’t want to further burden loved ones, whereas others believe the symptoms aren’t part of their illness or that they can “tough things out.” An international survey conducted by the International Prostate Cancer Coalition found that while 99 percent of advanced prostate cancer patients experienced at least one symptom, 68 percent admitted they sometimes ignored symptoms.

“If we really want to help patients, we have to encourage them to come out and tell us exactly what’s bothering them,” Oh says. “Symptoms can alert physicians that a patient’s cancer has progressed and they need to re-evaluate treatment. Men are sometimes conditioned to be stoic and take the pain – this is counterproductive and if physicians aren’t aware, they can’t address the symptoms.”

These conversations are important, but they aren’t always easy. Here are some practical tips to help men with prostate cancer make the most of their next doctor visit:

  • Prepare a list of specific questions before the appointment, so they are not forgotten.

  • Keep a diary or list in a notebook any symptoms. Any changes in day-to-day life are important information for doctors to know.

  • Ask a family member or loved one to come along to the doctor for support.

  • Take a note pad and pen to write down key points from the conversation.

Education and communication are critical for stemming the growing number of advanced prostate cancer diagnoses. That’s the basis of the Men Who Speak Up nationwide movement, which aims to raise awareness of the symptoms of advancing prostate cancer so that men know when to speak up and take action against their disease. At MenWhoSpeakUp.com, men can get the facts about advanced prostate cancer, learn about treatment options, download resources such as a doctor discussion guide and symptom tracker, and join the dialogue about advanced prostate cancer.

Oct 252016
 

(NC) Colorectal cancer is a serious disease affecting many Canadians. Barry D. Stein, president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and long-term survivor of metastatic colon cancer, discusses the disease and advances in current treatment options and care.health care

  1. It’s fairly common. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country. It’s also the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and the third leading cause of death from cancer in women. About one in 14 Canadian men and one in 16 Canadian women is expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. This year over 25,100 people will be diagnosed in Canada.

  2. New advances mean more treatment options. Innovation in treatment of colorectal cancer has rapidly evolved over the past few years. This is good news as it means that there are more options for patients. With the development of biomarkers, patients can be treated in accordance with the genetic makeup of their tumour and their individual needs.

  3. Treatment can now be personalized. Personalized or precision medicine means that patients can now be tested and assessed according to the unique genetic makeup of their tumour. For patients with advanced colorectal cancer, these genetic tests can help physicians better tailor the treatments for the patient from the time of their diagnosis.

  4. Genetic testing may play a role in treatment. Genetic testing of a tumour can help predict if a patient diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer is unlikely to respond to a particular treatment. This helps physicians determine at an early stage whether a particular treatment plan is right for the patient or if other treatment options should be considered.

  5. Doing your research helps. If you’ve been diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about genetic testing and how it can play a role in deciding the best treatment options for you.

Find more information at www.colorectal-cancer.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Oct 232016
 

(NC) Norma Lindner has multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. Annually, over 2,700 Canadians are diagnosed with this disease. Myeloma cancer affects every patient differently, making it difficult to treat.Doctor comforting a patient at the hospital

In 2012, Lindner was 56 years old, in good health and very active. She saw her doctor for an annual exam, and blood test results showed severe anemia. Further blood tests, bone scans, and a bone biopsy led to the diagnosis of multiple myeloma —– a cancer she’d never heard of.

With no time to process this life-changing event, Lindner started chemo treatment immediately to prepare me for the standard induction treatment — a stem cell transplant. Within a week of starting chemo treatment, she began to feel sick and fatigued.

“Recovery from the transplant was arduous and like a roller coaster,” Lindner explains. “I felt good one day and then back in bed for a week the next. It took me five months to recover enough to travel out of the country. Sadly, after an 18 month remission, I relapsed and had to start a new chemo regimen. My reality now is that I’ll be dependent on chemo treatments to keep my myeloma cancer at bay for the rest of my life.”

Multiple myeloma patients are constantly chasing the next treatment, working against time not just to extend their lives but to sustain a decent quality of living. The stakes are high. With this disease, relapses do occur making it critical that new and effective treatments are made available to patients.

“Living with an incurable disease has taught me to cherish the moment and to be thankful. Having the support of my husband, I started a local myeloma support group to help others like me in my area. I encourage patients to seek out support and to look for other helpful resources including Myeloma Canada’s website. The may not be curable yet, but the emotional impact can be.”

Find more information at www.myeloma.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Oct 132016
 

(NC) Colorectal cancer is a serious disease affecting many Canadians. Barry D. Stein, president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and long-term survivor of metastatic colon cancer, discusses the disease and advances in current treatment options and care.heart

  1. It’s fairly common. Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country. It’s also the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and the third leading cause of death from cancer in women. About one in 14 Canadian men and one in 16 Canadian women is expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. This year over 25,100 people will be diagnosed in Canada.

  2. New advances mean more treatment options. Innovation in treatment of colorectal cancer has rapidly evolved over the past few years. This is good news as it means that there are more options for patients. With the development of biomarkers, patients can be treated in accordance with the genetic makeup of their tumour and their individual needs.

  3. Treatment can now be personalized. Personalized or precision medicine means that patients can now be tested and assessed according to the unique genetic makeup of their tumour. For patients with advanced colorectal cancer, these genetic tests can help physicians better tailor the treatments for the patient from the time of their diagnosis.

  4. Genetic testing may play a role in treatment. Genetic testing of a tumour can help predict if a patient diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer is unlikely to respond to a particular treatment. This helps physicians determine at an early stage whether a particular treatment plan is right for the patient or if other treatment options should be considered.

  5. Doing your research helps. If you’ve been diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about genetic testing and how it can play a role in deciding the best treatment options for you.

Find more information at www.colorectal-cancer.ca.

www.newscanada.com

Oct 042016
 

(NC) Did you know that 2,800 Canadian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, and 55 per cent of them die within five years?health care

Did you also know late diagnosis and misdiagnosis may be part of the reason that it’s the most fatal women’s cancer?

It’s true — and there’s no reliable screening test or vaccine to prevent the disease. With these steps women can be more informed about ovarian cancer, and being informed can help determine if you’re at risk.

Step 1: Know your risk.

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, but some are at greater risk than others. Risk is increased in women over 50; women with a family history of ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colorectal cancer; and women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.

Ovarian cancer is also tied to genes, and that means certain genetic mutations like having BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can increase the risk of developing the disease by up to 60 per cent.

Step 2: Know the symptoms.

Alone, the symptoms of ovarian cancer don’t mean very much. In fact, because the symptoms can signal a variety of conditions, the disease is easily overlooked. The most common symptoms can include bloating, difficulty eating, abdominal discomfort, and change in urinary habits.

Step 3: Talk to your doctor.

If you’re a woman with multiple risk factors for ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor who can assist in determining if you are eligible for genetic screening. Come prepared with a detailed family history.

“Knowing your risk is key,” says Dr. Dianne Miller, head of the gynecologic oncology division at the University of British Columbia. “Genetic testing is important for those at high risk, and talking to your doctor is vital to understanding your options for prevention of this disease.”

Visit www.ovariancanada.org for more facts about ovarian cancer.

www.newscanada.com

Oct 032016
 

(NC) Genetic testing is the latest buzzword in healthcare, but do you know what it means and everything it can do? This technology can help determine the risk for certain cancers. The role of genetics in determining a woman’s risk of breast cancer for example is now widely known, as Angelina Jolie took preventative measures when she found out she was at increased risk. However, what some may not know is genes also play an important role in ovarian cancer.88451

Nearly a quarter of ovarian cancer cases are caused by hereditary conditions, and most due to a BRCA gene mutation. The disease is also difficult to detect and is often misdiagnosed, making it all the more important that women know their BRCA status.

A doctor can determine whether you are eligible for genetic counselling or testing, which can help in making informed health decisions.

“Up to 60 per cent of women with a BRCA gene mutation will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer,” says Dr. Diane Provencher, gynecologic oncologist at the Centre Hospitalier de Université de Montréal. “And of those diagnosed, 55 per cent will die within five years. Genetic testing helps us to understand and guide treatment options. In fact, new treatments are available to target BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer more effectively, providing patients and their families with more hope.”

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest women’s cancer, with around 2,800 Canadians diagnosed every year. There is currently no reliable screening test or vaccine to prevent the disease, which is why it’s critical for women to know their risk and if they’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, find out their BRCA status.

Because a BRCA mutation is inherited and can cause ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colorectal cancer, women with a family history of these diseases are more at risk. It also means that if you have ovarian cancer, knowing your BRCA status could help your family members know their own risk.

Genetic testing is a powerful tool in the fight against ovarian cancer and new treatments are helping to fight the disease. If you think your family history might put you at risk, talk to your doctor to find out if genetic testing is appropriate for you. Find more information at ovariancanada.org.

www.newscanada.com

Sep 222016
 

(BPT) – The topic of breast cancer can feel familiar — from October walks to pink ribbons, Americans know breast cancer. That is, until you or a loved one is diagnosed.

Suddenly, breast cancer moves from a topic that feels championed to a topic that is entirely too new, too unknown and too fresh. Suddenly, there is not enough information or resources to help a family cope.29877873

Nearly all Americans are aware that breast cancer poses a serious health threat to both women and men, but despite the vast awareness, many don’t know what it really means to fight this disease. According to a recent study conducted by Ford’s breast cancer awareness initiative, Warriors in Pink, more than 40 percent of Americans are unfamiliar with the day-to-day challenges patients face while in treatment, and even more, nearly 75 percent admit that they are unsure how to best support patients.

Loved ones not knowing how to help makes a difference because family and friends are proven to be patients’ greatest resources for getting through treatment.  Supporters may not know where to start in providing support, feeling that the issues facing patients are too big for them to solve. But what you still don’t know about breast cancer is that the little things matter more than ever. In fact, the ability to maintain day-to-day routines during treatment is one of breast cancer patients’ top concerns — second only to life expectancy.

“In terms of the day-to-day, it’s those tasks that were hardest for me,” says breast cancer survivor, Jenn Nudelman. “So my friends and family just came and did things. They didn’t give me a choice. A lot of times people reach out and say, ‘What can I do?’ But I’m not a person who asks for help. It was those friends who didn’t even ask, just acted, that I really shared the journey with.”

The key to care and being able to “just act” is being familiar with what types of support patients need most. When asked what type of support that is, patients report needing the most help with daily activities like household chores, errands and meal preparation while undergoing treatment.

“People brought meals to me,” says survivor Lisa Hedenstrom, “and my husband organized a lot of the logistics — taking me to appointments and helping me organize those appointments. Family and friends would come help with tasks for me, too. Because of them, I didn’t have to worry about grocery shopping or other types of tiring daily chores.”

Another survivor, Lori Redunski, could relate. “My husband hired a cleaning crew to come in and my kids would come home and see the lines in the carpet, smell the cleanser and feel comfortable in their home. It made our life so much easier,” she says.

These daily tasks are often overlooked, but every action taken to help patients to focus on their health and fighting this disease makes a difference.

“There are missing things that people don’t think about,” says survivor Heidi Floyd. “For example, if you need your side walk shoveled because of the snow, your lawn mowed or your pets cared for. Who has energy to walk their dog when they’re doing eight or nine hours of chemo or daily radiation?”

While help with these daily tasks undeniably lessens the burden on breast cancer patients, it’s important to remember that emotional care is also vital for those going through treatment.

“Through it all, you need at least one supporter who is genuinely there to do just that, to support you; to pray with you and to make you laugh,” says survivor Deborah Hayes. “Amidst trying to be strong throughout treatment and recovery, and making sure that everything in your personal life still gets accomplished, one really does need that supportive friend or group to share your innermost feelings.” 

To empower friends and family to take action and support the breast cancer patients in their lives, Ford Warriors in Pink offers free support services that make it easy to respond to their greatest needs — including cleaning services, meal kit deliveries, alternative hospital wear, online scheduling tools and more. These resources, available on their website at www.fordcares.com, allow loved ones who don’t know how to help to simply click and “just act” — without being asked. Additionally, the site offers tips and ideas on how to help patients have more good days during their journey.

“I was blessed with a great family and friends that were there to bring me support,” Redunski says. “But when people don’t have that support, they really need to feel comfortable with the resources that are available to them — whether through their doctors or online.”

Take the time to learn how you can make the little things add up to a supportive journey for the breast cancer patients in your life.

 

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