If you receive a cancer diagnosis, it is normal to ask, “How long will I live?” Despite the tremendous strides made in battling cancer and extending the life expectancy of cancer patients, The Big C still carries the death stigma.
An Unanswerable Question
None of us can know how long we will live. Whether or not you have cancer, life eventually comes to an end. Sometimes cancer hastens those final days, but more and more frequently it does not. There is no magic calculator that can predict with 100% accuracy when your last day on Earth will dawn.
Prepare for Tomorrow; Live for Today
The advice of people who have faced fatal illness is to prepare for the worst but live with hope. Survivors say knowing your affairs are in order and your loved ones are taken care of frees you to live each day to the fullest.
Many Will Outlive Cancer
Today, many people with some of the most common and most prevalent forms of cancer, such as breast and prostate cancer, can realistically expect to beat cancer, live long and happy lives, and die of old age or other causes. Certain forms of cancer are now considered so slow growing and unlikely to impact patients’ lives that testing and treatment are no longer recommended. You’re more likely to die of something else before you feel cancer’s effects.
Chemotherapy is the double-edged sword many cancer patients dread. Patients are told they must undergo chemotherapy to save their lives, but the side effects of chemo can be so traumatic that patients frequently wonder if life with chemo is worth living. Many of these patients are finding that alternative cancer treatments can offer similar results without chemotherapy’s devastating side effects.
Chemo’s Toll on the Body
The problem with chemotherapy is that it cannot discriminate between cancerous and healthy cells. Inside your body, chemo’s toxic chemicals target fast-growing cells, both cancerous and healthy. In the process, many healthy cells are killed or damaged.
Chemotherapy’s impact on the body can be felt from head to toe, as Healthline’s infographic illustrates. From hair loss and chemo brain to sexual dysfunction and infertility to swollen feet and extreme fatigue, chemotherapy’s side effects are as dreaded as the disease it is designed to treat.
Pain without Gain
What makes the decision to undergo chemotherapy even more difficult for cancer patients is the lack of guarantee that the suffering will retard their cancer. Both patients and cancers can develop resistance to chemotherapy, making it an ineffective treatment choice. When traditional medicine fails to offer patients alternative treatment options, they are forced to suffer for nothing.
Types of immunotherapy
Immunotherapy fights cancer in one or two ways, by stimulating your immune system as a whole to attack cancer, or by giving you specific immune system components, such as man-made or lab grown immune proteins, providing more targeted therapy. Immunotherapy may also be referred to as biologic or biotherapy.
Key players starring in your immunotherapy arsenal include:
Intelligence agents alerting your immune system and strategizing attacks against cancer.
CD4 & Helper T-Cells
Commandants directing and coordinating the cancer response.
Munitions factories churning out antibodies.
CD8 & Killer T-Cells
The assassins of cancer cells.
Communicate and help coordinate attacks.
Ammunition, seeking out and binding to cancer cells to mark them for attack.
Checks and balances your immune system, preventing damage to healthy cells.
The future of cancer therapy is happening now
In the last few decades, immunotherapy has become an important part of many cancer treatments. It is expected to be a key player in the future of cancer therapy, with many new treatments under study.
Want to learn more about the future of cancer therapy what immunotherapy has to offer you? Contact Issels today.
Naturally, you to want to protect your children from bad news. The instinct to shelter them may make you reluctant to tell them about your cancer; however, it is best that you do. It will be difficult to continue hiding it and children are often able to sense when something is wrong. They may be more worried if they feel that important news is being kept from them.
Explain the Illness
Find a time where you will not be interrupted or distracted. Younger children will not need as much detail as older ones; too much information may confuse and distress them. Phrase answers to questions so that each child will be able to understand. Children up to age eight may be given a short explanation. Tell them that cancer means a part of your body that is not doing what it is supposed to do. There are bad cells in your body that can spread, so they need to be kept from growing or to be removed.
Prepare for reactions such as the child thinking that they caused the cancer (“magical thinking”) or that it is contagious. You may have to explain that cancer cannot be transmitted to them or the other parent.
For older children, name the illness so that they do not misunderstand. They may need a more detailed explanation and may ask questions about your specific type of cancer. If they have more information, they are less likely to feel helpless.
Explain to the child that there are treatments available that can help and that it is much rarer for people to die from cancer than it used to be.
Dealing with the stress of cancer is difficult, both for the patient and his or her family. Aside from the obvious worry and questions about the illness and treatments are the overwhelming details that must be handled regarding health insurance, medical appointments and financial concerns.
For the Patient
It’s OK to not be OK. Your mind and body are reacting to many new challenges, and if you feel sad, tired, confused, angry, lost, or afraid, it’s OK.
You may not think a support group is for you, but connecting with others going through similar situations, whether in person or online, can reinforce the idea that you’re not alone. And your insight might help someone else. Sometimes that is enough to make you feel more positive.
Give your body a break. Don’t push it. Give yourself permission to rest more by simplifying your routine. Treat yourself to massages, eat healthy and exercise as little or as much as you want.
Prioritize what’s really important to you and unplug from anything that causes undue stress.
Remember that your loved one is feeling very out of control, so sharing input in as many details and decisions as possible will keep the paths of communication open and ease stress between you.
Maintain a good support system of family and friends. Don’t become overwhelmed with the stress of caring for a family member with cancer.
Keep yourself healthy and watch for the warning signs of stress and depression – sleeplessness, irritability, forgetfulness and exhaustion to name a few.
Don’t let cancer related stress diminish the quality of life you or your loved ones deserve. The Issels Treatment® uses natural, alternative protocols, individualized for the patient’s health and well-being.
A new study has linked certain types of birth control pills to a higher near-term risk of breast cancer, but the finding is unlikely to affect the majority of young American women.
“The study found no relationship between an increased cancer risk and the use of low-dose estrogen pills, which are currently the most commonly prescribed type of birth control pills in the U.S.,” according to a CBS News report.
High Risk Pills
The birth control pills implicated in the study are those containing moderate to high doses of estrogen. While birth control pills containing a moderate estrogen dose elevated breast cancer risk only slightly, high-estrogen medications nearly tripled breast cancer risk.
The two greatest offenders were triphasic combination pills containing norethindrone and birth control pills containing ethynodiol diacetate. If your birth control pills contain either of these ingredients, Issels Cancer Treatment Center staff urges you to talk to your doctor.
No Need to Panic
“Breast cancer is rare among young women, and there are numerous established health benefits associated with oral contraceptive use that must be considered,” study author Elisabeth Beaber of Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center told CBS News.
She recommended that women exercise caution in interpreting the study’s results, which are yet to be confirmed, and discuss their breast cancer risk with their physician. As CBS notes, some other studies have shown no appreciable link between birth control pills and increased breast cancer risk. Previous studies have shown that breast cancer risk declines when women discontinue birth control pills.