We Celebrate Greg

Greg was training for a half ironman triathlon in 2014 as a tribute to the wife of a friend who has passed away the year before. Greg had been having problems with his knee and wanted to have it checked out so he could continue his training regimen. During the exam, a blood test was done that showed a high PSA level, which can be an indicator of prostate cancer, and a biopsy confirmed the diagnosis.

“I had to learn a lot about prostate cancer in a short period of time,” Greg said. He went through five months of radiation, and although he had some side effects from the treatments, he was able to continue working. “I actually competed in the triathlon and it went pretty well, but the thought of the cancer returning was always in the back of my mind.”

In late 2017, Greg got sick with what he thought was the flu. He went to the hospital when he started throwing up blood and tests found a grapefruit-sized tumor on his stomach. His health care team removed the tumor and fortunately Greg was told the cancer was treatable.

“I lost my girlfriend to pancreatic cancer 13 years ago,” offered Greg. “It was devastating; it’s something that never leaves you when you lose someone like that. And now I had to deal with cancer myself, twice.” Greg is now on a regular schedule of having check-ups and scans and routinely has his PSA levels checked. “It’s a scary situation. I’m always worried about the cancer coming back.”

In 2018, Greg was looking for a support group and found Cancer Support Community. He started attending yoga and the Cooking for Wellness programs. When Governor DeWine issues stay-at-home orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greg started attending the virtual programs.

“I take the yoga classes four times a week, and log into the mindfulness sessions as well,” said Greg. “They help me feel better physically. My knee keeps me from running and I’m stuck inside anyway. So, these classes are great. They help me relax and lessen my anxiety. I try to practice the something I learn in yoga every day, and overall, it makes me feel better.”

“I really appreciate Cancer Support Community offering these programs online during this time. The fact that they’re available for free is an added benefit.”

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Greg was training for a half ironman triathlon in 2014 as a tribute to the wife of a friend who has passed away the year before. Greg had been having problems with his knee and wanted to have it checked out so he could continue his training regimen. During the exam, a blood test was… Read more.

We Celebrate Aireen

It was an average day at work as a medical doctor in 2017 when the nurses noticed something was off with Pedro. When he started to lose his speech, we went to the emergency room and an MRI found lesions in his lungs with the cancer rapidly spreading to his brain.

Pedro’s prostate cancer diagnosis in 2015 had been difficult, but this was even more devastating for all of us – our daughter and son and their families. It all happened so quickly! As a doctor, Pedro knew his prognosis presented a challenging journey ahead. He went through chemotherapy and radiation, but the cancer was relentless.

Between the endless hospital visits and appointments, being his caregiver was overwhelming. I took care of him both in the hospital and at home. Caring for him felt like a roller coaster. Some days were good, most of them were not. Some nights I would only get an hour or half an hour of sleep, if I was lucky. I was constantly fatigued. I wanted to be there for him, but the challenge of caring for Pedro left me physically and mentally exhausted.

At Cancer Support Community, I found hope and respite. Five years ago, after Pedro’s original diagnosis, a friend saw the stress I was dealing with and invited me to a yoga class at Cancer Support Community. Having this organization as a resource was so helpful, especially when we received Pedro’s second diagnosis. Being around others who were dealing with the same situation made it a little easier. I was able to share my hopes, fears and challenges with others who understood. Coming to a cooking or yoga class, even for just for an hour, helped relieve my stress. The programs and the people I met helped me realize I needed to take care of myself to be able to provide the best care for Pedro.

I’m grateful that Cancer Support Community was there when I needed the support. The nice thing is that they’re still here for me as I adjust to life without my husband. I’ve learned ways to take care of myself and reduce my stress at my favorite programs, Gentle Yoga, Belly Dancing, and Cooking for Wellness. I’ve developed friendships with people who understand how cancer changes families and who understand the stress of taking care of a sick loved one. We share stories, we share hugs, and we lift each other up.

I’d like to thank Cancer Support Community for helping me on this journey.  I didn’t sign up to be a caregiver any more than Pedro signed up to have cancer, but I am so thankful that they’re here for me.

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It was an average day at work as a medical doctor in 2017 when the nurses noticed something was off with Pedro. When he started to lose his speech, we went to the emergency room and an MRI found lesions in his lungs with the cancer rapidly spreading to his brain. Pedro’s prostate cancer diagnosis… Read more.

We Celebrate Kathleen

On vacation in North Carolina in 2011 with her husband, Ben, Kathleen was busy weaving and creating handmade baskets. They were having a great time and she was enjoying doing something she absolutely loves. Then, she received a call from her doctor regarding a recent routine mammogram. Kathleen had a sinking feeling that her vacation was about to come to an abrupt end. She had had years of routine mammograms and subsequent follow-up appointments for other tests, but she just knew something was wrong this time. Those previous experiences had given her the opportunity to process and prepare should she ever need to face cancer. She had decided that should it come to that, she would be ready to face it, to deal with it. Her mindset would be, this is just what it is

And indeed, her suspicions were confirmed by her doctor’s office: Kathleen was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

“I have a very positive attitude about everything, and I figured I’d just deal with this,” Kathleen said. “But it was a challenge just to sort everything out to make necessary decisions,” she continued. “I had so many questions. Should I begin a chemotherapy or radiation treatment plan? When should I have surgery? Should I participate in clinical trials?” After much consideration, Kathleen decided to join a clinical trial, and three months later she had a mastectomy.

Eighteen months later, after finding a swelling in her neck, Kathleen heard those words again, “You have cancer.” The breast cancer had metastasized.

Once again, Kathleen’s positive attitude prevailed, and she thought she could get past this episode as well. But then, as she recalled, “My husband and I were at a conference about metastatic cancer and they told us that it is not curable. That was the first time I heard that the cancer I had was incurable. That was a big surprise.”

The hits kept coming. Another tumor was found on the other side of her neck. Then, in 2017, Kathleen was starting to feel unsteady when she walked. When she started vomiting, she went to the emergency room where an MRI found a cancerous brain tumor. “The tumor was on the cerebellum, which controls balance, so that’s why I was wobbly,” she stated. In 2019, a tumor was found at the base of her spine, which led to chemo and radiation, as surgery was not an option due to risk of paralysis.

Through it all, Kathleen’s optimism never waned. She started taking yoga classes to help with her balance. She learned about Cancer Support Community through the yoga instructor and began attending programs here about six years ago. “Yoga has been an important part of my exercise program throughout my cancer journey,” Kathleen offered. “The yoga instructor, Abby, is tremendous.”

Kathleen attended yoga and the Cooking for Wellness programs at the Cancer Support Community facility prior to the pandemic, although she had to drive 45 minutes one way. So, when the programs were transitioned to a virtual platform, Kathleen was very pleased. “I hadn’t used Zoom before, so I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect,” Kathleen reported. “But once I learned what to do, it was easy. Now I can attend the yoga programs several times a week right from home. For me, it’s an important part of staying healthy, along with the Workout with Friends and Cooking for Wellness classes.”

Kathleen says her faith in God has been important during her journey. Her husband also has played an active role. After 36 years of marriage, he is a major source of strength, standing by her side and encouraging her. Kathleen recently turned 69 and her goal is to reach her 80th birthday. She continues to have a positive outlook on life, taking it all in stride, one day at a time.

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On vacation in North Carolina in 2011 with her husband, Ben, Kathleen was busy weaving and creating handmade baskets. They were having a great time and she was enjoying doing something she absolutely loves. Then, she received a call from her doctor regarding a recent routine mammogram. Kathleen had a sinking feeling that her vacation was… Read more.

Meet Annamarie

A suspicious spot was found on a chest x-ray Annamarie had in 2010. It was supposed to be a routine screening before an elective surgery procedure, but it led to a CT scan with more bad news. On Mother’s Day, she received a call from her doctor – there was a cancerous tumor in her lung.

“I’ll never forget that day,” Annamarie said. “When your doctor calls you on a Sunday, you know it’s not good. It sure ruined Mother’s Day.”

A lot more test followed, and then there was surgery to remove the tumor and part of her lung. “There was no time to think about it. It all went so fast.” Having COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) made Annamarie’s year-long recovery more arduous.

Then, in 2014, she got sick again and her health care team thought the cancer had returned. “I had pneumonia and blood clots in my legs, but I never gave up hope,” said Annamarie. Fortunately, after numerous tests, no cancer was found.

Annamarie recently started attending Cancer Support Community’s lung cancer support group. “No one can understand your cancer journey, but it helps to be around others who have the same issues,” she offered.

Annamarie had attended yoga classes with Abby in the past, and when the COVID-19 pandemic required social distancing, she decided to try the virtual programs at Cancer Support Community. “It has helped a lot to be able to participate,” she noted. “With my age and health concerns related to the virus, I can’t go out. COVIS is a lung disease and I already have compromised lungs, so it’s a real concern.”

“The virtual programs have been a Godsend for my husband and me,” Annamarie offered. “We’re both extremely appreciative that they’re being offered.

For more information on how you can support our Virtual Community, please visit https://cancersupportohio.org/get-involved/facingcancertogether/

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A suspicious spot was found on a chest x-ray Annamarie had in 2010. It was supposed to be a routine screening before an elective surgery procedure, but it led to a CT scan with more bad news. On Mother’s Day, she received a call from her doctor – there was a cancerous tumor in her… Read more.

Mesothelioma Isn’t Going Anywhere

By: Devin Golden on December 5, 2019

For more information please visit, https://www.mesotheliomaguide.com/mesothelioma/

In the latter half of the 20th century, the general public learned of the dangers of asbestos. They learned the substance is, in fact, a carcinogen, one that can lead to aggressive diseases such as mesothelioma.

The awareness of the harm caused by asbestos led to increased regulations in the United States and scrutiny of businesses that used the mineral. Most people expected asbestos-caused diseases like mesothelioma to top off early in the 21st century and eventually fade into obscurity.

That result has not happened — nor will it any time soon.

According to the World Journal of Surgery, pleural mesothelioma cases increased from 2004 to 2014. The publication analyzed the National Cancer Database’s information for incidence rates during this time. The result from this examination shows that mesothelioma has become more prevalent in the United States.

National Cancer Database on Mesothelioma

In 2004, there were 1,783 pleural mesothelioma cases in the country. In 2014, there were 1,961 reported cases. That’s an increase of around 10%. Pleural mesothelioma only accounts for between 70% and 80% of all mesothelioma cases. Peritoneal mesothelioma and pericardial mesothelioma comprise the other 20-30% of cases.

According to numerous sources, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are usually between 3,000 and 3,300 new mesothelioma cases each year. From 2012-2016, there were on average 3,253 new cases each year. In 2016 alone, there were 3,096 reported mesothelioma cases.

If we follow the rule that “between 70% and 80% of all cases involve pleural mesothelioma,” then there were between 2,100 and 2,500 pleural mesothelioma cases in 2016. Like said earlier, this disease isn’t going away. Mesothelioma incidence is stagnant, if not increasing, year to year.

But …

Mesothelioma Treatment Is Improving Science continually evolves, which means treatment for diseases continuously improves. Mesothelioma treatment, in particular, is getting better, which is a positive for patients and their loved ones. Earlier in 2019, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Novo TTF-100L medical device for pleural mesothelioma treatment. It is limited to humanitarian use device distinction, but the approval is a significant moment for mesothelioma patients and doctors.

Peritoneal mesothelioma treatment is expanding as well. Many patients receive cytoreductive surgery, plus heated intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) immediately after the operation. In a study published by the Annals of Surgical Oncology, around 55% of participants who underwent this treatment combination survived for at least three years. Roughly 37% survived for at least five years.

This study only included a few peritoneal mesothelioma patients, and other studies have reported different percentages. However, they are all close to the following:

· Between 50% and 65% for three-year survival

· Between 35% and 47% for five-year survival

While these figures are promising, a new method shows even better survival rates.

Dr. Paul Sugarbaker of MedStar Washington Hospital wrote an article for Translational Lung Cancer Research about long-term intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Sugarbaker, an esteemed peritoneal mesothelioma specialist, said that using this method in addition to cytoreduction and HIPEC has increased life expectancies for many people.

According to his report, of patients who regularly received this treatment, around 70% survived for at least five years. That’s great news for patients.

Wait! There’s more good news.

Mesothelioma Patients Undergoing Treatment More Often

The best route to healing from mesothelioma is undergoing treatment. Surgery is the first choice, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. If more patients receive medical help, then more of them will survive for longer, right?

The National Cancer Database’s figures back up this theory.

In 2004, treatment and survival rates were as follows:

· Approximately 34% of pleural mesothelioma patients underwent treatment.

· Around 37% of them survived for at least one year after diagnosis.

· Roughly 9% survived for at least three years.

In 2014, the rates were better:

· Around 54% of patients received treatment.

· Roughly 47% survived for at least one year after diagnosis.

· Approximately 15% survived for at least three years. So more people are getting treatment for their mesothelioma, and more people are surviving for longer after diagnosis.

How to Find Mesothelioma Treatment

We at Mesothelioma Guide can help patients find quality treatment and potentially extend their lives. Our patient advocate and registered nurse, Jenna Campagna, has connections to the top cancer centers in the country.

If you or a loved one has mesothelioma, remember that treatment now is better than ever before. Jenna works with patients every day to improve their quality of life and prognosis. Email her at jenna@mesotheliomaguide.com if you wish to explore your treatment options.

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin’s objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones

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By: Devin Golden on December 5, 2019 For more information please visit, https://www.mesotheliomaguide.com/mesothelioma/ In the latter half of the 20th century, the general public learned of the dangers of asbestos. They learned the substance is, in fact, a carcinogen, one that can lead to aggressive diseases such as mesothelioma. The awareness of the harm caused… Read more.