Is Chemo Brain Real?

IMG_7950Those of you who have been through chemotherapy have probably noticed some changes with your cognitive skills.  Those around you have noticed that you now may have problems remembering things.  This effect is known as “chemobrain”.   Chemobrain describes the difficulty with the cognitive ability of mentally processing or understanding things after chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Trust me folks, I can tell you first hand that this is REAL!

New research was recently conducted with 94 women who had been treated for breast cancer with chemotherapy or radiation for three to six years.  The results showed that these cancer treatments may damage the DNA within healthy cells in your body as well as damaging the cancer cells they are meant to fight which can affect mental abilities afterwards.  The research discovered that these cancer treatments may be speeding up the effects of aging that would happen naturally, but otherwise at a slower place.  The research believes that cancer treatments may be accelerating  the aging process and be leading to some of the cognitive difficulties also seen in normal aging.

One researcher who participated in the study states the reason for this impact on cognitive function is not understand and that there are not yet treatments for these side effects  but hope in the future there will be.  Therefore, it is  important to consider when making a decision about the benefits of aggressive treatments versus the risk..  When considering whether or not you are going to accept chemotherapy, you need to be mindful that this  may not be the only side effect to expect during and after cancer treatment.  You will find after undergoing cancer treatment you will find a “new normal” both mentally and physically.

The next time someone you know who has been through cancer treatment  cannot remember something or may have to ask you something more than once, please be patient with that person and remember they are not playing.  Depending on the person’s personality you may be able to laugh and joke about it while others you may need to be a lot more sensitive.

As for me…tease me…laugh at me,  have a field day with my memory.  All because at the end of the day, I am still here and living boldly! 

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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

IMG_7950As we near the end of National Breast Cancer Month, it doesn’t mean we put in on the back burner until next October.  It means we should remain diligent in doing our monthly self-breast exams and yearly annual mammograms.  Remember, early detention is the key.  

 

I know some of you use the excuse that you forget to do your monthly self-breast exams.  Why don’t you pick an important date (such as your birth date) and put a monthly reminder in your mobile telephone that it is time to check the tatas.  You put every other type of reminder in your phone….and this one could save your self.

It breaks my heart to hear the number of African-American women that are dying from breast cancer (many needlessly) and many of our  women are getting the more aggressive cancers.  Black women are more likely than white women to get triple-negative breast cancer, a kind of breast cancer that often is aggressive and comes back after treatment. Scientists are doing research to learn why some women are more likely to get this kind of breast cancer, and to find better ways to treat it.  Here are a few facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Compared with white women, black women had lower rates of getting breast cancer (incidence rates) and higher rates of dying from breast cancer (death rates) between 1999 and 2013. During this period, breast cancer incidence went down among white women, and went up slightly among black women. Now, breast cancer incidence is about the same for women of both races.
  • The death rate for black women with breast cancer is 40% higher than white women

Below are some steps you can take to lower your risks of getting breast cancer.

  • Know Your Risk
  • Get Screened.  If you don’t have insurance, please check my website to see where you can get a free screening.
  • Make healthy food choices

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  • Exercise — just move.  It doesn’t have to be fast. Just walk

 

 

Last but not least, if you feel something in your breast and are afraid, please reach out to someone you trust.  If afraid to go to the doctor alone, please have someone to go with you.  If I am available, I will be glad to go with you.  You can reach out to me via of email 

Until next time DARE TO LIVE BOLDLY!

 

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Free Day of Pampering For Cancer Survivors and Caregivers

IMG_7950This is just a short note to let you know on October 13, 2018 between the hours of 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm ChambluCAPS Modern Care and Dawn’s Creations Salon will be providing free pampering services to cancer survivors and caregivers.  The services will take place in Owings Mills and registration is REQUIRED. 

If you are going through the cancer journey and/or know someone who is a caregiver to a cancer survivor, please share this information. You must register at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/day-of-pampering-free-services-for-cancer-survivors-and-caregivers-oct-13-tickets-48112432581?aff=eand

 

Enjoy your day of pampering.  You certainly deserve it!

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And remember DARE TO LIVE BOLDLY!

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New Cancer Support Group For All Types Of Cancers

133BEDB7-BC74-4315-A18D-9CEECE5DF72C.jpegIMG_7950I am pleased to announce that I will be starting a cancer support group the third Wednesday of each month starting, Wednesday, September 19, 2018 at 1:30 PM. The meeting will be held at John Booth Senior Center located at 2601 E Baltimore St in Baltimore’s Patterson Park. This meeting is for all ages and all types of cancer. Caregivers are also welcomed. Contact me at courageousdiva2011@yahoo.com for more information. 

Please spread the word to any and all that you think may benefit from this support and inspiration.

 

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#courageousdiva #daretoliveboldly

 

The American Cancer Society Answers Four Cancer Myths

IMG_7950I recently received an e-mail from the American Cancer Society (ACS) that answers questions to four common cancer questions.  I would  like to share the questions and answers with you.

 

Question #1:  If cancer runs in my family, does that mean I’ll get cancer?

Answer:  The reality is that most people diagnosed with cancer don’t have a family history of the disease.  Sometimes, people in the same family get cancer because they share behaviors that raise their risk; not because they share genes. Behaviors that increase risk of cancer include smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of exercise.  All of these behaviors can be changed to help reduce the risk of cancer.

In other cases, cancer can be caused by an abnormal gene that is passed down through generations. In those cases, what is inherited is not the cancer itself, but the abnormal gene that may – or may not – lead to cancer.

If you have a strong family history of cancer and want to learn your genetic makeup, ask your health care provider to refer you to a genetic counselor to find out if genetic testing may be right for you.

 

Question #2: I’m under the age of 50, Do I need to worry about colorectal cancer?

Answer:  ACS has released updated guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. The new recommendations say screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risks. Previously, the recommended screening began at age 50 for people at average risks.

The reason the recommended age for screening was lowered was because of a major analysis that was done by researchers at the American Cancer Society.  The data showed that new cases of colorectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among younger adults.  Therefore, the recommended guidelines were lowered to the age of 45 for adults of average risk will result in more lives being saved from this type of cancer.

People that are at higher risk are those with:

  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

The best way to determine when you should begin colorectal cancer screenings and how often is to talk to your health care provider. To learn more about colorectal screening you can click this link

 

Question #3: Are there any health benefits to just walking?

Answer:  Walking is the most common type of physical activity in the US and can help you live longer.   ACS recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equal to a brisk walk or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (makes your heartbeat and breathing faster and makes you sweat) each week.  A study performed by ACS found that all levels of walking, even levels below the recommended guidelines were associated with lower mortality risk.

And remember, walking is free, easy and most of us can do it.

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Question #4:  Can chocolate be good for you?

Answer:  Studies conducted on chocolate have come back with mixed results. Some report that eating chocolate may lower the risk of certain cancers, while others show no benefit, and still others show that eating chocolate increases cancer risk. There is stronger evidence suggesting that eating chocolate may help prevent heart disease. Flavanols have been shown to lower blood pressure and make your heart, veins, and arteries work better.  Try eating small amounts of high-quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. It might give your heart some benefit, and it generally has less sugar and saturated fat than milk or other kinds of chocolate. However, please remember dark chocolate is still candy, and it still has extra calories, sugar, and fats so eat it sparingly.

 

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Remember life is precious and we never know when our time will be up.   Let’s do all we can to take care of our bodies in every way … physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.

Until next time, I continue to challenge you to live BOLDLY!

#courageousdiva #daretoliveboldly

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How To Support A Friend Who Has Cancer

IMG_7950If you have not experienced cancer yourself, I am sure you know of someone who has.  Being told by a loved one that they have cancer can be a very frightening thing.  This admission makes each of us realize how vulnerable we are and perhaps it could be you getting this diagnosis.  As a result, some of us go into seclusion when we are needed the most because we do not know what to say or do.  As a cancer survivor, let me tell you one of the worse things you can do is to stop contacting your loved one.  It is quite alright to say, you don’t know what to say, but please let your friend know you are there for them.

If you have a friend who is single and perhaps do not have any family nearby, please offer to go with them to their doctor’s appointment and maybe even record the visit.  A cancer patient is so overwhelmed with all the information they are given, not to mention the emotional toll this illness can cause, what is heard probably goes in one ear and out the other.   Below are a few other tips to assist your friend through this journey.

  • Do not assume it is ok to visit your friend when you want to.  Cancer treatment takes a lot out of a person and trying to entertain you while they are not feeling well is not a good idea.
  • Celebrate milestones – If you friend has to undergo chemotherapy, it is possible they are unable to eat or they cannot enjoy their food.  In between treatments, offer to take them out to eat something they enjoy.
  • Please make sure you treat them the same.  Do not let cancer spoil the wonderful relationship you had before the diagnosis.
  • Find ways to help.  If you have a friend who is very independent, it is possible they need assistance but is too proud to ask for it.  Make arrangements to have their house cleaned or food prepared for them and/or their family so they will not have to cook.
  • Don’t forget to continue to laugh together when appropriate.  Be humorous and have light conversations or share a funny story to brighten their day.
  • Make a phone call or text message to let them know you are thinking of them.  If you do this, let them know it is okay if he or she does not reply.   While going through cancer treatment, your friend may not want to see you as often as she used to.

On the other hand, there are things you definitely should not say.

  • I’m sure you will be fine.
  • Don’t worry.
  • I know just how  you feel.
  • How long do you have?

Friendships are very important even after cancer treatment.  The patient still needs encouragement and support.  Your friend will now have a “new normal” and your friendship can make a very important role in this acceptance.

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Feel free to check out and refer cancer patients to my website.  There is a wealth of resources for not just the cancer patient, but the caregiver as well.  Everything from financial support, to empowerment as well as retreat information.  My website address is https://courageousdiva2011.com/.

Lastly, we all have a time clock that is ticking and we don’t know when it will stop.  Therefore, until next time, I challenge you to DARE TO LIVE BOLDLY!

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Why Did I Get Cancer?

IMG_7950Why did I get cancer?  That is a question many of us may have when we get our cancer diagnosis.  I eat right, I exercise and I am a good person that treat others the way I want to be treated so why am I the person now facing this battle that can take my life? Have you ever stopped to think that perhaps you are facing this challenge because:

  • You need to be still
  • You need to learn to live each day to the fullest as though it is your last
  • You need to spend more time with the people you love
  • You have taken things for granted and need to realize just how precious life and time is
  • You are putting too much emphasis on physical beauty instead of what is inside of your heart
  • God wants to show you how he is going to use you so you can discover your purpose
  • God is using you to show others there is hope in the middle of a storm
  • God is teaching you to stop doubting yourself and believe you are a force to be reckoned with

 

So if faced with a cancer diagnosis or any type of challenge for that matter,  instead of asking why,  you may simply want to state , “God I truly do not understand why this is happening to me and I trust you will see me through this journey. You are going to use me to impact others in positive ways I can’t even begin to imagine.” 

As a two-time breast cancer survivor,  I am proud to say God  has used my scars to draw others to me.  There are women who need to see my scars so I can inspire them and give them hope as well  as laughter as they go through their journey .  As a cancer survivor you may not be thankful for cancer, but please be thankful for what cancer has taught you or will teach you.

Cancer has taught me how to live. I am living life boldly and I dare you to do the same!

 

Believe yourself

Courageous Diva

Barbara Palmer

#courageousdiva

#daretoliveboldly