Set Goals To Help You Overcome Cancer

Anyone who wants to turn their hopes and dreams into realities can benefit from writing about their goals. This is especially important if you have been diagnosed with a serious illness, form mesothelioma, fibromyalgia to even autoimmune disorders. When faced with a serious diagnosis, people sometimes stop trying to achieve goals because they’re afraid they won’t be able to accomplish them in their lifetimes or feel that nothing matters besides their illness. However, setting and achieving goals can help you live a high quality life despite your diagnosis and might aid you in living a longer, healthier life despite a stated prognosis. 

Short-Term Goals
Patients often focus on short-term goals such as getting through treatment or going into remission for a year. Writing about these tangible goals can help them cope with treatment better. Just as anyone who sets a goal is more likely to achieve it, patients who set goals for their treatment have a better prognosis than those who do not. 

Patients can approach these short-term goals in a variety of ways. Writing down their goals and hanging them up where they can see them helps remind them of what they are trying to achieve and keeps them focused on recovery. Some patients also find it helpful to keep a journal about their treatment. Journaling is an effective way to release negative feelings about disease so that patients can remain in the positive state of mind necessary for cancer recovery.

Quality of Life
It’s important for patients to avoid focusing exclusively on their disease and its treatment. Before getting ill, most people had hobbies and things they looked forward to, and it can sometimes be difficult to focus on these things after a diagnosis. However, enjoying life as much as possible for as long as they can after diagnosis can help patients recover better. In addition, individuals should make as many good memories as possible—-positivity is uplifting and guides healing. 

Thus, patients should add some daily goals to their treatment goals. For example, some patients may set a goal of reading a certain amount of pages in a book. Writing down these goals can help patients remember the things they enjoy and give them things to look forward to, both of which can help improve their chances of recovering from cancer.

The Elephant in the Room…

The Elephant in the Room…

When you google dementia this is what you get:
Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases.

Symptoms ~ Problems may involve language, memory, perception, emotional behavior or personality, and cognitive skills (such as calculation, abstract thinking, or judgment). Dementia usually first appears as forgetfulness.

Symptoms include:
*Changed feeling (sensation) or perception
*Changed sleep patterns
*Change in sleep-wake cycle
*Need for increased sleep
*Decrease in problem-solving skills and judgment
*Confused about people, places, or times
*Unable to pick up cues from the environment
*Disorders of problem-solving or learning
*Trouble making calculations
*Unable to learn
*Unable to think abstractly
*Unable to think in general terms
* Impaired recognition (agnosia)
*Trouble recognizing familiar objects or people
*Trouble recognizing things through the senses
* Lack of or poor language ability (aphasia)
*Unable to form words
*Unable to name objects
*Unable to read or write
*Unable to repeat a phrase
*Unable to speak (without muscle paralysis)
*Unable to understand speech
*Have impaired language skills
*Repeat phrases
*Speak poorly (enunciation)
*Use slang or the wrong words
*Memory problems
*Unable to remember new things (short-term memory problems)
*Unable to remember the past (long-term memory problems)
*Motor system problems
*Gait changes
*Impaired skilled motor function (apraxia)
*Unable to copy geometric figures
*Unable to copy hand positions
*Unable to dress self ~ and lack of desire to bathe, brush teeth and the ability to live with those smells and without regard to those around them.
*Inappropriate movements
*Other motor system problems
* Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations) and having false ideas (delusions)
*Severe confusion
*Personality changes
*Decreased ability to care for oneself
*Decreased interest in daily living activities ~ often accompanied by frequent “woe is me I’d be better off dead” drama scenes
*Inappropriate mood or behavior ~ such as blurting out whatever they may be thinking without censure, often creating ambivalence in those around them.
*No mood (flat affect)
*Not flexible
*Only concerned with self (self-centered)
*Poor temper control
*Unable to function or interact in social or personal situations
*Unable to keep a job
*Unable to make decisions
*Withdrawal from social interaction
*Unable to be spontaneous
*Unable to concentrate

Other symptoms that may occur with dementia:
* Incontinence
* Swallowing problems

Treatment ~ The goal of treatment is to control the symptoms of dementia. Treatment depends on the condition causing the dementia. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for a short time.

Stopping or changing medications that make confusion worse may improve brain function. Medicines that contribute to confusion include:
* Anticholinergics
* Central nervous system depressants
* Cimetidine
* Lidocaine
* Painkillers (analgesics)

Treating conditions that can lead to confusion can often greatly improve mental functioning. Such conditions include:
* Anemia
* Decreased oxygen (hypoxia)
* Depression
* Heart failure
* Infections
* Nutritional disorders
* Thyroid disorders

Medications may be needed to control behavior problems. Possible medications include:
* Antipsychotics
* Cholinesterase inhibitors (donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine) for Alzheimer’s-type dementia
* Dopamine blockers (haloperidol, risperdal, olanzapine, clozapine)
* Mood stabilizers (fluoxetine, imipramine, citalopram)
* Serotonin-affecting drugs (trazodone, buspirone)
* Stimulants (methylphenidate)

A person’s eyes and ears should be checked regularly. Hearing aids, glasses, or cataract surgery may be needed.

Psychotherapy or group therapy usually does not help because it may cause more confusion.

A person with dementia may need monitoring and help at home or in an institution. Possible options include:
* Adult day care
* Boarding homes
* Convalescent homes
* In-home care

Family members can get help caring for the person with dementia from:
* Adult protective services
* Community resources
* Homemakers
* Visiting nurses or aides
* Volunteer services

In some communities, support groups may be available (see elder care – support group). Family counseling can help family members cope with home care.

Other tips for reducing disorientation:
* Have familiar objects and people around
* Keep lights on at night
* Provide environmental and other cues with reality orientation
* Reward appropriate behaviors and ignore inappropriate ones to control unacceptable or dangerous behaviors
* Stick to a simple activity schedule

Advance directives, power of attorney, and other legal actions may make it easier to decide about the care of the person with dementia. Seek legal advice early in the course of the disorder, before the person with dementia is unable to make such decisions.

The two major causes of non-reversible (degenerative) dementia are:

  • Alzheimer’s disease ~ Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a term that is used to describe a group of brain disorders. These brain disorders cause memory loss and make it harder to carry out daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease develops slowly over time. The symptoms begin to appear so gradually that it is often mistaken for normal aging.
  • Loss of brain function due to a series of small strokes (vascular dementia)

The two conditions often occur together.

Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a leading cause of dementia in elderly adults. People with this condition have abnormal protein structures in certain areas of the brain.

The structures and symptoms of DLB are similar to those of Alzheimer’s disease, but it is not clear whether DLB is a form of Alzheimer’s or a separate disease. There is no cure for DLB or Alzheimer’s.

Conditions that damage blood vessels or nerve structures of the brain can also lead to dementia.

Treatable causes of dementia include:
* Brain tumors
* Dementia due to metabolic causes
* Infections
* Low vitamin B12 levels
* Normal pressure hydrocephalus
* Thyroid conditions

Dementia usually occurs in older age. It is rare in people under age 60. The risk for dementia increases as a person gets older.

Tests & diagnosis
The following tests and procedures may be done:
* B12 level
* Blood ammonia levels
* Blood chemistry (chem-20)
* Blood gas analysis
* Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis
* Drug or alcohol levels (toxicology screen)
* Electroencephalograph (EEG)
* Glucose test
* Head CT
* Liver function tests
* Mental status test
* MRI of head
* Serum calcium
* Serum electrolytes
* Thyroid function tests
* Thyroid stimulating hormone level
* Urinalysis

Prognosis ~ Dementia usually gets worse and often decreases quality of life and lifespan.

Prevention ~ Most causes of dementia are not preventable.

You can reduce the risk of vascular dementia, which is caused by a series of small strokes, by quitting smoking and controlling high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating a low-fat diet and exercising regularly may also reduce the risk of vascular dementia.

Complications ~ Complications depend on the cause of the dementia, but may include the following:

* Abuse by an overstressed caregiver
* Increased infections anywhere in the body
* Loss of ability to function or care for self
* Loss of ability to interact
* Reduced life span
* Side effects of medications used to treat the disorder

When to contact a doctor:
* Call your health care provider if dementia develops or a sudden change in mental status occurs.
* Call your health care provider if the condition of a person with dementia gets worse.
* Call your health care provider if you are unable to care for a person with dementia at home.



MEMORIES FADE and YOU DO GET BETTER, but there’s always a niggling in the back of your mind keeping you alert and cautious… I wrote the post below 7 years ago and while I feel incredibly Blessed to have avoided most of the pitfalls of cancer, I still wonder with WHY, why me? I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs and I eat incredibly well with scratch cook and yet my health is a continual issue, still even now.

A New Beginning… and oh SO Lucky

I’ve been struggling with a way to get back into the swing of things here in blogland. You see just 2 months ago today I was struck with those words that we all fear hearing from our doctor. You know,  any phrase that includes the words cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. For me it was the worst Christmas present imaginable so I persevered and didn’t really let on to most of the family in the beginning – no sense ruining anyone else’s holidays since no further testing could be scheduled until after Christmas.

You truly do go through the 5 stages of grief augmented with periods of disbelief and a lack of comprehension.  It doesn’t matter how well schooled you are or how intelligent you are, those words hit you like a ton of bricks.

Last year when I began my food blog, Always Eat On The Good China, I developed the name after reading a letter that Erma Bombeck wrote when she knew she was dying from cancer.  I even put a quote from her on my side bar that I found extremely poignant.

It was around that same time that I had an appendicitis attack – I still had my appendix and it had been chronic since I was 9 years old.  Or at least I thought I was having an appendicitis attack.  We now know that I was having pain from my ovary that was growing into what was being described as a cantalouped size mass.

Fortunately for me at my well woman exam the nurse practitioner noticed what she thought was an enlarged uterus and she ordered an ultrasound because she feared uterine cancer.

The ultrasound was on the Tuesday after Christmas. The words changed, but stayed the same, cancer was still in the phrase, but now it was ovarian cancer.  To it they added terms like tumor and oncologist.

My brand new doctor (I’d never met him prior to the ultrasound tech calling him into the exam) in a brand new town thought I was in shock because I didn’t cry and react hysterically. He just didn’t know  me well enough to know I was really okay.  But, I’m a fixer, so my next phrase is always, what next?  What next turned out to be a referral to MD Anderson Cancer Center and an oncologist, whom I adore by the way!.  She and her team made it possible for me to stay both positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their Motto is “making cancer history” which struck me as the right positive note for me.

The next 2 weeks and 5 days were a whirlwind of blood draws, X-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, chemical stress tests, consultations, clearances and…

I underwent surgery on the 1st knowing full well all the fine print, legal jargon and potential pitfalls of this diagnosis.  I also knew that because of the size, I would awake to only a possible pathology.  I awoke to hear things like “self-contained”, “non-invasive cancer” and “surveillance” as well as the cantaloupe was actually a volleyball with a balloon twist.  While we are still awaiting final pathology I am now at home after a week in the hospital and catering to the whims of a 10 inch zipper through multiple layers of muscle and the needs to get my energy back and regenerate the tissue.

With that, for now, I’ll leave you with this email story that crossed my desk.  True or not, it’s heart warming and endearing and worth the read.  I choose to believe in the bright and positive.

Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’

Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her…what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body  felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.
He had covered her with his love.
Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.
Lucky… He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.
Remember….live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget….the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most Credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.
If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! Live simply. Love seriously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.
A small request
All you are asked to do is keep this circulating.
Dear God, I pray for the cure of cancer.