UCAAN

For those of you living with cancer, have someone you know who has cancer, or are a cancer survivor living in or around Thousand Oaks, California, hopefully you know about UCAAN, United Cancer Advocacy Action Network.

UCAAN is a local cancer non-profit that serves the Ventura County area. They are involved with providing recently diagnosed cancer sufferers, those battling cancer, those going through chemotherapy, and those who are cancer survivors with information that will help them through their difficult times.

The CEO, Rachel Shur, is a cancer survivor who has dedicated her life to those in need in her community. She is yet another example of someone who, according to her doctors, should not have survived, yet beat the odds and wanted to do something for others. So, UCAAN was born.

Of course there are larger cancer organizations that make a huge difference in many lives across the country, and without them the effect on many lives would be immeasurable. However, in light of the current fraud accusations by the Federal Trade Commission against Cancer Fund of America, which includes Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society, please do a little research on the organizations you wish to support. So, there is something to be said for smaller cancer organizations. And UCAAN is one of them.

Thanks to all of you across the country who have dedicated your lives to helping others with cancer. You are a vital part of the big picture in making progress in the fight to defeat this dreaded enemy.

If you or someone you know is battling or recovering from cancer, please look at what help is available within your own community. You might be surprised. And oftentimes the help you need is instantaneous. And then share the information with others. After all, it’s the right thing to do.

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Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers around the world. Although most cultures do not recognize this special day, I believe it is one of the most important days we celebrate in the U.S. On this day, May 10th, 35 years ago, my mother lost her style with cancer. And like most people, I miss her every day.

But perhaps my mother’s cancer could have been avoided, as she smoked from her teens until she was diagnosed at fifty-four years of age with lung cancer that had metastasized from her lungs to her bones. Would she have lived if she had quit smoking at an earlier age? Perhaps, but it’s useless to speculate, although we do know that smoking can and does cause cancer. If you smoke, please quit. If you don’t, please don’t start.

There are many mothers on this special day that have some form of cancer and might be going through chemotherapy. Regardless of the reason, if you know someone battling this disease please call them and wish them a Happy Mother’s Day. It is the right thing to do, to let them know that you care, and to let them know that they are not alone. It can make a big difference in their life.

God bless our mothers, and God bless America.

 

 

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Danny’s Story Finale

Danny’s Story Finale

“I was a volunteer with Covenant Hospital in Pensacola. I sat with patients for a few hours while their spouses or caregivers ran errands, took care of household business, or just needed some time to themselves. I honored Veterans who were dying with a certificate and gift items in a little ceremony thanking them for serving our Nation. I was also on call for the ‘Eleventh Hour Patients’ and sat with them so that they wouldn’t be alone when they took their last breath.

“Three of the patients I sat with in the early stages of hospice were dying of Prostate Cancer. One gentleman, Julius, was a few years older than me and his prostate cancer had metastasized to his bones and organs. His doctor had suggested that they just ‘monitor’ the cancer instead of the more invasive organ and tissue removal. Julius and I became friends and talked for hours about everything from politics, God, John Wayne and even our cancer. He was always pleasant and glad to see me, and I looked forward to our visits. He refused to believe he wasn’t going to get better (the never, ever, quit attitude we all should adopt), but I silently knew that he would soon die.

“He was a wonderful man who taught Sunday School and believed his doctors would take care of him. Because the cancer had spread throughout his body, I knew that his medicines were only for pain and that the same monster that I had been battling was aggressively attacking his body. I wasn’t needed by his wife to sit with him for several weeks and concentrated on Veteran Recognition and Eleventh Hour Patients. Julius called me on a Monday and he sounded much weaker. He said he missed me and wanted to see me so we decided I would visit him on Wednesday morning. Late Tuesday night I received a phone call from his nurse telling me he was gone. Although I’m in a business where those I’m trying to help are dying, losing Julius hurt deeply. I lost a friend and still battled his enemy.

“Julius’ wife called me on Wednesday night and told me that Julius had asked for me to be one of his pallbearers. I was honored and told her I would be there. He was buried on Friday morning.

“Remaining strong for others, especially a friend who is dying from the same cancer that I had was difficult, but I was able to push my problems aside. This was Julius’ time, and I needed to strong for him. He needed reassurance and support and above all he needed to see strength in me so that in some way he would feel stronger until the end. I hope he did.”

Danny’s story is unique, but one similar to many who have gone through prostate cancer. Danny was recently told by a hematologist/oncologist that his cancer would most likely return. “His reply was simple, “If it does, I’ll deal with it then. But I will never, ever, quit.” I remember when malignant melanoma hit me for the second time in 1970 and I was given 3 to 6 months to live. I felt the same way; I was not going to quit. I’m betting on Danny.

While Danny continues to fight his battle with cancer, he has realized the importance of helping others through sharing his story and giving of himself, even when he is hurting. Caring, kindness, compassion and love for others are a large portion of what this life is all about. And when we reach this point in our lives, our spirit rejoices and progresses.

Please share your comments and stories on this site. By doing so you will be helping others to better cope with the unknowns they are facing while battling cancer. We can, and will, beat this dreaded disease because we will never, ever, quit.

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Danny’s Story Continued

Danny made the right decision. Though the surgery was successful, there were recovery issues he had to deal with; the hardest being the loss of bladder control, which meant he had to wear Depends for several months. Eventually his bladder control returned to normal with only an occasional accident.

However, in April 2014 he again had surgery to install a band to support the urethra. This procedure is a common side effect of prostate removal, and though it can be painful with a slow recovery, according to Danny “it is well worth it to be alive”.

During the time he was diagnosed, had surgery and slowly recovered, Danny was a hospice volunteer. Some of his patients were in the final stages of the same prostate cancer he was currently battling, yet he willingly shared his information and helped console others and to help their spirits (perhaps the single most important reason we share information about our personal battles with cancer).

One of the hospice patients Danny was helping became very special to him and they quickly became friends. Though their friendship was brief, it was strong, and Danny came away learning an important part of spiritual growth. (To be continued).

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Danny’s Story

Prostate cancer. The next several posts are for those currently suffering from prostate cancer, someone we know with the disease, those caregivers who have a loved one that lost the battle, and those who are considered survivors.

My cousin, Danny, a diehard Alabama Crimson Tide fan (most of you know that I went to LSU), is currently in a battle with this persistent enemy. Danny is retired military, having served in all four major branches of service to our country, including 2 tours in Vietnam. The forces he fought there were tough and relentless, but none as tough as the battle he is now waging.

He was diagnosed in 2012 by a US Navy Urologist in Pensacola, Florida. He had been told on more than one occasion that his prostate was enlarged and his PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) lab results had been high for years. He had endured a series of prostate tissue biopsies in 2003 and again in 2012 with negative results for cancer.

Danny was scheduled for a TURP (Transurethral Resection Procedure) in June 2012, a procedure that bores out the urethra inside the prostate and helps relieve the problems associated with an enlarged prostate closing off the urethra, a procedure that can agitate and spread potential cancer cells. The day before the procedure while going through pre-surgery preparation, and although he had endured two painful sets (about 24 tissue snips) of biopsies in previous years, he had the feeling that, instead of the TURP, he should submit, once again, to a biopsy. So, as perhaps all of us should do, he acted on his innermost feelings, his spiritual connection, and convinced his urologist to schedule another biopsy the following week. The results; he had to endure the words none of us want to hear, let alone believe. You have cancer. Oddly enough, instead of being devastated, he was almost relieved that they finally found it.

As with most men over 60 diagnosed with prostate cancer, physicians immediately want to know if we want to just monitor the cancer’s growth (and live what they perceive to be a normal life for a slow growing caner) or submit to surgery. Danny, because of his stubborn nature and love for life, decided on surgery by DaVinci robot to remove the prostate and any tissue near the area that might have been compromised. During removal of the cancerous organ the surgeon found a second area that was against the prostate wall and very close to metastasizing.

Was Danny’s decision to have the surgery the right choice? Or should his choice have been to monitor the cancer for another 10 to 15 years living as normal a life as possible until the slow growing cancer took his life? (To be continued).

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Never, Ever, Quit

Over the past year and a half, I’ve lost numerous friends to cancer; colon, throat, breast, prostate, esophageal, lung and liver. And each time someone has passed away, I’ve wondered why them and not me.

It’s been over eight years since my last chemotherapy treatment, and three years, according to oncologists, that I have been cancer free. There appears to be no “rhyme or reason” for one person succeeding with their battle with cancer and the other doesn’t make it. While writing this, there are five friends who currently have different stages of cancer. The odds are that two out of the five will not make it, although each of their oncologists has said their chances were 50/50 or better. Though I know each one of them desperately wants to live, there is the lack of “never, ever, quit” in two of these cancer sufferers. And there is another that is half and half as to whether he/she wants to live.

Experiencing surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation is very difficult no matter what type of cancer it is, so difficult for some that they would rather give up and get it over with rather than fight (It is their choice and I will not judge their decision). It takes energy to fight, something cancer takes from us during our battle, but in many cases if the cancer sufferer would just keep pushing and fighting and get through the worst days, there can many times be a remarkable recovery.

As I’ve said before, I believe with all of my heart that the will to live is so powerful that it allows our spirit to overcome anything, even cancer. So please, keep a positive attitude and never, ever, quit.

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