Fighting Leukemia

An update on my friend in Vermont who has been fighting cancer for many months now.

“Another month, another trip to Dana Farber in the books. All of my blood readings were good this month, except my EOS reading, which has climbed tp 33%! Should be below 6%. Talked the doctor about it and he says it could be a number of things, one of which is early signs of graft vs host disease, which is where my body rejects the transplant. He is going to keep me on the anti rejection meds for another month and then we will revisit the numbers on my next blood draw. On a better note, I started my first round of getting my childhood immunizations. One step closer to getting back to a normal life. Still shooting for an October date for releasing me entirely from isolation.”

A response from his wife.

“Hey fb friends. Here is Guy’s update from his doctors visit in Boston today.
My personal feeling is that his eos number is high due to allergies because he isn’t showing any signs of graft verses host. So will have to see if his eos number drops once we get a frost”

These friends are both great examples of never giving up. I know they will continue to be strong and fight for the right to live what they believe is their normal life. Life is very precious so enjoy every moment. And just like my Vermont friends, when faced with fighting cancer (or any health issues) Never, Ever, Quit.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma

This cancer is usually considered the second most common type of skin cancer, approximately 20 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers. They develop from the flat, squamous cells that are the primary cell type making up the outermost layer of the skin, the epidermis.

This type of skin cancer is usually found on areas of the skin that have been exposed to the sun, such as the neck, ears, face, head, lips, or on the back of the hand, but they can develop in other areas, such as in scars or skin ulcers or in the genital region. Squamous cell cancers usually grow slowly, and it is uncommon for them to spread, or metastasize, but they are more likely than basal cell carcinomas to invade fatty tissue beneath the skin or to spread even further.

The following are some general warning signs:

  • A new growth or spot that increases in size, shape, and/or color, or a sore that does not heal within 4 to 8 weeks.
  • A bump or nodule on the skin that feels rough to the touch.
  • A bump that becomes dome-shaped, and /or crusty, and/or often bleeds. It can also heal, and then return and be rough, dry, and/or scaly.
  • A bump that is painful when rubbed.
  • A slow-growing flat reddish patch.
  • Constantly dry lips that could have a whitish color and/or feel scaly.
  • A wart-like elevated growth with a central depression.

As with basal cell carcinoma, this type of cancer is easily managed in the early stages. But when left untreated, it can become serious. Have fun in the sun, but also be smart. It’s always better to be safe, than sorry. So take care of yourself. And get that check-up by a dermatologist.

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Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinomas are considered the most common type of skin cancer, nearly eight out of every 10 non-melanoma skin cancers. These cancers form within the basal cell layer of the skin.

Basal cell carcinoma generally occurs in sections of the skin that receive the most exposure to the sun, like the head, neck, face, arms, and back of the hands. These cancers are usually slow growing and normally do not spread or metastasize to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. However, the chance increases when left untreated. That is why early detection and treatment is so important.

Basal cell cancers can also return in the same place that the original cancer was found. Patients who have had basal cell carcinoma once have an increased risk of developing a new basal cell cancer elsewhere. Potentially, as many as 50 percent of these patients will develop a new basal cell carcinoma within five years of the first diagnosis.

Basal-cell carcinoma sometimes resemble non-cancerous skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. So, it is extremely important that the following warning signs be checked by a physician.

• Any open sore that bleeds, oozes, and crusts that will not heal for several weeks to a month is one of the most common signs of this disease.

• An irritated red spot usually seen on the face, neck, arms, or legs. It could be scaly, itch, and/or be painful, or at other times cause no discomfort.

• A shiny bump or nodule that can sometimes be confused with a mole. It can be pink, red, white, tan, brown, or black.

• A reddish growth, slightly elevated that is crusted and indented in the center.

• A scar-like area that is white, yellow, and/or is shiny, waxy, and with a poorly defined border. This area usually indicates the presence of an invasive basal-cell carcinoma that is larger than it appears to be on the surface.

Remember, basal-cell carcinoma is easily treated in the early stages, but the larger the infected area the more extreme the treatment. Sometimes we are our best physician when it comes to diagnosis, so please check your skin often and take any concerns to an expert immediately. It could save a great deal of pain and suffering.

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Summer and Skin Cancer

Summer is here and that means longer days, more time outdoors, hotter temperatures, stronger UV rays, and more skin cancer. Of course we all need Vitamin D, especially D-3, from the sun, but we do not need to be exposed to the sun’s UV rays the entire day to get our allotment. I, for one, love the summer and intend to get the most out of it with beach walks, golf, tennis, gardening, and grilling out. But I’ve been through too many skin cancers to ignore the danger associated with sunburns and /or over exposure to the sun.

I think we need to be smart enough to realize that a sunburn is not only painful but can be potentially harmful to our bodies. The following are some guidelines that could be helpful.
• Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
• Do not burn.
• Avoid tanning and UV tanning beds.
• Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
• Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
• Apply sunscreen all exposed areas of your body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
• Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
• Use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
• Examine your skin head-to-toe at least once every month.
• See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

These simple guidelines can help prevent basal-cell carcinoma, squamous-cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Enjoy the summer outdoor activities, but please be smart and protect your skin.

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Continued Success

Several more friends of my extended family have lost their battles with cancer this past week. It is one of the reasons I continue to share my friend’s posts so that there is always something encouraging to read and a good reason to love each day for what it is.

“Went to Boston to Dana Farber this morning for my monthly check up. Met with Dr. Antin. He is very happy with all of my blood counts, along with Pam and I. All of my counts are improving every month and all except two are within the recommended parameters. The two that are out, are just barely out. He also continued weaning me off from the anti rejection drug, with the goal of stopping entirely at my next visit. That has me a little nervous, but I have to trust in him as he has gotten me this far. Have not felt this good in years, just need to put in my time until October when I can hopefully get out of isolation.”

Keep fighting, my Vermont friend. And never, ever, quit.

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Loving Life

In the past two months three friends have lost their fight with cancer and six more have been diagnosed with different types and stages. So, it is always good to hear positive news about someone’s courage and dedication to living. Here is the latest on my friend in New England still battling cancer.

“Went to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute this morning for my monthly check up. All the numbers from my blood draw are looking real good. White blood cells are up, red blood cells are up, and platelets are stable. No signs of graft versus host disease. Discussed isolation and returning to work. Still on track for October of this year. Feeling great, better than I have felt for the last few years leading up to my bone marrow transplant. A huge thanks to the entire team at Dana Farber!”

And here is his wife’s message.

“My husband and I are very blessed in so many ways. We feel that are lives are getting back to normal. He is getting his health back and that’s the most important thing in our lives right now. We are so grateful to his donor and also to the staff at Dana Farber and Brigham Women’s Hospital, especially Dr. Antin. We thought we wouldn’t have to go back until July but that’s not the case. We will have to go back monthly through October and if everything is good at that point, probably every three months. Thanks to all our family and friends that have been following his journey these last few months. God bless…”

I hope there is never a day that passes that we are not thankful for what we have. Our health is everything and our trust in our creator is unwavering. Please continue to look for the good in life and the beauty that surrounds us. And never, ever, quit.

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Never, Ever, Quit, No Matter What

The following is from a good friend from high school and from the heart, and I am proud to repost it. Fighting any disease is a hard task, but when your body is invaded by cancer and then bombarded with chemicals, the fight can sometimes can be harder than one can handle. This friend is one tough individual and one I wholeheartedly support and encourage. Please join with me in reposting this message because we do not know when we, or a friend or loved one, will be facing the same challenge.

“With a broken heart and tears in my eyes… I can honestly say this is by far the most difficult time ever. I know what cancer and the treatment can do to a body and mind.. I’ve seen this transformation. I sometimes wonder if the treatment is worth it in the long haul. It seems to do more harm than good to do. Nothing is more painful than watching someone at the end of his life because of cancer. You’re trying to laugh and to stay positive, but after the chemo and radiation you know the person is physically changing and suffer with this sadness. I know that many of you do not give two hoots about this message because the cancer has not touched you. You don’t know what it’s like to have fought the fight or to have to have a loved one who has to fight against cancer. To all the men and women I know, I ask a small favor and only some of you will do it. If you know someone who has suffered in the fight against cancer, or still struggling.. Add this to your status for one hour as a sign of support, respect and honor. Copy and paste to support those affected by cancer. From your phone or tablet, hold your finger on the message to copy and paste on your page.
Thank you..”

Kindness, compassion, and love have no limits. Each and every day we have a chance to express this to others. It can and will make a difference in someone’s life. And please, never, ever, quit.

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