Thursday, 30 June 2016

Feeling Like a Human Being Again

Today's blog is from Susan who writes about her experience of conventional treatment for breast cancer and how taking a new approach helped to make her feel more human again. 

I was originally diagnosed with a Grade 2 mixed ductal and lobular carcinoma of the left breast, both oestrogen and HER2 positive. I have a long history of breast cancer in my family, so I wasn’t that surprised to finally succumb to the same thing, particularly having had several years of acrimonious separation from my daughter’s father.

At first, being rather depressed at the time, I didn’t care if I lived or died, but after a few days, I pulled myself together and made a conscious decision that I wanted to live. I have always said that I would never do chemotherapy, but in 2010 when I was diagnosed, I didn’t know where to turn for information about alternative therapies and indeed, I never imagined so much research into alternatives existed. I was quite ‘matter of fact’ about the whole thing but realised much later that I had just gone into survival mode and got on with what I thought had to be done at the time.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Improving Quality of Life While Living with Cancer

Today’s blog is from Denise from Buckinghamshire, who shares some of the story of her cancer diagnosis and how nutritional advice with support from Yes To Life has helped to improve her quality of life.

My cancer journey began when I started to experience shortness of breath, chest pain and tiredness. The symptoms continued for a few months and then worsened to include difficulties swallowing, reflux and weight loss.   I was eventually admitted to hospital as an emergency case, after being referred by a doctor in a Minor Injuries Unit.  I was immediately diagnosed with oesophageal cancer.  The diagnosis came as a huge shock, as my GP had been treating my symptoms as a chest infection!

The hospital staff were wonderful and very sensitive.   Within eight days I had been diagnosed, had an endoscopy, had a CT scan and had a stent fitted to enable me to swallow.

I was told that chemotherapy was the unfortunately the only option to treat my cancer, as it had already metastasised to my liver and lung, so I gave my consent and started the treatment.  Straight away I reacted quite badly to it - I was very sick during the first chemotherapy cycle and had to have injections to help with the side-effects.  I was supported by Ian Rennie nurses who were and continue to be wonderful.  One good thing was that I didn’t completely lose my hair as a result of the chemotherapy - I wore a cold cap during the treatments, which meant that although cut short, I still retained my hair.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

8 top tips for looking after your genes

Today's post is by Sophie Tully BSc MSc, a Nutrition Scientist at Igennus Healthcare Nutrition with some sound advice about how you can take care of your genes for better health.

Our genes contain the complex code that programmes every single function of our cells and body but, despite what you may have been led to believe, our genetic instructions are not set in stone. Throughout our lives, the way our genes are ‘read’ can change as a result of environmental, emotional and nutritional ‘edits’ made to how our genes are accessed and translated.

Along our strings of genetic code are a number of tags that act as signposts, guiding the cellular processes responsible for reading our genes to focus their efforts on the right sections. Much like you might highlight or add a coloured post-it note to a page of a book, these tags allow for quick and easy access to the right sections of our genetic code, so that they can be easily read and activated.

Until relatively recently, it was assumed that we were all born with our genes fixed, with all the right tags in the right places; however, over the past decade or so, Epigenetic research (Epi meaning upon or above)- the study of changes to cellular and physical traits caused by external or environmental factors that lead to switching genes ‘on’ and ‘off’ and how cells read genes - has increased exponentially. Today we know that everything - how stressed you are during pregnancy, whether you were bullied as a child, what’s in the air you breathe, how often and in what way you move, the foods you choose to eat - has the power to alter these genetic tags and subsequently the way our genes are activated. Far from our fate being ‘written in our genes’, epigenetic changes with the potential to alter our genetic expression, occur throughout our lives and can even be passed down through the generations.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

'I thought cancer counselling was self indulgent and wouldn't help'

Today's post is from Karin Sieger, a BACP registered and accredited psychotherapist based in Richmond who specialises in supporting people affected by cancer (including family and friends) as well as other life changing health conditions. Karin is one of Yes to Life's Practitioner Supporters and we are grateful to her for sharing her expertise on our blog.

I thought cancer counselling was self indulgent and wouldn't help.

This is a common view about counselling and therapy. People affected by cancer are no exception. What's the point in dwelling on it? It's too upsetting. Others are worse off. It won't cure me.

Cancer like any other life-changing or life-shortening illness impacts everything in our lives - not just our bodies, but also our mental and emotional well being, our relationships, our faith and values, our finances, our future, our trust in our bodies and our trust in the world. This does not stop when treatment ends. It is normal to feel like this and it makes sense.

A  cancer diagnosis throws our lives into one almighty crisis, which can cause a whole range of emotional responses, like fear, depression, anger, rage, loss and grief, irritability, self pity, loneliness, guilt, resentment and hopelessness to mention just some.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Cancer Drug Benefits Overhyped

Today's blog is from John Piears, who lost his wife to cancer last year and went on to set up the Dying for a Cure campaign, to push for much needed reforms of the R&D system for developing and funding new cancer treatments

Barely a month goes by without a newspaper headline claiming that "A cure for all cancers is on the way" or hailing the latest "Major cancer breakthrough", but dig beneath the media hype and you'll discover the shocking reality that new cancer drugs for most cancers are only expected to improve patient survival by just 2.7 months on average, despite costing an estimated £2bn each to develop.