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Cancer Matters

Perspectives from those who live it every day.

Issues & Perspectives


Elissa Bantug

Elissa Bantug

Five weeks into radiation, I decided that the hair on my legs had become so long that an intervention was necessary.  Going somewhere to have my legs waxed was too overwhelming in my current state, and cutting myself while shaving seemed like a small risk, as I’d internalized my doctors’ advice about the compromised nature of my immune system.  I enlisted my sister to help; although neither of us had ever done anything like this before, we decided the best thing would be an at-home waxing party…This very quickly became one of those situations where the task at hand seemed like a good idea in principle but turned out to be a very, very bad idea.  The wax was either too hot or not hot enough, we put the strips on backwards, and we had only minimal results.  Wax went everywhere; we made a huge mess; and ended up in nothing but our t-shirts in fits of hysterical laughter on the kitchen floor.  We managed to sort-of passably wax a small piece of my shin before I had to throw in the towel and retreat to my room for a nap.

My fatigue hit an all time low towards the last week of treatment.  During this time, I had one burst of energy—a precious state of mind and body that had felt on hiatus for many weeks—and I decided that I needed to go grocery shopping.

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“New” Resolutions

It’s the time of year when we think about New Year’s resolutions…typical ones might include losing weight, spending more time with family, quit smoking.   But our Cancer Center nurses have given new meaning to the New Year’s theme – their recent trip to Guatemala to give their time and talents to help people build a new life, is something we can all admire.

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Getting Personal About Personalized Cancer Medicine

I got into this business 25 years ago, when my husband was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.  I was a newlywed, and at 22-years-old, I faced the prospect of being a widow.  The evening we learned the shocking news, I remember leaving the hospital to return home. I was numb with fear.  I went into our bedroom and picked up the T-shirt he had casually dropped on the bed before we left for what we believed would be a brief doctor’s visit.  I didn’t expect to be returning to our home alone. I pressed the shirt to my face and breathed in his scent and sobbed uncontrollably.

Read More »Getting Personal About Personalized Cancer Medicine

Medicare, The A,B,C,D’s…Let’s Talk D

Louise Knight

Louise Knight, MSW, LCSW-C, OSW-C

You may be confused by the list of letters after the word Medicare.  A, B, C, D...  Who can keep them straight?  There is a web page that can give the answers.  It is

Let's Talk D:  Let me give you the important Medicare D news for 2011.    I am going to start with the letter D and the reason is:  the deadline to apply ends soon.

Read More »Medicare, The A,B,C,D’s…Let’s Talk D

Why I Run

As an avid runner, I participate in many races each year.  I enter these for many reasons. I love to run, it’s a challenge, and sometimes it’s for a good cause. At the beginning of each race, I like to look around at the starting line at the wide range of people running the event.  Each participant is running for a different reason. For some, it’s a personal goal, a hobby, or even a response to a challenge.  For many, the race has a special meaning -- it could be in honor or memory of a loved one, in support of a friend or family member, or to simply celebrate life.

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Completion of Treatment — Time to Celebrate?

This post is written by Lillie Shockney, the Administrative Director of the Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center and a two-time breast cancer survivor.

Completing Treatment - Time to Celebrate?

You'd think so. You've been through surgery, perhaps chemo and radiation, maybe on or completing hormonal therapy and you are finally "done" breast cancer treatment. So ready for a party?  Most will say no. Why? Though most of you (and me) are thrilled to be done treatment, the idea of celebrating sounds some how risky. I spoke to a woman today who had just finished her treatment. She said, "I'd love to have a party but don't want to jinx myself-you know, the cancer might come back. "  And thus the fear of recurrence, whether it be local recurrence (back in the breast or chest area where it started) or distant recurrence (in the form of metastatic disease with breast cancer springing up in another organ) paralyzes women from feeling comfortable with celebrating this mammoth job they have completed-- overcoming breast cancer.Read More »Completion of Treatment — Time to Celebrate?

Finding the Spark Again After Cancer

Elissa Bantug

Elissa Bantug

One of the most common complaints I hear from cancer survivors is a change in their sex life.  Within days after returning home from my mastectomy, I attempted to be intimate with my husband even though I had yet to regain the ability to dress or shower myself with medical drains still attached. I thought this would be good idea but my husband briskly pushed me away.  This was yet another blow to my already very fragile state.

Read More »Finding the Spark Again After Cancer

Give Cancer a Red Card

The final score was 3-0 last night at my son's soccer game -- his team won, but not because they have a single star that makes all the goals; rather, they worked together to make a collective effort in winning the game.

The soccer community is now rallying their global fans and participants in a match against the world's biggest killer -- cancer.  That's what it takes to beat this disease - many people working together to make an impact on a very complicated and tough adversary.  Every bit counts, because when we add up each of our individual efforts, we can make a greater impact.

Read More »Give Cancer a Red Card