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Cancer Matters




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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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.

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Putting Cancer in Its Place

Elissa Bantug

Elissa Bantug

In a conversation with a patient recently, she said to me, “I am a mother and a wife, but when I think of what describes me most, it is that I am a cancer survivor.  Having had cancer is the first thing I think about when I get up in the morning, the last thing I think about before going to bed, and is something that I am reminded of all throughout my day.”Read More »Putting Cancer in Its Place