Category Archives: Cancer Awareness/Prevention


Lung Cancer Awareness

It’s still October, but I want to remind you a few days early that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a big deal to me, personally, because lung cancer has affected so many people I have known and loved. Most of my readers know that my husband was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer almost exactly 6 years ago. not long before that, my stepmother died of lung cancer. We’ve had many friends who have been diagnosed with lung cancer. One thankfully is still alive and well.

Next month, I will be posting a series on breathlessness. So I thought I would take this opportunity to share some facts and statistics about the most deadly cancer.

Our Lung Cancer Awareness Story

In October of 2012, my husband discovered hardened enlarged lymph nodes above his left collarbone. He was 51, healthy, and the father of 6 children (3 of whom were still young). He’d never smoked, yet, his doctors soon diagnosed him with stage IV lung cancer. Our world turned upside down.

At the time my husband was diagnosed, he had none of the symptoms you associated with lung cancer, no cough, no trouble breathing. He had terrible back pain that he thought was from a pulled muscle. The pain was actually due to cancer that had already spread to his spinal cord.

When he felt those lumps, he immediately called to get an appointment with the doctor. We would have to wait 3 long days for that appointment. In the meantime, we searched the internet for answers. All of the reputable websites suggested that his symptoms were consistent with metastatic lung cancer.

We kept looking. There was no way it could be lung cancer. Dan had never smoked. He was a realtor and a pastor. He wasn’t working around respiratory hazards. We were wrong. Non-smokers get lung cancer too.

Asking for Prayer

False Assumptions: Real Facts

Most people assume that they don’t need to worry about lung cancer. While most women are aware of their risk of breast cancer, a recent survey that looked at awareness and perceptions about lung health showed that 98% of women don’t even have lung cancer on their health radar. 78% of women don’t know that lung cancer has killed more women than breast cancer each year since 1987. It’s time to raise lung cancer awareness.

Not a Statistic

It is important to keep in mind that a patient is a person, not a statistic. People are unique. Therefore, they will each respond to various treatments in their own unique way. Other factors affect survival, such as age and health at the time of diagnosis. Adherence to a treatment plan as well as the severity of side effects from treatments are factors in survival. Often, whether someone has more or less success than anticipated on a given treatment seems to be as predictable as a roll of the dice. By communicating well with a board-certified oncologist you trust, you have a greater chance of increasing your survival.

Perhaps my favorite story about statistics is my husband’s. When a doctor told him that he had a 4% chance of surviving 5 years, he said, “Someone needs to be in the 4%. It might as well be me.”

Still, statistics do tell a story

In the case of lung cancer, it is a frightening one. It is a story that propels us to take lung cancer awareness seriously.

  • About 14% of all new cancers are lung cancers.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer combined.
  • One reason lung cancer so deadly is because it is usually asymptomatic until it has metastasized (spread throughout the body).
  • Because of this, half of all lung cancers are already staged IV by the time they are diagnosed.
  • Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers accounting for an estimated 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year.
  • Another cause of lung cancer is asbestos, Nonsmoking asbestos workers are 5X more likely to develop lung cancer than non­smokers not exposed to asbestos. If you’re a smoker and you’ve been exposed to asbestos, your risk of developing lung cancer increases 50 fold.

5 Year Survival Rates for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Not everyone wants to know the statistics of the cancer they or a loved one are facing. If you are one of those people, look no further. If you want greater lung cancer awareness, read on. What follows are the most recent statistics using the current AJCC staging system. The percentage listed is the percentage of patients diagnosed with the given stage of NSCLC who survive 5 years. They are based on thousands of people worldwide, who were diagnosed with NSCLC between 1999 and 2010. These survival rates include people who die from causes other than cancer. Rates are approximations. (American Cancer Society 1)Lung Cancer Awareness

  • Stage IA1   92%
  • Stage IA2   83%
  • Stage IA3   77%
  • Stage IB     68%
  • Stage IIA    60%
  • Stage IIB    53%
  • Stage IIIA   36%
  • Stage IIIB   26%
  • Stage IIIC   13%
  • Stage IVA   10%
  • Stage IVB  Less than 1%.

It’s important to keep in mind that even with these grim statistics, there are often many treatment options available for people with these stages of cancer.

Take this quiz to see if you should be screened for lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Awareness Reminder:

You don’t have to be a smoker to get Lung Cancer!

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnote: American Cancer Society, Non-Small Cell Cancer Survival Rates by stage


mesothelioma advocate

As an advocate for cancer patients and their families, I daily hear from people facing cancer. Recently, a gentleman named Virgil wrote to me about his experience, Doctors recently diagnosed Virgil with mesothelioma. This diagnosis turned Virgil’s life upside down.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that forms in the thin protective tissues which cover the lungs and the abdomen. Exposure to asbestos causes cancer in the mesothelium tissues. This cancer is caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a group of silicate minerals that are fibrous in nature and functions well as a fire retardant. It was once a commonly used insulator. Now that the dangers of asbestos are well known, it has fallen out of use. It can still be found in old buildings and machines. The United States is one of the only developed countries that has not outlawed the use of asbestos, entirely.

Virgil’s Story

Throughout his life, Virgil has had many jobs that have exposed him to asbestos, including automotive and demolition work, I’ve. He says, “On some jobs, the air was so thick with debris and asbestos you could taste it in your mouth.”

Virgil can no longer work and now, mostly lives off of social security disability. Because of fluid buildup in his lungs, he has to be careful about overexerting himself. He has a portable oxygen tank which gives him some mobility. Still, he must limit his activities, Virgil spends a lot of his time spreading awareness and informing others about the resources that helped him on his journey.

Finding resources isn’t always easy

Virgil says, “When I was diagnosed I needed immediate medical attention. I contacted all the top websites on the internet that are supposed to help people with my type of cancer but nobody got back to me.” Then he found Mesothelioma.net. “Even though I contacted them on a Sunday one of their patient advocates gave me a call back within minutes.”

Virgil found valuable information at Mesothelioma.net; information on mesothelioma treatments and doctors, asbestos trust funds for victims, and a lot more. They also sponsor The American Cancer Society, the MD Cancer Center, and the Make a Wish Foundation “They gave me a great deal of helpful information on doctors and resources available to me.”

Mesothelioma advocate

Virgil is now receiving cancer treatment at the National Cancer Institute. The patient advocates have even provided him with financial assistance so he could afford a place to live during his cancer treatments. “If I had not reached out to mesothelioma.net, I would likely be homeless and more importantly in hospice waiting to die. These people gave me my only chance at survival.”

Advocate: Paying it Forward

One of the most important things you can do to ensure your survival is to advocate for yourself. Virgil is an amazing example of an advocate. He searched for information and assistance and is now sharing that information with others. If you have Mesothelioma, check out the information at mesothelioma.net and the mesothelioma resource page at Facing Cancer with Grace.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-03-05 07:00:27.


caught off guard by cancer

How can you avoid being caught off guard by cancer? No one expects to be diagnosed with cancer. But there are ways to lower your risk. You can also arm yourself with information on how to handle a crisis like cancer so that if you or a loved one does face this disease, you don’t feel completely powerless.

Cancer is a lot like a C-Section

When I was pregnant with my daughter, Summer, I ate up every prenatal class with all of the excitement and anticipation you would expect from someone expecting their first child. I was determined to do everything right. So, I paid close attention as the instructor gave each new lesson, even when they taught us the breathing technique that you always see in the movies. But when the instructor began talking about c-sections, I mentally checked out. I can’t explain it, I just assumed that since I was a healthy young woman with a healthy baby, I would have a normal pregnancy, including a normal labor and delivery. Why would I take in unnecessary information?

So, I was stunned when after 3 days of labor, the doctor told me that I would have an emergency c-section on June 29. 1998, How could that be happening? I searched my memory for the information they tried to teach me in that class, but it wasn’t there.

So, it was a frightening experience. Recovering from the surgery was painful and took much longer than I had planned. To top it all off, I felt guilty as if I had somehow failed. If I had paid attention to the birthing class, I probably would have known that nearly one in three births are delivered via cesarean. Maybe then, I wouldn’t have been so hard on myself.

Caught off Guard by Cancer

15 years later, doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. He was too young to have cancer. We were too happy. Didn’t only smokers get lung cancer? The whirlwind of the diagnosis and subsequent treatment left us little time and energy to process what was happening. We had to guess at what to say to the kids and how to help them through the realization that their dad had cancer.

When you’re caught off guard by cancer you don’t have a chance to get your bearings before you lose your balance. It seemed everyone was telling us what we should do, even though most of them had never been in our position (people who had, respected our feelings and choices without judgment). We felt very much out of our element, without any good mentors.

Why would anyone want to learn about cancer?

Half of all men and a third of all women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. If you don’t already know someone who has cancer, you will. Will you be caught off guard by cancer?

Are you at risk?

  • Talk to your doctor about your risk factors for cancer.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol, altogether.
  • Protect your skin from UV rays.
  • Early detection is key.
  • Know your family history and risks.
  • Avoid environmental carcinogens such as tobacco, radon, asbestos, and other chemicals.
  • Ask about cancer screenings such as mammograms, skin checks, colonoscopies, PAP test, and other screenings.
  • If you have a health complaint-don’t ignore it.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-06-18 07:00:54.


Prostate Cancer

In honor of Men’s Health Week June 11-17, I am writing about Prostate Cancer. We hear a lot about women’s health issues. Unfortunately, the life expectancy gender gap has been growing. This is the number of years one gender is expected to live beyond the other.

  • In 1920, the life expectancy gender gap was only 1 year.
  • By 2014, men were dying almost 5 years sooner than women.

Why the Gap?

Men’s Health Library lists the following as some of the reasons for this gap in life expectancy:

  • Men die at higher rates than women from the top 10 causes of death and are the victims of over 92% of workplace deaths.
  • A higher percentage of men have no healthcare coverage.
  • Men make ½ as many physician visits for prevention.
  • Men are employed in the most dangerous occupations, such as mining, firefighting, construction, and fishing.
  • Society discourages healthy behaviors in men and boys.
  • Research on male-specific diseases is underfunded.
  • Men may have less healthy lifestyles including risk-taking at younger ages.

All these things add up to men dying at faster rates than women. Only men can bring about the changes needed to alter these numbers. Of course, the women in their lives can advocate for them. This includes encouraging them to see their doctor for annual exams and when symptoms arise that should be looked at.

Preventative care is a huge factor in women living longer than men.

Women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. (1)

Prostate Cancer Facts:

1 in 7 Men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Risk Factors

Race

1 in 5 African-American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

African American men are also twice as likely to die of prostate cancer than other races are, however, if diagnosed at the same stage, the mortality rate is the same. Early detection is key!

Family History

Men with a family history of prostate cancer are 2-3 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Know your family history, especially if a blood relative has had prostate cancer

Men with the breast cancer gene, BRCA1, and BRCA2, have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Diet and Exercise

Eat a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat and red meat to reduce your risk of prostate cancer.

As a preventive measure, and for your overall health, eat at least 2½ cups of a wide variety of vegetables and fruits each day.

Get physical activity daily.

Maintain a healthy weight.

According to the American Cancer Society, studies have suggested that diets high in certain vegetables, including tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower), soy, beans, and other legumes, or fish may be linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer, especially more advanced cancers.

Also, several studies have found a higher risk of prostate cancer in men whose diets are high in calcium. There may also be an increased risk from consuming dairy foods. This doesn’t mean that men who are being treated for prostate cancer should not take calcium supplements if their doctor recommends them.

Agent Orange

Vietnam vets are 2 times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and it is also more aggressive.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2016, 2 Life Expectancy data are from CDC/NCHS, Health, United States, 2015

Prostate cancer is very treatable when caught early.

Symptoms can include:

  • Chronic pain in the hips, thighs, or lower back
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Blood in the urine/semen
  • Trouble getting an erection

Because these symptoms can be mistaken for non-cancerous conditions (and vise-verse) it’s important to see your healthcare provider for regular prostate cancer screenings. See http://www.prostatehealthguide.com/ for more information of prostate health.

When to Screen

The American Cancer Society recommends you talk to your doctor about screening at:

  • Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of developing cancer of the prostate. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with cancer of the prostate at an early age (younger than age 65).
  • Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

Treatments for prostate cancer have improved over the years, but nothing is more effective than prevention and early screening. Talk to your doctor today.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Originally posted 2018-06-11 07:00:28.


palliative care specialist

Have you ever talked with a palliative care specialist? Do you know what they do, or how they could help you with your cancer treatment?

What a palliative care specialist does

“Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. This type of care is focused on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness-whatever the diagnosis.

“The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. Palliative care is provided by a team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists who work with a patient’s other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. Palliative care is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness, and can be provided together with curative treatment.”[1]

Some issues that a palliative care specialist can help resolve

  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath/cough
  • Neuropathy
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Stress/depression
  • Nausea
  • Memory problems
  • Fatigue

How do we reconcile different goals?

Sometimes at the outset of care, a patient might feel like their goals aren’t being addressed, or that their goals are at offs with those of their doctor.

Here’s an example of 2 different points of view:

  • A doctor sees lung cancer as the problem.
  • A patient sees shortness of breath and fatigue as the problem.

Doctors are focused on healing the sick. That’s their purpose, and they usually do an exceptional job of fulfilling it. Unfortunately, they may fall short when it comes to addressing pain and symptoms (person-centered care).

This is where palliative care shines.  You can still receive treatment for cancer, and as you do, a palliative care specialist can work with your doctor to reduce the impact that symptoms and side effects have on your day to day life.

The goal of palliative care

The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for the patient and their family. This happens using a team approach. Doctors, nurses, specialists, chaplains, caregivers, etc. all form a team which works together to help patients:

  • Cure, or halt disease
  • Maintain quality of life
  • Coordinate care
  • Make informed decisions

This can begin at any stage of the illness.

Palliative care can, and should, be provided at any stage of the lung cancer journey. Treating symptoms and side effects is as important as treating the cancer itself. By reporting them as soon as they occur, your doctor can address them early on. You are then more likely to continue to get the care you need throughout the course of your treatment and beyond. The aftermath of treatment must also be considered and treated. This contributes to your overall quality of life.

But, few people understand what a palliative care specialist does…

In a 2011 national survey, the Center to Advance Palliative Care, American Cancer Society, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network found that 70% of consumers weren’t at all knowledgeable about palliative care. Yet, once informed about palliative care and its benefits, 92% of consumers would consider palliative care for their families and believe that patients nationwide should have access to it.

…Including physicians.

Unfortunately, physicians tend to equate palliative care with hospice and only refer patients to this important service for end-of-life care.

American Society of Clinical Oncology believes cancer patients should have early access to palliative care. They even updated their guidelines in 2017, to reflect this:

“Patients with advanced cancer, whether inpatient or outpatient, should receive dedicated palliative care services, early in the disease course, concurrent with active treatment.”

Doctors should refer patients with advanced cancer to a palliative care specialist for the optimal treatment of issues that arise during the course of treatment. Palliative care relieves pain and symptoms, reduces hospitalizations, ER visits and unnecessary tests, and also increase the length of a patient’s survival. Oncology and palliative care specialists can (and should) collaborate at any stage of the disease to extend survival and contribute to a high quality of life.

Palliative care is not hospice.

Hospice patients are referred based on a prognosis of 6 months or less. Palliative care has nothing to do with your prognosis. It is need-based, based on need and suffering. Talk to your oncologist to increase coordination of care with a palliative care specialist.  If your oncologist is resistant to palliative care, talk to a palliative care specialist yourself. They can reach out to your oncologist to explain how palliative can increase the amount of time the patient can continue with treatment. This might just help y9our oncologist improve the level of care for other patients, as well!

Palliative care can be essential beyond treatment for lingering issues such as neuropathy and immunotherapy-related issues.

Another myth about palliative care

Palliative care is covered by insurance, and you can continue curative treatment while receiving these services. There are even home care specialists who deliver palliative care. They are also experts at monitoring and safely dispensing opioids. So if you are dealing with cancer-related pain which requires opioids, you can get more knowledgeable help. Give it a try and see what you think.

Palliative care specialists see the person beyond the patient, beyond the disease.

For more resources on palliative care, check out www.getpalliativecare.org.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSONThe Erickson Family

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnotes:

[1] Public Opinion Research on Palliative Care. Research Commissioned by the Center to Advance Palliative Care, 2011, pp. 1–15, Public Opinion Research on Palliative Care.


Firefighters with Cancer

It’s been 17 years since “9/11.” No doubt, you remember where you were on that day. Images of heroic first responders are etched in our memories forever. Exactly how has the health of survivors and first responders (including firefighters) at Ground Zero been impacted? Are there more firefighters with cancer than in the general population?

One recent study (1) estimates 2960 new cancer cases in the WTC-exposed cohort between January 1, 2012, to December 31, 2031. This means that in the future we can expect to see greater numbers of WTC-exposed rescue and recovery workers, including firefighters with cancer.

It’s still hard to find clear statistics. Collecting data takes decades, so we won’t know for many years, the full cost they paid that day. But, we do know that firefighters, police officers, EMT’s, construction workers and volunteers were exposed to over 80 health risks including lung diseases, mental illness such as PTSD and cancers like multiple myeloma (2). It’s also clear that there are increased numbers of firefighters with cancer in general, beyond the World Trade Center Responders.

Check out the video at the end of this article. Dallas Firefighters share their cancer experiences.

Imagine you’re a firefighter.

You put on your gear. Manufactured used special chemicals to make it flame retardant. You go into a burning home and get everyone to safety. The chemicals in the smoky air surrounding you stick to your gear. Fire after fire, they accumulate. After the fire, you toss the gear in the back of your truck.

You don’t wash it. For 2 reasons:

  1. Your dirty gear and helmet are a badge of honor within the firefighting culture. The soot and grime show that you’ve seen a lot of fire.
  2. Frequent washing causes rapid deterioration of your gear. That means replacing it more often, which means an increased budget.

Firefighters and Cancer

Problems

No Annual Physicals

Many fire departments don’t require annual physicals beyond the initial hiring physical. (3) These physicals are crucial for preventing the #1 cause of death in firefighter, heart attacks. But they’re also essential for firefighters with cancer to get early cancer detection.

The Gear, Itself.

The fabric in the gear, itself, is made with Terephthaloyl Chloride and p-Phenylenediamine. (4)  This has a toxic component called C8.

Why is it there?

  • To protect firefighters from the heat while fighting fires.

What’s the alternative?

  • In Europe, where it’s illegal to manufacture goods with known carcinogens, they use a component called C6 in their gear.

Why don’t we make our fire gear in the US with C6 rather than C8?

  • Perhaps because C6 costs exponentially more to make.

The Heat

While fighting fires, your body temperature rises, increasing the rate of absorption of chemicals into your system. Chemicals like the C8 in your gear and chemicals that have accumulated from the fires themselves.

Firefighters and Cancer

Off-Gassing from the Gear

Remember how you tossed that gear in the back of your truck? The chemicals that have accumulated off-gas carcinogens. This is one of the reasons it’s important to decontaminate your gear and your body before leaving the fire. Another reason is that you don’t want to put your family at risk by bringing those carcinogens home with you.

International Firefighters Cancer Foundation

Cindy Ells started the International Firefighters Cancer Foundation after she noticed too many firefighters with cancer in the Maryland Fire Service. In her presentations, she cites research that says, firefighters are more than 100 times more likely to get cancers such as Multiple myelomas, testicular cancer, and blood cancers than the general population.

“That’s what makes firefighting so unique. You are getting the stacking effect of many chemicals that weren’t designed to go together. So, the body and the body’s immune system is not designed to fight these. And hence we have a huge growing cancer effort.” (5)

How can we reduce the number of firefighters with cancer?

  • Follow every precaution.
  • Wearing all your gear.
  • Clean that gear well after each use.
  • Communities need to make funds available for the firefighters who protect them to have enough of the right gear.
  • Departments should require annual physicals.

Check out this powerful video!

Assistance is available for firefighters with cancer

If you are or know. a firefighter who’s been diagnosed with cancer, get in contact with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and request assistance. They will stick with you from your diagnosis and through the battle. They have volunteer mentors who can share their experiences facing cancer and give you valuable resources through the recovery process.

If a doctor diagnoses you with one of the more than 80 diseases covered by the World Trade Center Health Program and you are eligible, apply HERE.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnotes:

  1. Singh A, Zeig-Owens R, Moir W, et al. Estimation of Future Cancer Burden Among Rescue and Recovery Workers Exposed to the World Trade Center Disaster. JAMA Oncol. Published online April 26, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0504
  2. World Trade Center Health Program
  3. Fire Rescue Magazine.com, The Case for Annual Physical Exams in the Fire Service, 7/1/2010
  4. Station Pride.com, The Real Cancer in Your Gear, 3/28/2017 by Mutual Aid
  5. Interview by Mary Sturgill, July 19, 2016, Columbia, SC (WLTX)

No two cancers are alike.

I recently read an article about John McCain and Jimmy Carter.[1]  Apparently, a lot of people wonder why their cancers could have had such different outcomes. The thinking behind this is something most cancer patients encounter throughout their journey. People often don’t realize that no two cancers are alike. Today I’ll share some of the reasons for this, and what it means for cancer patients and their loved ones.

Where cancer originates is what kind of cancer the patient has.

One of the reasons no two cancers are alike is because they originate in different areas of the body. For example, Jimmy Carter was diagnosed with melanoma. This is a dangerous form of skin cancer. John McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma. A glioblastoma is a dangerous form of cancer in the brain. Jimmy Carter’s melanoma at one point metastasized (or moved) to his brain, but it was still melanoma.

My husband Dan was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer. By the time they found it, it was in his lymphatic system. There was actually very little of it in his lungs because it metastasized so quickly. It was too late to cut it out. Even though it was in his lymph nodes when they found it, they found lung cancer cells there. At one point, like Jimmy Carter’s melanoma, it metastasized to his brain, but it was still the lung cancer cells that were in that brain tumor.

Why does this matter?

It’s important to realize that no two cancers are alike because they are treated differently. Some forms of cancer have more treatment options.  Some of these options have been better researched because there are more research dollars being directed at certain cancers than others. Melanoma, the cancer that metastasized to Carter’s brain, was treatable with a new immunotherapy. Glioblastoma, the form of cancer McCain suffered from, doesn’t respond to immunotherapy, and is extremely difficult to treat, especially when advanced.

Some cancers are curable, even at stage IV.

Different cancers have different staging systems.  Even when a system sounds the same (for example, “stage I, II, III, or IV”) the stages don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Lymphoma is a cancer that can be cured, even at stage IV.

“Stage III-IV lymphomas are common, still very treatable, and often curable, depending on the NHL subtype. Stage III and stage IV are now considered a single category because they have the same treatment and prognosis.” [2]

When someone has seen or experienced remission and even a cure of one of these “curable” cancers, it can be difficult to understand the devastation someone feels when they are told their cancer is “incurable.”

No two cancers are alike because of mutations

For a long time, lung cancer patients were relegated to “ugly step-stepsister” status; due to the impression most people have that lung cancer patients deserve to get cancer because cancer is a smoker’s disease, caused by bad behavior.

First, let me say that no one deserves cancer. Having seen this brutal disease up close, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, nor turn away and cluck my tongue if someone got it due to an “unhealthy lifestyle.”

The medical community is learning that more people get lung cancer who have never smoked (or haven’t in years) than they realized.

We were very fortunate to learn that Dan had an EGFR mutation. This is a mutation which set off a firestorm of research in the lung cancer world. With the possibilities that mutations present, they see hope for fighting this disease. So, more research dollars are being directed toward the least researched cancer and more treatment options are unfolding for lung cancer patients.

Thanks to this research, and new drugs, Dan has lived for 6 years with stage IV lung cancer. In 2012, he was given 6 months to live.

Asking for Prayer

No two cancers are alike because no two patients are alike

There are so many variations between patients. One particular treatment can work great for one patient and terrible in another. Some patients tolerate a treatment while others become ill to the point of death. Younger patients tend to do better than older patients on cancer treatment. Patients who have other underlying illnesses have a harder time than patients who start out healthier.

Support systems matter

No two cancers are alike because different patients have different levels of support. A strong support system can have a profound impact on both patients and caregivers.[3]  They are more likely to be compliant with treatment and understand their doctor’s recommendations. A good support system also helps combat depression that so commonly occurs in cancer patients.

In conclusion…

It’s natural to wonder why one person can live with cancer for a long time while another succumbs to their illness. Hopefully, this post has shed some light on the variables that impact the outcome of a patient’s disease. It’s important to be aware that a person’s experience with their cancer is as individual as they are.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSONThe Erickson Family

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

 

My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Footnotes:

[1] Sisson, Paul. “Why Did Carter and McCain Have Such Different Brain Tumor Results?” Sandiegouniontribune.com, The San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 Aug. 2018, www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/health/sd-no-cancer-mccain-20180824-story.html.

[2] “Lymphoma – Non-Hodgkin – Stages.” Cancer.Net, American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2 July 2018, www.cancer.net/cancer-types/lymphoma-non-hodgkin/stages.

[3] “Statistics Show the Importance of Psychosocial Support for Those Impacted by Cancer.” Imerman Angels, Imerman Angels, imermanangels.org/psychosocial/.


Cancer Cells 101

Cancer is a complex disease. In fact, it is really many diseases with one thing in common— cancer cells have a communication problem.

To understand cancer cells, you need to first understand healthy cells and how they function. A cell is the basic, structural unit of all known living organisms. It’s the smallest unit of life that can replicate independently. Each cell contains DNA, a blueprint for how proteins are produced or suppressed in the body

Healthy Cells

Healthy cells stop growing when there are enough cells present. In the “cell cycle” damaged cells are repaired and old cells die and are replaced if appropriate. Your skin is a good example of this. New skin cells are produced in the bottom layers of your epidermis. Over time, they move to the top layers as old skin cells from the top-most layers of your epidermis, die and slough off. In fact, 30,000 to 40,000 old cells die and slough off each day! The skin you see now will be gone in about a month. This is the reason some people exfoliate their skin to get that “healthy glow.”

Cancer Cells

Mutations, inherited or caused by carcinogens (cancer-causing things in the environment such as tobacco or ultraviolet rays), can result in the abnormal production of proteins. Cancer cells ignore growth inhibitors. They also don’t listen to the surrounding cells that “tell them” to stop growing. They not only grow when they shouldn’t but they also go where they shouldn’t. This includes spreading to the blood stream, other organs, and the lymphatic system. This happens because cancer cells don’t have the adhesion molecules in them that makes them “stay put.”

What kind of cancer is it?

Often when cancer metastasizes, people think that the location the cancer is found in is the type of cancer the patient has. For example, if a breast cancer patient has a metastasis to her liver, someone might think she has breast cancer and now, liver cancer, too. Or if it spreads to the lungs, they might say she has breast and lung cancer. In fact, it is all breast cancer. The cells found in the liver or the lung are distinct breast cancer cells.

The origin of the cancer is unique, so pathologists can determine what type of cancer a patient has by looking at the cancer cells. When my husband Dan discovered he had lung cancer it was because lung cancer cells had metastasized to his lymphatic system and beyond. The biopsy found lung cancer cells in his lymph nodes.

Cancer cells look different than healthy cells.

While healthy cells are consistent in shape and color, cancer cells have a lot of variety in size and shape. Their nucleus is also larger and darker than that of a healthy cell, because of excess DNA.

Pat Kenny (Illustrator)
Source: National Cancer institute Online. Pat Kenny (Illustrator)

Your body, the night club.

Cancer cells grow too quickly and divide before they fully mature. Doctors call these immature cells “undifferentiated.” If these cells would wait until they grew up and became mature to divide they could specialize into adult cells. By looking at how quickly or “early” these cells divide, doctors can tell how aggressive the cancer is.

Imagine your body is a night club. Lymphocytes are the bouncers, keeping out the riff-raff. They kick out damaged cells, keeping the place hopping. Cancer cells (immature things that they are) sneak past the bouncers by secreting a chemical that shuts the immune cells or lymphocytes (the bouncers) down as they come to remove the cancer cells from the party. Another tactic cancer cells use is hiding long enough to grow into a tumor.

Malfunctioning Cells

Cancer cells don’t act the way they should. They don’t die when they should. They go wherever they please, despite the danger they present to the patient. Each type of cancer is unique. I describe them as juvenile delinquent zombies. By understanding what we are up against, we can better fight cancer when it presents itself.

Rapidly dividing cells

One thing to note is that because cancer cells divide rapidly, many of the traditional cancer treatments go after rapidly dividing cells, in general. Unfortunately, that includes killing off the healthy rapidly deciding cells which include those that form hair, skin, and nails. This is why with traditional chemotherapy patients often lose their hair.

Newer targeted treatments attempt to go after only those cells which have specific cancer mutations in them. This spares the healthy cells. They aren’t without side effects, but they are a far more effective and tolerable treatment option for patients.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

The Erickson Family


Internet Research

In the past, patients were often told to avoid doing their own internet research. That was because the internet really is a dumping ground for both information and misinformation. More and more, doctors are appreciating their patients’ efforts to participate in their healthcare. This is especially true when the patient uses internet research wisely.

Benefits of doing your own research:

You can decide if what is happening merits a trip to the doctor.

Often you can be put at ease when you discover your symptoms might feel awful, but you most likely have a cold. Sometimes, odd, but otherwise painless symptoms mean something more ominous is happening. For example, when my husband felt 3 hardened lymph nodes above his left collarbone (supraclavicular nodes), that specific symptom was said to indicate a 90% chance of metastatic lung cancer. It seemed improbable since he had never smoked and like most people, we thought of lung cancer as a smoker’s disease. Still, he made an appointment that saved his life.

Your doctor can’t keep up with all of the latest innovations in their field

Often, we expect our doctors to know everything. The medical field has become a complex place. Two years ago, my husband was ready to go to hospice. He could barely breathe; the cancer had so filled his lungs. He’d been following the experience of a blogger who was on a trial. Dan seemed to fit the profile of an ideal candidate for the drug. Finally, the FDA approved Tagrisso (a couple of months ahead of schedule). Dan asked his doctor to look into it. She did. She had him tested for the mutation the drug-treated and he was a match! Within two weeks of being on the drug, he was able to breathe again. He’s been on the drug ever since. His doctor appreciated his research and self-advocacy.

There are some drawbacks to internet research:

Sometimes the thing you think will be great—isn’t.

I’ve been using turmeric supplements as a way to ease the pain I experience from rheumatoid arthritis. Because it has worked well for me, we wondered if it would help with the pain Dan is in every day. We asked the palliative care specialist about it. She told us that even though turmeric is natural and over the counter, it isn’t something Dan should use. Turmeric is a natural blood thinner and Dan is a hemophiliac. It can also affect his blood counts that are already low because of the treatment he is on. We were glad we didn’t assume that an otherwise safe supplement is safe for him. Always check with your doctor about over the counter or “natural” supplements.

Internet Research isn’t a replacement for a doctor

No matter how empowered we can feel by the internet, there’s no replacement for a medical degree and years of experience. I often write posts for Quora, a user-input-based site. Every week, scared people ask me if their symptoms are indicative of cancer. I use the platform to encourage people to see their doctor when they are experiencing unusual symptoms. While most of these people don’t have cancer, there is often something happening with their health which needs to be addressed by a medical professional.

How you approach internet research is important

“Just the facts, Ma’am.”

Internet research has become second nature for most people, whether they are looking for a new car or the latest cancer treatments. It’s easy to pull up endless pages of information. But is the information factual? Is it experiential? Positive? Negative? These can be difficult questions to answer.

While the internet can be a valuable tool, it can also be a very frightening place, especially when you research cancer. Survival rates and statistics sound overwhelming when they’re not placed in the proper context. If you choose to research your symptoms or your diagnosis on the internet, use reputable websites. What makes a site, “reputable?”

User-Input Based Sites

Social Media and other user-input based sites such as forums have given everyone a platform. Because of that, there’s a lot more opinion on the internet than fact—especially when it comes to health issues. It’s difficult to wade through the endless sea of contradicting statements. Everyone has an opinion about cancer, cancer treatment, and what people should be doing. Random, anonymous people are very comfortable giving their opinions online. “Opinions,” is the keyword.

Many people use the Internet as their therapist. They post all their fears and the “what-ifs” online, where to the undiscerning eye, it can be frightening. While blogs and “cancer support” sites can be helpful for patients looking for support, they can also be a source of misinformation and confusion. The Internet tends to capture the negative. Because of this, use caution when reading user-input based sites. Keep in mind that the writer’s individual situation is different from yours.

Reading as a writer

Pseudoscience

Pseudoscience is rampant on the Internet. The Scrivener WordNet Dictionary defines pseudoscience as, “an activity resembling science but based on fallacious assumptions.”

Problems arise when patients or their loved ones believe pseudoscience and it contradicts what a health care provider recommends. This can cause a patient to delay a legitimate course of treatment. Meanwhile, cancer can spread.

This isn’t only a problem with cancer. I know of someone who didn’t follow their doctor’s advice in favor of another form of “treatment” for their diabetes. She went blind and ultimately died of a diabetic coma.

Rifts between family members often happen when they don’t agree on a treatment approach in light of a false promise made on the internet. The result is guilt, discord, and hurt feelings within the family.

What you need are facts pertaining to the cancer that you or your family is facing, rather than the cancer someone else has.

 

Using Trusted Resources

Health information, whether in print or online, should come from a trusted, credible source. Government agencies, hospitals, universities, medical journals, and books that provide evidence-based information are sources you can trust. Too often, other sources can provide misleading or incorrect information. If it makes claims that are too good to be true, remember—they usually are.

The National Cancer Institute gives the following advice on internet research:

Online sources of health information should make it easy for people to learn who is responsible for posting the information. They should make clear the original source of the information, along with the medical credentials of the people who prepare or review the posted material.

Use the following questions to determine the credibility of health information published online:

  • Who manages this information? The person or group that has published health information online should be identified somewhere.
  • Who is paying for the project, and what is their purpose? You should be able to find this information in the “About Us” section.
  • What is the original source of the information that they have posted? If the information was originally published in a research journal or a book, they should say which one(s) so that you can find it.
  • How is information reviewed before it gets posted? Most health information publications have someone with medical or research credentials (e.g., someone who has earned an M.D., D.O., or Ph.D.) review the information before it gets posted, to make sure it is correct.
  • How current is the information? Online health information sources should show you when the information was posted or last reviewed.
  • If they are asking for personal information, how will they use that information and how will they protect your privacy? This is very important. Do not share personal information until you understand the policies under which it will be used and you are comfortable with any risk involved in sharing your information online.

You can learn more about doing internet research as well as using other sources of information cancer, by checking out the National Cancer Institutes’s Website: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/managing-care/using-trusted-resources.

Sometimes it’s good to take a “digital break.”

While internet research can be really helpful, there are also times when it’s good to take a digital break.  That’s what I’m going to be doing in the month of January. I’ve noticed that I’m not getting as much writing done as I should be, so rather than spending time on email, social media, and other online activities; I will be writing and reconnecting with my goals for 2018. You will still see weekly blog posts on Facing Cancer with Grace, because I have already written them and will post them automatically, using a scheduler. Even though I may not respond to your comments right away, I will read them and appreciate them greatly. Since I won’t be sharing my posts to social media in January I would appreciate it if those of you who use social media would share my posts. Thank you!

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

Originally posted 2018-01-15 07:00:48.


Staging Your Cancer

Doctors stage a patient’s cancer at the time of diagnosis. Doctors determine the extent of your cancer, such as how large the tumor is, and if it has spread, using x-rays, lab tests, and other tests or procedures.  This is called the “stage” of your cancer. By staging cancer, your doctor can determine among other things, how aggressive the cancer is and how aggressive the treatment will have to be.  Today we will look at how these staging systems work.

Most staging systems include information about (1):

  • Where the tumor is located in the body
  • The cell type (such as adenocarcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma)
  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes
  • Whether cancer has spread to a different part of the body
  • Tumor grade, which refers to how abnormal the cancer cells look and how likely the tumor is to grow and spread

The most commonly used system of staging is the TNM System, usually seen on a pathology report.

What is the TNM System?

T stands for tumor.

Numbers (and sometimes the letter X) accompany the T.

X means the main tumor can’t be measured. O means that it can’t be found. Numbers 1-4 indicate the size and extent of the primary tumor. The higher the number, the larger the tumor, and the more it is invading nearby tissue. These numbers are sometimes broken down further, to give a more precise picture of how extensive the cancer is. For example, T2a and T2b. A would be closer to T2 and b would be closer to T3.

N stands for regional lymph nodes.

The number (or the letter X) accompanying the N indicates the number of nearby nodes that are cancerous.

X means that cancer in nearby nodes can’t be measured. 0 means there is no cancer in the nearby lymph nodes. Numbers 1-3 indicate the number of cancerous lymph nodes, and where they are. The higher the number, the more lymph nodes there are that contain cancer. Localized cancer is limited to the location where it started, with no indication that it has spread. Regional cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, tissues, or organs.

M stands for metastasis.

There are three possible letters/numbers that can accompany the M. X indicates that metastasis can’t be measured. 0 means that cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body. 1 means that it has spread to other parts of the body. When cancer is described as “distant,” it has spread to distant parts of the body.

From this TNM staging system, doctors derive the more commonly known…

Stages I to IV

  • Stage 0 means that abnormal cells are present but haven’t spread. Doctors call this, “in situ,” or CIS. CIS isn’t cancer but could become cancer.
  • Stage I, II, and III mean that cancer is present. The higher the number, the greater the concern. Doctors assess the size of the cancer and how invasively it has spread into nearby tissue.
  • Stage IV is cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body.

The doctor said Dan’s cancer was at least stage IIIb. This was based on his tumor and lymph nodes. But was he stage IV? To find that out, doctors ordered a PET scan. It showed that cancer had crossed his thoracic region and was, therefore, distant. That made it stage IV.

Lymphoma

Doctors stage lymphoma using a different system. They look at which lymph node regions are affected, and how many are affected. Again, as the number of the stage increases so does the extent of the cancer’s effect on the patient. Progressive or refractory lymphoma is when cancer continues to grow or spread despite treatment. When doctors treat lymphoma successfully and then it returns, they call it recurrent or relapsed lymphoma. (2)

Leukemia

Leukemia uses a completely different staging system known as the Rai staging system. The Rai system takes several things into consideration, including whether there are high levels of lymphocytes in the blood, also known as lymphocytosis. Does the patient have enlarged lymph nodes or lymphadenopathy? Is the patient’s spleen enlarged? This is called splenomegaly. Does the patient have anemia or low red blood cell counts? Are the patient’s platelets low, also known as thrombocytopenia? Is the patient’s liver enlarged? This is called hepatomegaly.

All stages of the Rai symptom include lymphocytosis (high levels of lymphocytes). Stage:

  • 0 …means that there is lymphocytosis, but no other staging conditions present.
  • I …is when lymphadenopathy accompanies lymphocytosis.
  • II …adds an enlarged spleen and/or liver, and possibly lymphadenopathy, as well.
  • III …includes anemia, and possibly lymphadenopathy and/or enlarged spleen and/or liver.
  • IV …includes thrombocytopenia (low levels of platelets) and possibly the other symptoms.

To make things even more complicated, European doctors use a completely different system known as Binet classification. Since I am writing in the United States, I won’t go into that system. (3)

Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Cancers of the brain and spinal cord tumors do not have a formal staging system. That’s because these kinds of tumors rarely spread to other parts of the body. This risk with these cancers is their effect on the brain and central nervous system. (4)

The Stage Stays the Same

The stage doesn’t change, even though the cancer might. Doctors refer to cancer by the stage it was given at diagnosis. It doesn’t matter if your cancer has improved due to successful treatment, or if it gets worse and spreads. If it was stage III, in the beginning, it’s still stage III after it has metastasized. Doctors add new information to the original stage over time as the cancer changes.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON

In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

The Erickson Family

Footnotes:

  1. National Cancer Institute, Diagnosis, and Staging. Staging.
  2. Cancer.Net Non-Hodgkin‘s Lymphoma Stages
  3. Cancer.Net Leukemia Stages
  4. Baylor Scott and White Health, The Stages of Brain and Spinal Cord Cancer

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