Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

Forgive, Release, Let Go

Posted on October 22nd, 2015 by karen

Forgiveness Stone

by Lisa M. Wolfson

I have always been an advocate for self-improvement and growth, but in recent years, as a breast cancer survivor, my desire to make necessary changes has become a priority. I’ve come to realize that inner peace is at the core of maintaining a happy, healthy life.

Struggling with situations that don’t serve me well, but often feeling guilty about letting go of them, has been a continuing source of disquiet for me. Harboring resentments for the actions of others has brought me down and into a dark place. I would tell myself “let it go.” But how do I accomplish that?

When someone’s behavior hurts us or makes us angry, we may hold onto a resentment for the person or situation they’ve created or helped to create. We think of forgiveness as a timid act, an act of giving in. We focus on the source of our pain and decide that forgiving the person who caused that pain allows them to win. What we overlook is that dwelling on the pain hurts us more, lowering our energy, overwhelming our concentration, and undermining the better angels of our nature. In short, the act of holding onto pain hurts us more than it hurts anyone else. It holds us captive and renders us helpless.

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Meal Train: The Best Thing Since Chicken Soup

Posted on October 15th, 2015 by karen

Chicken Tortilla soup from Rosie in New Canaan CT

by Karen Keller Capuciati

When you have a sick friend and you want to help out, sometimes you don’t know what to do. Offers to help — Don’t hesitate to call me! — seem perfunctory. You don’t want to be intrusive or force your sick friend to assign you a job, but you’d really like to show your love and concern . . .

Helping can get complicated.

Well, it just got less complicated. Meal Train is an interactive online service that allows family, friends and neighbors to sign up for delivering meals to friends and loved ones going through difficult times and/or significant life events, whether it’s surgery, cancer treatments, grieving a recent loss, arrival of a new baby, or just to ease the strain of everyday caregiving.

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Ten Tender Tips: Insights From A Cancer Survivor

Posted on October 8th, 2015 by karen

tender gifts - favorite magazines

By Lynda Wertheim

There are no rules on how someone is supposed to react to a diagnosis of a serious disease. Every situation is different. This is a fundamental part of the advice I was given when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 1998. I continue to believe these words are the first things patients need to absorb:

  1. Everyone’s diagnosis is different.
  2. Everyone’s treatment is different.
  3. Everyone’s reaction to their treatment is different.
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The Card

Posted on October 1st, 2015 by kim

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we at In Care of Dad proudly rerun this invaluable blog by breast cancer survivor Christine Taylor detailing the love, support and inspiration she received during her treatment and in the many years since.


by Christine Taylor

The first anniversary of my cancer diagnosis has arrived, and I now find myself having thoughts like “One year ago today I got the phone call” and “One year ago today I met my surgeon.”

I vividly remember the panic and fear I experienced back then. A year ago, my world was spinning faster than it had ever spun before, and I stood frozen in the middle. Now, a whole year later, I’m feeling healthy and stronger than I ever have. The entire experience has taught me about perspective.

In the midst of the swirling chaos that my life became last year, I also received the biggest outpouring of love and support I have ever experienced. All of the cards and sentiments people passed along were beautiful and I cherish them all, but there is one that stands out and has served me well as a tool for getting through the toughest times.

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A Fear Of Sickness Or A Sickness Of Fear?

Posted on September 17th, 2015 by karen

Doctor Transparency

by Kim Keller

Dr. Leana Wen’s interest in bringing transparency to the medical profession began back in 2003, when she was still a medical student.

Leana’s mom, Sandy, had been diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer, which had already spread to her lungs, her bones and her brain. During her third round of chemo, Sandy happened to misplace her address book, so she went online to look up her oncologist’s phone number, and that’s when she discovered that her oncologist was also a highly paid speaker for the drug company that manufactured her prescribed chemo regimen.

Sandy called her daughter in a panic. It made her question her treatment plan. Is the chemo regimen right for me, she wondered? Or is it being prescribed because of my doctor’s financial relationship with this particular drug company?

Leana and her mother weren’t sure what to believe, but the answer was almost secondary. “When it comes to medicine,” Dr. Wen explained, “having that trust is a must, and when that trust is gone, then all that’s left is fear.”

Wen has enjoyed a long and varied career, serving in many capacities, both as a physician and public health official, including, most recently, as the Commissioner of Public Health in Baltimore, MD. And in all her various positions, Wen has discovered that many doctors share that same fear she described above. The absence of trust is by no means restricted to the patient population.

Indeed, there was an incident that left a great impression on Wen during her medical school years. She was caring for a 19-year old boy in a coma, whose body had undergone enormous trauma when he was hit by an SUV. The young man’s parents had immediately flown in from Seattle, traveling some 2,000 miles to be with their son in the hospital. The parents obviously wanted to receive as much information from the medical team as possible. In fact, they asked to be present when the medical team was doing rounds in order to help the parents understand exactly what was happening with their comatose son.

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Crisis Time: Overcoming Family Barriers

Posted on August 5th, 2015 by karen
Crisis Time Overcoming Family Barriers

Nonno seated in front with his family.

by Nadia Fiorita

Everyone knows that family dynamics can be complicated. Sometimes there are grievances that linger for years, and other times there are relationships that just never get a chance to bloom. But when a family faces a serious health crisis, with all its inherent pain and fear, the potential for loss casts a different light on strained relations.

My grandfather — Nonno to his 14 grandkids — was diagnosed in the spring of this year with multiple brain tumors, for which his doctor recommended immediate radiation treatments. Four years earlier, Nonno managed to survive a bout of lung cancer so serious that he was given only 3-6 months to live.

My relationship with my grandfather wasn’t as good as I would have liked. We didn’t visit him much while I was growing up due to an ongoing conflict between my parents that carried over into other family relationships. But a couple of years ago my father’s mother passed away unexpectedly, and I remember being stopped in my tracks by this. I was distressed by the realization that I would never have any relationship with my very own grandmother.  That struck me as very sad indeed.

So when Nonno’s health began a steady decline in the wake of a seizure and hospitalization following a radiation treatment, I decided to embrace the moment and make sure that Nonno did not depart this world before I had a chance to really connect with him. I felt that I needed to make up for lost time, so I made it a priority to see him as often as I could.

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Advocate For Your Own Health: Balancing Trust With Facts

Posted on June 24th, 2015 by karen
Advocate For Your Own Health

Nonno surrounded by his family

by Nadia Fiorita

My grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer about four years ago at the age of 82. At the time, it was absolutely devastating news. The doctors gave him only 3-6 months to live.

I’m happy to report that Nonno (as all us grandchildren call him) surpassed everyone’s expectations and is still alive today. And he was able to survive without chemotherapy or radiation treatments, which is amazing.

Unfortunately, after a recent follow-up visit, his doctor found multiple tumors on the left side of his brain that caused Nonno to have frequent headaches. Again, this was crushing news for my entire family, especially my grandfather, since he was looking forward to going to Italy the following week.

During that follow-up visit, the doctor strongly recommended that my grandfather begin immediate radiation treatments to target the largest tumor. The doctor passed along some information about the potential side effects of radiation, but reassured all of us that my grandfather would still be able to travel to Italy after receiving the first round of treatments. My grandfather wanted so badly to believe that everything would work out that he took the doctor’s reassurances to heart and put the potential side effects out of his mind. He thought he would get better and be able to go to visit his homeland. But right after the initial treatment, my grandfather’s health began to decline rapidly: he lost his energy and his appetite, and it became clear that he was getting sicker with each passing day.

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Visualization: If You Can See It, You Can Be It

Posted on March 18th, 2015 by karen


by Lisa M. Wolfson

As a cancer survivor, I am constantly on the lookout to find new techniques for reducing stress and maintaining optimal health. One very helpful tool I’ve recently undertaken is visualization. This technique involves using your imagination to visualize specific things you desire to have, be or do, or events you wish to take place.

Visualization is particularly helpful while going through difficult times. It can help to take us to a better place or see things more clearly. The idea is to use your imagination to create detailed scenarios in your mind’s eye. This allows you to create a mental picture and then focus on this image for a period of time. The fundamental belief is that you can create a desired result in the outer world by properly adjusting your inner beliefs and perceptions.

Visualization can also be used with people who are sick or dying, or merely in pain, by having them focus on images of themselves in healthier, happier, safer times. For example, as parents, we often have our children try to visualize a fun experience from their past to help calm them down during a frightening medical procedure or other painful event.

Many of the world’s most successful and influential people are also firm believers in the practice of visualization. They are convinced that, by visualizing specific behaviors or scenarios, they can change energy patterns to bring about their goals and desires more quickly. By the same token, clinical psychologists believe that the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and an experience imagined in vivid detail.

Today it’s rare for successful athletes not to use some form of mental imagery to achieve greater results on the field of play. Professional golfers, for example, stand over a putt and visualize the ball rolling and dropping over the edge of the cup before they actually strike the ball. Pro tennis players imagine the precise landing location of each 150 mph serve before they even toss the ball in the air.

Visualization has many benefits, including spiritual development, emotional and physical healing, enhancing creativity, profoundly deep relaxation, opening the heart and healing relationships, curing negativity and self-defeating behaviors, improving performance in business and sports, and resolving psychological difficulties.

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Coming To Grips With End Of Life Wishes

Posted on February 25th, 2015 by karen

Coming To Grips With End Of Life Wishes

by Stephanie Haen

Little did I know when Daniel walked into my office for our first session that I would soon be faced with helping him and his wife Susan — a pair of young newlyweds — come to grips with a decision that would surely hasten the end of Daniel’s life.

Eight months earlier, at the age of 24, Daniel had been diagnosed with brain cancer. He had recently decided to forgo the prescribed treatments, as they were causing him severe pain and daily bouts of vomiting, but, more importantly, they had failed to yield any positive results. Daniel had decided that he didn’t want the time he had left to be filled with additional sickness and pain. And while he appeared to be at peace with his decision, Susan clearly wasn’t. Daniel asked me to meet with them both, to help his wife better understand his decision and come to terms with it.

As human beings, death is the one thing we all have in common. Whether it’s facing our own mortality or someone else’s, we will all experience that dreaded word at some point. For most of us, all it takes is an earnest discussion about death to unleash our fear and anxiety, even when we’re talking about someone we hardly know. But when a loved one is the focus of the conversation, our decision-making abilities are severely strained.

Often, it’s hard to understand the choices that are made when a person is facing death, disability or severe chronic pain. We are all unique in how we feel, think, and perceive ideas, especially an idea as profound as death. So what happens when a loved one makes a decision you disagree with, especially when it’s a decision you don’t understand or consider to be wrong or cowardly? How do you stand by and allow your loved one to make such a decision?

Consider the following:

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How To Avoid A Caregiver Breakdown

Posted on January 28th, 2015 by karen

Caregiving 24/7

by Erin Tishman

You’ve heard the term “mind over matter”? Caregivers likely take this phrase to heart more than the majority of the population. Despite the constant pressure of managing their loved one’s physical and medical needs, many caregivers simultaneously balance jobs, family and other personal matters. So they hunker down, get in a good mindset and just do what needs to be done.

Truth be told, caregivers are a very strong and resilient bunch. At the same time, however, they are human and are susceptible to breaking down emotionally. No matter how many responsibilities a caregiver can juggle all at once, there’s a good chance they’ll all come crashing down if precautions aren’t taken.

Take Ellen, for example. She’s one of my clients. For years, she thrived as a typical working mother. She held a high-profile job as a marketing executive in a prestigious New York firm. Despite long hours at work and a tedious commute, Ellen made sure she was an attentive and active parent. She volunteered at her kids’ school, never missed a sporting event and was always home in time to cook dinner and help with homework. Ellen had found a work/life balance that most people only dream of.

Last year, Ellen’s seemingly perfect schedule was turned upside down when her elderly father was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer. He was able to manage the disease for a few months, but soon needed constant medical care. Ellen moved her father into her home and assumed the role of primary caregiver. At first, Ellen kept her regular schedule intact. But when her father’s needs grew more intensive, Ellen’s carefully balanced routine started to crumble: she was forced to miss more and more meetings at work; shuttling her kids to extracurricular activities became a challenge; and just the thought of cooking dinner exhausted her.

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