CaSfA - Cancer Support for All
News from CaSfA's Director

general

Meditation

The continuing rise in cancer rates and longer survivorship underscores the need for effective symptom management. Based on current evidence, meditation is a promising modality for the relief of both psychological and physical symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments. Meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, improve sleep, and improve emotional health and self-awareness.  It has also been reported to lengthen attention span and reduce age-related memory loss.

CaSfA recently hosted a Meditation Workshop utilizing the free app, 

The American Cancer Society's 2019 Annual Report

Much has been written in the past weeks about the American Cancer Society’s Annual Report.
 
Here are some facts from the report:
The Good News
·      The U.S. cancer death rate has hit a milestone, falling for the past 25 years.  The nation’s cancer death rate was increasing until the early 1990s.

End of Life Care

End-of-life care is the term used to describe the support and medical care given during the time surrounding death. This care does not happen only in the moments before breathing stops and the heart stops beating.  People living with one or more chronic illnesses may need a lot of care for days, weeks, and even months before death.  In addition, we don’t always know when death is near, so it is important that we figure out a plan in advance.
 
According to the National Cancer Institute, “End-of-life care includes physical, emotional, social, and spiritual support for patients and their families.

Cancer and Exercise

There is a physical (and mental) decline in our bodies as we age—and studies have shown that biologic aging begins in our 20’s!  Add cancer and the effects of its treatments to this decline and we can end up with significant weaknesses.
 
It can be extremely challenging to do any exercise or fitness program during treatment and even after treatment is completed.  I remember some days, just getting out of bed was a major accomplishment.  There is pain and limited abilities that may be secondary to surgeries and radiation.

Resources for Meditation and Attaining Mindfulness

A new website that offers FREE guided meditations has been created for cancer survivors.  Kara (https://thisiskara.com) features 12 meditations including the four core qualities whose initials give Kara its name—kindness, awareness, rest and allowing.  The remaining eight tracks are designed to help with specific difficult emotions or challenges that survivors experience, such as feeling overwhelmed, afraid or angry; feeling alone or like you are a burden; or being in pain or sleepless.

American Cancer Society's 2016 Facts and Figures

CaSfA's most recent newsletter contains my notes from the American Cancer Society's 2016 Facts and Figures.  It's a lengthy document that summarizes current scientific information about cancer in the United States. To download the document visit: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/document/acspc-047079.pdf.

Here's just a few of my notes from the report:

Can Cancer Be Prevented?
“A substantial proportion of cancers could be prevented.” Tobacco use is a major cause of some cancers.

Loved Ones' Perspectives

Cancer doesn't just affect the patient.  It affects our loved ones too.  I recently read two very moving essays by loved ones and caregivers of cancer survivors.  Read them:  
http://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2015/10/how-to-care-for-a-partner-with-cancer/
http://www.sarah-levy.com/blog-1/2015/10/7/mymomhercancerandme

"Being Mortal"

Today I met with some CaSfA members.  Among other topics, we did discuss end of life issues.  The conversation reminded me of an episode of Frontline I recently watched, “Being Mortal”, on PBS. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/being-mortal/).  Although it was very emotional, I highly recommend watching the program.  

According to PBS’ website,
“The United States has a problem when it comes to conversations around death and dying, says Dr. Atul Gawande. Patients with life-threatening illnesses tend to focus on how to beat the steep odds against them, he says, without hearing from their doctors about how certain kinds of treatment might actually worsen their remaining time alive.

Viruses Can Be Used To Treat Cancer

60 minutes recently did a piece on the use of the polio virus to treat glioblastoma brain tumors.  Watch the episode if you have a chance:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/polio-cancer-treatment-duke-university-60-minutes-scott-pelley/ 

In a recent blog post, Dana Farber discussed this study out of Duke and some other studies in which viruses are being used to successfully treat cancer. Check it out at (http://blog.dana-farber.org/insight/2015/05/from-foe-to-friend-viruses-show-new-promise-as-cancer-treatment/)

Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer

There’s another study showing the anti-cancer properties of Vitamin D. “According to a new study led by researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, clinical trial patients with metastaticcolorectal cancerwho had high levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream prior to treatment with chemotherapy and targeted drugs, survived longer, on average, than patients with lower levels of the vitamin.” 

These findings were recently reported at the 2015 American Society of Cancer Oncology (ASCO) Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.
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