Thursday, December 5, 2013

A December Break

I have overexerted myself and so I am taking off the next few weeks, and plan to return in January 2014, a new year with new promise.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

8 Things You Should Know About Mesothelioma

Cancer Awareness

No amount of exposure to asbestos is safe; and yet asbestos is still not banned in the United States. A good part of the industrialized world, notably the medical community, agree that asbestos is highly dangerous. So much so that the World Health Organization reports that more than 100,000 people die each year from lung cancer and other respiratory diseases due to asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that usually develops in the pleura (lungs) or the peritoneum (abdominal cavity)Emily Walsh of Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance says“Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is invisible to the naked eye. Once inhaled, these fibers may infect the protective lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity, or cardiac cavity.”


by Emily Walsh

Displaying Did You Know Facts.jpg
Mesothelioma Fact Sheet:
Credit & Source: Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance; 2013

Mesothelioma—a long word you may have heard on a commercial or two, but do you know what it means? This rare and deadly cancer is sadly lacking awareness. In honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day, which took place on September 26, read on for the top eight things you don’t know about this cancer, but should.

Then share them. The key to saving lives starts with education.
  1. Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that is invisible to the naked eye. Once inhaled, these fibers may infect the protective lining of the lungs, abdominal cavity, or cardiac cavity.
  2. No amount of exposure is safe. Just exposing yourself once could put you at risk for developing the disease later on in life. If you were exposed today, you may not be aware until 2043, as the average latency period is about 30–40 years.
  3. Asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 consumer products. These include household items, some of which may still be in use. Some of these even include hair dryers, crock pots, and cigarette filters.
  4. It can be found in many older homes, schools, factories, and commercial buildings. Homes built prior to the 1970’s, along with a myriad of public buildings still could potentially contain asbestos because of the materials used in the original construction.
  5. Asbestos exposure is still the LEADING CAUSE of occupational cancer in the US. Even after 30 years since the United States government issued stern warnings about the continued use of asbestos, many workers who were once exposed are now at risk of developing the disease.
  6. United States Veterans are at the greatest risk. For many years, asbestos was used across all branches of the military. Many veterans and shipyard workers were exposed to high levels of asbestos from several different applications. US Navy veterans who served during World War II and the Korean Conflict unfortunately have the highest incidences of asbestos related disease, including mesothelioma.
  7. Asbestos is still not banned in the US. Federal law requires the newly manufactured products contain no more than 1% asbestos. Although its use is regulated, roughly 30 million pounds are still being used each year.
  8. Mesothelioma can be caused by secondary exposure. Family members of those who were directly affected by on-the-job asbestos exposure may also at risk of developing mesothelioma.
Want to do something to help this Mesothelioma Awareness Day? Our friend and seven-year survivor, Heather Von St. James, needs your help. Check out her campaign and share her message to help educate and save lives. Be a voice for the victims.

You can read more at [].

As the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, Emily Walsh dedicates much of her time building cancer awareness through social media and blogging. She is passionate about helping veterans and their families learn more about the lesser-known health risks from military service.

Copyright ©2013. Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance at All Rights Reserved. This post was originally published in Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance on September 9, 2013. It is republished here with the author’s permission.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Recovery Month 5

On Wellness

Today is Day 350 since I have been diagnosed with cancer, and Day 140 living with chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), a side-effect of chemo treatment.

The Ways Of Contentment

Who is rich? He who rejoices with his portion. 
Ben ZomaMishna: Pirkei Avot 4:1

Wealth and contentment go together; they are natural allies. A better or at least an equal match would be health and contentment. I have some good news to share. My neuropathy has subsided somewhat, or to put it another way, I have adapted to new environmental conditions imposed upon me by my illness and the resulting change in health: I can now do things that I couldn’t do last month, such as buttoning my shirt, tying my shoelaces and wearing leather dress shoes. I can also type with more ease and less pain; for my feet, however, I can report little change, and still retain the sensation of wearing a set of pads on my soles. But I have adapted to the changes.

I have a CT scan of my lungs scheduled for the 19th and an appointment with my medical oncologist on the 30th to discuss the results; good news would be a great start for the year 2014. If all goes well, I will not have to visit either Dr. Chan or the cancer centre for another six months. I see no reason why the news will not meet my expectations. I am very pleased that my taste buds have returned to their former fine form, and I can now enjoy all tastes and sensations while eating. The human body never ceases to amaze me on its ability to heal itself.

In terms of heath and treatment, there is exciting news coming out of Israel regarding an advanced cancer treatment by a company called IceCure, says the Israeli innovation site, NoCamels:
Two weeks ago, we published an article about Israeli company IceCure, known for its treatment that freezes benign and small malignant breast tumors into balls of ice, and which had just announced it would turn its sight on lung cancer. Now we can announce that the clinical trial on IceCure’s effectiveness with lung cancer, by far the world’s most prevalent cancer killer, has been successful.
IceCure has announced that, as part of the trial that was taking place at the Kameda Medical Center in Japan, two lung cancer patients were successfully treated with the company’s IceSense3 cryotherapy system.IceCure president and CEO Hezi Himelfarb said, “We’re pleased at the success in destroying lung cancer tumors because use of our cryoablation platform could open to us a potential market of hundreds of thousands of new cases in the US alone. Treatment with IceCure’s system, which is a minimally invasive procedure, has clear advantages over complicated and expensive surgical solutions for excising tumors, which involve hospital stays, surgery, and prolonged recovery. 
“We believe that further success in the breast cancer clinical trial in the US and the lung cancer clinical trial in Japan positions IceCure in a good place and paves the way to participating in these opportunities.”
On another note, a group of Montreal scientists led by Dr. Rima Rozen, a geneticist at the McGill University Health Centre, have discovered five genetic markers that might cause colorectal cancer, says an article, by Aaron Derfel, (“Discovery raises hopes of a new test for colorectal cancer”;  October 30, 2013), in The Montreal Gazette. 

Derfel writes:
The discovery raises hopes of a new test to screen for colorectal cancer in people who have not developed symptoms of the illness. The test would probably not replace the gold standard for colorectal screening — the colonoscopy — but it would provide doctors with more accurate information and might even limit the extent of scoping in patients.
The colonoscopy — which requires that patients fast in preparation — is costly, time-consuming, and some Montreal patients are on years-long waiting lists for the procedure. What’s more, it has a false-negative rate of at least 10 per cent.
“So anything that would help to diagnose colorectal cancer more efficiently is useful,” said Dr. Rima Rozen, a geneticist at the McGill University Health Centre. “I think this could be a very important tool.
“In the near future,” she added, “while you are in for a colonoscopy, you may not need to do the entire colon, but (doctors) may take a small piece of tissue that could be examined for those particular biomarkers in conjunction with a colonoscopy.”
This is good news, indeed.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

One Jewish Family's History

The 20th Century

Arriving at Ellis Island in New YorkPhysicians examine a group of Jewish immigrants who are gathered in a small room, two with their shirts off. Note the eye chart with Hebrew letters that hangs on the wall.  
Photo CreditUnderwood & Underwood; 1907
Source: U.S. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div.

A book review article, by James McAuley, in The Daily Beast recounts the particular history of each of the three branches of one Jewish family and the choices they made in the 20th century against the general backdrop of the rise and fall of European Jewry; this is told in David LaskinThe Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century.

McAuley writes:
This is the essence of the writer David Laskin’s investigation of his own family tree, a family of Belorussian Kohanim—the Jewish priestly caste—caught in the chasms of the twentieth century and uprooted from their native Volozhin to the antipodes of the modern Jewish world.
In the wake of the brutal Tsarist pogroms in the Pale of Settlement and the Russian Revolution that followed shortly thereafter, one of the tree’s branches immigrated to tenements on Manhattan’s Lower East Side while another made aliyah to Kfar Vitkin, what was then a fledgling moshav in Palestine’s Hefer Valley. The third and final branch of the Kaganovich clan remained in Europe as European civilization burned to its bitter end: seventeen members of the family were murdered by the Nazis—two asphyxiated in gas chambers, the rest gunned down into ditches or incinerated in burning synagogues.
In that sense, The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century is Laskin’s own personal history, but it is also a local, microcosmic study of what he calls the three “great Jewish upheavals of the twentieth century”: the influx of some 23 million Eastern European immigrants to the United States between 1880 and the 1920s; the rise of Zionism against the tumultuous establishment of the state of Israel; and, of course, the Shoah in all its arresting finality.
“The historian’s essential creative act,” Dubnow wrote, “is the resurrection of the dead.” “History made and broke my family in the twentieth century,” Laskin writes. “My grandparents and their cousins were born into a world of tradition and religion that had lasted for centuries and died in the course of four years.”
Such became a common narrative for many families; and this one can serve as one story, among many, for the many others who have told similar stories to their families. Or for those who could not. The memories of immigrant experiences are important to collect and recollect; without memory, there is no history. Dubnow’s assertion of what historians do in their writing down history is both an accurate and a chilling account of what history is often about: death and resurrection, whether in a figurative or literal sense.

You can read the rest of the article at [DailyBeast].