There are many different treatment options to choose from for someone with cancer:

One of the most popular treatments is that of chemotherapy. This therapy is a drug that can be very intense because not only does it kill your cancer cells, it kills many other cells of your body as well. It is a proven treatment that can work, though your body often becomes very weak and frail from the treatment.

Radiation therapy kills cells that are rapidly dividing (cancer cells), but also kills normal, healthy cells. That is why you have side effects from radiation. This treatment is very similar in effect to chemotherapy.

Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment option and has been found to work best when coupled with other treatments. It helps the body by stimulating the immune system. Researchers believe that it specifically stops or slows down the growth of cancer cells.

Finally, many people have surgery to have their cancer removed. There are also less-used treatments such as gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, and others that are newer and less proven, but in the future may prove effective in treating cancer.

When deciding on a treatment option, it is important to do your research and consult your doctor. There are many treatments out there, but not all are effective or safe. Make sure that the treatment you decide to use is backed by clinical trials. Those are the treatments that are the safest and will give you the best chance for success.

It’s comforting to know there are so many options to choose from to treat cancer and new treatments are being developed every day.

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Breast Cancer Cells

In response to the comment from sarahtop from the post “A glance at its impact” , here’s some information about bone marrow donations and transplants. Anyone between the age of 18 to 60 can donate their bone marrow if they choose. You’ll need to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry first. You will have to go through a process of a few tests and physicals before you are selected to donate your marrow to someone. When you donate you will undergo minor surgery while doctors will take stem cells from your blood or bone marrow out of the back of your pelvic bones. For more in-depth info on the process, go to http://www.mamashealth.com/organs/bonemarrowdonor.asp.

The risks of this procedure are few. Before you donate, you are asked to give blood just in case you need a blood transfusion after the surgery. You may also be asked to take medication through the donation process so that doctors can obtain more stem cells out of your blood. This medication may cause some headaches, nausea, among other things. After the surgery you may experience some light-headedness or soreness in your back, but you should be able to get back to normal activities soon after. Overall, the risks are low and the benefits are huge for those people who are in need of your donation!

Now, what will your bone marrow donation do? It will donate healthy stem cells to an unhealthy person’s blood to replace the unhealthy cells and treat or maybe cure their disease.  The stem cells will be taken up into the bone and will produce and grow new healthy cells for the person.

For more general information on these transplants and to get started check out http://www.marrow.org/.

Whether you believe it or not, the Cancer Research UK has a much better advertizing program than anything that I’ve seen in from any US organization. As I’ve looked online for videos about cancer, almost all of the most heart-renching advertisements, the ones that make you want to jump out of your seat and run to help the cause, come from the Cancer Research UK organization. Posted here are some of the best:

You just don’t see this kind of publicity in the United States for cancer research. These advertisements are placed on television and are making people more aware of what they can do to help the cause of cancer. I’ve never seen something like this in the United States. Most of what I’ve seen about donating to cancer research I’ve had to go searching for. I am very impressed with what the people in the Cancer Research UK are trying to do to promote their cause and I think it’s probably much more effective than many of the groups in the United States. Way to go Cancer Research UK!

You can also look up more of their ads on YouTube to be further inspired.

The American Cancer Society has posted a list of signs and symptoms of cancer and the following are the most general and significant:

  • Unexplained weight loss    
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Skin changes: such as yellowish or reddened skin, excessive hair growth, itching, or skin darkening.

It’s good to remember with this that just because you have these symptoms, does not mean that you have cancer. It could be a number of things, but it’s good to be cautious. The ACS has also put out a list of symptoms specific to each cancer.

Also, if you are concerned that you may have cancer, here’s an excellent website that give more information about screening, tests, and diagnosis: http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec15/ch181/ch181c.html.

AICR recommendations for reducing the risk of cancer:

  1. Body fat: be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily
  3. Avoid sugary drinks and energy-dense foods.
  4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin
  5. Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat
  6. Limit alcohol
  7. Limit consumption of salt and foods processed with salt
  8. Aim to meet nutrient needs through diet alone (get all your nutrients from your diet instead of supplements)
  9. New mothers should breastfeed for up to six months after birth.
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Though these tips will not guarantee that you will not get cancer, they can greatly reduce the risk, especially in cancers that have known causes and more concrete risk factors. Also, following these guidelines will also keep your body healthy, so all around, I think following these tips is a wonderful idea.

Mayo Clinic also has their own list of things that may prevent your chances of getting cancer: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-prevention/CA00024.

My good friend, Stefanie has graciously shared with me her experience as her mother died of cancer. Her mother, Laurie, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when Stefanie was 15. After about 9 months of suffering through chemo and all that comes with that, her body succumbed to the disease. Through all of it her mother and father were very positive about the experience, not making a big deal out of it, which Stefanie said helped her to ease the pain of what was going on. These are the type of experiences that inspire me. People who think of others before themselves as they themselves are facing tough situations.

Now, this is one of the unfortunate tales of cancer, but as I listened to Stefanie talk of her experiences, I see that many good things came out of the experience. She told me how much closer her family is now, and that through the whole experience her family all felt the peace that everything was going to be okay. Though it didn’t work out the way her family had hoped, she says that her dad is now remarried and her stepmom is wonderful. She’s so grateful for all that she has. In every situation we should learn to be grateful. So many blessings come out of situations such as this, though there is much sorrow.

(Thanks Stef for opening up to me and being willing to share this personal experience with me.)

For more touching experiences check out my tab called ‘Inspiring Stories’ .

There are so many inspiring stories recorded elsewhere on the internet. Here’s one website that I found with many stories to inspire your journey: http://cancerguide.org/stories.html.

According to the American Cancer Society (Cancer Facts and Figures 2009) an estimated 1,479,370 people were diagnosed with cancer and 562, 340 were expected to die from cancer in the year 2009. It’s humbling to realize how many lives were affected just last year and how many more are being affected each day. And this is not just something that will affect only the person that has cancer, it affects everyone and anyone connected to them.

Let’s all think about the people in our lives. I would bet that we all know someone who has cancer or who has been personally affected by cancer in their family or close group of friends. I know that there are a few people who come to my mind. This is huge, guys! The second leading cause of death in the U.S.!

These sobering facts make my heart ache to reach out to these people. We can all do just that–Reach out to the people around you that you that are and have been affected. Help them carry their load by being a better neighbor, friend, son, daughter, etc.  Become aware of the effect that cancer is having around you and do what you can do to elevate that pain from those around you. Small acts of kindness have great effects.

The National Cancer Institute has a webpage with ways to better help others learn to deal with this struggle. See http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/takingtime. You can also check out what the American Cancer Society suggests.