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Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness, Ice Skating, Humor, and Much More

October 2016 Vol 2 No 5
Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, HON-ONN-CG
University Distinguished Service Professor of Breast Cancer,
Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Co-Developer of Work Stride—Managing Cancer at Work
Johns Hopkins Healthcare Solutions

Hello everyone, and welcome to the October issue of CONQUER! Once again, we have a wealth of information in these pages. September was National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we dedicate a large portion of this issue to these 2 cancer types. Additional articles discuss other cancer types.

We begin with the story of Dorothy Hamill, who is best known for her Olympic ice skating and gorgeous smile (and, for those who remember, her haircut). Now she is also known as a breast cancer survivor. I personally got to know Dorothy, who has been giving back to support the cause during her treatment at Johns Hopkins. She talks about participating in a clinical trial to help improve future breast cancer treatments.

And an ovarian cancer survivor offers personal words of wisdom, which you may want to apply to your own situation, no matter what type of cancer you have. There is a story from another breast cancer survivor who is committed to providing inspiration and hope for others.

There is a tutorial on ovarian cancer, which is a “sneaky” type of cancer. We have no reliable screening tests to catch it early, so it is important to know the warning signs and keep informed about this risk.

No treatment is free of side effects, at least not yet. Managing side effects is a priority to preserve your quality of life while undergoing treatment, and after treatment if side effects linger. Learn about ways to manage fatigue, peripheral neuropathy, and emotional distress, as well as how cancer rehabilitation can help in reducing postmastectomy pain syndrome.

Although you may have received this issue of CONQUER from your navigator, you may not know what navigators do, or how they became a medical professional in the cancer arena. Learn about patient navigation, how it expanded into a more formal oncology nurse navigation profession while maintaining lay navigation, and how to best utilize your navigator for education, support, and maintaining continuity of care.

I have always been an avid user of humor. Humor elevates T-cell production, keeps our blood pressure low, increases our oxygen circulation, and frankly just feels good. Although some friends and family members may find it odd that you have turned to humor, perhaps dark humor at that, it is a powerful way to cope with cancer and its treatment. Read the article of one physician who has learned from his patients how to incorporate humor in caring for his patients with cancer.

All patients with cancer need a patient advocate. Your navigator is certainly one such person. Patient advocacy groups and your family members may also serve in such a role. Learn about James Bond (not the “shaken, not stirred” guy, but a real patient with cancer with that name) and how his wife advocated for him, as well as a patient advocacy group.

Serving in the role of a caregiver is harder than many people realize. Having ways to cope is key to preventing compassion fatigue and, frankly, getting diagnosed with illnesses themselves. Read about how one caregiver used her coping skills and created a gratitude journal-what a wonderful idea.

Finally, some survivors have turned to art as a way to express themselves and cope with their situation during and after treatment, recognizing that a diagnosis of cancer is a life-altering experience. We provide several artworks created by survivors.

So, as you can see, there is something for everyone in this issue of CONQUER. We hope that you enjoy the fall season, perhaps get to participate in some breast cancer races and runs in your town, and are preparing for the upcoming holidays, which will be here before we know it! Take care, and be well!

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