Hello, everyone. Welcome to another great issue of CONQUER: the patient voice. Here are some of the highlights that will make you want to start reading it right away!
We have several patient stories that will make you learn, laugh, and perhaps cry. One story is about a man diagnosed with testicular cancer and how he used humor to get through his treatment, as well as pay it forward with educating other men about testicular cancer. Another patient called his story “Man in the Mirror” to describe the dramatic physical and psychological changes he experienced while undergoing chemotherapy.
Read also the personal journey of an athletic man diagnosed with multiple myeloma who started a nonprofit organization, Throwing Bones. And we should all think about our purpose for living and about the legacy we want to leave behind. Maria, who has terminal cancer, is a performer and uses her public speaking program called SEX RULES to create her legacy. Learn how she is making an impact in an unusual, but very thoughtful, way.
Family members are just as affected as their loved one who is diagnosed with cancer, and in some cases, even more. Read one young wife’s challenge in being a caregiver to her husband, who has stage IV head and neck cancer, and how she is preparing for a loss. What is particularly hard is the realization that at some point, this wife and mother will become a widow. She has identified a specific space in time, which is powerful to relate to. You have to read it to see what I mean. Please pray for this family as I hope they will be able to experience the holidays with family and friends who love them.
In our Legal Corner, read about medical marijuana and learn the US rules, as well as the pros and cons, of using it for medical purposes. Also read the patient’s story of how she uses this “drug,” which has helped her more than opioids to control the cancer and the treatment-related symptoms.
Also read about a survivor who describes the value of being grateful during cancer treatment for the experiences that are worthy of cherishing, including how her daughter surprised her with a special event, the prayers made on her behalf, and how her friend was taking notes at her appointments, when she was unable to do so.
An article that I hope you take to heart is about being your own advocate. Although you may have a navigator, you should still speak up for yourself during appointments and at chemo treatments, or even with your nurses and other healthcare providers. They need to understand who they are taking care of, because you are far more than your illness. Don’t ever forget that.
And read about a breast cancer survivor who became a patient advocate, using her own personal experience to help other patients get answers she could not get as a patient.
Finally, I provide information about retreats at Johns Hopkins for patients with stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer and their loved ones, which are held every 6 months. These retreats are not limited to patients at Johns Hopkins, and they are free to attend.
So, enjoy this issue, which we hope will provide you with new information, enlighten you and your family members, and give you a chuckle, and perhaps even a tear.
As we welcome the new year, we hope that 2019 is a happy, healthier year for you and your family.