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“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” –Bill Cosby
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Is The Breast Cancer Miracle Drug Finally Here? Puma Biotech CEO Says It Is.

posted by:
ErikaM

Los Angeles, CA – The CEO of PUMA Biotechnology announced Tuesday that their drug neratinib has the ability to reduce the incidence of breast cancer reoccurrence by 33%.

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The two year Clinical Trial involved 2,821 women diagnosed with early stage HER-2 Positive breast cancer and who had their cancerous tissues removed via surgery. Some of the women received neratinib as adjunctive treatment to Herceptin (trastuzumab) while others were put in a Herceptin-placebo regimen.

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Herceptin (trastuzumab) is a drug that is prescribed specifically for women with HER-2 positive breast cancer. It targets protein receptors that encourages the proliferation of cancer cells. Herceptin is commonly used with other types of chemotherapy drugs and now, it seems that it has found its perfect match with the arrival of neratinib.

Alan Auerbach, CEO of Puma Biotechnology

Alan Auerbach, CEO of Puma Biotechnology

In the words of Puma CEO Alan Auerbach the results of the trial were “pleasing” – with those who received the neratinib-Herceptin regimen not only performing better clinically but has a remarkable 33% chance of disease-free survival as well. Disease free is defined as the period where the patient is alive and without any signs of cancer reoccurrence.

In a statement, Auerbach reports, “We are very pleased with the results…This represents the first trial with a HER2 targeted agent that has shown a statistically significant benefit in the extended adjuvant setting, which we believe provides a meaningful point of differentiation for neratinib in the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancer.

As soon as the statement was released, Puma Biotech’s shares more than tripled in value, making Auerbach an overnight billionaire. After closing at $59.03 the previous day, Puma’s shares skyrocketed to $169.48 the following day! This just goes to show how much the public is clamoring for a drug like neratinib.

Puma Biotech also announced that they would be applying for U.S. regulatory approval in the first quarter of 2015 which means that we might have to wait a while longer before the we can get our their hands on this miracle drug. If all goes well, neratinib can really make a difference in the lives of millions of women and their families across the world.

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We’d like to think that neratinib and the drugs that will follow it are not only the brainchild of certain companies, but the culmination of the efforts of breast cancer advocates who tirelessly raise money to support cancer research. It is really inspiring to know that developing drugs like neratibib and other breakthrough cancer therapies is possible if we work together.

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In the meantime, let us continue to support these advocates by donating or participating in their events. Who knows? Maybe one day, through our combined efforts we can finally find the cure to breast cancer. Fingers crossed.

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Do You Touch Yourself? Chrissy Amphlett Says You Should

posted by:
ErikaM

When singer Chrissy Amphlett passed away April of 2013 from Breast Cancer, she had one final wish – for her song ‘I Touch Myself’ to become an anthem for breast cancer awareness.

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Chrissy’s case is all too familiar for women who were diagnosed to be in the late stages of breast cancer – her tumor was not detected in her yearly mammograms or breast ultrasounds.  Chrissy found her lump when she was performing breast self examination and urged her physician to have it biopsied. She was diagnosed in 2010 and bravely fought cancer and multiple sclerosis until her untimely demise in 2013 at the age of 53.

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Chrissy’s plea has not fallen on deaf ears as her wish was granted by her cousin Little Pattie and breast cancer survivor Olivia Newton John along with 8 other distinguished Australian music artists in their 2014 revival of ‘I Touch Myself’.  Watch the video here.

If you remember the song from your younger years, then you know that ‘I Touch Myself’ is quite a catchy tune. After listening to it a few hours ago, I still haven’t been able to stop humming the chorus!

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I really cannot think of a better song to help Australia’s Cancer Council NSW campaign directed at encouraging women to perform routine breast checks every month. During her battle with breast cancer, Chrissy was very passionate about teaching women how to harness a power they thought they didn’t have – the power to get in touch with their own bodies and therefore in be charge of their overall health.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Chrissy’s widower shared how the singer wanted to change the world’s mindset about personal health stating “’She (Chrissy) would have wanted us to be more in touch with ourselves and to listen to what’s going on inside physically, and to be more in charge of our destiny and not wait for doctors or advisers to be in charge of us.

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Being proactive about our breast (and overall) health is our best defense against the big C. I mean, how many of us leave the task of finding a lump to our yearly medical checkup? I know I have been guilty of this for the past few years… getting annual breast ultrasounds but not bothering to perform breast self examination every month. If you’re uncomfortable or don’t know  the proper way to touch yourself, go to your nearest health care facility and have someone show you how. BSE doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and it is really easy to do!

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We hope that the next time someone asks, “Do you touch yourself?” your answer would e a resounding YES!

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Dreams Do Come True: Penn State Lady Lions Raise $1 Million For Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

In 2006, Penn State Lady Lions Coach Rene Portland was thinking of a way to attract more fans to their basketball games. It wasn’t just about filling a gymnasium with people – Coach Portland was determined to make the event meaningful and memorable for the girls and their loyal fans. Thus, Pink Zone at Penn State was born.

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Since the first game against the Wisconsin Badgers in 2007, Pink Zone at Penn State has evolved into an annual event that has recently surpassed the $1 Million mark in donations for breast cancer research, survivor support and awareness programs. Did the Lady Lions expect to raise this much out of an annual basketball game? Pink Zone Executive Director Miriam Powell certainly did not.

There are so many people who work behind the scenes to make Pink Zone at Penn State successful. When the moment arrived when we realized our hard work had literally paid off, there was an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction combined with complete awe and amazement.  The moment I realized we had surpassed our fundraising goal this year honestly brought tears to my eye…

Powell and the entire Pink Zone team exceeded their fundraising goals for 2014, raising a total of $310,000 which brought total donations to an amazing $1,135,317.723 for the past 8 years. It was a real community effort, with local businesses and press pitching in to support the cause whichever way they can.

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In an effort to reach out to more survivors in the Penn State area, the donations were given to several local hospitals and charities including the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, the Kay Yow Fund and the Mount Nittany Health System. Funds from the Pink Zone has helped Mount Nittany open the Penn State Lady Lion Basketball Cancer Resource Center and purchase a lifesaving breast cancer specimen imager that aids in the prompt diagnosis of breast cancer. The event is also instrumental in funding the hospital’s 5-year breast health navigator program which enables women get access to coordinated breast care from early diagnosis, treatment and towards recovery.

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Every year, Pink Zone recognizes the bravery of survivors and remembering the fight left behind by those who have succumbed to the disease. During the 2014 event, 698 survivors were honored by some 12,000 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center. Isn’t it amazing how a simple basketball game snowballed into an entire community of people who go out of their way to help?

Let this story inspire us all to do what we can for others who are affected by breast cancer. Remember:

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Relay for Life: A Community’s Effort to End Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

No matter how their family and friends tell them “I know how you feel” or “It will be alright”, women living with breast cancer often feel alone in their predicament. They shy away from their community because they don’t want the pity, charity or special treatment that comes with the big C. This is why we as a community should make an extra effort to reach out and show that they are loved and cared for and that there are people in their community who are willing to spend time, money and effort to help them in their fight against cancer.

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Relay for Life is a great example of a community based event for cancer. It involves several teams where members take turns walking along a path or a track for 24 hours. Teams and supporters are welcome to camp around the track or event area and are treated to numerous games and activities throughout the event. It is a family-friendly event that not only raises cancer awareness, but promotes community camaraderie as well. It’s a like having a giant sleepover party with a cause!

While activities and games are left to the organizer’s imagination, all Relay for Life events across the world hold these three beautiful ceremonies:

Survivor’s Lap – You never know how important birthdays are until you or someone you love may be having their last. This is why Survivor’s Lap has got to be the most moving of all three ceremonies. Cancer Survivors take the first lap (a Victory Lap, in our opinion) while being cheered on by the community. They are followed by their families, friends and caregivers who gave themselves unselfishly to care for their loved ones.

Luminaria – This candlelit ceremony is for remembering loves ones we have lost to cancer. Candles line the track in honor of their courageous fight and memories they have left behind. 

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Fight Back – An inspiring way to bring the whole community together against cancer, the Fight Back Ceremony solidifies every participant’s emotional commitment to put an end to the disease. This involves doing what we can (both as individuals and as a group) to raise awareness, gather funds and propel action towards finding a cure.

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Cancer is not a personal struggle… not when millions of people across the world from all genders, religion, races and economic backgrounds are being diagnosed every day.  Contact Relay for Life today and learn how you can start the fight in your own community.

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How You Can Help: Make Strides, Make A Difference

posted by:
ErikaM

We’ve talked about numerous charitable organizations in this blog and you may feel that they’re all the same. The point we want to get across is this: they need help – our help. No matter how small or big the contribution, these organizations are largely dependent on the help of ordinary people like you and me to take the fight in our own communities.  

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Slowly but surely is the way most participants in a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk describe their 3 or 5 mile journey towards the finish line. They aren’t hard core athletes or anything- they’re just ordinary people –survivors and their family and friends – who want to take part in something that can make a difference in the lives of people living with breast cancer today and in the future.

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The American Cancer Society founded Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in 1993. The organization had two main purposes –first, to raise awareness to the disease and second, to raise money to fund ground breaking disease. They know that more and more women are told that they have breast cancer every day and they need all the support they can get. To answer this call, Making Strides:

  • Supports fund raising events in all 50 states all year round.
  • Makes available relevant information on detection, treatment and recovery from breast cancer available 24/7 on their website
  • Provides connects those who are battling with breast cancer programs that can help them through their ordeal like:

Road To Recovery – transport assistance to and from treatment centers
Hope Lodge – provide housing to survivors who travel far to get treatment.
Look Good…Feel Better – a joint project with the Professional Beauty Association where survivors are taught ways on how they can cope with the physical changes that come with cancer treatment.

  • Supports early detection with their Mammogram Reminder – a program where participants receive an email on their birth month and receive a recommendation about which type of breast cancer screening suits them best.

The Making Strides Foundation believes so much in the difference early detection makes that they are campaigning for a federal program that will enable women from all walks of life to have access to lifesaving diagnostic tests for breast cancer.

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MSABC and the ACS are also funding private and government based research in an effort to find cure to cancer. We find it beautiful how they believe that funding cancer research should not be limited to a single kind of cancer – because the cure for one may be the cure for all.

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The cure may still be in the future, but the important thing is that we are making our way towards that future with organizations like MSABC.

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Breast Cancer Is The NFL’s Most Crucial Catch

posted by:
ErikaM

Early Detection is the most important factor in Breast Cancer Survivorship. According to Cancer.org, there is a 93-100% chance of a 5 year or more survival rate if disease is caught in Stages 0, I or II.  It is in these stages that breast cancer is most responsive to treatment and women who are screened regularly have the best chances of being diagnosed early and surviving the disease.

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A Crucial Catch is a joint project between the National Football League and the American Cancer Society that aims to raise awareness of the importance of getting yearly mammograms for women aged 40 and above. The campaign has two important points: (1) educate women across America about the importance of early detection and (2) raise money to enable underprivileged women to have access to breast cancer screening through the ACS’s Community Health Advocates National Grants for Empowerment or CHANGE Program.

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 This fall, the entire NFL will be participating in the cause by wearing breast cancer paraphernalia during games. They will be using pink footballs, towels, gloves, cleats and there will even be a Crucial Catch stencil on the 25-yard lines in all of the games. The crowd can also lend a hand by participating in the auction of items worn by the players or coaches or by purchasing items on sale on the stand

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 If you are a fan of football and passionate about stopping Breast Cancer in its tracks, you and your local football team can partner up with the NFL and ACS and sign up with Crucial Catch! Here are some ways you can help:

  • Contact your local football team and recruit them to the cause! Dedicate one (or several) game during the season to be a Crucial Catch game to raise awareness about early detection and raise money for breast cancer groups in your community.
  • Honor breast cancer survivors in your community.
  • Pledge donations from patrons and local businesses. They can sponsor pink themed uniforms, giveaways or paraphernalia or make direct donations to the American Cancer Society in behalf of your community.
  • Your neighbors and friends can also participate as concessionaires during the game.  They can sell their homemade goodies, services or products during the event and donate a part of their profits to the cause.

Football is a great way to raise awareness about breast cancer because it enables advocates like you to reach and rally behind your cause in just one, energy filled event. Visit Crucial Catch’s website for more information about how you can help!

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What You Need To Know About Breast Ultrasounds

posted by:
ErikaM

 

What is a Breast Ultrasound?

A Sonomammogram or Breast Ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure done to produce pictures of tissues inside the breast. Although a mammogram is still the most effective diagnostic tool used to diagnose invasive breast cancer, they are commonly used in conjunction with breast ultrasounds to effectively evaluate breast tissue.

How does it work?

A Breast Ultrasound involves using a small probe or transducer that transmits high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) and uses the signal that ‘bounces back’ to create an image. It is a painless procedure where a doctor or ultrasound technician applies ultrasound gel to the probe and gently manipulates it around the breasts. Unlike a mammogram, a breast ultrasound does not involve the use of ionizing radiation.

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Who is it for?

A breast ultrasound is safe for all women, even those who are pregnant or are unable to undergo an MRI.

What is it for?

  • Sonomammograms are also used to evaluate whether a lump is filled fluid or is solid in character – a feat that is hard to achieve with a mammogram.
  • It is used to verify abnormal mammogram findings
  • An a Doppler ultrasound may be used to assess the blood supply of cancerous lesions.
  • Sonomammograms are often recommended to women under the age of 40 because their breast tissues are often dense – meaning that there are a lot of underlying structures that might make it difficult for a mammogram to diagnose a lesion.
  • Breast ultrasounds may be used to guide surgeons in collecting fluids from cysts, taking samples of breast tissues and removing breast tumors.

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When can I have this procedure done?

Doctors recommend scheduling your breast ultrasound 7-10 days after your monthly period has started. This is usually the time when your breasts are least likely to be tender and swollen.

How do I prepare for the procedure?

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Your doctor or technician should explain everything to you prior to going into the ultrasound room. You might want to wear a button down blouse because you will be asked to undress above the waist for the procedure. No special dietary preparations or laboratory tests is required prior to the procedure.

How is the procedure performed?

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  • You will be asked to lie on your back on the bed and raise both arms above your head.
  • The doctor will apply ultrasound gel to the area/s being studied. The gel makes it easier to produce clear images by improving contact between the transducer and your skin.
  • The technician/doctor will now move the transducer over your breasts. Try not to move during the procedure to help create clear images.
  • You may be asked to change positions to get a better view of an area.
  • Most women report feeling discomfort and not pain during the procedure.
  • The entire procedure lasts for about 20-40 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

You will be asked to wipe off the excess gel from your breasts, dress up and wait in the lounge while images are being reviewed. Once they are certain that the images are clear enough to interpret, the technician will inform you when you can return for the results. You can resume your normal activities as soon as possible.

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Men Against Breast Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

Although Breast Cancer is predominantly a woman’s disease, thousands of brothers, husbands, sons and friends of women who are affected by Breast Cancer struggle to find ways they can support their loved ones. Some men often find it difficult to deal with the sudden stress and illness that they choose to distance themselves. It’s not that they don’t want to participate in the care process… it’s that they just don’t know how they can help or where they can get help for themselves.

Online and offline, most charities, foundations and information sites are geared towards a female audience. In 1999, Marc Heyison recognized this problem and formed a nonprofit organization called Men Against Breast Cancer.

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MABC is an organization that caters specifically to the men who are acting as caregivers to women with Breast Cancer. They provide tools, information and support to men so that they can effectively offer support to the special women in their lives from diagnosis to recovery. They encourage men to be “active participants” in the fight against BC and believe in the importance of involving the entire family in the care process. Some of their projects include:

For The Women We Love – A Caregiver’s Guide for Men 

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According to their website, this book is a “no-nonsense navigation and survival guide for men who are committed to being there for the women they love.” We can’t all deny the fact that most books on the subject is focused on helping the survivors, too few are written for the people who help them survive.

Partners in Survival Program

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This program is for men who feel that they need more of a personal approach in learning how to help their loved ones. Partners in Survival is a half to full day workshop that teaches problem solving techniques, provides resource materials and offers psychological support in a male friendly environment. More importantly, it teaches about Gender Synergy – a process where the male and female participants are taught to solve both emotional and mental aspects of the crisis together.

The Regional and National Caregivers Conference

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The MABC Foundation hosts both regional and national gatherings of both male and female caregivers where they can learn, participate and share their experiences in helping their loved ones through their ordeal.

Men Against Breast Cancer also holds fundraising and awareness events all year round, focusing on enabling men from all walks of life to actively support their loved ones who are battling Breast Cancer. We think their cause is as important as those who aim to help the women who are diagnosed- because when all hope is lost, these women look to their caregivers for the strength to go on.

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How To Start A Cancer Support Group In Your Community

posted by:
ErikaM

Support groups are crucial in helping cancer patients and their families through their ordeal. They provide emotional, physical and even financial support without asking for anything in return. Being in a support group takes commitment and passion – giving your own time and sacrificing some comforts for the benefit of a person in need. They are indeed modern day heroes and we applaud you for wanting to join their roster.

  Here is our simple guide to starting a Cancer Support Group in your community:

  1. Invite key members. Invite neighbors, friends, co-workers or family members whom you think will be interested in joining the group. If you’re looking to go community wide, put up fliers in places where there is a lot of people traffic like the grocery store, dry cleaners, and  coffee shop.

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    Uncle Sam Wants You! Create hard to resist posters for your potential members.

  2. Define your group’s identity. Once you’ve gathered everyone, it’s time to establish your identify. Here are some questions that might help you:
    1. Will you help only individuals and/or families?
    2. Are you gender specific?
    3. Will you focus on helping survivors with a specific kind of cancer or in general?
    4. What stage of cancer will you focus on? Preventive, newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment or late stage?
    5. What kind of help will you provide? Assistance around the house, transportation, running errands or exercise activities?

      Determine your identity as a group!

      Determine your identity as a group!

  3. Determine your goals. Now that you know what your group is about, it’s time to set goals. If you choose to be an awareness group, determine how many of women in your community you aim to educate about breast cancer in a specific time frame: By our 6 month, we would educate at least 70% of the women in our community ages 35 and above. Laying down specific goals like this would help steer your group in the right direction. goals
  4. Elect a leader or form a council. Being a leader of a cancer support group is a big responsibility especially when members also have their own families or jobs to think about. The best way to solve this problem is to elect a council. The council can be composed of survivors, volunteers and professionals (social workers, health care practitioners or church leaders). peopesmiling1
  5. Agree on a course of action. Now that you’ve defined your identity, your goals and elected a leader/council, it’s time to lay down your course of action. Divide responsibilities evenly amongst all the members and come up with schedules and specific tasks. For example, if you decide to help survivors around the house once a week:
  • Schedule a specific member to visit the house once a week.
  • Clearly state which tasks they will help with such as: running errands, vacuuming, laundry or general cleaning.
  • Inform the survivor and their families about the time and date the volunteer will drop by their home. 3a6a8da6f11dc58e_man_laundry_shuttter.preview

These are the basics of setting up your own Cancer Support Group. We hope that they would help you get the ball rolling! Good luck!

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10 Things You Can Do For A Loved One With Cancer

posted by:
ErikaM

When a co-worker, sister, neighbor or parent has been diagnosed with cancer, we often find it difficult to find ways on how we can help them. It’s not that we don’t want to; it’s just that we don’t know how. Cancer patients need all the help they can get, so we thought we’d come up with some simple ways on how you can:

  1. Household Chores – Cancer therapy takes a toll on the body and your friend might not have enough energy to perform household chores such as the laundry, vacuuming or running the dishwasher.  Chores
  2. Wig/Scarf Shopping – Hair loss is a traumatic experience for most cancer patients. Show your support by accompanying your friend to shop for a wig and a host of colorful scarves! Make it a fun experience! 517897757_cv1
  3. Be their Chemotherapy /Radiotherapy buddy – It would mean a great deal if a friend could come along and accompany them to their scary therapy sessions. Here’s a great idea: Find out when your friend’s chemo sessions will be and assign a friend or family member to go with them. out-of-the-frying-pan-01-1024
  4. Organize a dinner brigade – In line with the support group idea, you can also assign a family member or friend to bring dinner to their home each day of the week.
  5. Go for long walks or schedule a weekly yoga session – Aside from the importance of physical activity during cancer treatment, long walks can give your friend a chance to relax and meditate.
  6. Go to their doctor with them – doctor’s visits can be scary. Be a pal and offer to drive them to and from their doctor’s appointments.
  7. Look out for their kids – It can be very stressful for someone with cancer to take care of their children’s needs as well as their own. Ask your friend whether if she needs someone to look after her brood during or after grueling therapy sessions. How-Much-Pay-Babysitting
  8. Keep things normal – Although this probably seem like weird advice, but most cancer patients wish that their family and friends kept things as normal as possible at home and at work. They don’t want to be given special treatment; they want to feel like they’re still the same person. Make future plans, discuss the latest celebrity gossip, talk about things other than the Big C.
  9. Organize/join fundraising events on their behalf – Cancer can be very expensive, especially your friend cannot work to support herself. Bring the whole neighborhood together and organize a fund raising event for her – bake sale, garage sale or a Pink party! pink triathlon
  10. Listen and understand – Supporting someone fighting cancer doesn’t always have to been throwing big, flashy parties… sometimes, your friend just needs your emphatic ears and your time. Care-home-selection-checklist
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