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Healthy Living

5 Tips for Cancer Patients if You Struggle with Survivor Guilt

Posted on May 16, 2017

Recently, we asked our Facebook community if they’ve experienced what’s known as “survivor guilt” and how they cope with the myriad of challenges beyond the physical that come with having cancer.

Survivor’s guilt can range from questions of “Why me?” and “Why did I survive?” to depression and even suicidal thoughts. Some may try to make sense of why they survived and others didn’t, while some people may feel guilty about the changes their families are going through. In its more extreme forms, survivor’s guilt is called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Read more

Colon Cancer and Hydration: Keeping Well, Staying Healthy

Posted on February 24, 2017

One of the main issues that colon cancer patients face as a side effect of both their illness and treatment is dehydration. This can be caused by a number of factors such as sickness, diarrhea, secondary infections and/or fevers, bleeding or simply not ingesting enough fluid during the course of the day.

There are various steps you can take to check your hydration levels, and to remedy them if you’re suffering the effects of a lack of fluid. Read more

Running With An Ostomy: One Woman’s Journey

Posted on February 22, 2017

This Saturday, Sacramento will host the Undy Run/Walk for the sixth year. Among the participants is Colleen Lopez, a 55 year-old jogger and six-year colon cancer survivor who wears an ostomy. She shared her journey of hitting the pavement after her surgery in 2010, the importance of staying active, and finding support.

“They actually sent me home from the hospital after my surgery with a walker because I couldn’t stand up straight. That with learning how to handle the ostomy bag – I really didn’t know how I was going to navigate through life and get any kind of normalcy,” she remembers. “I did find Colon Cancer Alliance, which helped. Got a lot of good information there, and they did have an Ostomy section. I went there a lot for questions.”

When and how did you decide to start jogging?

It was probably a year after my surgery before I actually started to exercise because I wanted to do it safely, and I found a program here in Sacramento that catered to adult cancer survivors – getting your strength and stamina back in a safe way. I joined a running club here in Sacramento through Fleet Feet, and I do that twice a week. I have been doing that for almost three years. It was a “Couch to 5k.” You pretty much start right at the bottom. If you can walk around the block, that’s where you start. They welcomed all levels which was great for me, because at that time around the block was pretty far for me, and it was pretty taxing. I just kept signing up for these training programs because it keeps me motivated, I know I’m doing it safely, and I’ve got a lot of support. I’ve met a lot of nice people that keep me coming. If you have people that know that you should be there, then you show up. That’s been a real big catalyst for me.

Read more

Tough Topics: How to Talk about Dying

Posted on December 13, 2016

Several people close to me died this year, and I’ve worked with dying people for a while. I’ve also been close to dying myself (technically I died once, but that’s a story for a different day; I got better). Death and dying makes people feel uncomfortable; most people don’t know what to say or do.

I’ve found some things are always appropriate to say. People never tire of hearing you love, care about and respect them. Everyone enjoys talking about old times and shared memories and it’s okay to talk about whatever you used to talk about before they got sick. Do remember however, that listening is the most important conversational skill. Read more

Colorectal Cancer Care – Beyond the Patient

Posted on September 23, 2016

We recently collaborated with the online patient community Smart Patients on an empathy-building program called #ColorectalCancer1day. Together we matched patients and caregivers affected by colorectal cancer (“teachers”) with researchers and clinicians from Kaiser Permanente who wanted to learn more about what one day with colorectal cancer feels like (“learners”). We’re now sharing the highlights from this learning experience with a broader audience.

A cancer diagnosis is never given to a single person – it’s given to a family. Often, family members are the primary means of support that balance out the mental and emotional struggles that come with battling cancer. But what of our #ColorectalCancer1day participants? Did our learners find a different perspective on colorectal cancer after further considering how siblings, spouses, parents, and caregivers may be called upon to support different aspects of cancer care like treatment, transportation, and empathy? Read more