Category Archives: MyLifeLine.org News

Cancer and Careers: Be the Boss Over Cancer

This is a guest blog post by Cancer and Careers.

Cancer and Careers
How we got started:

In 2001, the Board of Directors of Cosmetic Executive Women came to a startling realization: five Board Members had been diagnosed with cancer. All continued to work during or following their treatment, and all encountered similar dilemmas.

How do I tell my boss? What will my co-workers think? How do I balance work and treatment? What can I expect from my employer? What are my legal rights? What do other people do?

Work doesn’t stop once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. More than 80 percent of cancer survivors return to work after treatment. In fact, once they’ve been diagnosed, work becomes even more important. CEW created Cancer and Careers to address these challenges and change the face of cancer in the workplace.

What we do:

At Cancer and Careers, our mission is to empower and educate people with cancer to thrive in their workplace, by providing expert advice, interactive tools and educational events. In addition to patients and survivors, Cancer and Careers also educates coworkers, HR staff, healthcare professionals, and fellow cancer organizations—all potential advocates in today’s workplace.

Patients and survivors of all ages face challenges beyond the day-to-day stresses normally associated with work. Cancer and Careers strives to inform and remind the cancer community that with a little help, they can work, and we are here to provide them with the information they need to succeed at their current job, or to find a new one. We work to eliminate the fear and uncertainty about making a living following a cancer diagnosis. Our help is designed for people with all types of cancer, who do all types of work, and are at all stages of work and recovery. We offer tips and suggestions on a range of topics which include how to handle your cancer diagnosis if asked by a coworker, protecting online privacy, and concerns about legal rights and discrimination.

How we help:

Events:

  • National Conference on Work & Cancer – Our 6th annual National Conference on Work & Cancer will be held Friday,June 23, 2017, at The Graduate Center at CUNY, in New York City. The free, daylong event explores the issues faced by working people who are trying to balance their cancer treatment & recovery with employment.
  • Midwest Conference on Work & Cancer – We will be hosting Midwest Conference on Work & Cancer on Friday, March 31st, 2017in Chicago IL. The event is free and open to those who are concerned about balancing work and cancer.
  • West Coast Conference on Work & Cancer –Our West Coast Conference will be taking place in the fall of 2017, date to be determined. The event is also free and discusses the issues faced by those balancing work and cancer.
  • Balancing Work & Cancer webinars series – Presented with a patient-focused lens and covering topics ranging from Managing Finances to the Job Search to Working Through Treatment.

Advice:

  • Ask a Career Coach – The opportunity to submit a question answered by a career coach.
  • Resume Review Service – Have your resume reviewed by one of our talented and knowledgeable volunteer career coaches, for free!
  • Suggestions for interviewing – tips and tool kits for how to best answer the tough questions in an interview, and helpful information regarding protecting your privacy.

Information:

A Letter from Our CEO

pete-headshotThis is a blog post by MyLifeLine’s CEO, Pete Sheehan.

When someone hears “you have cancer,” their world is instantly turned upside down and the words are nothing short of terrifying. This is when MyLifeLine’s job begins.

MyLifeLine’s goal is to ease the burden of a cancer diagnosis for patients, caregivers and their family and friends. Our mission to help patients build their support community, reduce stress and anxiety, and provide the social and emotional support that is vital in the face of a cancer diagnosis.

With your support, MyLifeLine has served more than 150,000 people affected by cancer. We’ve helped them organize rides to treatment, schedule home cooked meal delivery, stay updated on friends and family member’s journeys, raise vital funds for their medical costs, find important resources and educational tools and overall, lighten the load of a cancer diagnosis. Our services are provided free of charge to all cancer patients and their families.

Your gift today allows us to not only continue the work we do every day, but also to
innovate and identify new ways to support cancer patients and all those who love them. In 2017, we plan to create a robust support toolkit for caregivers, personalize the MyLifeLine experience for many of the cancer types we serve, increase our reach to more patients and
families and enhance the functionality and features of our popular volunteer calendar.

We are thankful for your generous support of our work. Together, we are improving the lives of tens of thousands of people impacted by cancer.

Warm Regards,

Pete Sheehan
Chief Executive Officer, MyLifeLine Cancer Foundation


 

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Thriving Through the Holidays

This post is brought to you in partnership with iThrive Cancer Survivorship Plan.

This time of year there is an anticipation of festive times with family and friends. But the holidays can also bring increased stress. While we often can’t control the amount of stress we have in our lives, we can control how we support ourselves during stressful times. This holiday season—and throughout the entire year—find time to focus on ways to rejuvenate mind, body and spirit. In this short five-minute video, the iTHRIVE five Rs of rejuvenation are discussed. These are gentle reminders of the many proactive ways we can give ourselves that extra support during stressful times. It’s time to thrive this holiday season!


 

About the Author: Karolyn A. Gazella has been writing about wellness since 1992. She is an award-winning publisher and the author of several books. Along with Dr. Lise Alschuler, she is the co-creator of the iTHRIVE Cancer Survivorship Plan. She and Dr. Alschuler also co-host a weekly radio show called Five to Thrive Live on the Cancer Support Network (w4cs.com) and iHeart Radio (iHeart.com). You can find more about their work at www.iTHRIVEplan.com.

Pay It Forward: Help Us Support Future Cancer Patients & Caregivers

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MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation has been connecting cancer patients and caregivers to their community of family and friends for support since 2007. We’re proud to have helped over 151,000 cancer patients, caregivers and family and friends give and receive support during the past 9 years and we are asking you to join our Pay It Forward campaign to continue to support all people impacted by a cancer diagnosis.

We exist today because generous patients, caregivers and their support communities have recognized the value of MyLifeLine.org and wanted future cancer patients to have the same support. We are asking for your help to ensure that all cancer patients feel supported.

You can make a big impact by Paying It Forward:

$35      Connects 1 Guest to a Patient Website with New Features in 2017
$50      Gives 1 Cancer Patient a Website to their Support Community for 1 Month
$160    Provides MyLifeLine’s Materials in 5 Cancer Centers
$322    Develops New Programs & Cancer Specific Resources for Patients & Caregivers

Your gift will help patients like Paige, who used MyLifeLine.org as a voice during her battle with Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

“MyLifeLine.org was a lifeline for me during my journey; it was my connection to the world, my connection to my own self, and a place where I could be encouraged by others.” – Paige, MyLifeLine.org member

Will you Pay It Forward and help us support cancer patients and caregivers in 2017? Click here to join the Pay It Forward movement.

How my dog’s cancer inspired me after my breast cancer diagnosis

This is a guest blog post by Petrina DiOrio, owner of Brewscuits, a natural dog biscuit company. Brewscuits will be donating $1 per bag purchased online from now to the end of the year to MyLifeLine.

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When I heard the words, “Your dog has cancer,” I was devastated. It’s Osteosarcoma, one of the worst kinds. When the same words came later to reference me, “You have breast cancer,” somehow I felt okay and prepared to face my journey because of the courage and strength that I learned from my dog, Chessie, when she went through her journey with cancer.

Chessie was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever that I rescued from a family who had four children and could no longer afford to properly take care of her. I adopted Chessie when she was four years old and had many wonderful years with her. Her cancer started when she was 10 and the vet told us to amputate her front right leg, but at that point but the sarcoma was actually way up in her shoulder. We didn’t think amputating the leg would do much to solve the problem. Treating her with chemotherapy and radiation seemed unfair to her at her age. We wanted her to continue to live and hike and play as long as she possibly could and not be in and out of the hospital for treatments all the time. So live and hike and play we did and boy did we have fun. Annual trips to Maine hiking in the dense woods. A trip to Cape Cod to play on the beach and in the ocean. Camping, swimming, running, playing ball. You name it; we did it.

Chessie lived an abundant, fun-filled, loving life her last year. And finally, at the age of 11, she let us know it was time. As the vet administered that last lethal dose of love to help Chessie finally be out of pain and cross the rainbow bridge to be with all of her other playmates and family, I let her go of her physical body but her spirit is always with me. Somehow Chessie’s courage and determination and trust in me that I would do what was best for her helped me with my own diagnosis.

When the doctor told me I had cancer I looked at him and said, “OK then, what’s next? What do we do from here?” His response was to schedule surgery and go from there. Within two weeks surgery was scheduled and I underwent a radical double mastectomy. My sentinel nodes came back clean, so there were no lymph node issues, which was great news. I opted for the double mastectomy since breast cancer runs in my family. My grandmother and both of her sisters on my mom’s side all had breast cancer. Rather than a lumpectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiation, I opted for the double mastectomy. Now five years and seven months later I am cancer free and I am in perfect health and living an awesome life. I married the love of my life and we have been together for almost 17 years now. We foster, rescue and take care of military family dogs when soldiers are deployed. We have an awesome all natural dog biscuit company called “Brewscuits.” Life really could not be much better.

Since Chessie passed away in 2004, we have had many more fosters and rescues come into our home. One of our current rescues, Tiki, helped inspire Brewscuits. Brewscuits are a hand-made, all-natural dog biscuit using the grain from the beer brewing process. We are homebrewers making our own beer in the comfort of our home and put our grain on our picnic table after brewing our latest and greatest brew. We let the dogs out and Tiki climbed on the table, stole the grain and shared it with his brothers and sisters. After some research we found that the grains were good for our dogs and we started making beer grain dog biscuits.

We upcycle a product that would normally be waste and create a treat for our dogs that is actually nutritious. Our biscuits contain barley, oats and rye which are grains our dogs should have in their diet to aid in their digestion. We use no corn or soy which our dogs cannot digest. We also use no salt, sugar, chemicals or preservatives. Our biscuits contain only a few simple ingredients – the spent grain (barley, oats, rye), flour, egg, and either peanut butter, pumpkin or sweet potato. For more information, go to www.brewscuit.com.

I’ve been given this wonderful opportunity to partner with MyLifeLine.org and share my story during breast cancer awareness month. We would love to give back to this wonderful organization. Brewscuits will be donating $1 per bag purchased online from now through the end of the year. Just use code “boobies” at checkout at www.brewscuit.com.

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Becki’s Breast Cancer Story

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Becki had no symptoms when she went in for a routine mammogram and was convinced that everything was normal. She later learned of her Stage III breast cancer diagnosis.

“I felt really numb. It was very shocking,” Becki recalled. “I’m a very positive type of person and I just assume the best. I had myself pretty convinced that everything would be fine.”

Becki’s treatment plan included a double mastectomy with reconstruction. She completed 16 chemotherapy treatments followed by 30 rounds of radiation.

During her cancer journey Becki leaned on the support of her husband and three children, along with her mother who is an 18-year breast cancer survivor. She also had a group of friends who helped provide rides, coordinate meals and keep her company on ongoing trips to radiation. About 15 people from Becki’s support group even came to her last radiation appointment and they all went out for lunch afterwards to celebrate.

MyLifeLine.org was a way for Becki to utilize her support group. She and her husband made updates on surgery and treatment progress, coordinated meals and rides as well as sharing photos. Becki now uses her site to share milestones with her support group.

Although Becki says sometimes she feels like cancer hasn’t changed her life, there are some positive differences since her diagnosis. Cancer has made Becki appreciate the little things more and be open to new experiences. She’s never had her ears pierced, but her young daughter wanted to get her own pierced.

“After I went through everything, I thought ‘I really don’t know if I will be here when she’s 12 to wait until that milestone to get her ears pierced,” Becki recalled. Together, Becki and her daughter got their ears pierced, which was a special experience for the both of them.

Becki’s advice to other cancer patients is to utilize their support system. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people and communicate. Let people help you,” she advised.


To read more cancer patient stories, visit our Inspirational Cancer Stories page.

MyLifeLine Launches Caregiver Research Study

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MyLifeLine.org is proud to launch a cancer caregiver survey as part of a research study to understand the unmet needs of caregivers and how we can better serve them. This study is being done in partnership with researchers at the University of Colorado Denver.

Why is this study being done?

We know that cancer caregivers face unique needs and challenges while caring for their loved ones. This study plans to learn more about more about the support needs of caregivers of cancer patients, so that we can better understand how to support this caregiver population.

Caregivers of cancer patients are more likely to experience poor psychological and physical health, and this study may provide important information regarding the current gaps in support and opportunities for additional support in this area. The survey will help us understand online support needs as well as practical needs and potential tools for the caregiver population.

About this study

Your participation in this study is voluntary.  You have the right to choose not to take part in this study.  If you choose to take part, you have the right to stop at any time.  If you refuse or decide to withdraw later, you will not lose any benefits or rights to which you are entitled.

The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and is open to all cancer caregivers who have actively cared for a cancer patient in the past 5 years.

Take the survey and share your experience.


We’re proud to partner with Celgene and Amgen to bring you this research initiative.

Healthy Recipes for Chemotherapy Patients

healthy recipes for chemotherapy patients

The importance of diet cannot be overestimated when it comes to chemotherapy. While a healthy diet is very important for someone undergoing chemotherapy, eating the same types and the same amounts of foods you enjoyed before diagnosis of your cancer may sometimes be difficult. You may feel anxious about eating enough of certain foods. Or you may become concerned about eating the “wrong” foods and eat very little at all. These reactions are normal.

During chemotherapy, you can continue to enjoy most foods. If you are worried about your diet and healthy nutrition during chemotherapy, or have questions, be sure to speak to your healthcare providers – they can provide guidance on proper nutrition during treatment since certain chemotherapy regimens do place restrictions on some foods.

Plan Ahead for Proper Nutrition

Sometimes cancer or chemotherapy can affect your appetite. Though you may not feel like eating, it’s important to do what you can do to maintain your calorie, protein and fluid intake during chemotherapy.  Here are some tips for eating while on treatment:

  • Cook in advance and freeze foods in meal-sized portions
  • Stock your refrigerator and pantry with prepared or easy-to-prepare foods for days when you do not feel like cooking; include foods you know you can eat even when you are not feeling well
  • Talk to friends and family members about ways they can help you with shopping and cooking.

It is important to remember to always speak with your doctor or nurse about any changes in your eating patterns and any problems you have with appetite, eating or digestion.

Healthy Recipes for Chemotherapy Patients

We’ve collected 15 healthy recipes for patients receiving chemotherapy. To get the full recipes, click here.

  1. Applesauce muffins
  2. Banana bread
  3. Banana-oatmeal hot cakes
  4. Multigrain pancakes with strawberry sauce
  5. Butternut squash, tomato and watercress soup
  6. Hearty vegetable and brown rice soup
  7. Mashed grains and cauliflower
  8. Brussels sprouts with pecans and dried cranberries
  9. Lasagna
  10. Pumpkin mac and cheese
  11. Easy spinach pie
  12. Penne with kale, tomatoes and olives
  13. Veggie pita pizzas
  14. Strawberry-melon smoothie
  15. Peppers with turkey and wild rice

For more information on healthy eating during chemotherapy treatment, click here.


This post is brought to you in partnership with Helsinn and Eisai.

 

 

MyLifeLine.org Celebrates National #Ribboning Day

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In an effort to raise awareness and humanize the cancer ribbon, MyLifeLine.org launched National #Ribboning Day in 2015. In its inaugural year, National #Ribboning Day resulted in participation from InStyle Magazine, fashion designer Zac Posen, Ralph Lauren, Women’s Health Magazine and hundreds of other cancer supporters across the nation.

This year, we invite you to participate in the second annual National #Ribboning Day on Saturday, July 16.

How to participate in National Ribboning Day:

  1. Take a photo of yourself in the “Ribboning” pose with your body in the shape of a cancer ribbon.
  2. Post the photo to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with #Ribboning and share who you are Ribboning for.
  3. Invite 3 friends to join #Ribboning and donate to MyLifeLine.org.

You can help MyLifeLine.org ensure that all cancer patients and caregivers feel supported throughout their cancer journey by making a donation to the #Ribboning campaign. Each contribution of $33 supports a cancer patient and their community for one year.

To learn more about the #Ribboning campaign and to make your donation to MyLifeLine.org, please visit www.mylifeline.org/ribboning.

 

MyLifeLine.org Attends American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting

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MyLifeLine.org Cancer Foundation was honored to be among over 30,000 of the brightest minds in oncology, including researchers, physicians, industry professionals and other patient advocates at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago from June 3-7.

This year’s meeting theme, The Future of Patient-Centered Care and Research, focused on the importance of creating a system of engaged, well-informed patients and health care teams to provide patients with high-quality and high-value personalized cancer care.

During the conference, we met with our partners and other patient advocates to discuss advancements in their oncology programs and how we can partner to meet the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. MyLifeLine.org was invited to exhibit in the Patient Advocacy area, where we were able to share the important work we do to provide all people affected by cancer with social and emotional support services with attendees. This was our 9th year exhibiting at the conference and we were proud to present the advancements of our program that has now served over 151,000 cancer patients, caregivers and their support communities since our inception in 2007.

MyLifeLine.org also hosted its first Industry Advisory Council kick-off meeting on Thursday, June 2nd as part of the ASCO conference. The meeting brought together the council’s founding members in the pharmaceutical and oncology industry with the goal of better understanding the advocacy needs of the industry and identify collaborative opportunities to better serve the cancer community. Founding members of the council include Genentech, Genomic Health, Eisai, Helsinn, Pfizer and Lilly Oncology.

We look forward to continuing our work with industry partners to better meet the evolving needs of cancer patients, caregivers and their families and friends.

Maria Smith, Senior Director of Marketing & Corporate Development and Marcia Donziger, MyLifeLine.org Founder, at the organization's booth at ASCO.

Maria Smith, Senior Director of Marketing & Corporate Development and Marcia Donziger, MyLifeLine.org Founder, at the organization’s booth at ASCO.