Monthly Archives: September 2018

AICR – What Role Do Exercise and Diet Have on Cancer?

Have you heard about the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)? It is a foundation that is dedicated to exploring the role diet and exercise have on cancer. They believe that as much as 40% of cancer in the United States can be prevented. The foundation also believes that “every individual has the power to reduce his or her cancer risk.”1

I am a bit cynical about whether we can prevent nearly half of all cases of cancer in the United States simply by controlling our diets and exercise, but that’s just me. The AICR does include weight control and smoking among the risk factors that are under our control but correctly notes that many thousands of smokers never develop lung cancer and that many Americans who are overweight also do not develop cancer.

The exact percentage of cancers that might be preventable notwithstanding, it makes sense to pay attention to diet and exercise while we are fighting the disease. Lifestyle definitely affects how well we are able to boost our immune systems and, perhaps, counteract some of the side effects of treatment.

While the report says that as much as 90% of lung cancer cases among men and 89% of cases among women throughout the world have a direct relationship with smoking, it includes two other potential causes:

  1. drinking water that contains arsenic and
  2. taking high-dose beta-carotene supplements if you smoke or have ever smoked.

In addition, researchers believe processed meats, red meat, and alcoholic drinks may increase our chances of developing lung cancer. I can easily give up most processed meats (you bacon lovers, don’t forget it is considered processed meat) and alcoholic beverages, but I do love to eat red meat occasionally. I thought that pork was considered a “white” meat, but I heard recently that it is also considered red meat.

Fortunately for those like me who haven’t given up their red meats, AICR does state in its latest report, “The evidence suggesting that consumption of red meat increases the risk of lung cancer is limited.”2 I’m going to go with that! Please note that the same report also says, “The evidence suggesting that consumption of alcoholic drinks increases the risk of lung cancer is limited.”2

If you are interested, you can download a free, 71-page PDF document from AICR called, “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Lung Cancer.” The document is part of the Continuous Update Project (CUP) of the World Cancer Research Fund’s ongoing program to analyze cancer prevention and survival research and was updated in 2018.

 

1American Institute for Cancer Research. “About American Institute for Cancer Research.”  http://www.aicr.org/about/about_cancer_research.html. Accessed 9/30/2018.

2World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Expert Report 2018. Diet, nutrition, physical activity and lung cancer. Available at dietandcancerreport.org. Page 39. Accessed 9/30/2018.

 

 

 

 

Going to Israel, Part 1

You know, I have such a short memory that it occurs to me that I should be writing down my experiences as they occur. That way, I can remember this trip of a lifetime!

The Beginning

It all started when my friend Karen, also a lung cancer survivor, wrote on one of her medical updates that she was hoping to go to Israel early next year (2019). I replied to her message, saying I was looking forward to living vicariously through her pictures. (She is a great tour guide, even if you are not along with her! She posts pictures with lots of information accompanying them.)

My journey began when I got an email from Karen inviting me to actually join her for the trip. Upon reading the email, I yelled upstairs to my husband, “Hey! Do you care if I go to Israel?”

In a matter of moments, it was decided I could go! Wow! I never, ever dreamed I would ever go on a trip like this!! I am still not sure I believe it.

Oh Man! Where Do I Start?

Within just a few days, we had talked to our travel agency and paid the deposit. This is becoming real!

Since I have never been out of the country before, I have no passport. So, I called about getting an appointment so I could get that process started. Well. No. If you live in Texas, you need a special birth certificate … and that’s not the one I had, of course.

It takes up to a month to get one from the office in Austin, the only Vital Statistics office in Texas that has the birth certificate I need (long form). Okay. I have time.

But, the online ordering system crashes every time I try to place the order. I call their tech support. They can’t figure out what’s wrong. My case gets escalated.

I never heard back from Tech Support, but decided after a couple of days to try it and see if I could place the order. I was starting to get worried! Fortunately, even though Tech Support failed to inform me that they had corrected the problem (gee, thanks!), the problem was remedied and I was able to place the order.

I settled in to wait. God was on my side. I got my certificate in only a few weeks. Yes!!

Scans Good!

Karen and I bought trip insurance. Since we never know when or if our cancer is going to return with a vengeance, we felt it was prudent to do so. She’d recently had a scan showing that her tumor is stable; I was waiting on mine. I had it last week.

I admit I was holding my breath a little. I didn’t have any reason to think it wouldn’t show that my tumors are stable, the same as they have been for the last five years, but I still can’t quite believe this trip is really going to happen. I keep thinking something is going to cause it not to work out.

I was gratified to learn that my scan shows all is still well. Tumors are stable, no growth, no new tumors. Yes!! I won’t have another scan until the week after we return from our trip, so even if there is growth or spreading between now and then (I have no reason to expect there will be except that I am still expecting something to cause me not to get to go) I won’t know it.

Bible Study at the Passport Office

I’m not quite sure why, but I was nervous about going to the Passport Office. I guess that makes no sense. Well, really, there’s no “guess” to it. It makes no sense. But, I was nervous all the same.

A nice man came in, took my picture, and looked over all of the information I brought (driver’s license, new birth certificate, application), and we started talking about the fact that I am 65 years old and have never been out of the country before. He asked where I was going.

“Israel,” I said. He looked at me, probably noted the cross I wear around my neck, and said, “Your life will never the be same.” When he talked about walking where Jesus did, I got chills up and down my arms!

I’m sure that the Post Office probably wouldn’t condone our visiting for 30 minutes about God’s goodness and His mighty power and about how powerful it is to go to the place where Jesus was born, taught, died, and rose again. But, I left almost floating on air! It was as good as any church service would have been. And, I am even more excited than ever to make the trip.

Now, I just have to wait about 3 weeks for that passport to arrive. Then, I’ll really feel like this trip is going to happen!!

Palliative Care. What Is It and Should You Care?

Palliative care. Do you know what it is? If you don’t, then you are in the same boat as about 78% of people who answered a 2011 survey done by the American Cancer Society.2 In fact, only 8% of people said that they feel knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about what palliative care is. That’s a shame because palliative care can make your life a whole lot better if you are experiencing symptoms from your cancer or cancer treatment that are not being addressed by oncology.

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I’ve Got Joy, Down in my Heart!

I just read a draft of a blog post I wrote awhile back and the old children’s song we used to sing in church came to my mind, “There’s joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart, down in my heart, there’s joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, today!” I don’t know about you, but that little ditty is now going through my mind, over and over again. And, it is making me smile!! And, sing! Out loud! Loud! (My husband is going to wake up and wonder what in the world has happened to his wife!!)

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Dare We Say the “C” Word at the Same Time as Lung Cancer?

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, the chances that a late-stage lung cancer patient would live five years was merely 4%. In fact, the American Lung Association, even today, gives the following survival rates:

“The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is 55 percent for cases detected when the disease is still localized (within the lungs). However, only 16 percent of lung cancer cases are diagnosed at an early stage. For distant tumors (spread to other organs) the five-year survival rate is only 4 percent.”1

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