Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘cancer

Bev’s Being Battered . . .

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Finally getting back to work on this venue after being blocked out by some cyberspace quirk. Had to use Beverly’s email address in settling for whoknowswhat reason so anyone responding to messages will have to do it on this site or address it to cecilscag@gmail.com.

Much has happened since we were cut off from posting last December.

The most devastating has been the medical blows landing on Beverly.

It all began early this year when a neurologist diagnosed three possible problems for her rapid loss of motor facilities: a neurological disease, cancer and/or ALS. Specialists were recommended and visited.

The first diagnosis was cancer in her left breast and two malignant tumors in her spine. Bone-building IV every four weeks was initiated immediately and radiation and chemotherapy were both prescribed. Bev started a five-days-a-week radiation treatment for three weeks and the thousands-of-dollars’-a-month’s worth of chemotherapy medication was arranged without cost through the efforts of a patient advocate/support worker at the cancer clinic.

Both prescriptions were disastrous.

The radiation launched a serious coughing problem that still racked her for hours and hours and still attacks out of nowhere. After her ninth of 15 scheduled sessions, she told the doctor she wasn’t taking anymore, and why. She also told the oncologist she was dropping the chemo medication because it made her sicker.

By this time, she also was diagnosed with ALS so both doctors (radiologist and oncologist) agreed with her so she living will be more comfortable. She’s still getting the IV every four weeks and has blood drawn monthly to monitor the progress of Lou Gehrig’s disease. All we can do is try slowing it down and help her maintain some level of comfort.

She was told she probably has had ALS for the past half-dozen years, leading family members to speculate on whether or not she needed the spinal surgery that was performed in San Diego to stop the deteriorating use of her right arm and hand. A possible trigger was son Ross’ death.

She now uses a walker and no longer drives. Through contacts made at the first of her quarterly clinics with the ALS doctor, she has received a transport wheelchair, toilet support bars and large-handled eating utensils from the ALS Association. A doctor’s prescriptions also got her a respiratory machine to assist her breathing and we’ve yet to make an appointment to get fitted for toe braces prescribed to keep her toes lifted so she doesn’t trip and fall, which would be crippling.

We’re also talking with home-care workers and hospice/palliative care organizations to identify pathways to take as the unknown continues to happen. The ALS Ass’n is scheduled to deliver a power chair this week so she can get around more easily.

Despite being unable to perform such everyday actions as driving five minutes to visit the grandkids and opening bottles of water, she still erupts into her solar smile when someone calls or her favorite horse wins.

Her birthday was June 6 and she had a good day opening a pile of cards, phone-chatting with new and long-time friends, swapping plans with daughter Heather who came to visit and then elevatoring downstairs for dinner that ended with balloons, a cake and sing-along greeting.

 

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Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 15, 2018 at 7:59 am

Just Ask

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The out-of-control spin ignited by Bev’s recent disastrous diagnoses of debilitating diseases – breast and spinal cancer and ALS – has become a bit more manageable because of some welcome experiences with care, comfort and support personnel and organizations we’ve encountered who have taught us to ask.

Our first major eye-opener occurred when we were faced with a thousands-of-dollars-a-month chemotherapy medication the oncologist prescribed. We said we just can’t afford that much. A patient advocate on staff called us in and asked for a copy of last year’s income-tax return. A few days later we were notified the medication would be provided for us – FREE. The staffer told us to just ask for her whenever we feel the need for some support, whether it’s economic or emotional.

Then, during our first appearance at the ALS doctor’s regular clinic, monitoring tests were conducted by several medical experts and we also met with an ALS organization volunteer. A few days later, a delivery man dropped by with toilet support bars (which he installed for us) and a transport wheelchair.

“They’re on loan until you’re through with them,” he said. “If there’s anything else you need, just ask.”

While there is no stopping the disease chewing away at her nerve cells, these are just a couple of the several events that are making Bev’s life more comfortable by simply asking.

 

Written by Cecil Scaglione

June 3, 2018 at 7:43 am

Slip, Slop, Slappin’ Your Sun Tan

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By Cecil Scaglione

Mature Life Features

  As long as a tan is considered cool, the risk of contracting skin cancer will continue.
  More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually. Malignant melanoma, which is easily preventable by wearing sun-protective clothing, using sun screen and seeking shade, will kill some 7,500 Americans this year. While melanoma accounts for only 5  percent of skin cancer cases, it causes 80 percent of skin-cancer deaths.
  Social acceptance — indeed, favor — of tanning is at fault, said Dr. Martin Weinstock, chairman of the American Cancer Society’s skin-cancer advisory group. More than half the population believes people look better with a tan.
  “A hundred years ago it was a very unfashionable thing,” Weinstock said. “It signified that you were the type of person who had to work for a living, usually out in the field under the sun. People who owned farms and big plantations could spend the day inside.” Industrialization changed all that, as workers moved inside large manufacturing plants and the wealthy began lolling along tropical beaches. So tans became a fashionable sign of leisure.
  That image must be changed and Weinstock thinks there are signs of a pendulum swing. A tan is evidence that your skin has been damaged and this damage accumulates with each tan. “Unfortunately, a lot of people simply do not use sun screen correctly. One of the findings in a survey we did was that a lot of people, when they got the worst sunburn of the summer, were using a sun screen of SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or greater. If someone goes to the beach, plays a couple of games of volleyball and then says, ‘My skin is turning red, I’d better put on some sun screen,’ well, obviously that’s too late. Most of the damage has already been done.”
  Added problems are that too little sun screen is used or it may be washed off by sweat or swimming. An SPF of 30 or greater is Weinstock’s recommendation. He also emphasizes that “it’s not the tan that’s the problem; it’s the ultraviolet radiation used to get a tan. ” What causes the problem is the ultraviolet radiation from the sun that triggers a reaction in pigment-producing skin cells to produce a browner color in the skin. This same radiation “causes damage in the DNA of skin cells as well as other types of damage to the skin, and that is what has been related to the risk of skin cancer” as well as premature aging of the skin.
  There are two reasons tanning salons are not safe, even though they may advertise that they use innocuous UVA radiation and not the UVB that causes sunburn. First of all, UVA is not totally harmless. Secondly, most tanning booths give users some UVB also.
  If you use an artificial tanner – tan in a bottle – it probably will give you a tan in color only. “They don’t protect you against sun exposure,” he said. ” They don’t protect against ultraviolet light.”
  “We have a slogan at the American Cancer Society. ‘Slip, Slop, Slap:’ slip on a shirt, slop on sun screen, slap on a hat. “

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 1, 2012 at 12:28 am

Posted in Health

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