Perhaps when you think of February you may think of candy hearts and rose deliveries to your office. At Imerman Angels, we think of Gall Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. You may be wondering “What/Where is my Gallbladder?”. Below is the skinny on this rarely discussed body organ and the cancer that can affect it:
What is a Gallbladder: Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, just beneath your liver.
What does it do: The gallbladder stores bile, a digestive fluid produced by your liver.
Gallbladder cancer is relatively uncommon and effects about 9,810 new cases annually. It is more common in women than men, and is more common when there have been previous gallstones, obesity, are over 70 or have a family history.
Because of the rare nature of GBC, fighters may come up short when searching for others who have fought a similar fight. Throughout this month, we are hoping to fulfill our mission so that no one fights cancer alone by connecting with GBC fighters, survivors and caregivers. We would love to hear your story if you feel called to share it with a fellow member of the cancer community: 877-274-5529.
Although it is the end of January, we wanted to pay homage to Cervical Cancer Awareness Month by sharing one of our favorite Cervical Cancer awareness and survivor stories:
Meaghan’s surgery scars don’t stand a chance against her tattoo!
She has told her story to millions of people all over the country, but it was almost as if she was sharing it for the first time when I spoke with Meaghan Edelstein, the youngest survivor of terminal cervical cancer.
It was 2007 and Meaghan was a 28 year old law student, like anyone else. She noticed some unusual bleeding that led her to several doctors who tested her, scanned her, and advised her that nothing was unusal. As the bleeding and discomfort increased, she knew that something was wrong but no one would listen to her concerns. She was perscribed anti-anxiety, sleeping pills and, finally, szitchoprenia medication to alleviate what others were claiming as feelings resulting from “over stress due to law school”. A desperate night where she nearly cut open her stomach sent Meaghan to the Emergency Room demanding answers. Something was inside of her and she wanted it out. She knew she was dying.
What the tiny cameras did not see, while looking for cysts and tiny tumors during doctor visits, was a giant tumor that was pushing up against her organs. She was diagnosed with 3B terminal cervical cancer and started on her journey though chemo and radiation. Told that she did not have a chance to live, she ignored the recommendation to give up and pushed herself through treatment, greatful to finally be heard: if nothing, she had a diagnosis.
Read the rest of Meaghan’s story here on the Imerman Angels Blog
Even though we are well into the New Year, it is still not too late to start your New Year’s resolutions. You have plenty of time to make 2012 a year of living healthy and happy. Here are a few steps you can take to get healthy and stay healthy!
- Protect yourself from the sun: While we are still enduring the chilly winter weather, this precaution may have slipped your mind. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and the most preventable. ALWAYS wear sunscreen in the summer, especially between 10a.m. and 4p.m. when the sun is the hottest!
- Add 30 minutes of exercise to your day: Whether you go for a walk around the park with your dog, or take a yoga class with a friend, adding exercise to your daily routine can help reduce your risk of cancer. Exercising helps to maintain a healthier weight which lowers your risk of cancers such as prostate, lung and kidney. Physical activity alone may lower risks of breast and colon cancer.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables: We know you hear this all the time, but that’s because it’s true! Any doctor will tell you that by eating more fruits and veggies, and lowering your intake of red meat, salts, and sugary foods will help to reduce your risk.
- Early Detection: We are lucky to have technology that will detect cancer in its earliest stages. Regular self-exams and screening can detect multiple types of cancer, increasing the success of treatment.
- Cut back on alcohol: It is ok to drink in moderation, but consuming alcohol regularly in large amounts can increase your risk of cancer such as: breast, liver, colon, and kidney. While wine contains good antioxidants, you can find the same benefits in grapes as an alternative!
Resources: Mayoclinic http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-prevention/CA00024
The mind is a powerful force. This year, Brain Tumor Awareness Month reminded us of one man in the brain tumor community who shows just how powerful, especially in times of adversity, the mind can be.
Eric Galvez considers himself to be a ‘mAss kicker’:
1. Someone who gets an intimidating diagnosis, hears the words,
“we found a mass in your _____ (insert important body structure here),” and
refuses to let it control their life.
After being diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor, Eric underwent surgery and radiation therapy. When it was time to begin several months of rehabilitation, Eric got into the ‘mAss kicking’ mindset and prepared himself to take on any obstacles and physical impairments he might face – and he did it with vigor.
On top of never missing a single appointment, Eric continuously asked his physical therapists to schedule extra meetings. While requiring almost total assistance in nearly everything he did post-operation and radiation, Eric assured his doctors that, one day, he would surf again.
It was during his time in rehabilitation that Eric recognized the power that his brain had over all of his physical limitations.
“A brain tumor is not necessarily a ‘death sentence’.
Part of me was reborn with a new attitude that said,
Eric’s new “Why not?” outlook on life didn’t remain his alone. His mindset and perseverance spread to everyone with whom he came into contact, impressing even doctors who said that Eric, “challenges you; he motivates you; he takes you to another level.”
Eric Galvez is proof that, “The only thing limiting yourself is yourself.” As a ‘mAss Kicking’ leader in the brain tumor community, Eric inspires us to know that we “can accomplish anything that you really want to” – all we have to do is put our minds to it.
As Brain Tumor Awareness Month comes to an end, pass this video and Eric’s message along to three people you know who are affected by brain cancer, and keep spreading hope for other mAss kickers out there…long after the month has passed.
Much like Jonny Imerman, the founder of Imerman Angels, Eric Galvez knows the immeasurable impact that results from one person sharing knowledge and inspiration with someone else who is experiencing the unknowns of cancer. Check out the website on his organization, mAss Kickers, for more info: http://masskickers.org/
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Did you know that one of the most important missions in the cancer community today is to spread awareness about cancer symptoms to promote early diagnosis? Early detection means early treatment and greater chances of early success. This is why Mayor Daley has declared that Tuesday, April 12, 2011 is Chicago Blood Cancer Foundation Day and Blood Cancer Awareness Day in Chicago. The goal is to have citizens of Chicago be actively aware of Lymphoma, Leukemia and Myeloma and the efforts to fight them. Even though blood cancers are some of the most common, and most deadly, they seem to be overshadowed and under-studied.
The greatest tool against cancer is awareness and the best way to be aware is to be educated about cancer signs and symptoms. The following article from Scott Seaman, a writer for the Chicago Cancer Examiner, is a great way to learn about some common signs and symptoms, as well as learn a little more about what blood cancer really is. Check it out!
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