cancer

Can Cannabis Help Leukemia? What Research Says.

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cancer medicine leukemia

What is Leukemia and Can Cannabis Help?

Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow and/or lymphatic tissue–this is where the body produces blood. There are the many different types of leukemia and each type affects the blood in different ways. Cannabis can help some patients fight this disease. Here’s how:

Does Cannabis Cure Leukemia?

There’s no denying that some people have experienced miraculous results using cannabis to treat leukemia. However, it’s important to remember, there are plenty of cannabis patients who never go into remission. Cannabis is not a magical cure-all for everyone. Seek guidance from an experienced oncologist and consider all treatments available.

Nonetheless, cannabis has been proven to possess cancer-fighting properties. Plus, it can ease many of the symptoms of leukemia, while also relieving the side-effects of chemotherapy. These properties can make medical marijuana an excellent addition to many leukemia treatment plans.

What Research Says About Cannabis Treating Leukemia

Comprehensive studies fully examining the benefits and/or risks of medical marijuana have not been conducted. Because of the federal classification, cannabis continues to be very difficult (nearly impossible) for researchers to study.

Much of what we know about medical marijuana is gathered from small clinical studies, laboratory research, and anecdotal evidence (aka the observations and reports from active cannabis patients and their healthcare providers).

This small pool of data is extremely promising. So promising, that many healthcare providers are choosing to include cannabis in their patients’ treatment plans and legalization is rapidly spreading across the country.

cannabis as a treatment for leukemia

Cannabis is Most Effective When Used with Chemotherapy

Research published in the International Journal of Oncology determined cannabis combined with traditional chemotherapy agents produced better results than cannabis alone.

The study discovered that exposing cancer cells to cannabis after chemotherapy was most effective at killing leukemia cells. The study specifically examined chemotherapy agents, cytarabine and vincristine.

The authors reported a synergistic effect between chemotherapy agents and the cannabinoids. This means the cannabis boosts the action of chemotherapy agents, allowing a lower amount of chemotherapy medications to be used, with the same success.

This study is promising, but we need to keep a few things in mind. This research was conducted in a lab dish, we don’t know if the process will be the same in the human body. Plus, more research is needed to understand the proper dosages, the best methods of administration, and exactly how the combination directly affects the human body. The study also specifies a highly concentrated form of cannabis was used, and smoking cannabis would not be an equivalent.

Research About the Cancer Fighting Properties of Cannabis

The National Institute of Health summarizes 13 different studies that show cannabis exhibits anti-tumor properties.This means cannabinoids cause cancer cells to die.

Dronabinol, the synthetic form of THC, has demonstrated anti-leukemia properties in the lab.

Research published in the Journal of Molecular Cancer Research demonstrated THC causes cancer cells to die in living organisms.

Research published by the American Society of Hematology demonstrated THC causes leukemia cells to die while in living organisms.

Research published in the International Journal of Cancer Treatment and Research found SIX different cannabinoids have anti-cancer properties. This study also noted that these cannabinoids became more effective by interacting with each other.

Can cannabis help leukemia?

The Best Method of Cannabis Consumption for Leukemia Patients

Methods of consumption are usually recommended based on the symptoms the patient is attempting to relieve.

Smoking offers immediate relief of pain or nausea, whereas oral consumption takes approximately an hour.

However, when fighting cancer we strive for the most concentrated versions available. High levels of cannabinoids are required to fight cancer.

FECO, or fully extracted cannabis oil, is the most concentrated form of cannabis. Small amounts of FECO provide extremely concentrated levels of cannabinoids in a small dose. The most popular form of FECO is RSO, or Rick Simpson Oil.

(FECO is very easy to make if you have access to cannabis flower.)

READ: How to Use Cannabis: Methods of Consumption

 

The Symptoms of Leukemia

The symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Fevers or chills
  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Frequent or severe infections
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver, enlarged spleen
  • Bleeding or bruising
  • Recurring nosebleeds
  • Petechiae – Pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • Excessive sweating and night sweats
  • Bone pain or tenderness

Cannabis is an excellent appetite stimulant and a powerful pain reliever.

Does marijuana help leukemia?

Traditional Treatments for Leukemia

  • Chemotherapy
  • Biological Therapy
  • Targeted Therapy
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Stem Cell or Bone Marrow Transplant

Cannabis Helps Ease the Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can cause nerve pain, nausea and vomiting, decimate the appetite, trigger anxiety, cause insomnia, and more.

Cannabis, however, can stimulate the appetite, ease nerve pain, relieve nausea and vomiting, soothe anxiety, help patients sleep better, and more. For these reasons, cannabis is an excellent medication to take in conjunction with chemotherapy.

READ: 10 Research-Backed Ways Cannabis Helps Fight Cancer

Cannabis Cautions & Contraindications

Like all medications, cannabis has side effects. Fortunately, the side effects of cannabis tend to be significantly less severe than other pharmaceuticals and cancer treatments.

Patients suffering from liver failure should not use cannabis as it’s processed by the liver.

In some cases, cannabis can act as an anticoagulant. This should be kept in mind when treating patients who are taking anticoagulants or are having issues with blood clotting.

 

Cannabis Can Interact with Medications

It doesn’t happen often, but marijuana can interact with prescription medications. This is related to the metabolic pathway cannabinoids utilize in the liver.

This article explains a lot more about how Cytochrome 450 works and what to watch for regarding drug interactions. Cannabis Drug Interactions: Weed & Zoloft

 

Meet Real Leukemia Patients Using Cannabis

Meet Bill Hopkins, a survivor of Acute Myeloid Leukemia and cannabis patient. Watch him share his story:

 

Meet Landon, an Acute Lymphatic Leukemia survivor and cannabis patient.

 

Full-Spectrum Cannabis Is Best for Leukemia

What is full-spectrum cannabis?

Full-spectrum cannabis oil is derived directly from the whole plant. This means the oil contains a variety of cannabinoids and other molecules. The cannabinoids, like THC or CBD, have not been isolated or separated from each other.

There are over 100 cannabinoids, and each of them has a different action on cells. Research published in the International Journal of Cancer Research studied SIX different cannabinoids and found that each cannabinoid fights leukemia cells. Even more interesting, this research found that these cannabinoids worked together to produce a stronger effect than on their own.

What Strains Are Best For Leukemia?

Every strain, or kind of cannabis, is very different.

Read: Understanding Strains: Why Every Kind of Cannabis is so Different 

High-THC strains are best for treating cancer.

Unfortunately, many states still prohibit high-THC strains and this is terribly unfortunate for millions of patients.

If you are unable to access THC, high-CBD strains or CBD oil (which can be ordered online, or purchased in many health stores) can benefit leukemia patients. CBD is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can help reduce anxiety.

READ: What are the Actual Benefits of CBD

Where Can You Get Medical Marijuana for Leukemia?

The following states have medical marijuana program that allows patients with leukemia to register and obtain cannabis. The types of products available vary from state-to-state.

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Washington DC
  • West Virginia

 

READ: How to Get Medical Marijuana in NJ.

 

Conclusion

Cannabis can help leukemia and in some cases, it seems nearly miraculous. However, traditional therapies should not be abandoned and cannabis should be used under the guidance of an experienced oncologist. High doses of THC, like in FECO, seem to produce the most powerful results, but even low doses of cannabinoids can help relieve many of the symptoms associated with leukemia and chemotherapy.

The post Can Cannabis Help Leukemia? What Research Says. appeared first on Marijuana Mommy.

His Story Just Needs To Be Told.

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I was racking my brain, such as it is, to come up with a topic for this week’s column. As has happened many times, more than I would like, in the years I have been writing Weather Or Not for EDN I drew a complete blank. It sort of relates to the novelist’s writers block, but more closely resembles something else. I met a painter (artist) named Charlie Palmer in Spokane, Washington years ago who told me he was experiencing what he called painter’s block. He had too many of his own paintings drying in his studio. They seemed to fill his brain shutting off his ability to create new work. He had to remove them from his studio to clear his mind of them and start a new painting. That describes what keeps happening to me. I go through most of the week arriving at Thursday with zero, zilch, nada, no clue as to what story I want to tell. I need to have the column completed by Sunday night so that doesn’t leave much time.

Writer's Block
Writer’s Block | Image by writing.inside.tru.ca

Then suddenly, like the light bulb over a cartoon character’s head, a topic explodes in my brain. I’m not sure where the inspiration comes from, but I’d guess it’s my guardian angel allowing me to see through this blank computer screen and grab onto a new idea. That is exactly what happened this time. My brain raced over the previous column topics that I have discussed and they blocked out anything new. Then it came to me while I was on Facebook. I received an invitation to a GoFundMe page for one of my Facebook friends who has been  going through some life-shattering events. His courage under these traumatic conditions is what I want you to see.

I don’t know about you, but there are times when I start to feel sorry for myself for whatever current circumstance is causing me distress. Whether it is physical or mental pain, financial worries or a myriad of other issues, I can feel like I’m going to be overwhelmed. That’s when I see someone like Monte Muirhead and I shake off what’s bothering me and I am buoyed up by his unbelievable attitude toward the severe life trials he is going through. This makes any so-called “mountain” in my life seem like a tiny molehill.

Monte & Tim Joyce
Monte (Left) Visited In Hospital By Tim Joyce (Former AM/Noon Weatherman KVAL-TV | Photo from Monte’s FaceBook page

Let’s start at the beginning. I first met Monte Muirhead back in the mid 1990s. I worked for KVAL-TV and Monte was a reporter for KPIC-TV in Roseburg. We worked for the same company that owned all three stations KVAL in Eugene, KPIC in Roseburg, and KCBY in Coos Bay. If I remember correctly I was in Roseburg for a live weather broadcast (called a Live Shot) at the Douglas County Fair and we met when I stopped by the Roseburg TV studio. Just a quick look at Monte’s resume from that point on shows that in 1999 he moved up to the News Director/Lead Anchor position at KCBY in Coos Bay. From 2004-2007 he was Reporter/Bureau Chief at KOBI in Medford and 2007-2009 reporter/Bureau Chief for KMTR-TV, Eugene. Monte shifted gears by 2012 when he earned his Masters Degree, Curriculum and Teaching; Middle and High School Language Arts endorsement and Social Studies endorsement. Just as his teaching career started Monte was diagnosed with stage 4 Cancer. Not the kind of news he needed to hear. Monte is only in his early 50s and should have many years ahead of him. He went through chemotherapy and surgery which helped for a while, but was told recently that there was only one therapy left to try. The problem was he developed adverse side affects from the drug and had to stop taking it.

Monte's Mother
Monte’s Mom Lucille Esmond Muirhead | Photo from Monte’s FaceBook page

If that wasn’t devastating enough Monte’s mother ended up in the hospital at the same time he was admitted late last year. Sadly she passed away at 2:45 pm December 1, 2015.

All through this ordeal Monte has been updating his condition on his Facebook page. He has even apologized for some of the details, but it was the only way for some of his friends to know how he was doing. Under the circumstances I see no reason for him to apologize for describing his journey, but that is Monte’s way. The current issue is that, not being able to work, he can’t earn any money. His medical costs have been an issue, but now he has run out of money for his day-to-day living expenses. Monte has a long list of friends who have been helping him out when they can. But the time came to go “public” and a gofundme page has been set up to help defray his expenses.

Benefit Concert Flyer
Benefit Concert For Monte Muirhead | Image by Cindy Lou Through Facebook

A special benefit concert is scheduled for March 20th in Sutherlin with many bands volunteering their services to help out. Besides hopefully bringing in money to help out, the concert will be a great celebration of Monte’s life in which he can actually participate. It is wonderful to show appreciation for a person’s life after they have passed on, but this will be a happy celebration that allows everyone to tell Monte how much they appreciate his life and for him to thank them and spend some real quality time with the people he loves and who love him. As anyone who knows Monte would agree he volunteered for just about anything he was ever asked to do and now it’s time for people to step up and help him out. For more details concerning the concert you can go to the Facebook Events page Cindy Lou has posted.

Monte doesn’t know how much time he has left, but he is doing his best to live it with dignity, purpose and gusto. Please don’t let him down.

If you have an idea for a future topic let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Boy Donates Hair to Cancer Patients

Brogan 1
Brogan 2
Brogan 3

EUGENE, Ore. — A Eugene boy is proving you’re never too young to make a difference.

Eight-year-old Brogan Leppo just donated his hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program.

He started growing it out 18 months ago after watching videos of cancer survivors who had been helped by the hair donation program.

So on Monday, after a year and a half, Brogan cut off eight inches of his hair and donated it.

He dedicated his donation to his grandfather, who died of cancer, and Trina Smith, a teaching assistant at Irving Elementary School, where Brogan is a second grader.

“I feel so truly honored because Brogan donated his hair in my honor,” Smith said.

Smith has been a breast cancer survivor for five years now.

OHSU Massive Donor Revealed

Still0903_00000PORTLAND, Ore. — The Columbia Sportswear founder revealed her soft side.

Gert Boyle confirmed she was the anonymous donor who gave $100 million to the Oregon Health and Science University for cancer research. Boyle says she slipped the OHSU leader a note in June about the donation.

“Then he called Phil, and I talked to Phil and said I just want you to know that the little old lady down the block also has gives money,” Boyle said.

Boyle says this donation is in memory of her older sister who was a researcher and died of brain cancer.

Relay for Life Wraps Up

RELAY FOR LIFEEUGENE, Ore. — Thousands of local residents are fighting back against cancer this weekend as part of the Relay for Life.

Organizers say there were about 5,000 participants this year at the 22nd Relay for Life in Eugene. The 24-hour event started Friday afternoon and wrapped up Saturday. People walking around the track at Willamette High School said they walked to support all people affected by cancer.

“I would do anything to help. If I could do this every day, I would. I love it. It’s my favorite time of the year,” says cancer survivor Belle Height.

Organizers say their goal this year is to raise $688,000 for the American Cancer Society.

All “It” Was Supposed To Do Was Defoliate The Trees.

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The “it” I am referring to is Agent Orange. It was used extensively in Vietnam and its consequences are devastating and far-reaching. The reason for my discussing Agent Orange is that a series of Town Hall Meetings was held last week in various locations in Western Oregon.  “The Faces of Agent Orange” is the title of the program. My wife’s sister Nancy Switzer was one of the speakers for the forum. She is one of the founders and former President of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America (AVVA) and came all the way from Rochester, New York to Oregon. AVVA defines itself as “a non-profit membership organization dedicated to advancing the full range of issues affecting Vietnam Veterans, their families, and their communities.” Nancy invited my wife Sue, our daughter Michelle, and me to come to Lebanon for the forum. I might add that I thought I knew quite a bit about Agent Orange, but this gathering showed me just how much in the dark most of us are when it comes to this subject. “The Faces of Agent Orange” town hall meetings are sponsored by the AVVA and the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). This gathering was held at the River Center which is actually a church. Their pastor Lynn Koehn told me that one of the purposes of their church is to have their building available for the needs of the community such as this town hall meeting. The American Legion Color Guard started things off by presenting the colors. Everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance and then the assembly that numbered about 250 were seated ready to get started.

Jim Willis Former Director of Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs
Jim Willis Former Director of Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs | Photo by Tim Chuey

The emcee for the night was Air Force veteran and former Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs Jim Willis. He described the purpose of these gatherings is to get veterans and their families together with the medical community to find ways to improve the care given to the veterans, their children, and their grandchildren and to continue research into the effects of Agent Orange itself. Most people don’t realize, I know I didn’t, just how Agent Orange affects the veterans and through their genes passes on serious medical problems to their own children and then even the grandchildren.

Mokie Pratt Porter, Vietnam Veterans of America Director Of Communications
Mokie Pratt Porter, Vietnam Veterans of America Director Of Communications | Photo by Tim Chuey

Willis introduced the first panel member Mokie Pratt Porter, Director of Communications for the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), who has made 14 trips to Vietnam in an effort to discover as much as possible concerning where and when Agent Orange was used and who was affected by the chemical spray. She explained that as early as 1969 the government was working on the Agent Orange problem, but their emphasis was on how it affected the Vietnamese population not our troops. It took a lot of work to finally get the government interested in understanding how Agent Orange has affected the veterans and their families. As I mentioned earlier it was developed to defoliate the trees where the enemy was hiding and the trees surrounding our military compounds so that the enemy snipers wouldn’t have a place to hide within range of our troops. It is estimated that 11 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971. The most concentrated spraying in the year from July 1967 through July 1968. Ms. Porter described the veterans affected as “angry and motivated.” She is optimistic that they can win this battle, but they need the stories the veterans and their families have to tell concerning the myriad of ailments caused by this chemical exposure. They have held more than 70 town hall meetings so far throughout the country and plan to continue them until all of the veterans and their families have the information they need.

Drums Of Agent Orange From Video | Image from VVA Video
Drums Of Agent Orange From Video | Image from VVA Video

Two video presentations were shown and it was explained that the original formula for Agent Orange was tested and retested to make sure it would be of no harm to humans. The fly-in-the-ointment, if you will, was when the government wanted to drastically increase the production of the defoliant and the chemical company couldn’t keep up with the demand. As a result many other chemical companies were contracted to produce it. The problem was that each company made whatever modifications they wanted to the formula to suit their needs without any oversight. The result was that the toxicity of the new Agent Orange was completely unknown, but it was treated like the original formula and considered to be “safe.” So much for that assumption. You remember the old adage “if you assume you make an ass out of you and me.” Danielle Perry explained in one of the videos that she has multiple physical problems she believes developed as a result of her father’s exposure to the spray. He died from a heart attack at age 56. She also said that she carries “the weight of Vietnam on her shoulders” and she wasn’t even there.

Stephanie Holybee Daughter of Veteran Ken Holybee| Photo by Tim Chuey
Stephanie Holybee Daughter of Veteran Ken Holybee| Photo by Tim Chuey

Ken Holybee and his daughter Stephanie were up next. The troops were told that helicopters were spraying for mosquitoes in and around their camp. The spraying took place multiple times. As result not only was Ken affected but his daughter Stephanie explained that her children, the grandchildren of Ken who was the veteran, have extra bones in their ankles, one son is sterile, and one daughter has heart problems all of which are a result of Agent Orange exposure.

Nancy Switzer, Founder and Former AVVA President |Photo by Tim Chuey
Nancy Switzer, Founder and Former AVVA President | Photo by Tim Chuey

My sister-in-law Nancy Switzer came up to the microphone and explained that the veterans need to tell their families about what happened to them in Vietnam and especially when and where they were or might have been exposed to Agent Orange. She said she was here as “a wife, a mother and a grandmother.” Not only is she one of the founders of AVVA, but her husband Rick, a Vietnam vet, has been battling Prostate Cancer for years. Both of their children have physical problems as a result of Rick’s exposure. Their son has heart problems, their daughter has a learning disorder, and their granddaughter has a rare hip problem where her legs were outside of her hip joints when she was born. Nancy emphasized  the importance of filing the proper claim forms to the government. She asked how many have filed a claim and hands went up. She then asked how many have not filed a claim and again many hands went up. She exclaimed twice “Shame on you.” In order for the government to understand what Agent Orange has done to them and their progeny they have to submit the proper paperwork, starting with their discharge papers, with as much documentation as possible. “Stop blaming yourself. You didn’t do it. The government did it” she said. Nancy developed a packet of forms called the “Paper Safe” which when completely filled out will give the veteran’s loved ones all the information they will need to receive the benefits they have earned.

John Rowan, National President Vietnam Veterans of America | Photo by Tim Chuey
John Rowan, National President Vietnam Veterans of America | Photo by Tim Chuey

The last member of the panel was John Rowan current VVA President who is serving his 4th term holding that office. He explained that he enlisted in the Air Force in 1965. John was in Vietnam for only 30 days from June to July 1967 and during that time the foliage at the edge of their base, where the guard towers were located, was sprayed with Agent Orange. He suffers from a heart condition among other problems. He pointed out that they need to research the old research to see the complete picture.

I heard some definitions of terms that were new to me, this one in particular. There is a difference between blue water and brown water Navy. Blue water means the ocean where sailors were on ships offshore. Brown water refers to inland waterways such as rivers and streams. It would be a given that anything sprayed on trees near a river would end up in the river, but rivers run into the ocean and that brown water can push miles out into the ocean to be sucked up by the pumps on a ship and stored in tanks to be treated and used for showers and even drinking water. That means everyone on a ship in that situation had been exposed to the toxin. They are working diligently to account for every ship that was involved in the exposures. It takes a lot of searching into the military records to get the details needed for just one person to prove they were on a particular ship at the time it was exposed to Agent Orange. There is a long list of illnesses that have been approved by the VA as Agent Orange related, but there are many left that still do not qualify. There is a Vets 101 website that guides you through the initial benefits process.

Currently there is bill before Congress, S1602, which if passed will provide funds for further research and to help find all of the affected veterans and pass the information on to their families. They urge everyone to call or write to your senator and tell them to pass the bill in spite of the fact that congress can’t agree on funding just about anything.

Audience Member Veteran Asks a Question | Photo by Tim Chuey
Audience Member Veteran Asks a Question | Photo by Tim Chuey

After their presentations the floor was opened to anyone who had a story to tell or questions that had not been answered yet by the panel. Hopefully those present will keep spreading the word to other veterans to encourage them to file a claim and discuss Agent Orange issues with their families.

If you are a veteran of any war or know one please let them know that all military personnel  who were exposed to any toxin, whether it was Agent Orange or radiation, or something else, in Vietnam or somewhere else  should file a claim right now with the government.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can comment below or email me at: [email protected].

Behind the Scenes: What’s Love Got To Do With V-day

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I struggle with holidays simply for the reason that the meaning behind them often times gets lost in marketing. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about love but anymore it seems to be more about selling flowers, chocolates and Hallmark cards than it is about love. Showing someone you love them is a good thing and if a “day” reminds you to do so I think that’s good. But we wanted to find true love not just sexy love. I’m looking for a love that’s bigger than a date that ends in, you know. Hey, I’m not against “you know” and I certainly look forward to a nice romantic evening with my wife. But in order for love to last it takes much more than card and cute underwear to keep it going.

Whenever I get an idea for a show the stories just follow. I get it in my mind that I need a certain subject and somehow those people find me. For instance: I was looking for a story on a 30- something year old single woman who has never been married and wants to be. I was walking to my office one day, a woman walks up to me and starts talking and come to find out she’s the perfect story and you’ll see her in our “RDTV Love Show” on Sunday February 16th and 23rd.

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We also have a nice interview with Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy and her husband David. You’ll find out how they met and what keeps their “fire” burning. I think Mayor Piercy takes a lot of heat for her leadership and while she and I don’t always agree, I think people need to give her a break. This story will let you see a different side of our mayor.

The story I hope you all stick around for involved Laura Mason Caldwell. I felt funny asking a woman who is dying, to be in our “Love Show.” But I’ve watched Laura and her family struggle with her recent terminal cancer diagnosis and the way she is living to die truly defines love.

I hope you joins us on February 16th & 23rd at 4:30 on KEVU. This is not an excuse not to buy that special someone a card or some chocolate or even that pair of underwear you’ll never see again. It’s just a chance to take a deeper look at love.

Behind the Scenes of RDTV Survivors

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When January rolls around something in my soul becomes uneasy. I never used to get that way but January of 2010 changed my January’s forever. That is the year doctors discovered my Prostate Cancer. A few months later I added a new label to my resume “Cancer Survivor.”

Recently while thinking of a topic for the next Rick Dancer TV show the thought hit me: “Rick, you should do a show on survivors?”

Survivor-FI

So that is what we are doing. Over the years we have produced many stories on folks who beat the odds, fight their fears and make their way into the survivor category. We’re starting with my Prostate Cancer story and moving to a woman with a very rare, yet fatal disease called Scleroderma.

Don’t worry the show is not all about illness, in fact one of my favorite “Womenspace stories” will also air in this episode. The story of a mother and her son and how she discovers 20 years after receiving services that she truly did the right things. Also included in our look at survivors a couple of amazing women from the Look Me In The Eye Program.

We even have a song, written by a local artist, about survival.

Rick Dancer Television is moving into a new realm. We are shifting focus a bit and going deeper than before and it’s really starting to resonate with viewers. We’re still going to produce the fun shows that introduces you to restaurants and informs you about the community. But a little depth to the soul never hurt anyone and besides, pain is the beginning of passion and we could sure use a little more of that in the community today.

Rick Dancer TV “Survivor” airs January 12th at 4:30 on KEVU.

For EDN readers, you can watch it right here (hit Fullscreen!)

[youlist vid=”cDXfMEXlO90″ width=”650″ modestbranding=”0″ showinfo=”1″ controls=”2″ fs=”1″ rel=”0″ start=”0″ loop=”1″]

 

You can also find it on http://www.rickdancer.tv along with all the other great episodes you may have missed.

 

A Story About Never Giving Up

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It is Sunday late morning and I am bored out of my mind with nothing on the agenda.  I thought I had better eat a well balanced meal and then find something to do, so I made a salad (I love them) and decided to find something on Netflix while enjoying my lunch.

My best friend and I 650
My best friend and I 650

I decided on Her Master’s Voice.  It was sort of a biography of internationally acclaimed ventriloquist Nina Conti.  She talked about a man by the name of Ken Campbell, her mentor that got her started in ventriloquism.  About five minutes into the show she began to talk (with her monkey puppet) about giving up and going to tell her mentor the news.  I began to cry.  How hard that must have been for her to decide to give up on what she wanted to do the most.  She discovered that he had since passed and had left her all of his puppets and books!

It seems this week is all about not giving up.  It has been a rough week for me and others I know.  Remembering who you are and what your goals are and to not give up is hard at times.  We all go through it, we just have different stories.

Within a split second I thought about what it would mean for me to give up my writing and my photography and as I write this, the words flying from my fingers, it is hard to control this lump in my throat and this tear that hovers in the outside corner of my eye.  I can’t imagine.

It rips my heart out to think of what would happen to me if I couldn’t do this any more, if I had to once again put myself on the back burner and never get to do what it is I truly love to do.  The thought of it pains me to no end.

I struggle to make a living at it, yet I cannot put it aside.  I wait for that one break, that one sale of a photograph, or a commission that will change my world.  I wait for the time when I can publish my book and not get discouraged by the daunting task of finding a publisher and trying to stay positive and not let go of my dreams.

My only solace is to keep going and to not give up… On me.

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When I realized what was happening on the show, fighting the tears forming at the edge of my eyes, a nagging urgency came over me, my first instinct was to grab my computer and write and spill my guts, get it out on paper.   That is what we do as writers, I think.  Or is it just me?  It is not that I want to or need to share my pain, it’s just that it is important to stay true to what your passion is and when you have an overwhelming desire to do something, then you must do it.

“Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”  

I have to say that is all I do, I work every single minute of every waking hour.  I write so many stories throughout the day, and take thousands of pictures in my mind.  To me, everything fits into these two elements of my life and I can’t escape it, I don’t want to.  I am lucky enough to know what I want from this life, even luckier to go after it.

I was diagnosed with Graves Disease in the fall of 2007.  I was extremely sick and had every symptom, save for Graves Opthamolopathy (GO) eye disease.  Remember the movie Young FrankensteinMarty Feldman played Igor in that movie.  I remember watching it wondering how he got his eyes to do that.  That is undiagnosed Graves Disease, GO and the results of a botched surgery.

graves

Graves Disease is an autoimmune disorder. Typically a healthy immune system wards off and protects the body from infection.  With Graves Disease the immune system attack’s the body’s own cells and organs, waging a war on the inside as well as the outside of your body.  It took many years for the doctors to diagnose me and I continued to get sicker and sicker.  I went through so many tests it was ridiculous.  I guess the reason for that is because I had so many symptoms that mimicked other illnesses and became an agonizing journey of elimination.

The final straw came in the fall of 2007, I was getting really dizzy just sitting in my chair at work, feeling as if I was going to fall out of it.  I couldn’t take it any longer and made an appointment with my doctor. On the day of my appointment I was driving for about seven minutes when I realized I didn’t know where I was going.  I didn’t know why I was in my car, I don’t even remember getting into my car.  All I knew was that I was in it and headed for the freeway.

I pulled over to regroup and get my shaking under control and try to remember why I was in my car and where I was going.  I finally made the connection by backtracking to my office and remembered telling my co-workers I would see them after my doctors appointment.  So now I had to figure out how to get there.  Even though I had been there many times,  I couldn’t remember how to do it.  Working it out, I was finally able to “map” it out in my mind and began to drive again, concentrating so very hard on each moment as I made my way to her office, focusing on the next turn I had to make, concentrating on the street lights.

Image | hwifc.com
Image | hwifc.com

You see, I had been finding myself in the middle of intersections when I should have been stopped with everyone else.  I would stop, but then go again as if I was at a stop sign.  Not a good thing to be doing.  Even to this day I panic and concentrate on the color of the light.

I was a wreck when I finally walked into my doctors office and I lost it.  I was so scared, I didn’t know what was happening to me.  She ran a blood panel and in that panel, she ran a test on my thyroid. Two days later she confirmed my thyroid levels were way off and I had to go in for further testing, more blood work, then even more blood work.  I was near tears when I had to go in for labs because it was like every other day over a lengthy period.  Finally I went in for a Thyroid Uptake Scan and was eventually diagnosed with Graves Disease.

My thyroid was over producing and messing me up from head to toe.  I was getting dizzy because my thyroid was pumping out massive amounts of hormones.

I had a choice of surgery to remove my entire thyroid, radioactive Iodine (RAI) to destroy my thyroid (it takes up to 5 years) or we could try to balance it all out with medication. I chose to have RAI.  I had been on a nasty roller coaster ride far too long, I was done playing.  It was a 3 day ordeal: they calculated how much radiation I needed, they made a pill specifically for me and then I had to be quarantined for the three days – the quarantine was tough, I love people and I couldn’t even be with my family.  I have to take medication for the rest of my life now, but that’s okay.  I am alive and a lot of my symptoms are either gone or minimal.  It is still a struggle to get my medication balanced out for some reason, but I have a wonderful Endocrinologist in Portland that I see.  Even though it has been nearly 6 years since my diagnosis, I have not yet graduated to seeing him once a year, but I’m hanging in there.

pills

I have talked about every step I take has lead me to this exact place in time and Graves Disease has helped me to be who I am today.  I enjoy my life as much as I possibly can now.  I have never taken anything or anyone for granted nor do I have plans to.  I cherish every day, even the hard ones.

Graves Disease has pushed me to follow what I want most in my life, writing and photography are right up there with breathing so to think of not doing what I love so very much is often times too much to bare.

thyroidI am a huge advocate for thyroid testing and preach about it every chance I get.  Please get your thyroid levels checked.  It’s a simple blood test that can save your life and should be done every year, without fail.  We check our smoke alarms, we check our oil, yet we don’t check our thyroid, and I am here to tell you that little butterfly shaped thing rules your world. I hope this sticks in your minds and grabs your attention.  I am passionate about it, I live it each day.

Here is a basic list of Graves Disease symptoms:

Anxiety, irritability, sensitivity to light, memory loss, muscle weakness, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, rapid or irregular heartbeat, hand tremors, increase in perspiration or warm moist skin, intolerance to heat, headaches, weight loss, enlargement of the thyroid, brittle hair, hair loss and change in menstrual cycles.

It drives me insane when I see ads and commercials telling women there are pills they can take for fatigue and weight gain; yet, what they fail to say is, “check your thyroid.”

You can see your thyroid if you do the following;  Stand in front of a mirror with a glass of water, take some water into your mouth, tilt your head back and swallow as you look at your throat in the mirror. Watch for any abnormalities.  An enlarged thyroid can mean a number of things which should be checked (please do not use this as a self diagnostic tool, always consult your doctor).

Shortly after I was diagnosed with Graves Disease, I noticed symptoms in a friend of mine and recommended she get tested.  She was also diagnosed with Graves Disease.  My very close friend Kim was diagnosed with both Graves Disease and Hashimoto Disease.

September is Thyroid Cancer awareness month.  A dear friend of my family has had her thyroid surgically removed due to cancer, my friend Roni was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has undergone surgery to remove her thyroid and has just completed radiation treatments along with RAI.  Cancer has no boundaries and no discriminations, it affects everyone.

thyroid_cancer_awareness

Please do yourself and your family a favor; insist that your doctor test your thyroid levels and do a neck check.  It saved my life and it could save yours, too.  Thyroid disease can be hereditary, and family members should be tested also.

I dedicate this to anyone who has had a thyroid related issue, be it cancer, Graves Disease, Hashimotos, Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism and to those who have yet to be diagnosed, it will be okay, and never give up. You are not alone I can promise you that.

If I can help in anyway, even to listen, please email me at [email protected]

Hugs.  Sandy

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Thyroid Cancer   Graves Disease   Hashimoto Disease

 

 

 

 

Livestrong Texas 4,000 Bike Ride Passes Through Eugene

More than 4,000 miles–that’s how far a group of young bikers will trek this summer.

This group isn’t on this massive bike ride purely for fun, though.

Forty-two people in their early 20s set out from Austin, Texas on June 2 with a goal of riding to Anchorage, Alaska by August 10.

It’s a fundraising trip for cancer research.

The group is called Livestrong Texas 4,000.

Monday the group stopped in Eugene at the Youth Corps office.

Riders travel about 70 miles a day and stop along the way to share their personal stories along with a program about cancer statistics.

The cyclists say they’ve already seen some beautiful parts of the country, but more importantly they hope their ride raises money and awareness.

“To know that as a 22-year-old, a group of 22-year-olds, we can make a difference in a way and make an impact in that way, I’m honored humbled each and every day that I can be a part of something like this,” said rider Leah Horsch.

So far they’ve raised $295,000 with a goal of $300,000.

Since the nonprofit’s founding in 2004, it’s raised a million dollars for cancer research.

They bike about 70 miles a day and rest every 10 days.

 

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