elionwyr: (write hard)
We don't yet know what exactly causes thyroid cancer. But - at least where I live, out here in western PA, I know three women who've been diagnosed and treated for this cancer. (Apparently women are two to three times more likely to contract this form of cancer. Lovely.) And so, la! Here is some info which is for you!

There is some evidence that radiation from nuclear fallout can trigger thyroid cancer. This is why people living close to nuclear power plants were, after 9/11, told to keep potassium iodine tablets around in case of an accident. (I was shocked at the time that my coworkers living near the Limerick power plant heard the news that they should go pick up these tablets and had no idea why exactly they should get them or why they might need them, but dammit, they HAD TO HAVE THEM. Really, folks, it's *ok* to ask questions about your health care.)

Of course, you don't need to be living near a nuclear power plant to be exposed to radiation. So while we all know (I hope!) to not go rolling around in the pretty glowing green stuff (uranium enemas = BAD), we should also be aware that being around the radioactive drugs used to fight cancer can also cause it.

Note that thyroid cancer is on that list. So for the love of all that's holy, ASK QUESTIONS. And if you're going through radiation/chemotherapy yourself? ASK QUESTIONS. Your irradiated state could indeed put your loved ones and your coworkers at risk. ASK QUESTIONS.

The good news is that thyroid cancer is very treatable. It usually involves surgery and losing one or both sides of the thyroid. There may be chemotherapy used. (Don't want it? Do your research. Look into other options. Partner with your doctor regarding your healthcare - it is, after all, YOUR health, YOUR life.)

Be aware that the surgical removal of your thyroid will have long lasting effects on your body. I think that sometimes it's easy to look at, "Oh, it's treatable!" as being synonymous with, "Woohoo! I'm in the clear!"

You - and your loved ones - are not.

These are the things to be on the lookout for. It's a staggering list and includes:

*Changes in weight
*excessive sweating or intolerance to heat
*feeling depressed
*unusually tired or weak
*the need to take medication for the rest of your life
* memory loss
* hypothyoidism
* calcium deficiencies
* damaged vocal nerves
* Early menopause

You can easily survive thyroid cancer. Absolutely.

Educate yourself. Know that, as a woman, you are at a substantially higher risk of this dis-ease. Know your body. Be an active partner with your doctor regarding your healthcare.

You can do this.

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elionwyr: (write hard)
It really isn't.

And yet sometimes I forget that it's made more than its fair share of appearances in my family.

My mother was born with skin cancer. She writes:

...I was due in September but crashed in early at 5 lb 6 oz - and sickly - and with some cancerous growth on my side that it took them a while to get out of me - still have the scar 62 years later...

As I understand it, the cancer was burned off of her with radiation. This is one of those factoids I keep on trying to forget.

My grandmother also had skin cancer (if my memory serves me correctly), I assume from a lifetime of gardening.

My mom's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. It manifested as a lump nearer her arm pit than her breast, which was something I hadn't realized was possible. She lost her breast and a handful of lymph nodes, and opted to not undergo "slash and burn" treatment.

"Well, then, we can't help you," she was told by her doctors.

She decided to try a holistic approach to her healthcare, and they changed their lifestyle dramatically, from the foods they ate to the place they called home. (One of the treatments she recommends is, I believe, essiac tea, grape seed extract, and flax seed. I am **NOT** a doctor and am **NOT** telling y'all that this is the magic bullet. I do think it's worth investigating.)

She's been (thank goodness) cancer free ever since.

Lesson learned: There's always more than one treatment option. You don't necessarily have to choose radiation and chemo therapy to fight off cancer. Do your research - ask questions - figure out what's gonna work best for YOU. That option may not be what western medicine tells you is best.
elionwyr: (write hard)
So why LiveStrong?

It’s an organization I’ve heard of but never really paid a lot of attention to until these past few months. I admit that shamefacedly, because [livejournal.com profile] contrary74 has done the walkathon more than once, and..well, money is often tight, and you get that email saying, “Hey, I’m doing this thing,” and you lose track of the date and the email and..before you know it, you’ve forgotten all about it.

Well. If you have the attention span of a gnat, as I do.

[livejournal.com profile] ysobelle is never without her LiveStrong bracelet. The wide bit of yellow rubber that encircles her wrist may not match what she’s wearing, may not be “period” at Ren Faire, but that doesn’t matter. It’s such a part of her that you both see it and don’t.

My point is that I have no one to blame but myself for not having LiveStrong on my radar long before right now.

Its mission is pretty simple:
We fight to improve the lives of those affected by cancer.

The organization reports on ways to stay healthy, where and how to get one-on-one support, information about treatment options, and more.

And something else that impresses the heck outta me? 81% of the money raised goes into LiveStrong programs. This is a remarkable percentage - MDA, which is one of the best charities going, puts 76% of each dollar donated towards their varied programs.

LiveStrong evolved out of The Lance Armstrong Foundation, which was created by bicyclist Lance Armstrong after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer which had spread to his abdomen, lungs, and brain.

(Lance Armstrong is an inspiration on many levels. If you don’t know his story, go ye and read.)

I hope like hell that you, Gentle Readers, and I, and our asundry loved ones never need information such as what LiveStrong provides. But. It’s a pretty amazing organization, I’m glad as heck that it exists as a resource, and I am so very proud of each and every penny we are raising together to support LiveStrong.

Thanks much, y’all, for your donations.

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elionwyr: (Default)
So why the hell am I doing Blogathon?

I’ve read along as others have done this fundraising drive in the past. I’ve cheered them on and I’ve donated to their causes. I never had an interest in doing this myself, though.

But you see, there’s this woman. [livejournal.com profile] contrary74.

I love her a lot. A lot a lot. She is my eternal example of how powerful Love can be.

A while back, her sister in law was diagnosed with breast cancer. Toni did all the right things – even to the extent of having a double mastectomy *just* in case.

And then the cancer came back last spring.

So I promised [livejournal.com profile] contrary74 I’d go do the Philadelphia LiveStrong Challenge with her for Toni. And I decided to do the event in Pittsburgh as well. And I’ve had to cancel on both because of scheduling conflicts.

I really hate not doing something I’ve said I’ll do. I may be LATE doing it, but it’s a point of pride for me to follow through on a promise. (Case in point: It took me 2 years or so to finally jump out of a perfectly good airplane because Shadesong couldn’t..but dang it, I followed through.)

So. I didn’t want to just cancel on [livejournal.com profile] contrary74. And I decided, therefore, I’d sign up for Blogathon this year.

It’s not the first fundraiser for cancer I’ve done. Which is..sorta a surprise to me, because cancer is not in fact my personal boogeyman. Alzheimer’s is. But cancer is as insidious in our lives as it is in our bodies. Generally, it starts small. Easy to miss or ignore. And then it seems like it’s everywhere.

My fundraising for LiveStrong is a pro-active way of raging against that which I do not wish to accept as a reality, I suppose.

For the next 24 hours, I will be posting a brand-new-something every half hour. 49 posts total. My goal is to give y'all interesting, original content to read on a day that is traditionally pretty slow, LJ-wise. Like what you read? I’d love it if you’d toss a bit of money into the tip jar. Have a request or a question? I’d love to hear from you.

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