Tag Archives: Conditions and Diseases

Breakthrough – latest reseach in cure for cancer

What happens to YOUR donation?



This week, three major pieces of research have been published which change the way we think about breast cancer.


All have been funded in part by funds people like you have donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, with involvement from two of their key scientists, Professors Jorge Reis-Filho and Andrew Tutt.

British success story

It is good to report on a British success;  when Cameron and Lansley constantly bang on about how much better other countries are at treating cancer, they forget to mention that British research institutes such as Cancer Research UK are way up there at the top of the world.

Now Breakthrough’s research team has announced ground-breaking findings about Breast Cancer,  and their research revealed:

1. Nine new genes which drive the development of breast cancer – ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcrVUJvKA1E&feature=relmfureatment before her cancer progresses.

3. A previously unknown process that happens to the cells in the body and which is a driver in breast cancer development. By understanding this process we hope to be able to create targeted treatments in the future which, for example, might be able to stop the cancer from developing.

The ramifications of this work in terms of how we diagnose, treat and prevent the disease are potentially huge. You can read more about these on Breakthrough’s website


Their work shows how far they have come since Breakthrough was founded 20 years ago. But it also shows how important it is that funds are raised to enable them to carry on their work, until we all reach a point when breast cancer is a disease which is no longer life-threatening.

If you are reading this, and have contributed to Breakthrough, it’s good to know your support has been vital in helping them get this far. It is now needed more than ever, so they can build on the exciting breakthroughs like those reported this week.

Christ Askew of Breakthrough says “Thank you so much for your continued support. I really do believe that this news takes us further towards ending the fear of breast cancer”.


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Cancer Survivors' event to be held in London


 Monday, March 26th 2012

 Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, Small Hall

 3 – 7 pm

 Cancer Survivors often speak of feeling  ‘abandoned’ once they leave hospital.  This Event aims to show survivors that there are organisations, services and people out there willing and ready to offer help and advice’  improving quality and wellbeing of life for survivors after cancer.

This is a FUN event with a serious purpose – to show cancer survivors, carers, nurses, medical staff, doctors etc. just what is available in the Borough.

Local Companies have donated spot prizes and raffle prizes ~

first was Chelsea FC Foundation with a football signed by their players


Stalls on :

–       Rare Cancers         Prostate Cancer     Breast Cancer         Cancer Support centres

       Free Prescription information stall     Financial advisory stalls  –   Welfare Benefits department (DWP)

–       Citizens advice bureau            Macmillan               Cancer champions

–       Advocacy advisory groups (e.g. Age concern, Advice now, RBKC, Welfare directory)

–       Travel Insurance           Skin care products          Cook and taste demonstration session- Nutritionist

–       Reflexology         Equipment specialist          Lingerie           Health trainer and exercise advice

 –       Medical Tattoos. Wigs  – and more.    (Warning – due to other commitments if a stall can’t participate, we have others to take their pla

Organisers:  Verite Reily Collins,   Paula Murphy, Ijeoma Igwama, Gaenor Holland Williams

Information : http://www.Rbkclink.org or www.after-cancer.com

English: Kenneth Ferrie's golfbag, detail: Flo...

Daffoidils spell Spring Wikipedia

Or contact; Ijeoma Igwume at http://www.kclink@hestia.org


0208 969 4852


Or :  Verite Reily Collins 020 7351 4434  verite@greenbee.net









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Laugh 'til it Heals

Christine K. Clifford

comes up with

another winner


Never one to miss a good opportunity to laugh whilst having cancer treatment, Christine Clifford believes in a certain Dr. Siegel, who said,

“show me a patient who is able to laugh and play… and I will show you someone who is going to live longer”.

And throughout her new book she comes up with one-liners, two-liners and lots-of-liners that make you laugh out loud, from

Shouldn’t they call it a HERSterectomy?

to one that pokes gentle fun at doctors who consider themselves superior beings, via a description of The Pope:

His Holiness is at the Pearly Gates, not best pleased at having to wait in line.  He sees a man with a stethoscope walk to the head of the queue, and to his astonishment he is let in before everyone else.

He demands to know why the Guardian Angel allows doctors in before him.

The Angel answers, “that was no doctor.  That was God.  He just liked to pretend he is a doctor”.

And whenever you come across one of those pompous beings, I can promise you you will remember Christine’s story – and smile.

Or there was the woman who woke up and thought she was dead.  Why?  Because nothing hurts.  (We can all smile at that).  Or I let out a loud laugh when I read about the woman who insisted she wanted Whoopee cushions placed on the pews at her funeral.

Laughing all the way – that’s the best medicine.

Laugh ’til it Heals  by Christine K. Clifford





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What to do about 'The silent cancer killer'

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Association

Image via Wikipedia

The video that made


me write the book


Some time ago the publishers, Anshan, saw this video



They were so concerned they wrote to me, asking if I could write a book for those with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC), explaining

  • the processes that happened to all breast cancer patients
  • highlighting the differences for IBC
  • what happens during treatment.

Simple things, in plain English, that might help those with any breast cancer, particularly IBC, understand what was going on.

Normally they publish serious medical books written by eminent doctors.  But they had had great success with a book written by a patient about dealing with pain – and realised there were patients out there who didn’t want all the technical jargon, but just wanted to know about the ‘little’ things doctors brushed aside.

Although it wasn’t a ‘happy’ subject, the book almost wrote itself.  All I had to do was remember what happened to me when undergoing treatment – and in particular what puzzled me – rather than what the doctors expected would be of interest to me.

Every patient is different, but there are so many little things we breast cancer patients – and in paticular those with IBC – want to know.

I finished the book sitting up in bed waiting to have an operation.  I had got on with the writing as I didn’t think I would be able to sleep.   But at 3 am I wrote ‘The End’ and went off to sleep like a baby.  The nurses said they had never had such a relaxed patient, and the operation was a success!

More details from publishers: Enhanced by Zemantahttp://www.anshan.co.uk/ecomcart/

What did Patient Week achieve?

Enhancing patient value


Congratulations to eyeforpharma for making doctors, nurses and patients get round the discussion table and TALK!

I particularly loved this cartoon that appeared in one article,  graphically showing the assembly-line we often feel is our treatment path.


One article, posted by Davis Walp, head of Value Based Solutions at Quintiles, explains the importance of tailoring programs to patients based on cultural and psychographic factors.  It deserves a very wide audience:


There are many different definitions of



In healthcare, when patients think about value, what they are really looking for goes well beyond measured ‘health outcomes’, which are achieved as a result of their treatment.

Patients want to feel better, have more energy, and do more of the things that they like to do.

Patients generally don’t want to feel like they are defined by their illness; they look to the healthcare system to provide solutions that enable them to focus on what is important to them in their lives.

For example, to a diabetes patient, the value of their drug is in the ability to feel better, to maintain their lifestyle and to minimize the intrusiveness of their disease.

This is why oral once a day therapies are so desirable; patients can ‘take it and forget it’, which allows greater convenience and control than an injected treatment.

Patients also value knowing that control over their disease lowers the chances that it will progress or that they will develop co-morbidities.

One of the most important elements of ‘patient value’ extends beyond the medications patients take.

Everyone benefits when patients feel like empowered consumers of healthcare who are in control of their disease, more compliant with treatment, and healthier.

Patient engagement is therefore an important objective that can improve the value an individual gets from their medication.

The most engaged patients are those who

  • Are switched on and highly motivated to take ownership over their disease or engage in preventative behaviors
  • Are intrinsically motivated to seek information, take medication and, be educated about their condition
  • Believe that they have the ability to make decisions and take actions that will positively impact their health condition
  • Cognitively understand their condition and view their physician as an important partner in treating their disease
  • Understand the treatment options and pros and cons of each.
  • Engaged patients have better outcomes

It is typically highly engaged patients who seek earlier diagnosis and treatment, adhere to medication, and live healthy lifestyles—all of which work together to improve quality of life and outcomes for these patients.

For example, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) performed a study and determined that human behaviors are a bigger factor in impacting public health than the health system or our genetics in isolation.

The American Association of Retired Patients published a study that showed ‘activated’ patients experience a lower rate of hospital readmission, medical errors, and negative health consequences arising from poor communication amongst providers.

However, the jury is still out on return on investment for disease management programs.

I have seen several examples of very successful programs and many more examples of programs that did not drive meaningful effect.

I believe this is primarily the result of ‘one size fits all’ program design where patients of all walks of life and orientations experienced the same program content.

It goes without saying that you cannot talk to a 26-year-old male the same way you talk to a 73-year-old female.

I believe that we should be tailoring programs to patients based on not just demographics but also cultural and psychographic factors.


My summing up:

Talk TO patients – not AT them – and LISTEN.

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Top cancer myths

pink ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

Separating Fact from Fiction


Lisa Fayed,  writing for About.com Guide, has come up with some sensible advice.

Everyone who has cancer gets friends coming up to them, saying “you must eat this fruit – or I had an Uncle who cured himself by drinking that”.  The list is endless, but if you do bother to investigate, sadly it wasn’t the fruit or veg., but the surgery, radiotherapy and drugs that formed the foundation of the cure.

Yes, eating healthily gives you a much better chance of surviving cancer, but it won’t stop it.  Neither will some of the ‘cures’ that are peddled on Internet sites.  Beware.   One of best tests of dubious websites is to see if they ask for money – or donations.  They usually do, and you may not know where money is going.

So, borrowed from Lisa, here are some of her comments:

1. Hair dye causes brain cancer.

There has been a lot of speculation about hair dye and cancer. It has been thought that hair dye caused several different types of cancers like bladder and breast cancer, but there is no evidence of it causing brain tumors. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on May 25, hair dye does not increase the risk of developing cancer.  Go ahead if you want to dye your hair – I have article about this under HAIR.

2. Cell phones cause cancer.

Lisa says “There is no credible study available that consistently proves that using a cell phone has the ability to cause cancer”.   However, I limit use drastically for myself, whilst scientists still stop their children from using these phones.  Use with caution, seems to be sensible advice.

3. If your mom or dad had cancer, you will have it too.

While it is true that some cancers are genetic, this does not mean that one will definitely develop cancer because of their heredity. Cancers such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer are a few of the cancers that can be passed down genetically. If a parent has these cancers, the cancer gene may be passed to their child. If a child inherits the gene, it only raises the likelihood of developing cancer, not guaranteeing a cancer sentence.

4. Cancer causes hairloss.

Cancer does not cause hair loss. Hair loss is a side effect of cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Not everyone who has chemotherapy or radiation loses their hair either.  What is annoying for cancer patients is the big fear of losing hair means that all efforts go into finding a cure for hair loss, rather than research into what cancer patients can do about other hair problems:  dry ‘straw’ hair, losing natural colour, itchy scalp, etc.

5. Only women get breast cancer.

This myth is so widespread that currently a man in USA has had his insurance company refuse him – because they say he can’t have breast cancer.   Men do get breast cancer.  In UK about 300 are diagnosed with this every year;  in USA it is  about  1500 men a year.

6. There is a cure for cancer, but pharmaceutical companies are hiding it.

This is one cancer myths that drives every medical professional crazy! If this is true, then why do loved ones of drug company researchers still die of cancer at the same rate as the general population? What some people don’t realize is that many forms of cancer are curable!

7. Cancer is almost always fatal.

New breakthroughs in early detection of cancer have made it much more treatable. Every year survival rate increases. One old lady I know died last year, 47 years after she had breast cancer, and aged 101!

8. Wearing antiperspirants and deodorant can cause cancer.

According to the  National Cancer Society in USA, there is no conclusive evidence from recent studies that wearing them can cause breast cancer. This cancer myth is by far one of the most popular among women.

9. Some types of cancer can be contagious.

This is a horrible myth, and often makes friends shun someone with cancer.  No type of cancer is contagious. However, there are two known contagious viruses, HPV and Hepatitis C, that can cause cancer. HPV is a known risk factor for cervical cancer and Hep C causes liver cancer. Both viruses can be transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, although Hep C is more often transmitted through blood to blood contact such as sharing needles and transfusions (prior to 1992).

10. Positive thinking will cure cancer.

While maintaining a positive outlook during cancer treatment is essential, it will not cure cancer. Being optimistic helps with quality of life during treatment. There is no scientific evidence that a positive attitude will cure cancer.

So – enjoy life and forget about myths.

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Lymphoedema survivors can now ditch the grunge

LympheDivas rolls out



fashion sleeves

Sleeves come in matching colours for clothes


Two American breast cancer survivors took one look at ‘grunge’ coloured elastic sleeves – and said ‘No’.

Thanks to their persistence, women can now buy compression sleeves in different colours, patterns, stripes and anything else the company can think up.

There are even specially-themed sleeves to wear when Dragon Boat racing!

Each sleeve is made to measure, and they cost $90.

If you are fed up with ‘granny grunge’ sleeves, look them up on www.lymphedivas.com

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Learning about cancer treatment from America

American Society of Clinical Oncology


Summary after ASCO


(American Society of Clinical


Every year ASCO holds one of the World’s major cancer conferences.

This year, noted doctor Jeffrey Kirshner, MD was asked for

Practice Changes I Will Make After Attending ASCO 2011

(Dr. Jeffrey Kirshner is Partner and Director of Research, Hematology Oncology Associates of Central New York, East Syracuse, and Chief of Oncology, Community General Hospital, Syracuse, NY).

I know many readers want the science behind what we are told, so make no apology for quoting from Dr. Kirshner’s advice.  This refers to different cancers, not just breast ;  you may know someone who is being treated for these types of cancer – so this might be helpful.

Reassure my patients with BRCA mutations that it is safe to take estrogen-replacement therapy after risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (Abstract 1501). There appears to be no increase in the incidence of breast cancer, and premenopausal women can avoid long periods of estrogen deprivation.

Consider using capecitabine and lapatinib as initial treatment of brain metastases in selected patients with HER2/neu–positive breast cancer (Abstract 509). The objective response rate was 67%! By extrapolation, this treatment may be an option for patients who cannot receive any additional brain irradiation.

Consider using adjuvant imatinib for at least 3 (rather than 1) years in high-risk patients after resection of GIST. In a randomized trial of 400 patients, the longer duration of administration improved progression-free and overall survival (LBA 1, presented at the plenary session).

Treat patients with metastatic melanoma with ipilimumab (Yervoy). There were follow-up studies to the plenary abstract from ASCO 2010, which confirm the activity and demonstrate improved survival when this drug was added to DTIC (LBA 5). It may not be necessary to use chemotherapy at all.

Test patients with metastatic melanoma for the BRAF mutation, and, if present, refer them to centers that have vemurafenib availability or clinical trials using this highly active drug. In a randomized, multicenter trial looking at vemurafenib compared to DTIC, this subset of patients had higher response rates and a significant improvement in progression-free and overall survival. Hopefully, this drug will be approved and available within the next year (LBA4).

If this interests you, ASCO has pages more on Breast Cancer.  To access some information you will have to register, but you don’t have to be a doctor.  I said that I was interested in finding out more about breast cancer – so back zinged acceptance.

  1. For breast cancer info go to http://breast.jco.org/
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Cancer patients in twenties and thirties get a raw deal

Image created of Kylie Minogue during the Show...

Image via Wikipedia

The ‘Kylie’ effect seems to have worn off

And younger cancer patients can find doctors totally unsympathetic when dealing with the horrible side effects of cancer drugs on your skin.

These side effects  make teens and twenties skin care even more of a problem.  But don’t worry, a company called Elemis have come to the rescue.

No-one wishes cancer on anyone, but when Kylie Minogue was unlucky enough to develop breast cancer, inadvertently she did a lot to help other women in their twenties and thirties.

These are the women who belong to the “you’re too young” generation;  with cancer left untended, often for years, before a doctor would take them seriously.

When Kylie got cancer, she says she suspected something was wrong, but doctors said she was too young;  how wrong could they be.

Her case with its massive publicity formed a wake-up call to stick-in-the-mud medics, who go by the ‘age’ rule book.  Thanks to her and publicity surrounding her case, young women found it easier to convince doctors they knew their own bodies.

And were given access to tests far earlier than had been the case before.

Now, some doctors are showing signs of having forgotten what happened,, and being dismissive when younger patients come with fears – but if this happens to you just stamp your platform shoes and INSIST on tests.

But – however young or old you are, you still get the side effects, and one of the most distressing is horrid skin – particularly when you are young and want to party.

For anyone who is undergoing hospital treatment, for cancer or any other condition, doctors are often dismissive of your skin problems.  They will treat you for the condition, but haven’t a clue what to do when your skin looks years older – it goes grey and lifeless – and you feel everything’s against you.

Even if your health is good, you can still have problems when partying and having fun – so these tips might help.

Ultimate treat for young skin

Elemis have taken on board that young skins suffer – from cancer drugs or day-to-day living and trying to combine earning a living and partying.

They have come up with the Freshskin range:  specially made for teens and twenties (and even thirties), it has everything you need to keep your skin soft, and help zap scratchy, itchy out-of-condition dry skin.  And packaged the range up in a fun way.

Freshskin Party Princess collection of face masks and treats brings together small treats  so you can get the girls round before a night out to indulge in masks and facials;  including an exfoliating face wash and Softly Softly moisturiser for you,  the package comes out a tiny £10.

But for the ultimate pampering collection (start thinking up hint hints), look for the polka dot vanity case containing everything a girl can need, from face wash to pampering body treats – all for £99.

Elemis are a British company (hurrah!) who spend time and money on research and developing skincare that is right for today.  When they showed off Freshskin to a group of beauty writers, everyone was crowding round to try it out. 

But they are keen that we adopt sensible ‘beauty rules’, and here are some of their tips – with additions from me, who was never one to take the long way to skincare – if I could hurry things up!

Going out from the office

If you are going to have to dress in the back of a taxi (black cabs are the best for this), get down on the floor (sit on a newspaper), make sure you can’t make eye contact with the cabbie, and always take a fairly loose dress to change in to – skin tight dresses are no-no in this situation.

Try to time things so that you are in a jam when you start your strip-tease, otherwise you can be rolling around on the floor if your cabbie decides to sprint past a line of cars.

Just watch out for surrounding traffic – and remember lorry drivers and those on the top deck of double deckers can look down into the back of your cab:  I once entertained 70 people on a double-decker bus when I chose to change in a traffic jam.

Just make sure your undies can go from day to night – changing bras is not a good idea in this situation.


OK – yeah yeah – all sorts of things are bad for your skin, but we all do them, and survive.  As long as you don’t make a habit of it.

If you have a good routine of cleanse-tone-moisturise (Elemis make teen-and-twenty friendly products in their Freshskin range), it won’t hurt to – carefully – put make-up on top of your day stuff.

Although I never managed to put false eyelashes on in a taxi – I used to make a dash for the Ladies when I arrived to put finishing touches.

Leaving make-up on after a party

Don’t you dare do this more than once a week – I MEAN IT.

Face wipes are not good for your skin, but if you use the Freshskin ones they are less harsh.  Before you go out on the town, leave a pack by your bed, then when you arrive home at umph-o’clock, it’s easy to grab a wipe and give your face a quick wipe-over (saves the pillow).

Night time is when your skin has a chance to repair and regenerate and it can’t do that if your pores are blocked up by a nice mix of sweat, dirt and make-up. That said, don’t believe the urban myth that sleeping in make-up for a night will age your skin 7 days (or 7 years, in the exaggerated version).  It’s just scare-mongering. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, your skin will survive.

Doing zero exercise

If you’re not managing to squeeze in much exercise, facial massage can help you fake a just-back-from-my-run glow. Instead of just slapping on your moisturiser, give yourself a circulation-boosting facial by massaging the cream firmly into your skin, making circular movements over your cheeks and forehead, and upward strokes from your jawline. This will bring fresh oxygenated blood to your skin to give it the same healthy glow as exercise does.

Sadly it won’t get rid of a muffin top though… but an energetic stint on the dance floor is good exercise, especially if you have lots of arm movement.

Skimping on sleep

If a few too many late nights have made your eyes puffy, don’t bother with the teabags and cucumber slices. (I mean, seriously, who wants to lie around with bits of vegetable on their face?) Just keep your eye cream in the fridge and you’ll get the same de-puffing benefits, without the mess.

Another trick that lots of models use is to sleep on an extra pillow so that your head is slightly raised – it allows any swelling to drain so prevents under-eye bags.  And if you can afford it, silk pillows can avoid creases you get from ordinary pillows.

Getting stressed

Ever noticed that when you’ve got exams or a deadline, your skin goes completely haywire? Yep, you can thank stress for that spot on your forehead.

To minimise the impact of stress on your skin, set aside fifteen minutes a week to chill out with some tunes and a detoxifying face mask. It’s a double whammy – having a break for some pampering will help you unwind, and the mask will deep clean your pores to stop spots in their tracks. Even better if you can lie on the floor with your legs raised against the wall.   Sorted.

For regular life-style tips, follow Elemis Freshskin on Facebook.com/elemisfreshskin   and Twitter @elemisfreshskin.


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Secondary Breast cancer – conference highlights latest information

pink ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

Medicine and Me: Living with Secondary Breast Cancer

Royal Society of Medicine, in association with Maggie’s and Breast Cancer Care, has organised a conference

Tuesday 18 October, 1.00 pm – 5.30 pm
Venue: Royal Society of Medicine, Central London

This is a forum in which patients’ concerns about Secondary Breast Cancer are given top priority.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for patients and their families to

  • share their experiences
  • to hear about the latest research
  • and to question the experts.

The audience at this meeting will comprise those with Secondary Breast Cancer, their families, carers and advocates, representing about 70% of those present; and clinicians and researchers, representing not more than 30%.

The programme includes:

The experience of living with secondary breast cancer over time
Family dynamics – how they are affected?
Legal aspects for cancer patients
Can we afford new treatments?

Details and registration:    http://www.rsm.ac.uk/medandme

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