Author Archives: OncoStem
- Always be there for them: Not only is the medical side of breast cancer worrisome, but it is also mentally taxing to visit a doctor given the gravity of the situation. In such situations having support from a family member is comforting. Even otherwise, they will feel more comfortable to have family around, which provides them with mental support. However, they might not want to make everyone busy at all times. Assure them that you want to do this because you love
- Exercise Together: Taking an evening walk or assisting your loved one in their recommended exercises, or fitness regimes together will help uplift their mood. You could even meditate or do yoga together. Having an exercise partner often motivates people to do it regularly. It will also
be a good way to release tension during such stressful times.
- Plan Fun Activities but do not go overboard: Planning activities for your loved one will keep them distracted and make them feel good. It is important that you do not overdo it because that might begin having an opposite reaction on their mental health. They do not need to feel like they are being a burden in any way, even if you mean well with the activities. Keep it slow and simple. Take them to a nearby park, cook them their favourite food. Make sure their health
permits them to do the activity while also having some fun.
- Treat Them: Give them flowers, cook them their favourite meals, or play them their favourite songs – small activities like these will make your loved ones feel good. It’s also important to check the diet for breast cancer patients after surgery to help them fight the weakness due to surgery. It can uplift their mood and boost the spirits of everyone else in the house. These do not have to be things that last for hours either. Simple gestures and small treats can go a long way.
- Talk About It: Breast cancer patients are not the only one who has to face it all. It does not mean that just because you are not affected you cannot express fear. Communicate your
feelings, let them know you are there and a part of their journey. You may think that being a
family member is something obvious, but expressing it loud will make them feel loved, supported and stronger. They are suffering, in pain, and scared but your presence will ease the
process for them.
- Be responsible: You can take up the responsibilities of your loved one suffering from breast cancer. Things like booking appointments and providing them with their medication on time can provide a sense of accomplishment in their journey and will make them feel better.
- Take Care of Yourself Too: While the patient is going through a lot, they will rely on you to stay strong. If you fall apart from the stress, how will you help out your loved one? Express what you feel, talk to someone and get help on this. Get an adequate amount of sleep every night. Eat properly. Ensure that you have not forgotten to take care of yourself. You are on this journey with them and it is necessary for them, as well as for you, to stay healthy.
- Join Support Groups: Knowing stories of cancer survivors can bring hope in the life of your loved one. Sharing similar experiences can lessen the burden of the disease and will make your loved one feel better. Having a common platform and understanding that there are other people on a similar journey proves comforting. As a family member, you can check if there are support groups for loved ones, or if the patient’s group is inclusive of you.
Do you Know every 4 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer? Early detection can save your life!
How early detection of breast cancer can save your life?
The earlier the breast cancer is detected, the better the success rate of treatment will be! Early detection increases the chances of available treatment options, the survival rate of patients and a better quality of life. Many women do not experience any symptoms of breast cancer (not even a lump), which makes it vital for them to go in for regular screenings.
How to proceed?
- By age 40, you should begin undergoing screening, especially if you have a strong family history of the disease. Try speaking with your healthcare provider about various screening tests.
- Share your family history and medical history to help your doctor determine whether you are at average or high risk of breast cancer.
- It is recommended that women with an average risk for breast cancer should undergo mammogram testing once in a year after age 45.
- Also, it is important to discuss with your doctor the benefits, risks and limitations of breast cancer screenings.
- Apart from various screenings, every woman should be familiar with how their breasts look and feel. In case of any warning signs, it should be immediately reported to your primary care physician or gynecologist.
Breast Cancer Warning Signs that can be self-examined
Recognizing some of the most common warning signs of breast cancer can help in your early diagnosis and treatment. Some of the signs you can look for include:
- Skin changes of the breast, or a lump found in the breast tissue.
- Discharge from the nipple and pain in the area.
Early detection of breast cancer is the key to prevent its spread, its treatment, and recurrence. Early detection opens up the gates for effective treatment, increased survival, and improved quality of life.
Breast self-examination is crucial. Always remember to regularly self-examine yourself for any indications of breast cancer.
Don’t ignore them
Personal support from friends and family members is necessary for cancer survivors. Therefore, visitors to the home of a cancer patient could bring flowers to cheer up the mood of a patient. Casual conversations, social discussions about friends, movies, organizing visits to the theater, arranging for new social events, etc. can help drive a conversation with patients. Regular visits to a patient also help them regain their confidence and reintegrate themselves back into society.
Visitors must be good listeners
Every visitor must make a conscious effort to re-establish connections with a patient. This can take the form of listening to the words and narratives from a patient, lending helping hand in house chores, add words of comfort or encouragement to a conversation, promise to organize a trip with friends, watching television shows together, and so on. However, listening must be an active pursuit because this act directly engages with a patient and allows him or her to vent their fears, joys, and hopes for the future.
Don’t be intrusive or judgmental
Words and acts that signal care and comfort should flow freely in conversations with patients in any setting. Right words of encouragement help a patient to cope up with their journey and speed up the recovery process. Friends and visitors must avoid asking medical questions such as tumor markers, chemotherapy, cancer treatment, and other personal questions as it would disrupt the mental peace of a patient.
Don’t minimize their experience
Avoid saying words and sentences that might make them feel sorry for themselves. Try saying “I hope it will be okay or “I’m really sorry,” instead of Don’t worry, you’ll be fine. Also, do not refer to any cancer as good cancer; these statements downplay what they are going through actually.
Long chats in the right direction tend to relieve the mental pressures that prey on cancer patients. A family friend, for instance, could narrate stories that relate outstanding recoveries in cancer patients. In this context, cancer patients can also join communities of survivors that share their recovery experiences. A large group of survivors could form a social club that meets regularly; members could read books and periodicals and attend a shared dinner event. These actions boost their self-esteem and create positive energies in their minds and hearts. Interested members of society can choose to join such groups and lead members in a positive direction.
Balanced etiquette and a sensitive approach to dealing with patients and survivors of cancer can make a world of difference among recoverees. Members of the society, friends, relatives, and fellow survivors can co-operate to create wonderful instances for a complete recovery, thereby elevating the quality of life for patients. These examples can form the bedrock of social attitudes that prevail in modern society and become a shining beacon of hope and encouragement for those who have cancer.
Scheduling the work :
Survivors can talk to their employers and let them know that you are planning to resume work. Discuss your job role, your availability, flexible timings, extra breaks, time off for hospital appointments, job sharing, etc., that might help in dealing with the challenges of the job. Survivors can request their employers to assign them specific duties that do not tax their energies. This is essential because a cancer survivor requires time and effort to resume work responsibilities. In line with this, an employer may be requested to restructure a job profile, grant permission to a survivor to work from home, implement re-training and refresher courses for a returning survivor, adjust workplace policies to accommodate a survivor, and so on. Besides, the employer may consider employing rehabilitation counselors who can help cancer survivors to re-adjust psychologically to the demands of a professional working environment.
Dealing with discrimination at the workplace :
Workers and support staff may face discrimination, and that might impact the reintegration of a cancer survivor in the workplace. This may hurt the sentiments of the cancer survivors. Therefore, survivors can contact human resources professionals to ward off any perceived or real discrimination at work. They can document any incidents that point to discrimination by noting the time and place of certain interactions and sharing the same with the human resources department. Further, survivors could take the initiative to retain paper copies of their work evaluations and comments from supervisors or work managers. Such a stance enables cancer survivors to defend their actions if
any situation arises in the future.
Equality at the workplace :
Survivors are entitled to equal opportunities and balanced performance evaluations at the professional workplace. Such individuals should discover and engage with relevant laws and expert advice in a bid to safeguard their rights and entitlements. Survivors should also aim to fulfill their responsibilities at work and discharge all duties expected of their position. Additionally, they must remain aware of their rights and defend these in the face of any unfair challenges.
Coping with stress :
Stress is common in the workplace, and one must learn to cope up with it. The returning employee should take maximum efforts to re-adjust at the workplace. This can be accomplished by seeking permission to work fewer hours, taking breaks from the rhythms of work, sitting on comfortable chairs, carrying medication in designated containers, creating a small support group at the workplace, etc. Also, cancer survivors must remind themselves to take deep breaths, avoid anxiety in any form, re-schedule work patterns with permission from their mentors and supervisors, delegate tasks, etc. Such actions enable faster recovery and empower survivors to re-integrate better into the
Accepting help from co-workers :
Being An open mind and a positive attitude can empower the cancer survivor to handle their role better. In line with this, survivors should accept help and assistance from co-workers, engage in conversations, apply themselves to bring about useful solutions to work problems, engage with managers and supervisors, speak to counselors, etc. Further, they must plan before conversing with people about their medical condition; such planning should help safeguard confidential information about a survivor's state of physical and mental health. Essentially, higher levels of interaction can contribute positively to a complete reintegration; this is necessary to ensure a long-term
professional career after cancer treatment.
These ideas and suggestions must be considered when cancer survivors seek to pursue meaningful employment in the aftermath of medical treatment. Members of the immediate family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers can form an informal network to support survivors' return to the workplace. Such support can assist survivors gain strength in their minds and participate in the regular flow of events at the modern workplace. Returning to work after cancer treatment is not always easy. But, with careful planning and openness, work can be a source of pride and socialization again.
Have a return-to-work story? Share story with us!
A healthy lifestyle is an ongoing process and must be prioritized by women even after their cancer treatment. You may have already followed a healthy regime before, and during the cancer treatment, it’ll be beneficial if you continue the same. Here are the top-most lifestyle changes that may help you feel better and recover speedily
Tons of sleep: Good for recovery
Each patient who has undergone treatment for any form of cancer should aim to acquire healthy sleep cycles. This allows the human body to rejuvenate, gain its energies, improve the human mood, control weight, re-develop memory, increase attention cycles, and so on. In line with this, each patient should stick to regular bedtimes at night and rule out any distractions. Therefore, all forms of digital devices should be excluded from the bedroom. Besides, a dark, cool bedroom assists in recovery; this should be a priority for patients recovering from cancer treatment regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid the consumption of stimulants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
Good, healthy diet is essential
A healthy diet is necessary to assist recovery in the phase of life that follows cancer treatment. Patients and their family members must try to include different types of green vegetables in the regular diet of a recovering patient. Foods high in fiber content such as beans, whole grains, nuts, lentils, seeds, etc. can boost dietary fiber and must be included. Also, patients must consume healthy portions of probiotic and prebiotic foods to rejuvenate the digestion canal. Medical professionals encourage the consumption of raw garlic, raw or cooked onions, artichokes, legumes, and beans during the recovery phase of a patient.
Regular exercise can speed up recovery
Regular exercise can help the human body recover faster from cancer treatment procedures. Therefore, a patient should consult healthcare professionals and other specialists to develop a fitness routine. Short, moderately intense bursts of physical exercise can pump the heart muscles, thereby improving blood circulation in the human body. In addition, walking and standing should be included in the fitness routine. A patient could network with other recovering patients to form a small community that exercises together regularly. Such a stance helps inculcate the team spirit and encourages each member to participate in physical exercise regimens. Further, recovering patients should avoid sitting still for a longer time.
Quit smoking, quit second-hand smoke
Cancer survivors should make a conscious and ongoing effort to quit smoking and chewing tobacco. Healthcare specialists urge survivors to join an anti-smoking campaign as part of efforts to improve physical and mental health following medical treatment. They should also undertake efforts to avoid smoke-laden bars and restaurants in a bid to avoid second-hand smoke. Further, a non-smoking workplace should ideally help in the recovery process, therefore enabling patients to gain complete recovery from any form of cancer.
Stay connected with friends and family
Social support remains an important element that speeds up recovery in patients that have undergone treatment for cancer. In line with this, survivors should make an effort to communicate with friends and other members of the cancer survivor community. Telephone calls, video calls, social media networks may also assist in such recovery. Such actions enable cancer survivors to regain their mental and psychological strength.
Lower stress – best for recovery
Taking regular walks, listening to music, watching a movie, going out for meals with friends, using various relaxation techniques, etc. can help control the incidence of stress in the minds of recovering patients. Such activities regulate the release of stress hormones and pave the way for a patient to achieve a normal lifestyle. The avoidance of stressful situations also acts as a tonic for the health of a survivor. These acts also boost self-esteem and allow recovering patients to gain sound mental and physical health.
These suggestions can help cancer survivors regain a normal lifestyle and prevent a relapse of health complications. Members of the society and immediate family should support and encourage cancer survivors to gain a healthy lifestyle at the earliest.
A proper recovery can extend the lifespan of patients recovering from various forms of cancer. Health professionals state that cancer patients might find spiritual healing and emotional pleasure from books and journals. This expands the idea that a healthy mind can speed up the recovery process for a cancer patient. In this context, a different genre of books such as mythology, self-help, contemporary, travel, romance, mystery, horror, memoir, art, historical fiction, poetry, science-fiction, classics, business, etc. can help in the recovery process. Similarly, certain forms of light and moderate exercise can aid the recovery process. Yoga remains one of the best kinds of physical activity that allows recovering patients to find solace and come to terms with the medical condition, thus speeding up the recovery process.
USING BOOKS AS A THERAPY
Reading books in this context is also termed as bibliotherapy; such actions can help patients raise their levels of self-awareness, elevate the levels of empathy for others undergoing cancer treatment, reduce the occurrence of negative thoughts, raise levels of hope, and attain certain positive feelings and thoughts. The act of reading books also allows patients to rise above their current condition, which allows for faster recovery from trauma and chronic feelings of illness. Therefore, family members of cancer patients and professional caregivers must encourage the book reading habit in the daily lives of patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Many types of reading, such as spiritual reading, classic novels, and science fiction, can introduce new thoughts and energies in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. A patient can explore the world of modern literature while setting the mind free from the many worries imposed by cancer treatment. As a family member, you can extend support to this strategy by presenting new sets of books to a recovering patient; this act can strengthen family bonds and improve the mood of patients undergoing recovery. This will help the patients to return to a normal lifestyle.
YOGA – EXCELLENT AS COMPLEMENTARY THERAPY
Yoga, as a physical exercise regimen, helps in improving the physical and mental well-being of cancer patients. Research studies indicate the emphatic benefits of yoga in terms of improved mood states, symptom reduction, stress reduction, and improved quality of life. Further, several meta-analysis and reviews reveal unequivocal benefits for yoga with respect to expectations, benefits, and state of mind in recovering cancer patients. Therefore, patients must be encouraged to join yoga communities and undertake these exercises to reinstate themselves in the mainstream of society.
Yoga teachers can help cancer patients relax and cope with stress, anxiety, and depression through natural treatment methods. Healthcare professionals state that yoga can help to uplift the mood. Some people with cancer say that yoga helps calm their minds so that they can cope better with cancer and its modern forms of treatment. Others say it helps to deal with pain, tiredness, sleep problems, and mental depression.
The cancer journey can be tiring and tedious; minor changes in lifestyle along with inculcating some good habits like reading books and practicing yoga may benefit cancer patients.
With the increase in the number of breast cancer cases in India, the fear of cancer is on the rise. One cannot prevent breast cancer but can increase the survival rates by being informed and choosing the right treatment at the right time. Patients diagnosed with breast cancer need planned and systemic therapy, which is personalized based on their cancer condition.
Here are some alarming facts about breast cancer in India that will help patients understand breast cancer and the reason to opt for a personalized treatment :
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in India.
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer in most cities and the second most common in rural India.
• Breast cancer accounts for 25% to 32% of female cancers in all cities across India.
• In India, one woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 4 minutes.
• One woman dies of breast cancer, every 13 minutes in India.
• An estimated 70,218 women died of breast cancer in India, in the year 2012, the highest in the world for that year.
• Only 60% of women who are treated for breast cancer, survive for at least five years post-treatment in India as compared to 89% in the US.
• The high mortality rate is due to the lack of awareness and delay in screening and diagnosis.
• More than 50% of breast cancer patients in India are suffering from stage 3 and 4, where the chances of survival are extremely low.
• India sees a spurt in the cases of breast cancer in the age group of 30 to 50, and the same is likely to increase.
• Breastfeeding often interrupts periods, which leads to fewer menstrual cycles and less estrogen exposure, leading to about a 4.3 percent reduction in the overall risk of breast cancer for every 12 months of breastfeeding.
• According to the National Institute of Health, breast cancer survivors are at an increased risk of osteoporosis. Estrogen has a protective effect on bones, and reduced estrogen levels can trigger bone loss.
Breast cancer cannot be prevented but it can surely be treated within time. Here are some things that all of us can do :
• Be aware and spread about breast cancer diagnosis, symptoms, breast cancer recurrence tests, and the right treatment.
• Learn about self-tests and regularly examine your breasts on your own.
• Visit an oncologist if you feel any abnormalities in your breasts.
• Early detection is a blessing. It means breast cancer can be treated, and you have the chance to live a healthy life post-recovery.
• Stage 1 and 2 breast cancer patients are eligible to take breast cancer recurrence prediction test namely CanAssist Breast to find out their recurrence risk score.
• Depending on the score, the doctor and patient can personalize their treatment.
Talk to more people and spread the word about breast cancer, treatments and medical tests like CanAssist Breast that can help in personalizing breast cancer treatment by letting the patient know their breast cancer recurrence risk score.
To know more about CanAssist Breast, please click here or drop us an email at email@example.com
What will happen to her body when she is undergoing chemotherapy? What kind of pain will she have to go through? Is she mentally prepared for chemotherapy? Will chemotherapy affect her emotionally? The mind is occupied with ample thoughts and emotions when loved ones undergo chemotherapy, and, fear is the most distressing one.
1. Fear of losing hair:
Loss of hair is among the most common side effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body including the healthy ones, especially the ones that grow rapidly. Here are a few more things you must know about hair loss and chemotherapy:
• Not everyone faces an equal amount of hair loss.
• The amount of hair loss, thinning, or falling of hair depends on the chemotherapy dosage and medication.
• Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be sudden or can be a slow process.
• Patients may either lose all the hair or just a part of it.
• It is possible to lose hair from all parts of the body; not just on the head.
2. Fear of chronic side effects:
A lot of people fear that chemotherapy leaves patients with chronic side effects, which might stay with them forever. This is not true for all patients and all kinds of cancers. Different patients experience varying lengths of side effects – some for weeks and months and some for years. The patient’s cancer care specialist might be able to share information about the long-term and short-term side effects and the tenure of side effects. Some side effects can also be treated with medication or therapy.
3. Fear of chemotherapy being physically painful:
Agreed, chemotherapy is painful. However, patients should know that certain pains caused by chemotherapy could be treated by the medication or by alternative therapies. As per cancer care experts, patients should remember that most often the anxiety of what is going to happen can psychologically heighten the perception of pain. The physical pain caused by chemotherapy doesn’t necessarily have to be as painful as considered to be.
4. Side effects of chemotherapy:
Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy are nausea, hair loss, constipation, anemia, weight loss, fertility problems, kidney problems, and so on. Having said this, patients need to know that:
• Every patient has different levels of side effects. Some patients might experience higher side effects than other patients.
• Certain side effects can be prevented with the help of extra care and medication.
• Some side effects have long term impact whereas some lasts for a shorter tenure.
Medical research and innovation have made it possible for some women to avoid chemotherapy. In India, 95% of cancer patients choose to undergo chemotherapy, whereas a large percentage of them can avoid it. Studies show that chemotherapy can be avoided in 70% early stage HER2 positive breast cancer patients.
Prognostic tests like CanAssist Breast helps the patients to know their breast cancer recurrence risk score and possibly avoid chemotherapy. It makes personalized treatment possible while keeping the costs down in low-risk cases.
Chemotherapy is a tough fight, but constantly telling yourself that you CAN make through it, is the best way to deal with the fear of chemotherapy. Remember, “This Too Shall Pass”!
Cancer specialists often face families and friends who are always worried about their loved ones suffering from cancer. Most of the worries revolve around finalizing the best hospital, opting right treatment, the duration of the treatment, and the cost involved to treat the disease. Though new medications and tests have gained impetus in the medical industry, patients and families are skeptic about the new treatments.
Cancer specialists who recommended breast cancer recurrence test such as CanAssist Breast to patients have faced several such inhibitions from them. Here are a few more challenges that cancer specialists face while educating the patients about
breast cancer recurrence tests:
Most of the cancer recurrence tests are expensive and comes as a huge burden to the patients. It adds to the existing diagnosis, medication, surgery, and other treatment-related bills.
However, patients should look at it as an expense that could save them from heavier medical expenses, especially from chemotherapy and radiation. Patients whose breast cancer recurrence score is low can skip chemotherapy, thereby can save lakhs of rupees. Also, the cancer care specialists will have better knowledge about the tumor and can accordingly personalize the treatment, thereby; avoiding overtreatment and undertreatment.
Trust-worthiness of machine-based tests :
In India, companies are using AI and machine learning-based tests for better cancer diagnosis and treatment by making it accurate, accessible, and affordable. Among the most significant advantages of using AI and machine learning is that these technologies can read a large amount of data with accuracy and within less time.
CanAssist Breast digitizes historical medical records of patients, feeds into an AI-algorithm which then analyzes the reports to create actionable insights for doctors. The test reads and analyzes tissue abnormality and identifies tumors that can develop into cancer – a benefit of technology that human expertise cannot possibly match.
Future predictability :
Some breast cancers are driven by natural hormones, estrogen, and progesterone. Clinicians refer to these cancers as hormone receptor-positive if they are estrogen receptor-positive (ER positive) and/or progesterone receptor-positive (PR positive). Hormone therapy for breast cancer is only used to treat cancers that are ER or PR positive.
Despite conventional hormone therapy, approximately 20–30% of patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer will suffer recurrences and the development of metastatic disease.
Considerable progress has been made in this area, and newer therapeutic targets have been developed against several hormonal resistance mechanisms. Experts at OncoStem perform the test by analyzing the expression of five protein biomarkers using OncoStem’s proprietary machine-learning algorithm. The test reprt is dispatched within ten business days. The doctor and patient can further discuss the test reports and personalize the treatment.
Want to know more about our breast cancer recurrence test? Get in touch with us!
I am Meenakshi. I live in the buzzing city of Pune (India). I am 39 years right now and completely healthy. Let me take you back in time, the year 2016; My 36th birthday celebration was still on, both at home and hospital. I work as a part-time therapist in a non-profit hospital. All my patients gathered to celebrate my birthday, and this really touched me. At home, my husband and my 3-year-old boy had baked a not-so-good-looking, but love-filled cake. I was thrilled, and it was the best way I could turn 36.
The next morning, while in the shower, I felt a lump in my breast. I assumed I was imagining it and was worrying for no reason. I ignored it for a few days and continued with my daily commitments.
After a long day at work, I was getting ready to go to bed when I felt the lump again. Now, it was almost a week, and I could feel the lump every day. I decided to ask Dr. Sushma, the GP in the OPD at my hospital. Dr. Sushma hesitated a bit after checking me. This got me extremely anxious and worried. She said, “I am not too sure, I think you should get a scan done’’, I looked at her with a curious eye and asked, “You mean, it might be cancer?” She quickly gathered herself and shrugged, “I am not sure, I think it’s better to get a test done before concluding anything.”
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. And, the only thing my oncologist told me, “Don’t be worried. You should be happy you got it checked so early. Early detection is really a plus. The cancer is at a stage when it can be treated, and you can be back to your regular normal life.”
I think this is what stuck to me the most. It’s a normal ailment that can be cured and I am going to work towards making that happen. This attitude of mine along with family support made me strong and we were ready to overcome everything that came our way.
A few weeks later, came the turning point of my life. The tumor was surgically removed. Dr. Priya, my oncologist suggested to take up CanAssist Breast test to find out the breast cancer recurrence risk before going ahead with the treatment.
CanAssist Breast provided additional information about my tumor. The test results helped us to identify the likelihood of cancer returning to a distant site after surgery. Luckily, I was under the low-risk recurrence zone and I was spared from chemotherapy and its side-effects. This timely action of mine not only saved the cost of treatment but also helped me in leading a quality life.
Today, being a breast cancer survivor, I thank OncoStem and Dr. Manjiri for helping me take the most important and timely decision of my life. The decision to take CanAssistBreast test helped me in personalizing my treatment and leading a normal life.