by Terri Coutee, Cancer Survivor, Advocate
World Cancer Day 2017 is a global movement in the fight against cancer. How, might you ask, does that fit into my wheelhouse of educating about breast reconstruction options after mastectomy? Yes, mastectomy! And there is your answer. Every person I engage with on social media, each patient I talk to about planning a course of action to reconstruct their breasts, the research and education I seek to understand and share revolves around those who have had or will be having a mastectomy because of breast cancer or a high likelihood of getting it due to a BRCA gene mutation. My engagement through my Foundation work involves those individuals who have chosen the profession of plastic surgery, oncology, radiology, and breast surgery to serve those individuals affected by breast cancer. It is a community that spans the globe.
by Jonathan Agin, Childhood Cancer Advocate
Someone once said that hope springs eternal. In the context of cancer around the world, as 2016 came to a close and 2017 dawned, a palpable sense of hope continued to take root despite the backdrop of a cautious and uncertain landscape. Peeling back the layers of hope, there are a number of dynamic factors that have fueled this optimism. A greater understanding of the underlying genetic and molecular targets and drivers of cancer continues to expand almost daily. Global efforts to unlock new targets and treatments, precision guided therapies, precision medicine, investigation into the use of drugs widely proliferated in other diseases, cheaper access to genetic testing, and on and on, all form the foundation of hope. Hope is not created through alternative facts; rather it is nourished by steadfast effort. For those of us in the cancer advocacy community, effort is never lacking.
by Liz O’Riordan MD, Cancer Survivor
As a breast surgeon, I was always vaguely aware of World Cancer Day, but the significance of it passed me by. And then I got diagnosed with breast cancer myself, and I went from being a doctor to being a patient, having the very illness that I was an expert in. I never thought breast cancer could happen to me, and I didn’t check my breasts regularly – which goes against everything I tell my patients. But I did get cancer, and I got the full works when it came to treatment. Five months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and implant reconstruction, followed by further lymph node removal and then radiotherapy. The finishing touch was an instant chemical menopause, which was not what I had planned at the age of 40.
by Pat Taylor, CKN Editor
For me, an AYA (adolescent and young adult) cancer advocate for the past 20 years, World Cancer Day conjures up feelings of passion, patience, persistence and perseverance.
Passion for all those AYA cancer awareness organizations and individual advocates around the world who have campaigned to have the voices of the AYA cancer community recognized, heard, acknowledged and sustained – from prevention education, through diagnosis, treatment, short and long term effects, metastic/advanced stages, palliative care, end-of-life and beyond.
by SarahRose Black, MMT, MTA, RP, CKN Music & Creative Therapies Editor
Human beings live and move through the world in a musical way, from the rhythmic pulsing of our hearts and blinking of our eyes to the cyclical processes of our physiological patterns. Regardless of any training or predisposition to the arts, we are naturally musical beings. Because of our inherent musicality, our lifelong associations with music, and the cultural significance of music around the world, engaging in music can be stimulating, energizing, comforting, or relaxing. In some cases, music can change our physiology by slowing our breathing patterns or stimulating a neurological release of dopamine or a reduction in cortisol. The benefits of music are boundless, and the impact of music can extend throughout the lifespan, and at any stage of illness or wellness.
by Dennis Maione, Cancer Survivor, Advocate
I am no stranger to cancer; in fact you might say I know him pretty well. As a carrier of one of the Lynch Syndrome mutations, I have had two encounters with him, one in 1992 and the other in 2007 (yup, 2017 marks 10 years since the last time I personally encountered cancer). And with every year that passes, I have a diminished desire to know him any better. Sure, when I was in the throes of diagnosis and treatment I wanted to know everything about cancer: why I encountered him, how we were going to get rid of him. And when we found out that my son has the same genetic mutation that I do, we wanted to know how to reduce his chances of having an encounter with cancer.