The beach has always held a special place in my heart. When I walk on the sand and listen to the waves hit the shore, there's a veil of peace that covers me. It brings me joy and happiness...like I'm walking on clouds. I'm sure it's probably like that for a fair number of people. Others may find their joy and peace at the top of a mountain, by a lake, or in a forest. When you find that special place, you know it. You've found your inner child....your inspiration....your true emotions.
I've been at the beach for two weeks now. I'm visiting my parents, whom I haven't seen since Canadian Thanksgiving, last October. They didn't come back to Canada for Christmas, so it's been a long time. Since my cancer diagnosis, times like this have taken a much greater importance. The "taken for granted" factor of my earlier, pre-cancer years has been replaced with a deep appreciation of where I have come from, and the people who are important in my life.
My parents will not be around forever, but none of us will. There are people that leave this world early, and all too suddenly. Others fight an illness over a number of years. Some leave this world peacefully in their sleep.
And so here I am at the beach, being at one with my inner child and at peace. I am also creating memories with my family members that are so dear to me. The longer I get into cancer survivourship, the more I look for occasions like this. That new dress, or that newest gadget will always be there for one to buy.
The experience of a holiday, a cruise, an out of town visit, or just plain making time to see the ones that are the most important to you will not. These are the occasions that you'll remember when you're old; the memories that will cause your heart to flutter as you replay that time in your mind, or share a laugh with your friends while telling them your story about it.
This is the true meaning of happiness, but one many people tend to ignore. As our life passes before us, and as our busy schedules dictate where our time and energy is spent, we overlook the child before us that only wants you to read them a book, or an elderly friend or neighbour who would be thrilled with a visit and a few minutes of your time.
Life waits for no one. People come and people go. It's up to you to choose whether you create memories with them or not. The satisfaction of creating these special times far outweighs the temporary thrill of a shopping spree, or the laughs one shares with a sunny day friend.
And even the beach will see the rain from time to time. Those that remain there, similar to the rainy day friends, see it for what it's truly worth. For even in the rain, there is peace and warmth. I was walking on the beach with my eldest daughter, Stephanie, a few days ago. She remarked that even when the harsh waves slap up on the shore, there is balance. They eventually retreat, and the land knows they will be back with a vengence, or maybe a little calmer next time. They are in harmony and peacefully co-exist.
I will remember that conversation as we walked along the beach that day, as I will remember the conversations during the many walks I took with my parents. You see, the problems of the world can be resolved while walking along the water. The most ingenious ideas are born there as well. Look around at the beach some day. There are not many sad people there.
And while I must leave soon, I will do so with a tear in my eye and a smile on my face....and a whole lot of memories that will fill my scrapbook of life, to be taken out when I need some warmth, or to plain just keep that smile on my face.
That scrapbook is getting much fuller now....with the rich memories that count.
Triple negative breast cancer is a difficult form of cancer to treat, but for the first time ever, an international team of scientists have decoded its genetic makeup. Knowing more about these genes could change the way the disease is diagnosed and change treatments for the next generation, creating more personalized care.
Dr. Michael Taylor, based in Toronto, was part of the international MAGIC (Medulloblastoma Advanced Genomics International Consortium) team of experts that identified abnormalities that lead to the development of the malignant brain tumour medulloblastama. This discovery has identified more effective treatments and may spare children the side effects of unnecessary radiation.
Though there are typically poor survival rates for those living with pancreatic cancer, new findings may improve these rates of survival. An NCIC Clinical Trials Group study found that patients with a rare form of pancreatic cancer – periampullary adenocarcinoma – live longer if they are treated with surgery as well as chemotherapy.
A trial led by the NCIC Clinical Trials Group found that patients with limited-stage Hodgkin lymphoma live longer when treated with standard chemotherapy, compared with those who are also receiving radiation. This will allow patients to avoid long-term side effects of radiation.
A study led by Dr. Camilla Zimmermann in Toronto found that Canadian oncologists refer terminally ill cancer patients to palliative care too late — sometimes not until the final few days. The availability and comprehensiveness of palliative care services were identified as key barriers. It was found that referring patients earlier allows care teams to relieve symptoms and distress, provide appropriate social services, and give advanced care advice to improve the quality of life for cancer patients.
Muscle wasting, also referred to as Cachexia, is the loss of weight or muscle often induced by cancer. Approximately 30 per cent of people with cancer die due to muscle wasting. Dr. Imed Gallouzi and his research team in Montreal found that a natural product from sea sponges prevents muscle wasting in mice. This study is the first to show a potential treatment option for those affected by muscle wasting.
Dr. Mick Bhatia, an international leader in cancer stem cell research, discovered that the drug thioridazine can successfully kill cancer stem cells responsible for initiating leukemias without causing any harm to normal stem cells. This is an important discovery, as cancer stem cells can sustain the growth of cancer and are also a common factor in cancer recurrence.
Dr.Torsten Nielsen and his Vancouver-based research team have unravelled how the genetic mutation which leads to the growth of a rare and often fatal form of cancer (synovial sarcoma) interacts with proteins to cause cancer. The researchers found that there are certain drugs used to suppress these proteins that can kill tumour cells.
Dr. John White and his research group in Montreal studied a protein called the cMYC protein, which is elevated in at least 50 per cent of cancers. Researchers found that vitamin D can block cMYC. This evidence will spark future studies to understand the role Vitamin D plays in stopping cancer development and growth.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that can become severe if not treated quickly. Dr. Aaron Schimmer and colleagues in Toronto tested several drugs to determine whether any of them could target AML cells. The researchers found that mefloquine, a medication generally used to treat malaria, specifically causes AML cancer cells to burst.
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