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Andrea Paine

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Making Strides On World Cancer Day

Posted: 02/05/2014 11:51 am

February 4 was world cancer day. A day that means different things to different people. For some it's an opportunity to highlight what their healthcare organizations do to benefit cancer patients. For others it highlights fundraising or research successes.

But for the average cancer patient or survivor, it brings up mixed emotions. It's not really something we want to think about, but we can't really help it, with all the newspaper and television headlines there to remind us.

Things sure have changed in the six years since I had the mastectomies. Research has come a long way, and cancer organizations such as the Army of Women have really helped gather women from all over to tell their stories and relate their experiences. More women have participated in medical trials as a result.

There's also a much bigger emphasis on the importance of exercise than ever before. Exercise is important, not only for those of us that have been through cancer and have now hung our cap on the survivor peg, but as a form of prevention as well. The clinic where I was first diagnosed with cancer didn't even whisper the word exercise back in 2007, but they are now strongly encouraging their patients to participate regularly as a form of prevention. This warms my heart, as I know all too well the benefits of exercise; even while going through chemo. Although some patients may be too tired to run or do another form of exercise while undergoing chemo, and it's always best to listen to your body, I found that running during my treatment made me less tired and helped tremendously with my energy levels.

Another improvement in the cancer survivor's world is the vast amount of information about healthy eating. Changing bad eating habits is so important, and there are many cookbooks out there that can inspire it. Check out Kris Carr's blog and cookbooks for some really fine inspiration. A cancer survivor herself, she claims to keep cancer at bay partly by eating the right foods, and sharing her ideas in a fun and witty way. She put a smile on my face with her first book Crazy Sexy Cancer; a book I received it as a gift when I was first diagnosed.

And to inspire us to change the way we see a medical diagnosis, Lissa Rankin, a medical doctor herself, has some new and innovative ways of treatment. I'm sure she will go a long way to revolutionize standard medical treatment!

And last, but not least, my running hero, Kristin Armstrong, whose love of the sport and quirky way of tying it into her everyday family life is also inspiring. Her Runner's World blog, Mile Markers, highlights the highs and lows of a long distance runner in training. Recently one of her blogs highlighted the thrill of pinning on a race bib. For anyone who has done this, you know what I mean. I can't adequately explain the feeling when you take your bib; number and name, and proudly pin it on the front of your race shirt for all to see. It symbolizes the many kilometres of running, the several hours of meditation done on a peaceful solitary run outside, and the accomplishment of your person. And what is my best race day bib? The 26.2 With Donna, in Jacksonville, Florida; a run for cancer.

So on this World Cancer Day I may not want to see all those "c" words around me, but I sure am proud of the strides our collective community has taken to better our whole person. The people I mentioned in this blog are some of my heroes, and ones I tend to read regularly, however there are many more out there, including the hard working professionals on oncology wards in hospitals around the world. One could not finish commemorating this fine day without thanking her homegrown hero, and pivot nurse at St-Mary's hospital in Montreal, Dail Jacob.

There's a wealth of innovative knowledge at our fingertips and it's encouraging to see the direction we are going in. The future is sure looking bright!

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  • Mailet, Breast Cancer Survivor (New York City)

    At the age of 33, Mailet was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Despite the support she had from her family and friends, she wanted to meet someone her age who could really understand what she was going through so she built IHadCancer.com, an online peer-to-peer cancer community. She really enjoyed working with Erena to provide this opportunity to other IHadCancer members and found the whole experience to be very cathartic. Connect with Mailet: <a href="http://www.Ihadcancer.com/mailet" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/mailet</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Mailet, Breast Cancer Survivor (New York City)

    At the age of 33, Mailet was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Despite the support she had from her family and friends, she wanted to meet someone her age who could really understand what she was going through so she built IHadCancer.com, an online peer-to-peer cancer community. She really enjoyed working with Erena to provide this opportunity to other IHadCancer members and found the whole experience to be very cathartic. Connect with Mailet: <a href="http://www.Ihadcancer.com/mailet" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/mailet</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Brian, Testicular Cancer Survivor (Maine)

    Brian was diagnosed with thirteen tumors on his spine in 2008. After entering remission, he set out to help others by becoming an advocate for cancer fighters everywhere. As an avid cyclist who often bike rides over 50 miles in one day, he was immediately up to the challenge of an underwater portrait session with Erena. Connect with Brain: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/bsimi" target="_hplink">Ihadcancer.com/bsimi</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Brian, Testicular Cancer Survivor (Maine)

    Brian was diagnosed with thirteen tumors on his spine in 2008. After entering remission, he set out to help others by becoming an advocate for cancer fighters everywhere. As an avid cyclist who often bike rides over 50 miles in one day, he was immediately up to the challenge of an underwater portrait session with Erena. Connect with Brain: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/bsimi" target="_hplink">Ihadcancer.com/bsimi</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Emily, Brain Tumor Fighter (New Jersey)

    At the age of 24, Emily was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. After several surgeries to alleviate the pressure, she underwent radiation and chemo and is still dealing with many side effects. Earlier this year she lost all vision in her right eye and is losing vision on her left. She didn't let these physical limitations stop her from an underwater session with Erena - instead, she challenged herself and discovered how much she could accomplish. Connect with Emily: <a href="http://www.Ihadcancer.com/emilyinthecity" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/emilyinthecity</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Emily, Brain Tumor Fighter (New Jersey)

    At the age of 24, Emily was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. After several surgeries to alleviate the pressure, she underwent radiation and chemo and is still dealing with many side effects. Earlier this year she lost all vision in her right eye and is losing vision on her left. She didn't let these physical limitations stop her from an underwater session with Erena - instead, she challenged herself and discovered how much she could accomplish. Connect with Emily: <a href="http://www.Ihadcancer.com/emilyinthecity" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/emilyinthecity</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Lindsey, Breast Cancer Survivor (Oregon)

    After discovering a tumor during a regular breast exam, Lindsey was diagnosed at age 35 with stage 2, HER2 positive breast cancer in her left breast. Her extensive treatment included reconstruction, which left her feeling a bit uncomfortable in her new body. At the time of the session, she was still getting used to her new additions and felt a little strange but when the time came, she let the water calm her instead of overpower her with fear and self-doubt. Connect with Lindsey: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/LindseyPearl" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/LindseyPearl</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Lindsey, Breast Cancer Survivor (Oregon)

    After discovering a tumor during a regular breast exam, Lindsey was diagnosed at age 35 with stage 2, HER2 positive breast cancer in her left breast. Her extensive treatment included reconstruction, which left her feeling a bit uncomfortable in her new body. At the time of the session, she was still getting used to her new additions and felt a little strange but when the time came, she let the water calm her instead of overpower her with fear and self-doubt. Connect with Lindsey: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/LindseyPearl" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/LindseyPearl</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Lori, Cervical Cancer (Washington)

    Lori was diagnosed with Endocervical Adenocarcinoma in 2007 at age 34. She had two surgeries to remove her cervix and pelvic lymph system and afterwards found it difficult to return to a normal rhythm. Although she is an avid swimmer, she found the session to be very eye-opening and even difficult (in a good way)- reminding her of her own power to overcome obstacles such as cancer. Connect with Lori: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/loriseattle" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/loriseattle</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Lori, Cervical Cancer (Washington)

    Lori was diagnosed with Endocervical Adenocarcinoma in 2007 at age 34. She had two surgeries to remove her cervix and pelvic lymph system and afterwards found it difficult to return to a normal rhythm. Although she is an avid swimmer, she found the session to be very eye-opening and even difficult (in a good way)- reminding her of her own power to overcome obstacles such as cancer. Connect with Lori: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/loriseattle" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/loriseattle</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Bernadette, Breast Cancer Survivor (Vancouver)

    Four days before Bernadette's 34th birthday, she was diagnosed with stage 1 triple negative breast cancer. After she eventually entered remission, she was still struggling with her "new normal" and figuring out how to start living again. Her underwater session allowed her to jump out of her comfort zone and into the unknown for the first time since cancer. Connect with Bernadette: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/BernadetteL" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/BernadetteL</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Bernadette, Breast Cancer Survivor (Vancouver)

    Four days before Bernadette's 34th birthday, she was diagnosed with stage 1 triple negative breast cancer. After she eventually entered remission, she was still struggling with her "new normal" and figuring out how to start living again. Her underwater session allowed her to jump out of her comfort zone and into the unknown for the first time since cancer. Connect with Bernadette: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/BernadetteL" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/BernadetteL</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Lisa, Breast Cancer Survivor (California)

    Lisa was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in her left breast in 2011. Her treatment included neo adjuvant TAC chemo, radiation and a single mastectomy. Her cancer experience taught her how to appreciate the "here and now," and she related the process of trying to stay underwater to her new philosophy of being mindful and living in the present. Connect with Lisa: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/lfinksmith" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/lfinksmith</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

  • Lisa, Breast Cancer Survivor (California)

    Lisa was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer in her left breast in 2011. Her treatment included neo adjuvant TAC chemo, radiation and a single mastectomy. Her cancer experience taught her how to appreciate the "here and now," and she related the process of trying to stay underwater to her new philosophy of being mindful and living in the present. Connect with Lisa: <a href="http://www.ihadcancer.com/lfinksmith" target="_hplink">ihadcancer.com/lfinksmith</a> Photos © Erena Shimoda (underwaterhealer.com)

 

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