Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tips on How to Support Someone with Cancer + Learn How You Can Join Aflac to Help Raise Funds for Breast Cancer Research #ThisDuckWearsPink #ad @AflacDuck




October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month


BreastCancerRibbon
Are you doing your part to help find a cure?



October is not just about Halloween.  It is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Have you or someone dear you been diagnosed with breast cancer.  While I am not a breast cancer survivor, I am a cancer survivor of stage 2 nasopharyngeal carcinoma, which I received chemo and radiation treatment for back in 2008, and can say with a smile that I am 7 years out of treatment and in remission. Yes!!!  

Image of I AM A SURVIVOR
I wear this necklace proud seven years in remission. It is a great reminder of how precious life is and how not even a cancer diagnosis can keep me down. :-)

During my personal cancer journey, both during treatment and out, I met some amazing women who found themselves battling breast cancer.  While I wish I could say they are all still with us, unfortunately two passed away from the disease, after a courageous battle.  It seems when you think of cancer, breast cancer is one of the most common that comes to mind.  I know for me, whenever I tell someone I had cancer, they assume it was breast cancer, and not a rare head and neck cancer.  But, no matter the cancer type, we all go through a similar journey and experience  ups and downs along the way, emotionally, physically and even financially.  


Part of my recovery process including joining a handful of cancer support groups.  While I was hesitant at first to attend a meeting, it was the best thing I did, as I was able to meet some amazing women, and hear their courageous stories -- many of whom battled breast cancer 1 or more times, and had the scars to prove it.  I found myself listening to their personal stories and being educated on breast health and the importance of early detection as well as routinely checking yourself for lumps or masses in your breasts.  Even though my family doesn't have a history of breast cancer, nor my cancer, I have learned that you have be proactive when it comes to your health.  You can't take things for granted, or put things off.  It took me over a year to find a doctor to biopsy a mass I found to find my cancer.  And, I have heard so many other women share their stories of getting lost in their busy schedules to get a mammogram done or check their breasts monthly. It is not until the mass has grown and/or spread that they seek treatment.

Thanks to national health observances like Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, more and more people are becoming educated about breast health and the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, so that they can detect it early and seek treatment.  In addition Breast Cancer Awareness month is also helping family and friends by providing tips and support on how to help someone close to you through breast cancer.  I, for one, found myself scaring friends off when I told them I had cancer.  Some didn't know what to say or how to act around me, while others simply were too scared of the unknown outcome so they began to distance themselves from me.  I found myself learning as much as I could about my rare cancer not only for myself, but to educate family and friends, so it wouldn't be as scary -- even though I was terrified until I got a clean scan result a year later.

During a recent support group meeting, myself and other cancer survivors found ourselves talking about ways family and friends could help someone recently diagnosed with cancer, as there were a handful of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients who found those close to them walking around on egg shells, not knowing how to act.  Here are some ways you can help and support someone going through cancer, including breast cancer:

Tips for Supporting Someone with Cancer

1)  First and foremost, just be there for them...no matter what.  Just like you, we are scared about the whole cancer journey and just need to know we have support of those we love -- for the many ups and downs treatment and recovery brings.
2)  Don't treat us differently.  So many of us find family and friends acting weird or wanting to treat us a child or someone who can't do things for themselves.  We need to stay strong to fight our cancer, and we need you to do the same and push us to go on, even on the darkest of days
3) Laughter truly is the best medicine.  When you see our smile gone, crack a joke or say something funny that will make us laugh and smile.  Even cheesy knock knock jokes with perk our spirits up.

I was given this beautiful charm pendant from a dear friend and continue to wear -- it brought me strength and hope during my cancer treatment in 2008.

4)  Tell us your love us and that we can do this.  We can reassurance that we can fight this and win.  I found myself questioning what I was fighting for after scans showed cancer spreading.  I was terrified and didn't know if I was strong enough to fight and win.  But, with family and friends telling me "You got this" and "We are fighting alongside you," the fire to fight and win grew, especially when I needed it most.
5)  Just be there to provide a shoulder to lean and cry on, or to listen to us.  With all the decisions one has to make on treatments, we really need someone to talk to and that will listen to us.  We may not need your advice, but just knowing we have someone to talk to means the world to someone battling cancer.
6) Distraction, distraction, distraction -- When you are undergoing cancer treatment, your life is consumed by treatment, doctors' visits, hospitals, etc.  It is nice to be distracted once in awhile, and have someone take our minds off of cancer.  I loved when friend would come to visit or whisk me off for an unexpected lunch or movie date.  For those precious few hours I forgot I was battling cancer and felt normal.
7) Remind me that I don't have to do this alone and that there are many organizations and support networks out there to help me through my cancer journey and post treatment.  Like I mentioned above, I was hesitant to join a support group, but it has made a world of difference and helped me cope with the anxiety most cancer patients face after treatment ends about recurrence, etc.  With breast cancer being such a publicized cancer, there are so many great organizations and programs geared towards breast cancer patients and survivors, that should really be looked into and taken advantage of.  Friends and family can research these and share them with loved ones, as we may not know about them.
8)  Depending on your type of cancer and treatment, food may be an issue, so don't assume that we want dinner made and delivered to us each night.  I ended up with a feeding tube, and have had many breast cancer friends say their nausea post chemo or radiation made for days where food was the last thing they wanted to see or talk about.
9)  While cancer survivors will eventually need to find a new normal, during cancer treatment, please try to keep things as normal as possible.  It is nice to get help for things like groceries, dinner or help with the kids, we want to feel like we can still function normally and do things.  Once we start feeling like we are losing control of our life, we can slowly question our fight or feel weak.  Try to keep things normal, as much as possible.
10)  Hair loss -- this is a big one, especially for breast cancer patients, as they usually lose all their hair.  I ended up losing the back of my hair, where I was receiving radiation.  I was self conscious of this and could only imagine what other women were feeling who had no hair at all.  So many of my breast cancer friends, after getting over the whole hair loss thing, embraced wigs as it let them try out new hair colors and styles and head coverings.  I was never that stylish, but loved my hat collection I was given by family and friends to protect my bald back head during the hot summer months. :-)  Remember to always tell someone who has lost their hair that they look great!  :-)  We love to hear this.

I could go on and on about ways to support someone battling cancer, but I have to amazing girls -- my miracle babies (as I was told I wouldn't be able to have children) to tend to.


But, I will leave you with breast cancer statistics, things your should know about breast health and early detection, as well as some information about Aflac’s Cancer policies, which may come in handy if you find yourself being diagnosed with cancer or know someone who is. 
Did You Know?....
  • Breast cancer is the second most common kind of cancer in women, with skin cancer being the first.1
  • About 1 in 8 women born today in the U.S. will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.1
  • Approximately 231,340 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.1
  • Breast cancer patients with employer-sponsored health insurance spend $6,553 out-of-pocket.




This October, get the facts on breast cancer awareness...

  • Early detection is key
    • "Even as the second most common cancer among women in the United States, millions of women are surviving breast cancer thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment.3
    • The goal of screening exams for breast cancer is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms.
    • Breast cancers that are found because they are causing symptoms tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast.
    • The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms:4
      • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
      • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years.
      • Breast self-exam (BSE) is also an option for women starting in their 20s.
    • Even as the second most common cancer among women in the United States, millions of women are surviving breast cancer thanks in part to early detection and improvements in treatment.3
    • The goal of screening exams for breast cancer is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease, such as cancer, in people who do not have any symptoms.
    • Breast cancers that are found because they are causing symptoms tend to be larger and are more likely to have already spread beyond the breast. In contrast, breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast.
    • The American Cancer Society recommends the following for early breast cancer detection in women without breast symptoms:4
      • Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
      • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years.
      • Breast self-exam (BSE) is also an option for women starting in their 20s."


It wasn't until I found myself in the midst of cancer treatment that I learned firsthand the importance of having a cancer insurance policy.  You would think that while you were receiving treatment to help save your life that the debt collectors and insurance companies would hold off on bills.  Not at all.  By the end of the first month of treatment I found myself with over $10,00 in medical bills that weren't covered by my health insurance.  I was no longer working and had to rely on loans from family and friends and payment plans with the hospitals to manage the growing medical expenses a cancer diagnosis can bring.  

I now know about Aflac's cancer insurance policies and how they can make a world of difference to cancer patients needing to concentrate on their health and recovery and not thinking about how they will be pay all the bills coming in.  



"When caught early, the survival rate for breast cancer is as high as 99 percent5, but the diagnosis can be accompanied by an expensive treatment regimen. Aflac’s cash benefits can help policyholders pay the out-of-pocket costs associated with costly cancer treatments."

Here is more about Aflac's Cancer Insurance Policies...
  1. "A cancer insurance policy can be used not only for treatment expenses not covered by major medical insurance, but also for extra child care that may be needed, transportation to and from the doctor or treatments, and even everyday living expenses, such as mortgage payments or groceries.
  2. With Aflac’s recently introduced One Day PaySM initiative, which allows Aflac to process, approve and pay eligible claims in just a day, you can have the cash you need in hand faster than ever before.* Watch this video video to see how Aflac’s cancer insurance policy helped policyholder Celia through her breast cancer journey."
To learn more about the Aflac’s cancer insurance policies and their new One Day PaySM initiative, visit http://clvr.li/1OzpC1N today.  If only I had known about cancer insurance policies from Aflac back when I was diagnosed with cancer.  It would have made things a little easier, especially when it came to paying for treatments, everyday living expenses, etc.


--JOIN AFLAC IN SHOWING YOUR SUPPORT THIS OCTOBER--


During the month of October, Aflac is partnering with the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) for the second year in a row on the “This Duck Wears Pink” campaign.  By selling a variety of campaign-related merchandise including the plush duck, hats and a breast cancer ribbon pin, proceeds from the sales will go to the AACR for the specific purpose of funding research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer.  To learn more about the Aflac’s partnership with the American Association for Cancer Research Foundation and the This Duck Wears Pink campaign, visit http://clvr.li/1G3fCFJ.  

In addition, Aflac is also supporting the groundbreaking work of the AACR – the first and largest cancer research organization in the world with a membership of more than 35,000 professionals residing in 101 countries working on the front lines of the effort to eradicate cancer. The AACR backs every aspect of high-quality, innovative cancer research.

So, why not join the cause and show your support for breast cancer awareness, and help Aflac raise crucial funds to help find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime!  You can donate and shop for merchandise here.

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1 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 - http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003090-pdf.pdf
2 Everyday Health, “Coping With the Cost of Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 - http://www.everydayhealth.com/breast-cancer/coping-with-the-cost-of-breast-cancer.aspx
3 American Cancer Society, “How the American Cancer Society Fights Breast Cancer,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 - http://www.cancer.org/healthy/morewaysacshelpsyoustaywell/breastcancer
4 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer Prevention and Early Detection,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 - http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003165-pdf.pdf
5 American Cancer Society, “Breast Cancer survival rates, by stage,” accessed on Sept. 29, 2015 - http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancer/detailedguide/breast-cancer-survival-by-stage

*One Day PaySM available for most properly documented, individual claims submitted online through Aflac SmartClaim® by 3 PM ET. Aflac SmartClaim® not available on the following: Disability, Life, Vision, Dental, Medicare Supplement, Long Term Care/Home Health Care, Aflac Plus Rider, Specified Disease Rider and Group policies. Aflac processes most other claims in about four days. Processing time is based on business days after all required documentation needed to render a decision is received & no further validation and/or research is required. Individual Company Statistic, 2015. Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York. Worldwide Headquarters | 1932 Wynnton Road | Columbus, GA 31999




I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

1 comment:

  1. Very helpful post to read thank you for posting this one.
    heather hgtempaddy@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete