Below are a few sites with wonderful social networking communities for anyone touched by cancer.  If you know of additional sites to add, please leave them as a comment.  Let’s help one another by sharing resources and building a strong community of cancer survivors and the ones that love us.


            

            

        

           
             

Part of my mission is to provide useful information to others about the cancer survivor experience.  It hit me today that I have not posted anything about the cancer basics.  Knowledge is power, so let’s take a moment to learn about cancer.  What is cancer?  I am not in the medical field.  So I turned to the experts at the American Cancer Society to answer this question.  Below are the details from the American Cancer Society’s What is Cancer page:

What is cancer?

Cancer is the general name for a group of more than 100 diseases in which cells in a part of the body begin to grow out of control. Although there are many kinds of cancer, they all start because abnormal cells grow out of control. Untreated cancers can cause serious illness and even death.

Normal cells in the body

The body is made up of hundreds of millions of living cells. Normal body cells grow, divide, and die in an orderly fashion. During the early years of a person’s life, normal cells divide faster to allow the person to grow. After the person becomes an adult, most cells divide only to replace worn-out or dying cells or to repair injuries.

How cancer starts

Cancer starts when cells in a part of the body start to grow out of control. There are many kinds of cancer, but they all start because of out-of-control growth of abnormal cells.

Cancer cell growth is different from normal cell growth. Instead of dying, cancer cells continue to grow and form new, abnormal cells. Cancer cells can also invade (grow into) other tissues, something that normal cells cannot do. Growing out of control and invading other tissues are what makes a cell a cancer cell.

Cells become cancer cells because of damage to DNA. DNA is in every cell and directs all its actions. In a normal cell, when DNA gets damaged the cell either repairs the damage or the cell dies. In cancer cells, the damaged DNA is not repaired, but the cell doesn’t die like it should. Instead, this cell goes on making new cells that the body does not need. These new cells will all have the same damaged DNA as the first cell does.

People can inherit damaged DNA, but most DNA damage is caused by mistakes that happen while the normal cell is reproducing or by something in our environment. Sometimes the cause of the DNA damage is something obvious, like cigarette smoking. But often no clear cause is found.

In most cases the cancer cells form a tumor. Some cancers, like leukemia, rarely form tumors. Instead, these cancer cells involve the blood and blood-forming organs and circulate through other tissues where they grow.

How cancer spreads

Cancer cells often travel to other parts of the body, where they begin to grow and form new tumors that replace normal tissue. This process is called metastasis. It happens when the cancer cells get into the bloodstream or lymph vessels of our body.

How cancers differ

No matter where a cancer may spread, it is always named for the place where it started. For example, breast cancer that has spread to the liver is still called breast cancer, not liver cancer. Likewise, prostate cancer that has spread to the bone is metastatic prostate cancer, not bone cancer.

Different types of cancer can behave very differently. For example, lung cancer and breast cancer are very different diseases. They grow at different rates and respond to different treatments. That is why people with cancer need treatment that is aimed at their particular kind of cancer.

Tumors that are not cancer

Not all tumors are cancerous. Tumors that aren’t cancer are called benign. Benign tumors can cause problems – they can grow very large and press on healthy organs and tissues. But they cannot grow into (invade) other tissues. Because they can’t invade, they also can’t spread to other parts of the body (metastasize). These tumors are almost never life threatening.

How common is cancer?

Half of all men and one-third of all women in the US will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

Today, millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer. The risk of developing most types of cancer can be reduced by changes in a person’s lifestyle, for example, by quitting smoking, limiting time in the sun, being physically active, and eating a better diet. The sooner a cancer is found and treated, the better the chances are for living for many years.

How ironic.  A little over a year ago, I didn’t know if my speaking voice would ever be the same after my thyroidectomy.  Now I got asked to be one of the honorary speakers at the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at JHU!  I’m blown away by it.  It is crazy in a very good way.  I keep going back and forth in my mind, thinking about when I was first diagnosed with cancer and how I was consumed with fear. I couldn’t really talk about it because there were not words to describe how I felt. But today, I’m a cancer SURVIVOR! I’m going to use my cancer-free vocal chords to let everyone know during my speech to never lose hope.  Fight the fight. Never give up because we never know what the future will bring.  

During my cancer treatment, I was in isolation and not allowed to have anyone within three feet of me during my radioactive iodine therapy.  I felt so alone.  There were days where I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed.  I didn’t know how I was going to face the world.  I was emotionally and physically tired.  I had to fake it until I made it.  I put one foot in front of the other and got better.  As I’m writing this, I’m overwhelming with gratitude thinking about standing in front of over a thousand people, as a cancer SURVIVOR, giving a speech about my journey.  It is an amazing feeling.  One I wish for everyone touched by cancer in some way.

 

 

The following is from part of an online article called “Friends in Need – Online social media promote connection, education, and support” by Karen Patterson

“A survey last fall by Manhattan Research found about 35 percent of U.S. adults use online support sites and other health-related social media. In just two years, the American Cancer Society has developed followings of more than 16,000 people on Twitter, and nearly 170,000 on Facebook.

“Everybody agrees that social media and the Internet are becoming very important in terms of public health issues,” says John Mack, executive editor and publisher of Pharma Marketing News and Pharma Marketing Blog. “It’s where people now go to first when they’re trying to find out about medical conditions, even before they talk to their doctor.”

One key attraction is that any person, anywhere—whether they are a patient, survivor, caregiver, family member, or friend—can find someone else in similar circumstances.

“The Internet in general and, more recently, social media are really what led to the whole young adult movement,” says Heidi Adams, founder of Planet Cancer, a social and informational site for young adults with cancer, and director of grassroots engagement for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. “Prior to 2000 there really wasn’t any way for this fragmented patient population to find each other and connect. Planet Cancer was created as an online home to connect patients.”

Thyroid Cancer SURVIVOR’s thoughts:  If you are reading this post, chances are that you are also part of one of the hundreds of social media sites.  I admit it.  I have spread my cancer survivor spirit out into a few of them.  And in turn, I have “friended” and “followed” some very inspiring cancer survivors.  There are several “virtual” cancer survivor support groups on Facebook and today I started my own called the “Cancer SURVIVORS” group on Facebook. So consider this your personal invitation  to join the group!  

If tweeting is your thing, I also have an account on Twitter.  I have been active on this one for a few months now.  I was surprised at how many people talk about thyroid cancer on their.  I have met some very cool cancer survivors, including my friend Chris who is the captain of our Wings of Hope team in the upcoming American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life! So feel free to follow me on Twitter and we can connect in 140 characters or less.

Wings of Hope Week 15 Update  3/8/10 – 3/15/10

Our progress as of March 15, 2010.
 
With only 32 days left until the relay, the heat is on! Team Baseball & Friends has come out of nowhere and is close to unseating us in first place. We are $1,039 away from our goal of $5,000 and I’m confident that we can exceed this marker if we just keep our momentum going!

As of March 15, 2010
 
We are pleased to welcome a new team member to Wings of Hope: Bob Bruce. He is relaying with us because his mother was an oncology nurse who passed away from cancer in 2004.

We would like to thank the following people for their generous donations to our cause: Irv Hamet, Diane Hamet, Ian Baumel, Ivan Hurwitz and Jody Clelland Richards.

 
Our team members as of March 10, 2010.
With the relay right around the corner, every day counts for our team in preparation for the event and in our fundraising efforts.

I am very pleased to announce that Darren Johnson has volunteered to head up our bake sale the day of the relay and he will be coordinating the donated baked goods. Please note: we are requiring each team member to donate a minimum of one item for the bake sale. So please contact Darren at daj1973@gmail.com.

Next, I would like to thank Jennifer Rudd Monath for volunteering to be in charge of campsite decorations. Her email address is jennimonath@gmail.com.

We still need one person to be in charge of coordinating food and beverages and another person to be in charge of coordinating campsite equipments (tents, sleeping bags, etc). Please contact me a chrisp730@yahoo.com if you want to learn more or volunteer for these opportunities.

And don’t forget to participate in our online discussion board on facebook. We’re currently asking every team member to give us in one sentence why you relay (and “Chris guilted me into it” is not a legitimate answer).

As always, thanks to our supporters and our team members for their tireless fundraising efforts.

Until next week,

Wings of Hope

 
Team Captains Chris & Jenn

 

                                            as of 2.28.10
With only 47 days left until the relay, Wings of Hope has raised over $3,000.00! Thank you to those of you who have contributed to our success and have ultimately put us one step closer to a world without cancer!

This week is crunch time for our team and we need all the support we can get.

Thursday, March 4 from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

What’s going on…
Wings of Hope is holding a bake sale at Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center, 601 N Caroline Street, Baltimore, MD. Angel is furiously baking away in preparation for Thursday.

What we need…
1. We need volunteers to help us run the event any time from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
2. We need more baked good donations.

Please contact Angel at angelmcmellin@live.com or myself at chrisp730@yahoo.com if you can help.

Also, please update your attendance status by Tuesday at: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=305306920993&index=1

Thank you to…
– Kim Thompson who is donating her famously yummy red velvet cupcakes.
– Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center for allowing us to host our bake sale in their facility.

Friday, March 5 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

What’s going on…
RFL JHU Committee is hosting a Birthday Bash to raise money for the American Cancer Society at the Homewood Campus Beach. Wings of Hope will be distributing thyroid cancer awareness materials at the event.

 
                                         as of 2.28.10
What we need…
Volunteers to help us distribute pamphlets. Please update your attendance here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=298322843386&index=1

Thank you to…
ThyCa for donating our awareness literature.

Saturday, March 6 at 11:30 a.m.

What’s going on…
Wings of Hope is having our first (and only) team meeting prior to the April 16th relay at M&S Grill on Pratt Street in Baltimore, MD.

What we will be discussing…
– Introductions
– Our bake sale
– Fundraising efforts
– Logistics for April 16

What we need…
A final headcount by Thursday, March 4th. Please update your response on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=457912620132&index=1

Important Information For Team Members…
In order to get an official Relay for Life participant shirt, you MUST raise $100 by March 10, 2010!

Again, if you haven’t all ready, I encourage our team members to log in to their participant centers on the ACS website and start updating their personal pages for donations. There is also an application on facebook that will help you with meeting your $100 personal goals. Both of these tools will provide donators with official receipts from the American Cancer Society.

Online Fundraisers Update…

As of 2.28.10
 
Our first fundraiser for the $25 Macy’s Gift Card ends today. Unfortunately, no one on our team raised $500 in the month of February to win the contest.

Our second fundraiser is going strong thanks to our wonderful ladies at Dear Thyroid. We are encouraging the Dear Thyroid community to form fundraising teams to help us in our goal for the American Cancer Society. The first team to raise $3,000 wins TEN free “Invisible No More” bracelets; the first team to raise $1,500.00 wins FIVE free bracelets; the first team to raise $750.00 wins THREE free bracelets; and the first team to raise $500.00 wins TWO free bracelets. For more information, contact me or visit us at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/wings2010. The contest ends March 16th!

April 16th Update…
We at Wings of Hope are very excited to announce that our newest team member, Rona Taylor, will be providing our team with some amazing food the night of the relay. Thank you, Rona!

Thank you to every one for supporting us, our fundraising efforts, and our goal of living in a world free of cancer.

Until next week,

Wings of Hope

*This update was written by our team captain Chris Kidwell
Wings of Hope Week 12 Update
2/15/10 – 2/21/10
*This update was written by our team Captain Chris Kidwell

 

The heat is on! There are only 54 days left until the Relay for Life at Johns Hopkins

 
As of February 20, 2010
 
University. We are 60% of the way to our goal with a total of $2,991.00. Who is going to be the person to break the $3,000.00 mark? Will it be you?

Again, if you haven’t all ready, I encourage our team members to log in to their participant centers on the ACS website and start updating their personal pages for donations. There is also an application on facebook that will help you with meeting your $100 personal goals. Both of these tools will provide donators with official receipts from the American Cancer Society.

We have a lot of exciting things happening the first week of March!

Thursday, March 4th from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m., we are holding our own bake sale at Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center, 601 N Caroline Street, Baltimore, MD. We need food donations and volunteers to help us run our booth. You do not have to be a team member to help us, our supporters are just as important as our relayers. Please contact Angel (angelmcmellin@live.com) or myself (chrisp730@yahoo.com) if you want to help.

Friday, March 5th from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., there is a relay wide fundraiser at Johns Hopkins University. We need volunteers and fundraising ideas. If you are interested or want more information, please contact me at chrisp730@yahoo.com.

Saturday, March 6th at 11:30 a.m. we have a team meeting at M&S Grill, 201 E Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD. This is an open meeting, so if you have joined team Wings of Hope yet please join us.

We are currently holding two online fundraisers: The first contest is all thanks to our wonderful friends and supporters at Dear Thyroid. We are encouraging the Dear Thyroid community to form fundraising teams to help us in our goal for the American Cancer Society. The first team to raise $3,000 wins TEN free “Invisible No More” bracelets; the first team to raise $1,500.00 wins FIVE free bracelets; the first team to raise $750.00 wins THREE free bracelets; and the first team to raise $500.00 wins TWO free bracelets. For more information, contact me or visit us at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/wings2010. The contest ends March 16th!

As of February 20, 2010
Our second online fundraiser is to reward one lucky team member. The first team member to raise $500 between February 7th and February 28th wins a $25 Macy’s Gift Card. Will it be Jennifer Bridge, Rachel Markus or Samantha Kidwell? Go to http://main.acsevents.org/goto/wings2010 and donate in honor of your favorite team member today!

We would like to welcome our newest team member: Melissa Lorenzo. Welcome to the team!

As of February 20, 2010
 
As always, we would like to thank the generous souls who donated to Wings of Hope this week: Danielle Collins, Elena Primost, Robyn Goode, Karen Welsh-Mulachy, and Lisa Hensley.
It is crunch time. We need the support of everyone: our team members, our supporters, and our communities to ensure our success. As you can see, there are numerous opportunities to support Wings of Hope, so send us an email today!

Until next week,

Wings of Hope