CDC Symptom Diary Card

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Alarming Rate Of Depression In Medical Students

I came across an article about depression amongst medical students that needs to be shared. Unfortunately I am not surprised by this information. Students should be inspired and supported to perform at optimum levels, not browbeaten to prove their worth.

I used to work in healthcare as an occupational therapist before losing that career to rheumatoid arthritis. Healthcare  settings can, certainly not always, be very abusive. I witnessed this first hand. This atmosphere is never good for patients.

Not everyone in the healthcare industry should be a person who provides patient services. There are alternative fields within healthcare, such as lab work, that are less directly involved with patients.  But to take an eager, skilled, bright student and beat them down as part of medical boot camp is unethical in my mind. This approach to training kills students, doctors and patients.

Please pray for your medical care team.  

Peace and Blessings,

Study: More than a quarter of medical students are depressed, suicidal
http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/06/health/med-students-depression-suicide/index.html  



Sunday, November 20, 2016

We Need Mercy

In the wake of the Presidential Election those of us with serious and potentially life threatening diseases are very concerned about what changes may come to the Affordable Care Act. 

Pray that politicians know the heart of Jesus as they make critical decisions that will effect the health and outcome of millions of Americans across the USA. God asks us not to worship money and unfortunately money worshippers are running the healthcare system. This has to change. A for-profit healthcare model does not work.

Here are two links that you may find helpful today.


The first is the link to The Divine Mercy Chaplet on You Tube.  I am praying this daily, and it will help you to learn this prayer.  It is beautiful, calming and connects you in a special way to our Lord.


The Divine Mercy Message and Devotion




The message of The Divine Mercy is simple. It is that God loves us – all of us. And, he wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy.

The Divine Mercy message is one we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC:

A - Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B - Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.

C - Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive. 

The second is the link to Healthcare.gov https://www.healthcare.gov

Plus:  I am nominated for a Best Health Blog contest by Healthline.com.  I could use your vote

Hi Denise, Congratulations! Nobody Has Ovarian Cancer: The Soft Whispers of a Fierce Blow is nominated for Healthline’s Annual Best Health Blog Contest! Check it out here:



Every year we take a look at the top health blogs to honor & recognize them. This year things may look a little different, as we’ve updated the contest and taken strides to make sure everything runs smoothly & everyone has a good time voting for their favorites! The contest has a nomination period, starting now, until November 21st. After that, you can vote once per day for your favorite blog up until December 12th when the winner will be announced. Once voting begins, we’ll send you a reminder email so you can share with your followers. Remember, the blog with the most votes will receive a $1000 cash prize! Let me know if you have any questions. Congrats and good luck! Maegan -- Maegan Jones 


Thank you Meagan Jones for the nomination.

God Bless You All

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Be The Light


Do you sometimes feel like this?  Doing something other than the intended activity???  In this clip I thought I was taking a selfie...ha!

I was up all night with never ending flushes of hot flashes and night sweats.  I am not sick, that I know of.  Today it has been one hot flash after another, after another, after another.  My ears won't stop ringing, I am exhausted beyond measure. I can't get comfortable in my own skin today.  Not sure what is going on.  I had an infusion of Rituxan and IVIG in the last few weeks, maybe that is it? 

I can't focus. So I write in my blog hoping that it will help.

When I feel like I do today I rely on prayer and reflecting on my retreat experiences, along with looking through photos of happy times with loved ones.  I don't have the energy to walk outside today.

This little clip was taken at a retreat center near Carroll, IA. I drove Sr. Anne Marie back home from our retreat for women with cancer. She had injured her back. It was an honor. Tiring indeed, but well worth it because I had precious 1:1 time with our Sister in Mary. I knew that she would bring along an abundance of protection for us with her guardian angels.

My mind and heart wander frequently to the memories of our retreat because those times nurtured my spirit and replenished hope for my future, no matter how it is revealed.

Please say a prayer for all those suffering with pain and angst from cancer or any other chronic condition, for those people are in need of light. 

Be the light.

God Bless you!

Visit Sr. Anne Marie's retreat:





Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Prayer For Peace In Time Of Sickness


A Prayer For Peace In Time Of Sickness 


O Lord, Jesus Christ, Divine Healer, 
grant me peace of mind 
and perfect trust in You 
in my time of distress. 
Give me control over my fears. 
Grant that I may be cooperative 
and patient with Your Will, 
trusting that You will restore me to full health.



Amen


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Reflections On Our Retreat

Reflections On Our Retreat:

The richness of this past retreat for women with cancer cannot be expressed or summarized in just one post.  

I walked away feeling so much lighter as we had released some of our spiritual and emotional baggage!

This retreat is: A Place of God's Love and our Blessed Mother's Love

A space of quiet calm where God’s voice can be felt and heard.
A place to see old friends and feel their hope and courage.
Where one newly diagnosed woman was being comforted by her sisters and the Lord, through the intercession of our Blessed Mother.
Where a woman who feels she is coming to the peak of her life on earth says she is now ready for the angels, after being in chemo for 6 years straight.
Where women who are NED living with the scars of cancer are seeking solace. 
Where women who are in treatment now wait scan results with greater peace and strength knowing there are no bad outcomes because our ultimate destiny is with the Lord.

Part One:

We are immortal!  This sinks in as I calm down from the tediousness of traveling to Corpus Christi.  The first night we gather for dinner, talk a little amongst ourselves, to get oriented to this place of peace. I call it my "oasis of hope".  It was wonderful to see familiar faces and to see new faces.  We take a deep breath of relief knowing that for the next 3.5 days we get to "Be with God" without interruption.  We will get to know our Blessed Mother and learn about how she helps us to reach our Lord, especially in times of sorrow and pain.  

Our first talk with Sr. Anne Marie is powerful, a gentle yet striking reminder that living on earth is not the endpoint of our lives. Our immortality is the foundation upon which the remainder of the retreat rests.  What matters to God is not our jobs, our income, our fashion, our hair, our cars, our clutter…..what matters to God and matters to each other is HOW WE LOVE.  How we love effects the manner in which we enter into our immortality.

How I interpret this:
Our baggage and emotions can and do interfere with how we love.  Releasing baggage frees us to live and Love greatly.

Before I go to bed and upon awakening in the morning and during the day I check myself:  How did I love today?  When I interact with family how did I love?  When I speak to my doctors and nurses, how did I love?  When I go to the store and greet my neighbor, how did I love?  These things matter and the energy we give is the energy we receive.  This effects our health, our pain and our outlook on our lives.  I am choosing to Love as much as possible.  I have not always been this way, especially when I was angry about my diagnosis. 

Ask yourself: How did I love today?  That is my question to you for now.  

Peace and Blessings,

Servivorgirl


                                     


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Physician Assisted Suicide Is Not For Me

It is time for a serious discussion. Colorado is now opening up the option to allow physician assisted suicide for "terminally ill" patients and this is the wrong move.

As a cancer patient I am opposed to physician assisted suicide. As a person of compassion I am opposed to physician assisted suicide.  As a child of God I am against physician assisted suicide. As a human being I am opposed to physician assisted suicide.

Let me tell you why.

First trust that I know what stands before me in terms of suffering a death from ovarian cancer or its treatment side effects. Lying in bed with a swollen belly suffering concurrent system failure. I do not want to have this pain and suffering but I know that hospice and ongoing palliative care beforehand will minimize the pain. Maybe I will be graced with a death in the middle of my dreams and all my worries are for not......but that is not for me to decide.

Humanity, life itself exists in conception, birth, and natural death. We are advanced now and have more and more resources than ever before to support a person moving from this earthly life so that their final days can be in peace with family and friends, to help them, hold their hand as they make this most precious transition.

The desire to control our lives and our bodies is so strong that we will go to immoral lengths to maintain this illusion of control, going beyond reasonable and ethical means to achieve it.

To induce premature death is wrong in every way conceivable by me.  I look at this from a spiritual view and it is obvious to me that such actions are against God's Will. From a human perspective it is cruel and inhumane to deny any living person the right to pass naturally for in this process we also are allowed very special and unique graces that prepare us for eternal life.  This process allows everyone to grow and love beyond what they could have imagined and this can be done in a way that is not unruly and unbearable. Medicine has now advanced to allow for dying in peace without prematurely killing someone before the time has come naturally.

I need you to hold my hand as I go, not counsel me on taking a death drug so that everyone else can feel better about my death. The fear of death is so strong that we as a culture have fabricated in our minds that it is "ok" to kill someone before they are ready to go as some form of dangerously misguided compassion.

To help form some sort of boundary: If a person requires super extraordinary means to live of course they need to be let go to pass from earth naturally.   If a person is terminally ill and suffering as they are on their way to die naturally,  we are obligated as children of God and in all matters of human compassion and dignity to provide the best comfort care possible so that person is most restful and peaceful as they die.

Please do not tell me that you have given up on me and that you do not want to be with me as I go in a natural way.  Please do not abandon me in my hour of need.

God created me.  God is not to blame for any suffering I endure, either now or when my time to go has arrived.  God, through the death of His son our Lord Jesus Christ, knows fully and understands every detail of pain, angst, fear and suffering.  By living the Way of the Cross with Jesus I find comfort in my own suffering.  What this means is not that it is "okay" or "easy", no it is the opposite: pain is pain.  What this means to me is that there is purpose in this suffering, for each moment that I endure any form of suffering brings me closer to Jesus who suffered for all of us.

Knowing God and loving God is the way to learning how to face our death, to face our fears and to face our pain.

We are not here on this planet to kill each other, as some sort of mercy killing. No no no. We are born to be loving and to help each other, to serve each other.  If we stay on that track we will not abandon each other in their time of death but do the opposite: We will embrace this most holy time and support that person as they pass naturally from this earth into eternity. THAT is Love!

So instead of voting to support physician assisted suicide, vote to provide more resources to those who are dying and their families to afford time off from work, to make sure their are no financial barriers to palliative medications and to increase services covered by Medicare and Hospice that allow for companion care, nurses aides and paid family leave.

On a side note: At the heart of this problem is the independent nature of the typical "American" person. If you are from an ethnic family, such as an hispanic or asian culture, there is an automatic response within these cultures to adapt to changes within the family.  They move their parents to live with children as the parents age.  This process allows for the aging to have the support they need. People are honored more than money.  Making America Great again SHOULD mean enabling families to continue to honor their loved ones, NOT just acquire wealth and property.  Richness comes from people, love, relationships and loving God.

Our "independent" culture is not prepared to increase and maintain the resources necessary to allow for a terminally ill person to die naturally, painlessly, with their loved ones able to be at their side on a daily basis.  Never give up on believing in the true value of life and the life of those you love. They deserve to die naturally, supported with care to make this process as painless as possible, so that they can spend time enjoying each drop of sun, each drop of rain, sharing memories and smiles, and to say goodbye without haste.

On another side note:  I know that people in the medical profession are probably the most hardened when it comes to experiencing angst with human suffering, I understand that.  Take advantage of all possible resources available to help you, as a person of compassion,  cope with the ongoing exposure to suffering.  Your job is very important and if you are burning out seek a chance to work in a different area for awhile. Your heart and love is important, take care of yourself if you are facing too much suffering.

Strengthen our culture of LIFE!

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Food For Thought On Ostracization

Food For Thought:

I started researching this today because I saw an article about how isolation can
lead to an early death.



Being ignored is a form of ostracization, a slow social death.  Something to think about as we ignore the elderly, the sick, the homeless, those who aren't cool enough, those who aren't rich enough, those who are not "like" whoever thinks they are so important that everyone 
must be like them to be worthy of their time.  

I personally know women who have experienced this and it is unfair because when someone is on the receiving end of being ostracized, there is no two-way communication, no chance for reconciliation.  

And if you are in a position of being isolated, ostracized or abandoned, please seek counseling and participate in discussion groups, church activities, community activities and find old friends who can be there with you to help strengthen you heart.  

Prayer is a wonderful way to offset the effects of loneliness.



Peace and Blessings



George Winston Thanksgiving

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

People Magazine Article Gene Wilder Saying Goodbye To Gilda

"For us, it all started on the first Sunday in January 1986. We were driving to play tennis in Los Angeles at a friend's house. Gilda began to feel what she described as a fog rolling in. She said, ''I can't keep my eyes open. I think I'm going to fall asleep.'' She lay back and looked like she had taken a sleeping pill. We made it to the tennis courts, and once she started playing, it went away. "

That extreme, extreme fatigue was one of my early symptoms.  Please link to this article posted in People Magazine, a heartfelt interview with our now dearly departed Gene Wilder.

http://www.people.com/article/gene-wilder-tearful-goodbye-gilda-radner

Peace and Blessings


Thursday, July 28, 2016

7 Year Cancerversary. New N.E.D.

I have to admit I am having a little difficulty concentrating because I just watched the Democratic National Convention and then stumbled across a live Periscope feed of Blake Shelton playing at the Grizzly Rose in Denver, Colorado. Wow! Love him! Talk about contrasting experiences.  He is now playing "Footloose", HA.  I am having a blast.

Earlier today a new friend from the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance and I drove to Evergreen for lunch.  Evergreen is a quaint mountain town not too far from Denver.  It was very refreshing to get some mountain air and look at a beautiful stream.


It is my 7 year cancerversary! Praise God.  This time exactly 7 years ago I was headed to bed after prepping for my surgery. My dearly departed mom and her sister were with me the night before and took me to my surgery in the wee hours of the morning.  All I felt was their love and my fear, and I prayed for God's mercy to shine upon my suffering and to relieve me of this awful cancer.

Here I am today, going to lunch with a friend, watching political history be made and catching Blake Shelton via a technology that did not exist 7 years ago. Crazy.

I have learned that people living with cancer cannot look back but must look forward and reach out to as many resources as possible. This is critical because your condition is going to change, moving towards the better and then towards the worse, and then the better......etc.  It is just that, a constant adjustment to condition, treatments, surgeries, side effects new and renewed, and blessed breaks from the suffering. This is not predictable necessarily so other people have a heck of a time being able to plan how to be there to support you. It forces us all to be flexible, to live in the here and now and to be patient.

Not everyone wants to be patient, or flexible.  Living in the present is no small task, especially if you came into ovarian cancer possibly as a result of medical neglect, like I did. We go over and over and over and over the steps that led to this disaster. You may remember my story is defined by being told several times that I was "too young to have ovarian cancer" so they never looked when I kept telling them my symptoms.  Other things happened as well but it took a lot out of me and my family dealing with my rage.  I am so very sorry for that still.  Especially that my mom listened so much.  My cancer hurt her in so many ways.  God rest her soul.

Psychological counseling is necessary in most cases of cancer care, I personally believe. It is just too much to try to ask a single person or family to bear on their own.  Cancer offers no certainty and everyone in the patient circle of support is effected, and in different ways.  I wish that psychological and spiritual counseling were mandatory offerings for patients and their loved ones.  One day I hope.

My faith in our Lord Jesus Christ has sustained me this whole time and without Him I am not sure I would have survived.  He brought to me the gynonc and care providers I needed to heal and still does.

I am currently on a break from Avastin for several reasons.  The first thing is that my recent scan showed no evidence of disease. Glory be to God. I am thrilled. I cannot believe it. Avastin has chipped away the tumors one tiny dot at a time.  Amazing!  My recurrence began in early 2012.

After having 45 or 46 Avastin treatments my blood pressure has begun to rise and my urine protein is increasing.  Those are concerning to my gynonc, and to me, so this is a good time to take a temporary break.

I battle extreme fatigue.  An example: I volunteered for World Vision this past Monday at an event to enroll people in their child refugee support program.  I was there for 5 hours.  Afterwards I slept 14 hours straight through, not hearing 3 separate alarms.  This makes it very difficult to work, but I am looking for part time work to begin in October.  I am hopeful.

The plan is to go on maintenance Avastin in 3 months because that is what is needed to keep ovarian cancer from spinning out of control.  Cancer cells adapt and can become less responsive to treatments over time.  It is very risky to stop Avastin for too long but I need to rest and to recover from all of the many treatments that I have had.

I thoroughly enjoy the treatment team and my new gynonc at Anschutz Cancer Pavillion.  They are caring, thorough, professional and well staffed.  It is an NCI designated research center so I feel that they can handle any special needs a patient may have.  Praise God.

I still rely on my therapy cat, Marilyn. She is my little angel.  She likes to play chase after her morning meal, ha.  That means two or three jolts across the apartment.  I need the exercise.

I still take things a day at a time but can make longer term plans now. I can see myself enjoying next summer, WOW.  I start and end my days with Our Lord's Prayer and Hail Mary. I give thanks at every meal.  I go to Mass because I love God and need God in my life for without Him, nothing works. He keeps me hopeful and steady in this world of unpredictability. If someone gets upset with me or targets me I take a breath and then pray for them, doing all I can to not get entangled in anything negative. It is not completely unavoidable but I do the best I can.

As always I am eternally grateful to family and friends who have stood by me through thick and thin over these past 7 years and thank them from the bottom of my heart.  Each day is a gift from God, a miracle in the making and I pray that each of you gets to experience that "joy" of light each and every day.

God Bless you for all of your love, prayers and support.

Denise


Reverend Doctor William Barber II addresses the DNC—Part I

Thursday, July 21, 2016

My Love For Soap



Taking a break from talking about cancer to share a a "little happy".  My 7 year cancerversary is next week and I have a very interesting story to share with you then.  

For now please take a moment to hear this little story about another way I can share my love for soap with you.

My personal webpage is https://DeniseArchuleta.po.sh/

You know how much I love soap so for me this is just fun.  I hope you find this fun too.

Peace and Blessings!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fragrant Cold Pack Hack To Relieve Hot Flashes

I have been having hot flashes since 2008, ridiculous I know. I started having them in a severe way approximately 9 months or so before my diagnostic surgery. My bosses at work were a little perplexed at my sudden need to stand outside in the cold multiple times per day, HA.  I was told to "monitor" the situation because it could be early menopause.  Well, unfortunately it was not just early menopause.

So fast forward to the current day, summer heat and me trying to minimize my electric bill and you have one uncomfortable mama. So in the past 7 or 8 years I have tried many remedies to reduce or eliminate these disruptive hot flashes.  In addition to this cold pack I keep some cute oriental hand fans on hand to make the air around me breezy if I am not using a fan.

Hormone patches are a no-no for me because of my BRCA1 mutation. It is imperative to avoid them in order to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. 

Hot flashes love me, they never want to take a break.  They arrive every hour or two, and come on with a frenzy if I am talking about anything uncomfortable, rushing to get out the door, or being active for any reason.  Exercising comes with all kinds of fun extra sweating.  I have night sweats EVERY night.  If preceeded by an anxious conversation or thought, the hot flashes are combined with nausea and panting.  Sort of a "fear" feeling that paralyzes me temporarily. My face turns tomato red and I sweat terribly. Yuck a wucka woo!

Otherwise I look normal. HA

So here are a few photos showing how I make this little neck wrap that is kept in the freezer at home. 

 I apply this directly to the back of my neck but if your skin is sensitive, you should cover this wrap with cheese cloth or a very thin dish towel/cloth to protect your skin from the direct cold.  

This fragrant cold pack feels GREAT on the back of my neck and speeds up the hot flash recovery time. I only need to have it on for a few minutes at a time. It works quickly.

If you are anticipating a hot flash coming on, place this on the back of your neck right away to lessen the severity of this unwanted experience (that is if you have time to run to the freezer) ;-)

This cold pack smells AMAZING!



Place about 1 cup of water in a stainless steel bowl.  Add just a few drops of Rosemary Essential Oil and Peppermint Essential Oil if you like.  Gently mix the oils and water together.




Place the clean large washcloth in the bowl to soak up the water and essential oil mixture. 


Wring out the washcloth and place it on a clean surface.  Straighten and then roll the cloth into a tube shape starting at one of the corners.  


Form the cloth roll into the shape of a horse-shoe and freeze.  Store in a clean ziplock bag once frozen for re-use. 

This fragrant compress will gently rest on the back of your neck when you are in urgent need of hot flash relief.  

I have placed a few links that provide some education about the benefits of Rosemary and Peppermint  Essential Oils.  You can use the essential or fragrance oil of your choice if you have any on hand, or no oil at all. It is up to you.  I recommend researching the oil beforehand just as a precaution.



I hope you find this cold pack helpful to provide some relief from those uncomfortable and sometimes intrusive hot flashes.  

Peace and Blessings,
Denise









Thursday, June 09, 2016

Energy Conservation: Its A Family Thing (or should be)

When I worked as an occupational therapist, several decades ago, one of the founding principals of maintaining independence with chronic illness was implementation of energy conservation techniques into one's daily life.  That would mean showing a patient how to complete an activity using less energy.  Back in the early 1990s it seemed a lot easier to talk about and incorporate these kinds of things into one's lifestyle because at that time our culture was not so focused on technological multi-tasking.  I miss the old days of giving 100% of my attention and energy to one thing, finishing that and moving to the next thing.

Multi-tasking is very exhausting and unfortunately for those of us in chronic states of fatigue, such as from cancer and its treatments, trying to keep up can be overwhelming.  When I am out in public, say at the store, I can sense the frustration from the person behind me in the check out line if I am not swiping my card fast enough or if I am moving my cart too slow.  Everyone else is running circles around me.  I want them to slow down and enjoy the day.  I want them to be more at ease and they probably want to slow down too.....but they can't because our culture demands that we do fifteen thousand things at once to be more productive.

So because cancer is a family thing, sometimes treatment can be a family thing as well.  In the case of conserving energy I highly recommend that anyone who may be directly involved with supporting your care learn about energy conservation as well.  It could benefit them by helping them conserve their own energy and also have more patience with changes.

I found a helpful this link about managing energy related to cancer fatigue:

Cancer Related Fatigue

Here is a scholarly article that may be of interest about energy conservation research:

http://soundideas.pugetsound.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1092&context=ms_occ_therapy

This all came to mind as a result of time spent on job searching.  I want to try working part time again, maybe starting at 10 hours per week. It would greatly help me with my living expenses.

My last part time job was very stressful and every second of my time was incorporated into a productivity metric. Companies nowadays are not enthused about letting employees pace themselves...ha.   I just cannot work in that kind of setting.

I am in treatment and will forever be in treatment.  Sustaining basic living will at some point be impossible unless I go into remission and regain a normal level of energy.  I trust in God that He has planned for me good things and as long as I keep Him in front I know I will be OK.

Today is a good day.

God Bless you


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Home Again-Single and Relocating With Cancer

What an ordeal it has been to move back home to Colorado! Exhausting for anyone and for me you can triple THAT fatigue. HA. There is no playbook on how to move when you have cancer and I think I can help you best by providing a few tips in this post. Trust me when I tell you that I could talk at great length about how I feel right now, not at home, but steadily the roots are beginning to take to the new soil.

I grew up here and came here solely for family, friends, community.  I cried many tears leaving Seattle and my loving and caring medical team.  I miss Dr. Heidi Gray tremendously, she was and remains my rock in this journey.  She knows me, she understands me as a person, in addition to understanding my cancer, she knows the minutia of what to ask and how to direct me.  I fully trust my new gynonc will be able to do the same, but I have moved from one family to be with my biological family.

My friends back in Seattle have been a bedrock of support, a base for fun, laughs, sharing and also helping.  I had these two neighbors, Judy and Rosie, who were like sisters to me.  We all helped each other with our cats, when we were sick and we took each other fun places, made memories and enjoyed learning about each other's families.  I have very special friends in Seattle, Bellevue, Gig Harbor and Shoreline.  I will miss my exhilarating walks with Joe and my teas with Colette, dinners with Kristine, Tad and little "V". I will miss mom's old neighbors who have become real friends.  I will miss my church, Sr. Giovanni and Fr. Shane.  I know my cat is missing all the trees and birds. I miss the winding roads, little shops and comfortable coolness of the air.  Thank you Seattle and Dr. Gray for keeping me whole, alive and here.  Thank you Lord for Life!

So here are a few tips if you have cancer and will be moving across state lines:

1.  Notify your gynonc/onc as soon as possible so that the two of you can work out a strategy for maintaining your treatment plan.  Reason being:  Insurance coverage probably will only begin on the first of the month and you should coordinate your move to be relocated by the first of the month for optimum care.  


The most important decision will be the referral to your new gynecology oncologist. I researched on my own plus my gynonc did some research as well.  Together we came up with the same new gynonc and I am very very very happy with the decision.  Allow yourself a few weeks or so to research on the web and even make a few phone calls to prospective oncologists.  This is daunting task. You need to make sure that they are accepting new patients. The first place I searched was the The Society of Gynecology Oncology  You may want to ask for advice in online discussion groups and local support groups in the area to which you are moving.  This decision sort of drives all the other decisions, at least in this case.

Once you are certain they are accepting new patients make a list of the new oncologist's accepted insurance and go from there.


Once you have your new oncologist then figure out which insurance you need to get. Obviously if you are on regular Medicare you will continue your coverage but your supplemental and prescription drug plans may need to change.  This is where the bulk of your energy and effort goes, the research and paperwork needed to get your health care coverage initiated.  I placed a call to State Health Insurance Assistance Program and spoke with a person representing the state to which I was moving.  I had to do this 3 times because I did get not get an important detail during the first call. These people are wonderful, volunteers who will listen to your story and help you get to the nitty gritty of selecting the best insurance option.  Even though I had to call 3 times, it was worth every second of my time. Make this call to get help with continuing your health coverage if you are not on a spouse's plan.  Be certain to ask the detail of when coverage is allowed to begin. Enrollment date and coverage beginning date are two different issues, FYI. 

If you are on SSDI you will need to notify SSDI and Medicare of your move as well.  You can contact them when you know your actual move date and they can enter it in advance. Do not do anything official until you are absolutely 100% certain of this date.  Enrolling in new supplemental plans require dis-enrollment from your existing plan and you do not want to dis-enroll too soon.  You want to keep catastrophic coverage available to you at a minimum during this transition.  Hence, fully understand coverage periods for new plans.  :-)  

Healthcare.gov is where you would go to search for insurance if you are not on Medicare or on a spouses's plan or your own company plan.  

I was in a medicare advantage plan in Seattle and it was extremely complicated to transition out of that kind of plan to a regular medicare with supplemental insurance coverage.


Get your checklist started very early. Most moving sites recommend planning to begin at least 8 weeks in advance, I say even earlier. Ask for discounts when getting bids on movers.  I unfortunately did not find many companies who offered help with moving for people who have cancer but I did take advantage of moving checklist apps and organization tips. There is however a group that supports the elderly for relocation: Caregiver.org which can be a useful resource for ideas.  If you are reading this and confirm a company that offers moving discounts to people with cancer, please comment so that I can publish their information.  It is much needed.


Here are two vital resources for help with cleaning and hotel travel. You will probably find yourself in a situation where you will need to be in a hotel during the move.  It is a very good idea, especially if you have a pet, like I do.  Marilyn is my therapy kitty. When I landed in Denver there was no possibility that I had the strength or mindfulness to go directly to the apartment complex and handle any leasing activities. I desperately needed sleep.  My body was a mess, I got very very sick with abdominal problems, headaches and nausea.  I needed a hotel for a few days in order to sign the lease and allow my body to recover because the new apartment would be completely unfurnished and I would have no food or a bed.

ACS Lodging Program Link: You will find discounted hotel accommodations 

Cleaning For A Reason:  This requires advance registration but having a professional clean for your move out will save you vital energy.  When moving out of the area, requiring EVERYTHING be in a BOX, the packing is endless.  Literally I never thought I would get it done. Let people help you pack and help you take things to be donated.  I know you don't want to bother anyone but let them if you can. I did get some help from friends with packing and thankfully my old landlord allowed me to leave a few things for the handyman to take away.  Thank you !!!

6.  Prescriptions:  

Please ask your doctors for extra prescriptions and also be sure to get a 90 day supply of all of your meds slightly before you move. This is very important. You may not be able to get appointments with new physicians and specialists right away.  Part of the reason for this is that you need your insurance coverage in place before appointments can be set, usually.  It is not like the old days when we could just call and bring insurance information with us.  So have your prescriptions filled with a 90 day supply, have extra prescriptions on hand and you will have one less thing to stress about.

7.  Scheduling Final Visits:  

Be sure to schedule a Final Visit with each of your specialties as close to your move data as possible, so that you can get their assistance with any last minute issues and concerns you may have. This will make the transition easier and they will be alert for the need to transfer records and treatment plans to a new provider in the near future.  This allows you to finalize your prescriptions and to firm up future treatment needs. Plus it is a nice way to say goodbye and thank your doctor for all of their kind care.

8.  Medical Paperwork and Records:  

Have a folder with print outs of visits with each specialist's visit summary on your person during the move to make the transition easier. Do not assume that your potential new doctors will have access to your electronic medical records. There are limitations and access restrictions. The staff may or may not be able to access your information electronically so carry on your person visit summaries with the latest meds, allergies, diagnoses and treatment plans.

Order your own records for your self, especially radiology reports. The new gynonc may want to have the original surgical slides in their office. They will tell you what they want and may order records themselves.  My records are extensive, to say the least. Be sure to ask the new doctors if they are ordering your records or do they want you to bring your records with you. Records are usually sent with the initial referral and additional records can be ordered after your initial visit.

Be sure you have important paperwork, such as DNR paperwork on your person as well. I know this is very sensitive, but you do NOT want to leave that kind of document in the moving boxes.  

9. Have a OneSheet that lists your old address and new address:

This sounds so basic but trust me, as a cancer patient with chemobrain, I cannot tell you how many times I started to forget the basics.  The fatigue is over the top when moving. Include on this sheet important contact numbers and itinerary information for your travel, movers, and emergency contact information. Have it on paper, not just on a phone that may or may not always have the proper charge.  

10. Plan time to say goodbye to your medical care providers and those who are important to you.

Saying goodbye was overwhelming for me. There is a strong tendency to procrastinate because we don't want to do this.  Thinking about what to write on a card, buying a card for that matter, can seem impossible.  What can I possibly say in a card that expresses how I feel about my doctor, nurses, friends, neighbors etc. As the one moving, pace this out, start early and plan as much as possible. I invited friends to do some things I had never got a chance to do.  I have no family in Seattle but saying bye bye to friends was heartbreaking.  I am glad I started early.  

11. Pace yourself and find peace with clutter:

I am single and have no person living with me to help carry the burden of moving.  I allowed myself to receive some help and I paced myself as much as I could.  There were some circumstances that did not allow for me to just hire someone to pack my stuff.  I had a lot of special sorting to do and most of the time was spent deciding on what should go where. Next time though, if anyone wants to just pack for me, you are welcome to do so. I spent several months living in a "mess" and this depletes energy.  

12:  Do not fly alone:

My regret!  If you are traveling via airplane to your new destination please find a friend or relative to fly with you.  I thought I would be okay to manage my luggage, the move out, my cat, the rental car etc on my own but I was not able to do so.  I got terribly awfully sick.  It was just too much.  Again, single people have these kinds of issues, sigh.  So find someone who can make that final leg with you to help out.  It will cost extra money so that is why it is a difficult request to make but I highly recommend it.

As the final days approach, save one box or drawer to place the paperwork you will take on the plane. Save another space for things that will go in the suitcase or suitcases.  Have some manilla envelopes handy, stamps, tape, scissors and pens in your suitcase too.  You will need those scissors to open the boxes...ha.  I also had what is called "the essentials" box clearly marked.  

Pack and sort your pills/meds several days in advance of the final move date. 

Invite a friend to be with you when you close the door for the final time. You will want a hug.

I did create spaces for packed boxes and sorting, but truthfully speaking things were constantly changing so piles had to be moved. Do relaxation exercises to lower stress. All you can do is all you can do. If you have an entire room you can designate for packing, do so because it will decrease the stress. 

I only had the energy to pack a few boxes a day so that is what I did. That also meant the messiness and disorganization lasted longer. HA. Now I am settled and stuff that went to family is now with family. My stuff is all unpacked and I feel free. Be patient and know the move will be over some day soon.

What we don't talk about is that when I save something now I am saving it for the future of someone else in my life, to carry on for the time I am no longer here. That is why it took forever to pack.  It isn't just about the standard move "if you haven't used it in 6 months it goes" kind of thing,  NO...this is about "is this something I want my niece or nephew to have, or my sister or brother to have?"  It is dang depressing.  But also freeing to make some of those otherwise 'final" decisions.  

I feel blessed that I had the luxury to be able to move with having cancer. Many people do not.  Sadly, many pass and never get the chance to go through all their things ahead of time like I did.  I am grateful for that. I have everything I need and made myself a new little home.  It is decorated to give me happy and warm feelings, and can be a place of inspiration. A place of peace.  I set it up so that if I were confined here I could be happy.   

May you find some of these tips handy.  God Bless you!



Sunday, May 08, 2016

For Mother's Day

I am sharing a post from the past, about Thanksgiving.  My mom was Thanksgiving to me in so many ways.  It was her favorite holiday.  In honor of my mom I will share this reflection from a few years ago.  

May our Blessed Mother bring you strength and comfort knowing our Lord loves you completely.  I love you mom and miss you enormously.  See you up in the heavens.




Love,
Denise


Thursday, May 05, 2016

Servivorgirl's Movie Pick for 05-05-16 is Dolphin: Spy In A Pod

Hello All,

I watched a funny and joyful Netflix movie last night that I just had to share.  I am sharing with an intent to help those who are having a difficult time sorting anything out because of their cancer or side effects.  If you are not aware, when on heavy chemo we tend to get numb to our surroundings.  The simplest task of choosing a movie can be difficult when you feel foggy, nauseous, sad, angry or anxious.  It can be a challenge to follow a storyline. More importantly we may just need a lift. 

 When I was on heavy front line chemo nothing really interested me.  Seriously. Especially meaningless movies or television.  I did not have the brain power to read and it was, and still is important to find activities that induce relaxation and give us a source for laughter.  So as part of a balanced life when undergoing treatment we need exercise, nutrition, healthy relationships, spiritual health and also healthy relaxation activities.

So if you are looking for a movie that brings back that sense of wonder you had as a child, watch "Dolphin: Spy In A Pod".

My selection for today is Dolphin: Spy In A Pod

"Dolphin: Spy In A Pod" is just a joy to watch.  Their happy smiley faces, antics and noises will give you the warm fuzzies and giggles you need to relax your mind.

Happy Mother's Day weekend as well.
I think my mom would have enjoyed watching this with me.  I miss you mom.  See you up in the heavens one day.  I love you. My special thoughts are with those who have lost their moms.

Peace and Blessings to all.  May you find comfort in the Lord and in our Blessed Mother.  Happy Mother's Day weekend to everyone.

Love,
Denise

#servivorgirl
#servivorgirlmoviepick
#mothersday

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Missing The Pacific Northwest -Great Video From Joe Hendricks

Now that I have relocated back home, to be with family, I appreciate even more the memories of the Seattle area and its surrounding beauty.  I have a friend up there, Joe Hendricks, who is an avid climber and lives in adoration of our Lord.  He frequently posts photos and videos of his great adventures in the pristine forests along the shores of the Puget Sound or up high in the Cascade or Olympic Mountains.

Here is a beautiful clip, birds singing in the background bringing us to the beautiful waters in the Sound.  It is a great escape, a mini trip away from any anxiety you may feel today.  It's like therapy.......ha!

You are pry wondering why I cling to this beauty. It is because it is very peaceful being in those lush enchanted forests.  I only went on a few short walks with Joe but they are treasured in my heart.  I hope you subscribe to his 'You Tube' channel so that you can be alerted to see all of his upcoming endeavors.

I am just settling into my new place in Colorado.  I grew up here in this beautiful Rocky Mountain state and am looking forward to a mini drive up into the hills soon. I miss the fragrance of the evergreens and the views up along the Continental Divide.  My family is here. My family is the most important part of my life with God always in the forefront of each moment of my existence on earth.

I am going to miss Dr. Gray so much it hurts to talk about it.  She has referred me to a top gynonc out here and I look forward to meeting him and resuming my Avastin treatments as soon as possible.  Insurance transitions are a bear......but it will all be just fine.  My blood pressure is rising quite a bit and that is probably due to the Avastin. My fatigue is ridiculous and I have had lots of stomach issues.  All part of living with cancer  and the treatments but I thank God I get by each day independently enjoying its ups and downs.

Note to remember:  If you ever transition from a Medicare Advantage plan to regular Medicare, remember that Medicare coverage begins only on the first of the month.  Keep that in mind if you have the ability to schedule a move.  Not everyone at Medicare knows this and when you call to find out these details you may not get all the information.  It all will work out OK, I will only have a short delay in treatments.  Nightmare...........Ha.

Here is the video.  Enjoy!


Peace and Blessings

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Johnson And Johnson: Talcum Powder And Ovarian Cancer Lawsuit

Johnson and Johnson has been proven to have known that talcum powder was linked to ovarian cancer and the company did not warn consumers. WOW.  For those of us with ovarian cancer this is sad news, big news, angering news......stunning.  For me personally I don't yet know what to make of it.  
I used baby powder in my teens, 20s, 30s and 40s.  I never knew it was actually dangerous.  How many products actually have talcum powder?  Is it on or in most feminine hygiene products?  It is not a surprise that any company would hide this kind of evidence or information from consumers when their bottom line is threatened, especially cash cow products like baby powder or the infamous "Shower to Shower".  I worry about young women and teens especially.  Being a female takes a lot of work when it comes to hygiene, it just does.  Powders were supposed to be helpful, not harmful.  Wow, this is devastating in so many ways. 
WHAT EXACTLY DOES THIS MEAN FOR ALL OF US?  

God Bless the Fox family for being persistent with their lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson.  
I am linking two articles today that show some details or links to important research for your benefit.  We are learning together.  
1.The Fort Worth Legal Examiner: 
"J&J Slammed in Baby Powder Death Lawsuit"
Shezad Malik MD JD February 23, 2016 2:49 PM
2.Medscape author Nick Mulcahy:
"J&J Must Pay $72 Million in Talc Powder-Ovarian Cancer Case"
Nick Mulcahy February 23, 2016
Quote from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/859275 In 1982, Dr Cramer was the lead author of the first study ever to link talc use with ovarian cancer. He has since been involved in multiple studies on the association, the latest of which was published just a few months ago (EpidemiologyPublished online December 17, 2015). He also testified at the Johnson & Johnson trial as a paid expert witness.
"I'm still absorbing the news," Dr Cramer said today. "A feeling of vindication is tempered by the realization that thousands of women continued to use talc products and died of ovarian cancer after my first study in 1982."
Peace and Blessings
#Servivorgirl
Denise Archuleta

#ovariancancer #TalcumPowder #whoknew #ovariancancer


Monday, February 22, 2016

Retreat For Women With Cancer September 2016

Hello Ladies,

I am making an early announcement about the 2016 Retreat for Women with cancer at the Our Lady of Corpus Christi Retreat Center.  Last year we formed a strong bond with each other and Christ that gives us strength to continue to endure a life facing cancer or the 
potential return of cancer.  

Please link here OUR LADY OF CORPUS CHRISTI RETREAT CENTER  for information.   The retreat schedules are along the left hand side of the webpage.  

I will be there to assist the Sisters with this retreat and am filled with great comfort knowing we will all be together again.  If you are interested I would love to hear from you.  

God Bless you and may you feel the love of Christ as you live with cancer.