When a family member or friend is diagnosed with cancer, people are often torn about how to respond. They want to help but are sensitive about intruding. Not knowing whether an offer of help will be appreciated or viewed as meddling often leads friends to make vague offers to help.
Unsure what kind of help is being offered, cancer patients and their families are frequently uncomfortable taking their friends up on such offers. As we noted in our previous post, making your offer to help specific can breach any feelings of discomfort.
Here are additional suggestions on ways to offer meaningful aid to a friend or family member who is battling cancer:
Follow through. Many offers of help follow the initial diagnosis of cancer; but for the cancer patient and his family the battle keeps going after those first few weeks. Don’t stop helping after a week or two. Friends who are still helping a month, 3 months, 6 months after the diagnosis make a real difference in the family’s life.
Don’t overstep. Helping does not give you license to manage your friend’s life or offer unsolicited advice. Be sensitive to the need for autonomy, especially if cancer strips away personal independence. Respect your friend’s boundaries.
Remember celebrations. Life does not stop because you have cancer. Remember holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, holiday traditions, etc. Celebrate life!
Be supportive. Check your own feelings, opinions and prejudices at the door. Respect your friend’s cancer treatment decisions. Maintain a warm, supportive, encouraging and positive attitude when you are with your friend and his or her family.
Cancer vaccines could be the next big guns in the battle against cancer. Recent strides in immunotherapy offer new hope and promise, bringing us another step closer to the goal of preventing cancer. Numerous clinical trials of therapeutic vaccines are under way. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2010 approval of Dendreon Corporation’s prostate cancer vaccine Provenge was heralded as a giant step forward in the use of immunotherapy to treat cancer.Therapeutic cancer vaccines work much like vaccines for measles, polio and other diseases. A disease-specific peptide or protein fragment is injected under the patient’s skin, activating the body’s immune response. As the body rushes to fight the invader, it floods the bloodstream with disease-fighting T and B cells.
Since our founder, world-renowned German cancer specialist Josef M. Issels, M.D., pioneered the use of immunotherapy in treating cancer, among the greatest challenges he and other researchers have faced in developing cancer vaccines is teaching immune responders to recognize cancer cells and developing reliable ways to direct cancer-destroying T-cells to attack tumor sites. Dr. Issels’ development of a comprehensive, holistic approach to cancer treatment using integrative immunotherapy was a milestone in the treatment of advanced cancers.
Preparation of the Issels prostate cancer vaccine uses the same principles adopted by Dendreon’s scientists in the development of Provenge. Our cancer vaccine triggers the activation of tumor-killing T-cells. Antigens released each time a tumor cell is annihilated stimulate the production of new antigen populations that are already programmed to recognize cancer cells, strengthening the attack on tumors. (Click here for a visual explanation of how cancer vaccines work on the Dendreon website.)
Health officials say the flu season seems to be winding down, but the spring cold season will soon be upon us. Cold and flu season can be a particularly dangerous time for cancer patients whose immune systems are already compromised by their disease. Certain cancer treatments may temporarily challenge the immune system, making cancer sufferers even more susceptible to cold and flu germs. Taking steps to boost your immune system can help your body fight off germs and may decrease your chance of catching a cold this spring.Try these natural methods of boosting your immune system:
Sleep regulates the release of cortisol, a hormone that stimulates the immune system. Sleep isn’t always easy for cancer patients but aim for at least 7 hours a night. If sleep is a problem, talk to your Issels treatment team about possible solutions.
Rapid temperature fluctuations activate the immune system. At the end of your shower, alternate 30 seconds of very hot water with 10 seconds of cold and repeat 3 times.
Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. Low vitamin D can increase your risk of catching a cold. Experts recommend taking 1,000 to 1,500 IU of vitamin D per day. Dairy products, fatty fish like salmon and sunshine are also good sources of vitamin D.
Zinc supports and enhances the immune system and can decrease the duration of colds. Oysters, baked beans and pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc.
Saline nasal sprays, used several times a day, help irrigate and cleanse sinuses of cold germs.