Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician and a writer. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, “Where Hope Lives” for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, “Survivors Survive” used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay.
Currently, he operates his website for those affected by cancer, 2surviveonline.com and drinks a ridiculous amount of coffee per day.
Ryan wrote the following interesting article recently about How food can trigger memories and emotions.
Food, how it tastes and trying everything possible to eat nutritionally whilst undergoing cancer treatments is an important subject for anyone who has gone through the fight with cancer, so we thought we would share his post with you….
The approaching death of a child is likely to be the most difficult time in any parent’s life. Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around…
Dealing with your child’s cancer is all-consuming; it drains you and the rest of your family – of strength, of vitality, of joy, of finances, and leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless much of the time.
Many parents feel that, even though they have already been given the prognosis and know that their child is dying, to acknowledge it means that they are giving up… Other families feel that they need to get their affairs in order…
Everyone is different and copes in their own way – there is really no right or wrong way to cope with the impending death of a child – you just need to cope in whichever way feels right for you and your family, no matter what anyone else may think or say.
It is often believed that difficult times can bring a family together and make the family unit stronger, but hardships can also create divisions. This sometimes happens if one parent has been more involved in their child’s care, which could mean that they are further along with the various stages of understanding and preparation than the other parent.
Dealing with the trauma of a child with an incurable disease is difficult, and individuals can go through various stages of disbelief, anger, understanding, acceptance and preparation. It is individual though, and does not always occur in the manner that we would expect.
Children facing the demands of cancer treatment must eat healthily in order to get the nutrients that can fuel the body and aid in healing as well as assist in maintaining a healthy weight.
Special nutritional challenges are bound to arise throughout treatment because the side-effects of Childhood Cancer and Cancer Treatment Therapies such as Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy can result in changes in your eating habits and differences in the way your body uses nutrients. Nutritional needs and eating habits are affected differently depending on the type of cancer and its treatment.
Phytochemicals are naturally occurring plant chemicals (phyto means plant in Greek). They provide plants with colour, odour and flavour. Once we eat them, however, research shows they can influence the chemical processes inside our bodies in helpful ways.
Findings from laboratory studies have shown that phytochemicals have the potential to:
- Stimulate the immune system
- Block substances we eat, drink and breathe from becoming carcinogens
- Reduce the kind of inflammation that makes cancer growth more likely
- Prevent DNA damage and help with DNA repair
- Reduce the kind of oxidative damage to cells that can spark cancer
- Slow the growth rate of cancer cells
- Trigger damaged cells to commit suicide before they can reproduce
- Help to regulate hormones
Whether your baby, toddler or young child who is currently caught up in the fight of their lives against cancer will eventually be able to have children or not is probably the last thing on your mind, but it may be something that you should take into consideration…
Some cancer treatments do not affect a child’s growing reproductive system, but others can damage a girl’s ovaries, which contain eggs, or a boy’s testes, which contain sperm. This damage may make it impossible to have a baby for a short period after completing cancer therapy or for the rest of the person’s life.
Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, and other cancer treatments can be very effective at doing their job, but what makes them good at fighting cancer can also cause side effects.
One of the side-effects of cancer treatments can affect the reproductive organs and have long-term effects on a child’s reproductive health. Side effects such as reduced fertility as a result of cancer treatments are known as late effects.
Your child’s risk of having late effects depends on his or her diagnosis, the type of treatment your child is getting, and the dosages. Everyone is different so it’s best to discuss the subject with your child’s medical team.
Your child’s doctor should be able to tell you whether their cancer treatment regimen is likely to have short- or long-term effects on your child’s reproductive health or not.
According to the first large-scale whole-genome sequencing study on Childhood Cancer Survivors, approximately 12% of them have genetic mutations that put them or their children at risk for future cancers.
Previous studies include Second Primary Cancers in Survivors of Childhood Cancer, published in The Lancet in 2009, a registry-based report about a Nordic cohort of 47 697 childhood cancer survivors reported that “The overall risk of second primary cancers was 2·3-fold greater than that in the general population. In two large cohorts of 14 581 individuals who had survived for 5 years or more (USA, Childhood Cancer Survivor Study) and 16 541 who had survived for 3 years or more (UK, population-based study), the risk was reported to be 6·4-fold2 and 5·8-fold3 greater, respectively, than that in the general population.”
The findings from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s latest whole genome sequencing of cancer survivors study was recently presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2017 Annual Meeting, and highlights the previously under-appreciated role that genetics plays in second neoplasms (SNs).
Parents of Children with Cancer have to face the unthinkable – a fight for their child’s life before that child has even had a chance to really live. Watching your child suffer the horrors of treatment in order to have a chance at life is something no parent should ever have to experience.
No matter what problems you think you may have faced; there is nothing as stressful or heartbreaking as having to deal with the fact that your little baby (they are always “your little baby” no matter how old they are) has a deadly disease and may die.
The diagnosis of cancer in a child or teenager can be a devastating blow to parents and other family members. Cancer creates an instant crisis in the family.
We here at the Little Fighters Cancer Trust are all too familiar with the immense amount of emotional, physical, psychological and financial stress that accompany a diagnosis of Childhood Cancer.
We have seen firsthand how some families manage to pull together and become stronger; unfortunately we have also see how families have buckled under the constant pressure and stress, especially the financial stress and shattered apart.
Today’s post will concentrate on giving some advice and support to the parents of Children with Cancer.
We all basically know that we need nutrients to keep us healthy, but what exactly are nutrients and where do we find them? It is no good knowing what we need if we do not know where to find it, and vitamin and mineral supplements just do not do the trick; we need natural nutrients for health and cancer protection.
Children with Cancer, especially, need as many nutrients as possible to help fight the cancer as well as the side-effects from cancer treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy.
According to research by the American Institute for Cancer Research, getting our nutrients from foods will give one a powerful mix of health-promoting substances.
Upright Citizen is the début musical album released by singing-doctor Marc Hendricks, and he is set to dazzle Cape Town audiences at the Artscape Theatre on 22 April, for a one-night only performance.
Dr. Marc is well-known to the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, as he is the much-loved and well-respected treating oncologist for many of our Little Fighters, who spend a lot of time at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Proceeds of the show will be donated to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital for transformation initiatives.
Dr. Marc, as he is fondly referred to by our Little Fighters and their Families, is a wonderful, caring, compassionate Paediatric Oncologist who also has the voice of an angel (listen to him performing his composition BIRD SONG on the video below).
Researchers led by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scientists have worked out how a crucial cancer-related protein, a “histone writer” called Ezh2, plays a role in suppressing as well as driving the most aggressive form of the brain tumour medulloblastoma.
Ezh2 is a histone writer, an enzyme that can tag or label other proteins in a way that turns off genes. The new findings, which appear online in Cell Reports, show that unlike in some earlier studies where the protein helped to advance disease, Ezh2 can also suppress cancer. This dichotomy has implications for the potential use of drugs intended to inhibit this enzyme, some of which are being tested in clinical trials.
The enzyme looked at in this study is the histone H3K27 mono-, di- and trimethylase of polycomb repressive complex 2, or Ezh2 for short. This histone writer adds methyl groups to specific histone proteins leading to epigenetic modifications that affect gene expression. The team used CRISPR gene editing to knock out the activity of the protein in a mouse model. Loss of function of this protein due to gene editing resulted in acceleration of the development of medulloblastoma tumours.
Gene therapy is a still somewhat experimental treatment that involves introducing genetic material into a person’s cells to fight or prevent disease. Researchers are studying gene therapy for a number of diseases, such as severe combined immuno-deficiencies, haemophilia, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and HIV, via a number of different approaches.
A gene can be delivered to a cell using a carrier known as a “vector.” The most common types of vectors used in gene therapy are viruses. The viruses used in gene therapy are altered to make them safe, although some risks still exist with gene therapy. The technology is still in its infancy, but it has been used with some success.
In most gene therapy studies, a “normal” gene is inserted into the genome to replace an “abnormal,” disease-causing gene. In cancer, some cells become diseased because certain genes have been permanently turned off. Using gene therapy, mutated genes that cause disease could be turned off so that they no longer promote disease, or healthy genes that help prevent disease could be turned on so that they can inhibit the disease.
Mother’s Day is a celebration honouring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.
All mothers deserve a day to be honoured, and no mothers deserve to be honoured more than mothers of Children with Cancer. These mothers live under tremendous stress for months, sometimes years while their child is engaged in a battle for their life.
Put yourself in the shoes of one of these mothers ~ your child has been given what amounts to a death sentence before they have even had a chance to really live…
Add to this the confusion and uncertainty; the many visits to doctors, clinics, and hospitals; the myriad of tests and treatments; the fear that their child may die; the financial strain and the strain of trying to give your other children what they need too…
Now think about the many hours, weeks and often months that these mothers spend in hospital wards at the bedside of their child, praying, crying while they sleep and trying to show a brave smiling face when they are awake…
Birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Anniversaries, Kwanza, Pesach… none of them matter to a mother if her child is ill… she will maintain a vigil at their bedside, often to the detriment of her own health…
Every day the Little Fighters Cancer Trust gets loads of phone calls, e-mails and enquiries on our Facebook Page from individuals who want to know how they can help us to help our Little Fighters and their families.
We really appreciate all the offers and enquiries, but we cannot always get to them as we are only 3 full-time staff who have a mountain of things to do, so we have made it very easy for you to offer help…
Like any NGO, we survive on donations, all of which (and more) are desperately needed to do whatever we can for our Little Fighters and their Families, so we definitely do need as many volunteers as possible.
Unfortunately most people want to work directly with the children, but this is not possible most of the time as the hospitals have major red-tape about visitors to the paediatric oncology wards – and for good reason – primarily that these Little Fighters all have impaired immune systems and the slightest infection could mean disaster for them.
We do, however have many other forms of volunteerism, and if you would like to help please look through the descriptions of the volunteers that we do need and see which would suit you.