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How Cancer Affects Your Relationship

Jennie Bushnell and her husband Dan had been together six years when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Since she was pregnant with their second child and they chose to delay treatment until after the baby was born, they didn’t tell their families right away.

“We were each other’s only confidant,” says Jennie. “We were each other’s only shoulder to lean on, because we didn’t know what our future would be at that point.”

From then on their bond got even stronger—through endless doctors appointments and six months of treatment.

According to new research, leaning on your partner during this time really can bring you closer. Among couples facing early-stage breast cancer, dealing with the illness as a team was associated with greater intimacy, according to a recent study in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

In this particular study, pairs who talked about how cancer was affecting them as a couple and truly listened to each other had greater intimacy at the follow up. That was also the case for Jennie and her husband who were spending even more time together than usual given all of her doctor’s appointments. They talked about the cancer, practical things like insurance and wills, the new addition they planned to put on their house, and the vacations they wanted to take with their kids.

“It was a distraction, but I think we felt life if we thought long and hard enough about all the good things, they would just fall into place that way,” says Jennie.

Aside from planning, they also retained their sense of normalcy—another factor that predicted intimacy in the study.

“We tried to keep our sense of humor as much as possible,” says Jennie, who at one point shaved her head into a mohawk liberty spike—something her husband immediately adopted, too. “We had matching pink mohawks—his even had big pink polka dots.”

Read More at ABC News

Cancers on the rise in pregnant women

The number of pregnant women diagnosed with cancer has increased over the past couple of decades, a new study from Australia suggests.
In 2007, the most recent year studied, researchers found 192 out of every 100,000 pregnant and postpartum women received a cancer diagnosis – up from 112 per 100,000 women in 1994.

Researchers couldn’t determine what was behind that increase in risk, but said it could be due in part to the older average age of expectant moms combined with better cancer detection.
Another explanation could be “the increased interaction with health services during pregnancy,” said Christine Roberts, an obstetrics researcher at the University of Sydney who worked on the study.
Roberts said some doctors in her department had seen a few cases of expectant moms with cancer and wanted to know whether this was indicative of any increase in risk.

To try to answer that question, her group collected information from three large databases on births, cancer cases and hospital admissions in New South Wales, Australia. That included data on roughly 780,000 women who gave birth more than 1.3 million times between 1994 and 2008.

During the same period, there were about 1,800 new cancers diagnosed in moms-to-be and those who’d given birth within the last year.

Read More at FoxNews.

 

Breastfeeding For A Year Cuts Cancer Risk By A Third

Women carrying faulty genes have an almost three in four chance of developing breast cancer and feeding their babies naturally is one of the few ways they can reduce that risk, researchers have found.

A study has found that women carrying the BRCA1 gene were 32 per cent less likely to develop breast cancer if they breastfed for at least a year compared with women with the gene who didn’t.

Women with the genetic faults are at such a high risk of breast cancer that many opt for preventive surgery, a double mastectomy, as they fear they are living with a time bomb.

The research conducted by the Women’s Research Institute in Ontario, Canada, calculated that just five women with the BRCA 1 gene needed to breastfeed for a year to prevent one developing cancer.

However breastfeeding had no effect on the cancer risk for women carrying the BRCA2 gene, suggesting the way the two genes cause cancer are different.

Amongst the general population of healthy women, breastfeeding for a year reduces the risk of breast cancer by 4.3 per cent, the authors said.

Almost 6,000 women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes were included in the study, with around half having already been diagnosed with cancer.

The women were matched to each other as closely as possible, including number of births, age and body weight, giving 1665 pairs to be analysed.

Read More at The Telegraph.

Pregnant with Breast Cancer: Tough Choices, New Hope

Zoila Leiva was 4 ½ months pregnant with twins when her doctor delivered the devastating news: She had breast cancer. And it was advanced.

Ten months earlier, Leiva was told the lump in her right breast was benign — a swell of fluid that would subside with time. Instead, the lump grew. And biopsies revealed it was a stage III tumor that had already spread to her lymph nodes.

“The oncologist said, ‘The only way we can treat you, the only way we can save your life, is for you to have an abortion,” said Leiva, who was 38 at the time, with a 14-year-old daughter. “I had two weeks to make a decision.”

Chemotherapy drugs are toxic to tumors. And depending on the drug and the stage of pregnancy, they can harm fetuses, too. At her oncologist’s request, Leiva attended an “abortion orientation” session that left her troubled after she learned about the three-day procedure to terminate her pregnancy.

But, she said, “Those babies were already moving inside me. I couldn’t do it.”

Instead, Leiva looked for a second opinion and found an oncologist willing to start treatment right away.

Chemotherapy for breast cancer can be safe during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, according to a new report in The Lancet. And terminating the pregnancy does not appear to improve the mother’s prognosis.

“The situation remains challenging since in some situations an advanced cancer can be fatal for mother and fetus,” said Dr. Frédéric Amant of the Leuven Cancer Institute in Belgium, lead author of the report. “The patient and her partner should be informed about the different treatment options and the physician should explain that termination of pregnancy does not seem to improve maternal outcome, but the decision to continue or end the pregnancy is a personal one.”

Read More at ABC News

Komen Breast Cancer Charity Severs Ties with Planned Parenthood

By: Shari Roan

In what looks to be a break between two organizations dedicated to women’s health, a national breast cancer awareness group said it would stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood centers for breast cancer examinations and other breast health services.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leader in fundraising for breast cancer research and famous worldwide for its iconic pink ribbon, said Tuesday that it was halting all partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates because of recently adopted criteria that forbid it from funding any organization under government investigation.

In September, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) launched an inquiry to determine whether Planned Parenthood uses public money to fund abortions. Planned Parenthood receives federal money but cannot use it to provide abortions.

Komen has a long history of providing funding to various Planned Parenthood affiliates for such services as manual breast exams and referrals for mammograms and biopsies to check suspicious lumps for cancer. Although that money is not used for abortions, the Komen Foundation may have yielded to demands from antiabortion groups to sever its ties to Planned Parenthood.

Read more at LA Times

10 Things to Ask Your Gynecologist

EBeauty gynoNo one particularly likes going to the gynecologist. It is something that simply needs to be done and gotten over with. Going to the gynecologist is important to a women’s health and so it is crucial that all the right questions are asked and not simply ignored. Unless you speak up, the doctor will not be able to guess all the questions you need answered. Here we will give you a quick guide on a few essential questions you may need to ask your gynecologist.

 

1. Sex has been painful lately, Is that normal?

Totally embarrassing, I know, but if you can’t talk to your gyno about this stuff than who can you tell? She will ask you some follow up questions and give you all the options that it could be. Chances are that it is totally normal, but when it comes to things like this it is always important to ask a medical professional.

2. I’ve been itchy…down there. Is that really bad?

When it comes to something like this people always freak out. In reality it could be a million things. It is very important to ask your doctor because they are the only ones who actually know one thing from another. Don’t go buying anything over the counter until you see your doctor because that stuff could do more harm than good.

3. I think I might smell…down there too. Is that normal? Can I fix that?

This is a very sensitive subject. Women take a lot of care into their personal hygiene and the last thing they want is to smell…down there. Ask a doctor. Do not buy anything over the counter. Chances are this is something very normal that no one talks about for obvious reasons.

4. Should I get tested?

Duh. Of course you should. But go talk to your gyno. She will ask you some questions and then tell you that yes, you should get tested. That way you can be sure that you have no STDs. If you get tested and something does show up than you will be prepared to treat it.

5. My period has been painful and irregular lately. What does that mean?

Periods are tricky business. It could be a random bad cramping and PMS month or it could be more. You should go to your doctor to be sure. They will be able to calm your worries and hopefully solve your period problems.

6. How should I check my breasts for cancer?

The Gyno is the person to go to for this information. If you don’t already know how to do an at-home breast cancer check then ask your gynecologist the next time you see her and ask her about a mammogram.

7. I don’t like my birth control. Can I try something new?

This is a very important question. Birth control should be something that you are one hundred percent comfortable with. If you have any issues with yours than you need to bring it up with your doctor and ask about switching to another one.

8. Sometimes I pee a little in my pants. What does this mean?

This is not just a problem for little children and older people. It is more common in young adults than is commonly known. If you have an issue with this than do not hesitate to bring it up with your doctor.

9. I’m having some sex issues. Is there anything I can do to fix these?

If you can not bring this up with your gyno, that who can you bring it up with? Your sex issues could have a million different reasons behind them and it is important to ask your doctor before you assume that they originate somewhere else.

10. Does being a smoker affect my sexual health? 

Smoking affects your sexual health just as it affects all the other aspects of your health. It is important to bring up your concerns regarding being a smoker to your gynecologist in case she has any recommendations.

Do you have any good questions to ask your gynecologist? Let us know and we will share them with others!


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