28 Sep 2011

Help Us to Help Others

As an update to my previous post "SunflowerSisters' Amazon Affiliate Program", we have been very busy seeking out suitable new retailers to add to our Books and Gift Store page. We have now affiliated with several new retailers which offer products such as:
  • yoga and fitness gear,
  • eco-friendly organic products,
  • organic nutritional supplements, foods and personal care products,
  • medical and pharmacy supplies,
  • flowers and gift items,
and happily,
  • a large selection of quality wigs at very reasonable prices.
In addition to these, there is a very large selection of everyday consumer goods, and we continue to seek out new retailers whose products complement our website and reflect the interests of our readers. We are also happy to announce our acceptance to affiliate programs in the UK.

You may recall, when you enter one of our affiliates' websites through a link on one of the Sunflower Sisters websites, and make a purchase, a small commission is paid to us. These commissions help us to finance the costs of maintaining and updating our website.

Where can you find the links to our affiliated retailers?
  1. SunflowerSisters Books and Gift Stores
  2. A new tab on our Facebook page called "Help Us to Help Others"
  3. On the right-hand column of our Sunflower Sisters Ovarian Cancer Blog.
Please remember to bookmark these pages so that you can easily return to your favourite online retailers.

Once again, we thank you for Helping Us to Help Others!

17 Sep 2011

Dr. Oz Ovarian Cancer Diet Controversy

In recognition of September being Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Dr. Oz aired a special show on Tuesday.  The second half of the show featured a guest, Dr. William Li, President, The Angiogenesis Foundation.  The Angiogenesis Foundation is the world's first and leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to conquering disease by controlling the blood vessels that feed tumours.  Dr. Li presented his anti-ovarian cancer diet.http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/anti-ovarian-cancer-diet

Understandably, this has created a hubbub within the ovarian cancer community and has spurred The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to contact Dr. Oz and ask the producers to provide the studies and the sources of the information supporting the claims made.
Here is their response:

In summary, the Alliance cannot support any of the claims as follows:
  • Endive - animal and human studies need to be conducted
  • Onions - studies are needed to further evaluate this association
  • Fish - data conflict at this time re fish-based Omega 3 fatty acids*
  • Tomatoes - few studies have indicated a clear link

* recent newspaper articles have cited studies indicating fish-based Omega 3 fatty acids interfere with chemotherapy effectiveness.

14 Sep 2011

Good Things Happen in Three's

There is an old adage about "good things happening in three's", and in our family it's no exception.  On September 7th we added our newest member  - welcome to the world Miss Aubrey Ruth!  She is the third baby this year and if you've been following our blogs, all three have been girls. 
(Photo courtesy of VdK Photography)

On Sunday, two of my sisters and myself (that makes three) participated in the 5 km Cambridge (Ontario) Ovarian Cancer Walk of Hope.  We even managed to get two out of three husbands on the march along with our 6 month old puppy - well, that makes three boys.  It was a glorious day and a successful event.  Congratulations to the organizers for all of their efforts!  Ovarian Cancer Canada had a target of $1.7M and managed to raise $2.5M and counting... fantastic!
A special thank you goes to "my Sunflower Sister" aka the webmaster of this site, for putting together our outfits - specially stencilled teal t-shirts, sunflower bands for our hats and even a sunflower scarf for our puppy.  I think we looked pretty good - don't you?

Lastly, I'm extremely grateful to have news from another Sunflower Sister who is enjoying remarkable health despite tremendous odds.  Keep going sister - you know who you are!!

11 Sep 2011

Intention of the Heart

I had the honour and privilege of studying with Dr. David Simon, the co-founder of the Chopra Center last May.  Today, in memory of all those affected by the tragic events of 9/11, he has written a special healing meditation.  The creation is a beautiful, sensitive reminder that "The greatest contribution we can make to the wellbeing of those in our lives is to have peace in our own hearts."  With that in mind, I encourage you to listen to this, his "Intention of the Heart".


10 Sep 2011

Fashion for Ovarian Cancer Research

Ovarian Cancer Fundraiser - London, Ontario, Canada

8 Sep 2011

Shake and Bake Surgery

I read an article in The New York Times on the weekend entitled "Hot Chemotherapy Bath: Patients See Hope, Critics Hold Doubts" written by Andrew Pollack.  The article invoked several emotions in me including outrage - outrage over comments like surgeons competing for cancer patients by offering a "technique that has almost no basis in science" and "you can't make a living doing this procedure in appendix cancer patients" (meaning that appendix cancer is so obscure you need a broader base of cancers to treat to make it profitable). 

The surgical technique referred to is a costly and controversial procedure which involves the standard surgical removal of the patient's tumour(s), then pumping heated chemotherapy into the abdomen, gently rocking and massaging the patient's innards and finally suturing the incision.  The theory is to flood the abdomen with heated chemo putting it in direct contact with any microscopic cells as opposed to using conventional systemic chemotherapy. 

Some of America's leading medical centers have been offering this to colorectal and ovarian cancer patients for some time now.  When I'd first learned of this technique it was labelled "shake and bake surgery" - for obvious reasons.

When new cancer drugs are discovered they typically go through an in vitro stage - whereby the drug is exposed to the cancer cell directly, followed by a stage where cancer cells are injected into mice, where the drug's efficacy is further analysed, then finally, human clinical trials.  It's very disconcerting to read about procedures which on the surface seem logical, but now discover that they have "no basis in science".  It's alarming to read that the survival rate for patients undergoing this radical therapy is basically the same as those receiving regular chemotherapy  however, the risks are considerably higher and the recovery time is as long as six months.
The only reward therefore, seems to be the surgeon's desire to expand his/her repertoire and paycheck.  Sadly, another false hope.

5 Sep 2011

Ovarian Cancer Prevention and Detection

So far this month, we've dealt with Ovarian Cancer Signs and Symptoms, the Types of OvCa and now we'll talk about Prevention and Detection.

Sadly, there is no such thing as ovarian cancer prevention.  Even the removal of your ovaries and fallopian tubes does not rule out the pre-existence of cancer cells in your body.   No 100% accurate blood test exists and once again, a Pap smear doesn't help

So what can you do?  In the case of women who have first degree relatives - sister, mother - who carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 defective genes, heightened surveillance is the operative phrase.  These women should have a trans-vaginal ultrasound yearly along with a CA125 blood test.  A trans-vaginal ultrasound can indicate suspicious growths.  The radiologist is also able to administer a dye which will give him/her three minutes to view your vascular network.  Cancerous ovarian tumours tend to have blood vessels which flow more slowly than your regular blood supply.  This is not conclusive, but can lead to other more invasive tests.

Relatives of sporadic ovarian cancer patients have a normal statistical chance of getting the disease.  Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of all gynecological cancers but is still considered rare.

Conclusive detection of ovarian cancer requires a combination of radiology - usually a CT scan, blood tests and ultimately surgery.  The diagnosis cannot be complete without a tumour sample.

Some interesting but unproven generalities float around about who does and does not have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer... some of the preventative adages include:
  • women who have taken birth control pills for more than 5 years
  • women who have had 2 or more children
The foregoing is suggesting hyper-ovulation as a cause.  As well,  the prolonged use of talcum powder in the genital area, smoking, and obesity have been suggested as  causes. 
Stronger genetic predispositions have been found in the Ashkenazi-Jewish community as well as in African American women.

3 Sep 2011

SunflowerSisters' Amazon Affiliate Program

Dear Family and Friends:

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and we're reaching out to each of you to ask you to please "Help Us to Help Others" ...and it won't cost you a cent!

How can you help us?

Many of you already shop online using Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.  SunflowerSisters.ca is a registered affiliate with both Amazon.com and Amazon.ca - which simply means, that if you buy your items through our affiliate account, we will receive a tiny commission. And I mean tiny. This is our only means of financing the cost of maintaining and updating our website.

Why would you buy through our affiliate link?
  • There is no difference in the cost of your purchase.
  • Your items will not take any longer to ship.
  • There is no additional paperwork.
  • There is no questionaire.
  • All purchasing is confidential - no info is supplied to us.
  • SunflowerSisters is starting to reach its targeted market and perhaps you feel our work is valuable.
  • We are hoping to produce an exercise video specifically for ovarian cancer patient rehabilitation and it will be the first of its kind. This is only one of several items where we have incurred out of pocket expenses.
Will you help us?
Please bookmark the following web pages:
Each of these pages has a direct link into Amazon by clicking on the Amazon banner located on that page.
Remember to enter Amazon's website through this bookmarked link each time you visit.
Thank you in advance for your support!
Your SunflowerSisters,
Jo & Lisa

2 Sep 2011

Types of Ovarian Cancer

According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, there are more than 30 different types of ovarian tumours which are categorized according to cell types.  Some are non-cancerous and do not spread beyond the ovary, others are malignant and can spread to other parts of the body.

The three most common types of ovarian cancer are:
  1. Epithelial tumours which originate in the cells that cover the outside of the ovary.  This is the most frequent type of ovarian cancer accounting for approximately 90% of the cases.  It is most common in women over the age of 60 but can develop at any age.
  2. Germ cell tumours which originate in the egg-producing cells and are found within the ovary.  This type of cancer is most common in adolescents and women under the age of 30.  It accounts for about 5% of all ovarian cancers.
  3. Sex cord stromal tumours develop in the connective tissue that holds the ovary together and produces the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.  It is relatively rare accounting for 5% of ovarian tumours.
Within these broad categories are two sub-categories - hereditary or sporadic cancer.  Hereditary ovarian cancer usually means that the person carries the defective BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.  About 10% of ovarian cancers are inherited from a blood relative.  Sporadic cancer is cancer of unknown origins.

People who inherit the defective BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at a significantly higher lifetime risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.  Therefore screening for these genetic defects becomes an important tool for the ovarian cancer patient themselves and her family.  Please refer to Genetic Testing under the Hope and Healing tab on the website for more details.

Prevention of inherited breast cancer usually involves heightened breast screening, possible use of drugs such as Tamoxifen, possible removal of the breasts.  Prevention of inherited ovarian cancer usually involves prophylactic removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries.

1 Sep 2011

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and we'll do our best to cover the issues surrounding the signs and symptoms of the disease as well as prevention.

What are the some of the possible signs of ovarian cancer?
  1. abdominal pressure, fullness, bloating
  2. pelvic discomfort or pain
  3. persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
  4. changes in bowel habits such as constipation
  5. changes in bladder habits such as frequent need to urinate
  6. loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
  7. increased abdominal girth - clothes fitting tightly around the waist
  8. a persistent lack of energy
  9. low back pain
  10. some of the above...none of the above.
As you can read, most premenopausal women experience all or some of these symptoms on a monthly basis.  They are commonly attributed to PMS and not typically alarming to any of us.  The difference between one's monthly experience and cancer is usually persistence and worsening .  OR NOT...which is why the disease has been labelled "the silent killer".
In my own case, I had no symptoms other than discovering a lump in my groin which I had attributed to a hernia.  How could I make such a diagnosis?  I had had a trans vaginal ultrasound only 7 weeks prior to my discovery with an "all clear".  On the day I felt the lump, my husband and I had played an aggressive game of tennis and upon over-reaching for the ball, I ended up performing  the splits really hurting myself in the groin area.  That's my story.

I've had three friends whom I met over the last four years at the Cancer Centre - all three dead now - all three mis-diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome instead of ovarian cancer - a common mistake given their complaints.  In their cases, however, the doctors missed the word persistent - all three were symptomatic for an extended period of time.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer.  A Pap smear cannot diagnose this disease.  There is no reliable blood test.  Ovarian cancer, gone undetected, spreads throughout the abdomen where it is very difficult to treat.

Treatment however, is possible.  New drugs are being discovered daily - sign up for our Tweets for the proof - it's extremely encouraging.  There is a race on to develop the blood test which will be 100% accurate in early diagnosis of the disease - when cure not palliation is possible.  Defective genes are being uncovered at a fantastic pace paving the way for individualized treatment in the future.

Next blog...awareness of inherited genetic abnormalities which can lead to ovarian cancer prevention. Ovarian Cancer INFOGRAPHIC Know The Facts