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Archive for May 24th, 2010

With many thanks to my dear friend Maria who asked me to look into the connection between Cancer and perfumes.

There are 2 groups of chemicals undy study: Phlhalates and Synthetic Musks.

The Body Shop, who claim to use only the most natural of products, were caught out when on further studies it was discovered their top selling product ‘White Musk’ contained almost 10 per cent of Synthetic Musk. Not so NATURAL after all.

The article below was written by Journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal who explains in more detail.

When a small Dutch laboratory announced in February that it had measured high levels of chemicals potentially harmful to human health in some of the world’s most popular perfumes, the results were meant to inflame. And they did.

Commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace, and published under the alarmist subtitle “L’Eau de Toxines,” the report suggested that women and men may be spraying themselves with toxic substances. The French Perfume Manufacturers Association reacted immediately with a terse statement blaming environmentalists for “throwing doubt on the innocence of perfumes.”

The angry exchange illustrated just how high the stakes are in a debate that goes far beyond perfume. The European Union is preparing landmark legislation that would require companies for the first time to study and report on the safety of the hundreds of thousands of chemicals they put into consumer goods – from cars and computers to beauty products.

The legislation, known as Reach, for Research, Evaluation and Approval of Chemicals, which is expected to be adopted by early next year, will dramatically change the way Europe regulates household chemicals – and may also vastly improve understanding of the hazards posed by the soup of low-level chemicals in the backdrop of contemporary life.

“There was growing concern about the linkage between chemicals and dis- ease, but really the biggest concern was the general lack of overall information,” said Yvon Slingenberg, acting head of the chemical unit of the European Commission’s Environment Director- ate General. “There are all these substances out there having an impact, but we don’t know what it is.”

The European commissioner for environmental affairs, Stavros Dimas, noted this week that legislation is the only way to force all companies to pay attention to chemical safety. These firms should be prepared “to preempt scares and scandals by replacing dangerous substances up front,” he said.

Chemicals developed since 1981 have already had to undergo intensive scrutiny in Europe. Older, widely used compounds – like some of the ingredients in perfume, flame retardants and hair dyes – have been less widely studied. As scientists struggle to explain rises in diseases like breast cancer and brain tumors, as well as declining male fertility rates, many wonder if low-level exposure to certain substances may hold the key.

For its report, Greenpeace had the Dutch chemistry lab TNO Environment and Geosciences analyze a “random selection” of 36 perfumes for the presence of two groups of chemicals: phthalates and synthetic musks. The results showed, for example, that Calvin Klein’s Eternity for Women contained 2.2 percent by weight of the chemical diethyl phthalate. Jean-Paul Gaultier’s perfume Le Male was more than 6 percent synthetic musk. The White Musk from The Body Shop, which trumpets its eco-friendliness, contained nearly 10 percent synthetic musk.

There is no direct evidence that the phthalates or synthetic musks pose a risk to human health. But much remains unknown, and there are recent indica- tions that these chemicals may not be innocuous. It is unclear, for example, how much of these compounds is absorbed through the skin and how dangerous such doses are to humans.

Animal models are providing emerging evidence of potential danger. According to extensive research in the past decade, phthalates interfere with the development of male fetuses. Synthetic musks inhibit a newly discovered enzyme system that keeps other toxins out of cells.

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Enlarge the image on your screen. Sit in a relaxed position, unclench fists and let fingers relax. Concentrate on the centre of the image and enjoy the energy as it flows through your body.

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Negative Thoughts

Negative thoughts are natural and normal do not be afraid to go to the darkest place. OK ,now you have been there and the worst that can happen is you will die.

I at no point, during my treatment for cancer, thought I was going to die. In fact I said many times, I will die, but it will not be from cancer.

I did however much later due to side effects from Chemotherapy feel sure I was going to die. But I was wrong . I am here and the worst is far behind me. So, no more thoughts about death ,but yes we may take a peep at those ‘negatives’ that creep into our mind from time to time. Then do what a good friend of mine does ‘Trash them’

HERE WE GO: The Negatives

We don’t always think clearly when times are challenging. As a result, some of our thoughts, particularly our most distressing ones, are often distorted and inaccurate.

Here’s a list of 10 reasons why we develop distorted thoughts. Next time you find yourself ruminating over a disturbing thought, use this list to evaluate how accurate it is. You can find tremendous relief by breaking the hold these thoughts have on your mind.

1.All-or-Nothing Thinking

– Only considering the extremes and ignoring any grey areas. Example: When you learn that you have cancer, you think, “I’m going to die.”

2.Overgeneralization

– Concluding that everything will always be negative because of one negative experience. Example: You don’t click with the first doctor you meet, and you think, “I’m never going to find a doctor I like.”

3.Mental Filter

– Focusing on a single negative factor that colours everything else. Example: When the doctor says, “You have cancer, but the tumor is very small, your lymph nodes are clean, and your prognosis is excellent,” you only hear “You have cancer.” Period.

4.Disqualifying the Positive

– Finding a way to discount positive evidence so you can cling to something negative despite evidence to the contrary. Example: After your oncologist reviews all of the medications you can take to prevent nausea associated with chemotherapy, you think, “Chemo is still going to make me horribly sick.”

5.Jumping to Conclusions

– Filling information gaps with negative thoughts. Example: When the doctor says, “You should have a lumpectomy,” you think, “My breasts will never look normal again.”

6.Magnification and Minimization

– Exaggerating or minimizing facts that don’t support your position. Example: When you make it through the first round of chemo with no problems, you think, “It just hasn’t hit me yet.”

7.Emotional Reasoning

– Believing that feelings are the same as facts. Example: Armed with facts and figures to support his case, your doctor recommends that you have chemotherapy. You refuse saying, “I’m not going to have chemo because I know it won’t help.”

8.“Should” Statements

– Telling yourself (or others) what you (or they) should do, thereby creating guilt, anger, and frustration. Example: Your sister-in-law can’t pick up your kids after school, and you think, “She should have found a way to pick them up. I always bend over backwards to help her.”

9.Labeling and Mislabeling

– Attaching a label to yourself or someone else when it doesn’t fit the facts. Example: Chemo has made you too weak to attend your son’s football game. You think, “I’m the worst parent in the world.”

10.Personalizations

– Incorrectly identifying yourself as the cause of a problem. Example: Your doctor suggests that you take extra antinausea medication with your next round of chemo. You think, “I can’t believe I need more medication. It’s because I’m such a weak person.”

OK, we have read all the negatives and now we are going to put them where they belong ,in my friends ‘Trash’

From now on,only POSITIVE thoughts. This BLOG is about winners not losers. Are there any losers reading? No, I thought not.

Lets find a piece of music to meditate with and think those POSITIVE thoughts.

Statistics show MANY survive because of their mental attitude. Statistics also show those who do not make it had long before given up.

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I have had my share of these ‘Do Gooders’ who do no good at all.

In the beginning I told Sephan no one but no one was to know I had cancer.

This of course was unrealistic, a secret is only a secret when no one knows and Stephan had told our closest friends. He needed them now more than ever.

Word was soon out and I had advice about what to do and what not to do. How wonderful my hair would be when it returned because so and so had had the same .

I also saw the one thing I hated most.Pity. I am a very proud woman and pity does not fit well on my broad shoulders.

Some of the things said by well-meaning friends and family can be insensitive and even hurtful. Instead of saying, “I’m so sorry to hear that you’re sick” or “How can I help?” some people will say…

“Just be glad you’re alive.”

“You have breast cancer? Did you know Julia? She died of breast cancer!”

“Who will take care of your animals if you die?”

“You have breast cancer? I can’t believe it. I’m having the worst day, and now you tell me this!”

” But you look so well ”

” But you have never smoked”

” I cant believe it you are so slim”

And the biggest question of all

” How can you have Breast Cancer in your stomach and not in your breast?”

This is a GOOD question and one doctors have yet to find out. When they do I am sure I will be the first to know.

Remember that people who make insensitive comments are almost always well-intentioned. Their insensitivity is usually a reflection of their own anxiety about themselves.

If someone asks, “Aren’t you afraid your cancer will come back?” she’s likely expressing her own fears about cancer. If someone says, “I can’t believe you decided not to have reconstruction after your mastectomy,” they’re likely imagining having to make that decision themselves.

Insensitive comments can be hurtful, but it helps to understand that they truly are unintentional.

And the people making them ,care more than you will ever know.

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Common Feelings for Breast Cancer Patients

While every woman is unique, many breast cancer patients share similar feelings:

Fear

Perhaps the most common feeling women have after hearing, “You have breast cancer,” is fear. We’re afraid of cancer because of the effect it may have on ourselves and those around us.

Who will take care of me?

What will this do to my children? My marriage? My career?

What if I die?

Anxiety

Anxiety can make us feel generally apprehensive. It can blanket us, almost unnoticed at first. We may experience shallow breath, rapid pulse, restlessness, and muscle tension. Sometimes anxiety blooms into a panic attack. Symptoms of panic may include dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, fear of losing control, and fear of imminent death.

Anger

Women may feel angry when they’re diagnosed with breast cancer.

Why is this happening to me? This will ruin my life.

The anger may be directed toward a specific target, like a mother who had breast cancer or the physician who diagnosed it. Some women are angry because their friends or family don’t support them as they would have hoped. Anger may be nonspecific and generalized, a feeling of rage that can boil over at the smallest provocation.

Embarrassment

Some women feel embarrassed by their diagnosis.

Everyone will talk about me.

People will know my business.

Friends will stare at my chest.

Women may feel exposed, both literally and figuratively, because breast cancer affects an intimate part of a woman’s body. They may be uncomfortable talking about their breasts because they associate breasts with sexuality.

Guilt

Sometimes women even feel guilty about having breast cancer. They may believe that their own behaviors caused their illness.

I should have done regular breast self-exams.

I got cancer because I didn’t eat right.

Why did I wait so long to see a doctor?

Women may also feel guilty about the impact of their illness on those around them-financial stress for a family already struggling to pays the bills, more responsibility for a co-worker who has to pick up the slack, disappointments for children whose routine will change.

Grief

Another common feeling is sadness or grief for something lost.

I feel sad all the time.

It seems like someone died.

Many women experience a physical loss-their hair, their figure, their breasts. As important, many women feel an emotional loss-the sense of security and normalcy, feelings of attractiveness and sexuality, even the sense of immortality.

Helplessness

Women can feel helpless and out of control.

I can’t handle this.

It’s too much for me.

How will I manage?

In many households, particularly those with younger children, mothers are used to running the show. They plan their children’s extracurricular activities, their family vacation, and their nights out with their spouse. They often oversee the finances, maintain the house, and manage the health insurance. The emotional and physical challenges of breast cancer can render them helpless. Competent women find themselves with no control over their bodies, their homes, their children-even what’s for dinner.

Confusion

Nearly every woman feels confused, especially immediately after receiving the initial diagnosis.

I don’t know what doctor to choose.

I can’t figure out what type of surgery I should have.

I’m getting too much advice from too many people.

She may be confused by the options for treating her cancer and overwhelmed by the weight of the decisions she must make. It’s a paradox: Women are required to make some of the most consequential decisions of their lives at the very time that their emotional state renders them least capable of doing so.

Hopelessness

Many women feel hopeless, whether their prognosis is good or not. Hopeless thoughts often include the word “never.”

My partner will never want to have sex with me again.

I’ll never look normal.

I’ll never get through this.

Some women believe they are going to die or that treatment will fail or that cancer will come back. Mothers who hope to have more children may feel hopeless about their ability to conceive after chemotherapy. Women may be so overwhelmed by their diagnosis that they may believe their life is ruined.

Jealousy

An unexpected, yet common, feeling mothers experience is jealousy. Women often put their lives on hold while fighting breast cancer, but the world around them goes on.

I hate watching my kids play with the babysitter
when I’m sitting here feeling lousy.

I resent my co-workers for going forward without me when that
project was my idea in the first place.

Mums with breast cancer often find themselves literally and figuratively sitting on the sidelines, feeling as if the world is passing them by. Many women feel sorry for themselves. They see their friends, family, and co-workers going on with life as usual when their own life is anything but normal.

Other Feelings

A breast cancer diagnosis can elicit many other feelings such as denial, shock, bewilderment, frustration, resentment, self-loathing, self-pity, despair, shame, and disbelief.

Accepting Your Feelings

An important part of coming to terms with your emotions is recognizing that your reaction to having breast cancer is reasonable and normal. Your feelings, no matter how strange or uncomfortable they may seem, are legitimate.

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Adapted from “Resource Guide on Children and Grief,” Lois Pearson, M.Ed., Certified Life Specialist, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Each child is unique, and each child has a unique experience with his mother’s illness. Understanding your children’s coping skills can help you better meet their emotional needs as you progress through treatment and recovery.

Newborn to Age 3

What They’re Thinking

When a family encounters a crisis like major illness, even the youngest children can sense that something has happened. They observe change. They notice that activity in the household is different, that Mommy is crying or sad or nervous, that the house feels frenzied or unusually quiet, that more or fewer or different people are around, that something is wrong.

How They Behave

Very young children sense that something is different, but don’t know what to make of it or how to ask questions about it. Kids may feel confused, fearful, anxious, and frustrated. They may not know what to do with these feelings. This can lead to changes in their behavior.

Parents might notice changes in their children’s eating or sleeping patterns, irritability, increased clinging, difficulty separating from parents or caregivers, regressive behaviors such as increased dependence on a transitional object like a blanket or doll, and even regression in toilet training.

How You Can Help

Be sensitive and aware:

Simply understanding why their children are behaving differently makes parents more sensitive to their children’s needs. Parents are more understanding when they realize that regression in toilet training is related to the changes their child sees in the home. Parents are likely to be more understanding than if the potty training mishaps are attributed to laziness.

Talk to your children:

Just because very young children can’t talk about their fears, ask the right questions, or articulate their concerns doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address them. Even 2- and 3-year-olds can understand your illness-and your feelings about it-when you use age-appropriate terms.

Some parents are afraid that bringing up the issue of Mommy’s illness will upset their kids. On the contrary, not talking about it makes children more anxious and fearful, not less. They notice that something is wrong even if they don’t say so or act as if they notice. By ignoring the subject, your child begins to wonder, “What’s so terrible that Mommy won’t even talk about it?”

Maintain normal routines:

Parents should also do their best to maintain normal routines or to establish new routines. Consider bedtime. Continue your normal bedtime routine of reading stories, singing songs, turning on nightlights, leaving the door open-whatever your child has come to anticipate as part of his daily routine.

Sometimes maintaining a normal routine is not possible. In that case, try to establish a new routine. If cuddling your child while you read to him at bedtime becomes physically challenging for awhile, have your husband or a sibling cuddle him while you do the reading. Maintaining a pattern is more important than the pattern itself.

It’s also important to have consistent and familiar caregivers. They do more than feed your child, play with him, and change his diapers. They also help your child feel safe and protected. When you are battling a serious illness, your child needs to feel safe and protected more than ever. You’re likely to need extra help during your treatment. Try to limit the number of additional people taking care of the chidren.

Age 3 to 5

What They’re Thinking

Preschoolers believe in magical thinking. They might believe that their own thoughts, wishes, or behavior caused your illness. They also might believe they can make your illness go away if they can only do the right thing or wish hard enough. Preschoolers also worry that other people they love might get sick. They feel more vulnerable in general and more fearful in other parts of their lives. They might become fearful of thunderstorms, going into the basement alone, or sleeping in their own bed.

Magical thinking also makes kids more resilient. Three- to 5-year-old kids often believe bad things are both temporary and reversible.

How They Behave

A preschooler whose mother is ill may reveal his concerns through his behavior. He might withdraw from others, limiting his conversation or preferring to play alone. He might show some regression in his skills, by reverting to baby talk or forgetting how to tie his own shoes.

Preschoolers might also show concern for their own well-being. A child who loves to swim might become fearful of the water, and a child who is always ready for adventure might be fearful of trying new things. Sickness themes might pop up during imaginary play where they’re the patient or the caregiver. Children this age might also act confused or guilty.

How You Can Help

Identifying Feelings

Parents can help their preschoolers identify the feelings being expressed in their behavior. If your child bursts into tears as you leave for a doctor’s appointment, you can help your child understand recognize his feelings. He may be sad that you’re leaving and angry that you can’t play with him.

Setting Milestones

You can help by giving your child milestones for managing his fear. You might say, “I know you’re afraid because Daddy is leaving. Try to remember that Daddy always comes home from work. He’ll be home at dinnertime just like last night and the night before.”

Sickness Themes at Play

You can also help by including sickness themes during playtime with your child. Show your child how Thomas the Tank Engine can fall off the track but get right on again, how a mechanic can repair a bad part in a car made of Legos, and how Barbie can play soccer again after the doctor fixes her broken leg. Playtime is an excellent opportunity to help your child understand that your illness is temporary and that you will recover.

Ages 6 to 9

What They’re Thinking

Children of this age begin to develop a more realistic understanding of sickness and cancer. The older they get, the more detailed explanations they may require. They may worry that you might die or that others in their lives might get sick or die. They can be uncomfortable expressing these feelings and fears, even to a parent. Kids this age can make connections between their mom and other people they have known who have been sick, recovered, and sometimes died.

How They Behave

Your child might cover up his concern, trying to appear brave and unaffected. He may be okay inside, but he might also be very upset. Some children this age cope with fear by using denial, telling themselves or others that you’re really not so sick. Sometimes they act out in school or at home. CHILDREN who are usually well-behaved can begin bullying other children or refusing to do their homework. You might notice regressive behavior. Your child could rediscover his favorite teddy bear, return to sucking his thumb, or throw tantrums to get his way. CHILDREN of this age might also express their fears verbally, telling you outright that they’re worried and fearful.

How You Can Help

Listen and watch

Listen carefully to your child to determine exactly what kind of information he’s seeking. He might ask you to explain how chemotherapy works, but he really just wants to be reassured that you’ll be okay. Some children this age might want to hear a lot of details. Others may feel overwhelmed or grossed out by too much information. Listen and watch your child’s reaction to know what-and how much-to say.

Help identify feelings

When your child tells you he’s upset-either outright or through his behavior-help him identify his feelings. If he yells at you for burning his toast every morning of his whole life, he may really be angry that you got sick. If he can’t fall asleep at night, he may be worried about your prognosis. You can help your child by helping him de-code his feelings.

Stress-reducing behavior

Encourage your child to do things that will reduce his stress. Physical activities are particularly effective. Ask him to go for a walk with your or to play soccer with his sister. Creative activities are also good for reducing stress. Children can express feelings through drawing, painting, and writing that they may not be able to express to you verbally.

Ages 9 to 12

What They’re Thinking

At this age, children have an even better understanding of what cancer and sickness mean. They also have a broader perspective, and they can put illness into context. They will likely know and remember other people, perhaps family members, who were seriously ill or died. These children begin to have a personal understanding of sickness and death as well. They realize that they can become seriously ill and even die. Children at this age may want very graphic and detailed descriptions of the events surrounding your diagnosis and treatment.

How They Behave

Your child might cover up his feelings by trying to appear tough. He might try to be funny and make jokes because he’s not sure how to handle his feelings. Some children are able to discuss their feelings, while others demonstrate their anger, sadness, and fear through their behavior. They might show their anger through rebellious activities like using curse words or stealing candy from the store. CHILDREN this age may also try to act like an adult but then show regressive behavior as well. Your child might offer to cook dinner for the family one night but then ask to be cuddled later in the evening.

How You Can Help

Encourage communication

Explore your child’s feelings with him. Ask him what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling about your illness. If he’s reluctant to talk, you can let him know that it’s normal to feel angry, confused, and fearful. Also let him know that you’re available if he wants to talk.

Find outlets for feelings

You can help your child find outlets for his negative feelings about your illness. Physical activities, like sports and exercise, are particularly effective for working out stress and fear. Children can also benefit from activities like art and music, which allow them creative expression of their feelings.

Offer routine

Children (like their parents) often find comfort in routine, particularly during times of stress. Maintain your normal routine as much as possible, particularly routines that involve the whole family, like attending religious services and having a family movie night.

Seek support

At this age, kids might prefer to explore their feelings among peers. You might find opportunities for peer support groups or peer-to-peer counseling services.

Adolescents

What They’re Thinking

Adolescents can understand the concept of sickness the way adults do. But their ability to cope with the information varies by child, based on experience and personal development. Some children have more experience with illness and are better able to put your disease into perspective. Other’s with less experience might find the situation more difficult to handle. Children who are easy-going and mature for their age might be better able to cope with their mum’s illness than those who are more emotional.

Adolescents are egocentric. They are focused on themselves and on the present. They are concerned with their own world and how your illness affects them. Your daughter may worry about how she’ll get clothes for school if you’re too tired to shop with her. Your son might worry about how he’ll get to football practice if you have a doctor’s appointment.

Preteens and teens also see things as black and white, and they form strong opinions. This is the age when some become vegetarians because “eating animals is bad.” Many will remain lifelong vegetarians, but many will also develop a more complex understanding and choose to eat meat again. Your children might develop a similarly dogmatic view of breast cancer. They might become passionate crusaders for a cure and become impatient with others who don’t share their passion.

Your adolescent, regardless of gender, is likely to feel embarrassed by your breast cancer. It’s a perfect combination of factors that adolescents find most embarrassing: appearance, the human body, parents, sexuality, and disease.

Boys may be particularly embarrassed. An adolescent boy is beginning to associate breasts with sexual stimulation. Just thinking about his mother’s breasts is likely to be embarrassing. But having his mom’s breasts as the focus of attention may be overwhelming.

Girls will likely be embarrassed, but they may also be fearful. An adolescent girl has anxiety about her developing body because the physical changes are profound and noticeable to others. She may become even more anxious to see her mom being treated for a disease of the breast, and she may become ambivalent about developing her own breasts. She may be afraid of developing breast cancer herself.

How They Behave

An adolescent whose mum is battling breast cancer may withdraw, preferring to hang out alone in his room instead of watching TV with the family. He may act out, arguing with teachers or bullying younger children at school. Adolescents can act on their negative feelings by engaging in risk-taking or reckless behaviors. They may drive too fast without a seatbelt, drink alcohol with friends, try drugs, or vandalize someone’s property.

Some adolescents might try to appear mature and independent, as if they no longer need you and can handle life on their own. They may take on the role of caregiver to you by making meals for you or listening to your own fears and concerns. Adolescents may seek support from their peers. They may spend more time in the company of their friends instead of the family.

How You Can Help

Allow for informed participation

Your adolescent may want to be involved in your treatment, accompanying you to a chemotherapy treatment, for example. They may be afraid to ask and may feel unwanted. You can help by offering open-ended opportunities for them. You might say,

“I thought you might be curious about what happens when I have my chemo treatments. I’m going to give you an open invitation-if you ever want to keep me company, you’re welcome to come along with me.”

Keep lines of communication open

Most adolescents are not interested in communicating with their parents. When you throw breast cancer into the mix, they might become even more reluctant out of fear or embarrassment.

Your adolescent might push the boundaries, either intentionally or unintentionally, while you’re distracted by your illness. It’s important to maintain the rules you had before you became sick. This helps children stay safe and healthy, which is why you had rules in the first place. Also, keeping the rules in place shows your children that you’re involved and that you care. Despite their complaints, rules make your kids feel safe.

Maintaining the rules is complicated. Parents feel appropriately sorry for their CHILDREN because breast cancer affects them in many negative ways. Parents may also feel guilty because so much of their time and effort goes to battling breast cancer instead of taking care of the kids.

With this in mind, unity between parents can help prevent the erosion of rules. Make sure that you and your partner work through your disagreements about the children in private. Your children will see an opportunity for rule-bending if they hear or see discord between parents. You might find them going to the second parent with a question, if they didn’t like the first parent’s answer.

Keep in mind this guideline: When your adolescent seeks permission, ask yourself, “Would I have allowed this before I got sick?”

Encourage peer support

Some adolescents may prefer to discuss your breast cancer with their peers instead of with other adults. You may find peer support groups or peer-to-peer counseling services in your community. Children can also find peer support informally by talking about their feelings with their friends. Encourage your child to seek support either formally or informally, with peers or with other appropriate adults.

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