Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

My Family and I at a Fundraiser Benefit in my Honor
It is a personal mission for me to spread the word that November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. I was only forty-one years old when I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in February of 2004. Hearing those three scary and life altering words, "you have cancer" is something I'll never forget. My twin sister was by my side as we anxiously waited for the call about my lung biopsy. When the phone rang and I heard the doctor say, "sorry to have to tell you that you have lung cancer,"I found myself repeating the words out loud." My loving sister turned white, fainted and fell to the floor. How could I have lung cancer? I am fairly young and have never smoked cigarrettes.

I've learned a lot about the disease of lung cancer since then. It doesn't matter if you smoke or not. Lung cancer can hit anyone for different reasons. Although smoking is a major risk factor for developing lung cancer, there are other risk factors: Exposure to radon gas or Asbestos, being around second hand smoke and air pollution. I'll never know exactly what caused my lung cancer but I'm sure it was a number of risk factors, including parents that were heavy smokers throughout my childhood.

It was a long hard journey to endure but I was willing to fight as hard as I could for my life. I had surgery to remove the middle lobe of my right lung. I went through a grueling five months of chemotherapy and eventually radiation therapy. I was told I had a 20-25% chance of surviving the first five years because the cancer had spread to a couple lymph nodes. I am happy and grateful to say that I'm seven years cancer free and doing great. Odds of the cancer coming back are very low now that I passed the five year mark. I am a example of how any of us can beat the odds of any life-threatening disease.

According to the American Lung Association, "lung cancer kills more men and women than any other cancer." I hope you will help me in my crusade to spread the word that November is 'lung cancer awareness month.' Hopefully in my life time, they will find better and less evasive treatments and a cure.

Sincerely, Linda Rogers aka Twincess Diaries

Saturday, November 12, 2011

GBE2-NATURE Versus NURTURE

In my GBE2 writing group, we were given the prompt of NATURE Versus NURTURE. I found this topic especially fitting for me as an identical twin.

I'll begin my story by defining Nature and Nurture. Nature refers to genetics, while Nurture refers to Environment. Using my twin sister and I as an example of both terms will bring them to life. Proponents of the Nature concept would believe that Laura and I are alike because of the genes we were born with. For example: Laura and I both enjoy singing and writing because of our genetic make-up.
Proponents of the Nurture concept would say that Laura and I share similarities because of the family we grew up in. For example: We both have a passion for singing and writing because it was nurtured by our family environment.

Now that we have the fundamentals of the Nature versus Nurture theory out of the way, I thought it would be fun to discuss some of the differences between my sister and I, and throw both concepts out the window.


Food: Sis LOVES Green Peppers. I find the green ones too strong and pungent. I prefer the yellow, orange and red ones because their mild and sweet.
  • Laura also loves sour kraut which I can easily live without.


Cleaning/Organizing: Laura is more like Oscar and I'm more like Felix. I don't like messes or things to be unorganized. I think everything should be in it's place. In Laura's defense, she's not a slob or anything as dramatic as Oscar but she doesn't get bothered as much as I do when it comes to issues about cleaning. I actually wish I was a little more like her and able to walk by things that need cleaning or organizing once in a while.
Public Speaking: I'm a proud sister when it comes to my sister's public speaking. This is a talent that she nurtured on her own. At first, she was nervous speaking in public but after doing it awhile, she came to enjoy it and become very good at it. She does motivational speeches for companies, Speaks on 'Violence and Abuse' at local treatments centers and does a interactive talk for agency, staff retreats. Her speaking is powerful and touches the soul with her outgoing personality. I do not care to speak in public and thinking about it scares me to death. Although I'd probably be good at it once I got use to it, I don't care to foster this talent in myself.
Physical differences: (not too many) I'm an inch taller than my sister, our noses are slightly different, and her feet are a little bigger than mine. (she thinks her foot size changed after having children). I will now digress with a similarity. Sis and I have always gone up and down in weight, and oddly enough, we both seem to be close to the same weight each time it changes. Seven years ago when I went through chemotherapy and lost weight, sis did too. I think it's because were so close that she lost her appetite right along with mine. Kind of like when a husband gains weight when his wife is pregnant.

Being a twin is such a gift from God. I can't imagine not having my best friend to go through life's ups and downs with.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Exercise to Boost Your Health After Cancer

Cancer patients undergo tremendous stress - emotional, physical and mental. From diagnosis to treatment and recovery, cancer drains patients of energy, often causing them to fight just to lead a normal life again. Once cancer is gone, patients are Hell-bent on preventing the cancer from sneaking up again. Leading a healthy lifestyle becomes priority.

Research suggests that exercise benefits cancer patients and survivors regardless of the type of cancer they have or had, from a common cancer like breast cancer to a rare disease like mesothelioma. According to WebMD.com, exercise can lengthen the survival rate for cancer victims and help prevent cancer from recurring for survivors.

According to the New York Times, recent studies suggest that exercise may even be a form of treatment in and of itself. As little as two and a half hours of exercise every week may lower the risk of dying from cancer.

Being overweight after treatment can shorten survival time or increase the risk of recurrence. An active lifestyle can help combat weight gain by improving muscle tone and cutting down body mass. However, it’s not necessary to engage in intense workouts - it’s more important to avoid being inactive. Even light cardio, like walking, is better than not doing anything.

Exercise helps to improve a cancer patient’s or survivor’s quality of life overall. Aside from the obvious physical benefits, exercise can also help improve mood and self-esteem, increase energy while fighting against fatigue, and lower the risk for other diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Brisk movement increases blood flow throughout the body and brain, helping people to think more clearly and sharply. Exercise is also linked to combating depression and lowering stress and anxiety - all side effects of dealing with cancer.

However, it’s not recommended that every single cancer patient hop on the treadmill immediately following treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation can be highly draining, causing anemia and fatigue, which lower energy. It’s not safe to start an exercise regime if you’re feeling weak - wait until your energy returns and slowly work up to a regular workout schedule. Also, treatment can weaken the immune system, so avoid public gyms until your white blood cell count is back to normal.
Written by David Haas
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Guest Blogger