Coping with Cancer
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Coping with Cancer
My husband had testicular cancer 2 yrs. ago and is considered
cured. We thought we were done having kids so didn't bank any
sperm. Well, now we're having second thoughts and considering
having another baby. We're concerned about the health of the
sperm after 8 wks. of radiation, but no chemo. And then
there's the fact that he's in his mid-40s and I'm closing in on
40. Anyone else had a similar experience? We'd love your
input. Many thanks in advance.
A friend of mine had testicular cancer (radiation, no chemo) and
now has two daughters. The first was conceived just before he had
treatment and the second two years after. He and his wife had no
difficulty getting pregnant at all and the girls are perfectly
healthy. He was 30 at the time of his cancer, though, and that
might make a difference. Good luck to you!
My husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer about a year and
a half ago, when our first-born was 3-months old. He had the
orchiectomy surgery and we had to wait several months to find out
if he needed to do chemo or radiation. We were pretty
shell-shocked and had always assumed we'd try for a second child
when our first was around 2 yrs. old. I spent those months we
were waiting researching what you have asked. In a nutshell, I
found that it was advised not to even try to get pregnant for a
minimum of one year after radiation treatment. The literature I
found said that after one year, radiation (and chemo, for that
matter) in this instance may affect sperm count but not
necessarily the quality of the sperm (meaning an increased risk
for birth defects or mutation in the sperm.) Our oncologists
told us the same thing.
You may want to consult your oncologist and your OB/GYN to see
what they recommend, especially because every case is different
and it may vary depending on the amount of radiation used, etc.
Being close to 40 may also present different circumstances.
Also, just fyi - different situation but encouraging nonetheless
- my friend had thyroid cancer and went through some rigorous
radiation treatment. She just gave birth to a very happy,
healthy and cute baby boy!
My husband had testicular cancer, too. He underwent
chemotherapy as it turned out to have spread. That was five
years ago. We did bank some sperm since we still wanted a
family, but ended up not using any of it. My husband's sperm
turned out to be fine just low in number. Therefore, we had to
go ahead with in-vitro. At the clinic, they suggested an ixsy
(sp?), which means that a sperm is manually (with a syringe)
placed into the egg. That is done when the sperm count is so
low that there is great doubt any of the little guys will make
it in time. Ten months later, we had a beautiful little girl,
as I was 36 and my husband turned 41. My advice is to get his
sperm tested as well as yourself (for fibroids). If everything
is fine, you can reevaluate your future plans. Hope this helps.
An excellent website about cancer and fertility that might help
you figure out your options: www.fertilehope.org
I'd say that your best advice will be from a doctor. Getting a sperm
count and a
check on mobility.
As far as the chemo treatment...sperm are continually generated with a
of sperm after I believe a few weeks. (There is a monthly hormonal
cycle that is
coordinated with sperm production and the highest amount of sperm
Much like a woman's hormonal monthly cycle. It is a lot like a factory,
generation of millions of sperm. Sperm that are not ever ''used'' are
into the genetic material and ''recycled.'' To find out information
about how sperm
are made you can do some research on line with key terms of ''sperm
and'' human male reproduction.'' I really think that it depends on what
out and done during the cancer, how the hormone cycle was effected and
Rachel -has a BA in Biology
my partner has recently been diagnosed with rectal cancer. we are
looking for references from anyone who has been treated with
alternative therapies and has providers to recommend. thank you!
There is a Chinese healing center in San Anselmo called Pine
Street that specalizes in cancer recovery. Here is the weblink
with the contact information.
Several lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of rectal cancer
and prevent its recurrence. The links between diet, weight, and
exercise and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for
any type of cancer.
1. Obesity increases the risk of rectal cancer (and its
recurrence after treatment). So, lose weight.
2. Physical inactivity increases the risk. Exercise.
3. Alcohol use increases the risk. Limit alcohol use.
4. Smoking increases the risk. Quit smoking.
5. A diet low in vegetables increases the risk. Consume more
6. Type-2 diabetes increases the risk. Lose weight and exercise
to improve the type-2 diabetes.
If rectal cancer is already present, alternative treatments have
not been shown to reverse it. However, once it has been
surgically removed, then dietary changes listed above (plus
exercise) can be started to prevent its recurrence.
There is no evidence that other ''treatments'' such as homeopathy,
acupuncture, herbs, colonics, etc. can prevent or cure any type
of colorectal cancer.
When my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he saw (and
still sees) a wonderful acupuncturist, named Robert Levine, who
lives and works in North Berkeley. In my husbands case he did
both herbs and acupuncture, and allopathic treatment as well.
I highly recommend Bob Levine, who has a lot of experience with
cancer, and many other things as well.
Wish you the best.
I'm curious as to how many people actually follow what seems to
be a common recommendation for people to see a dermatologist
annually to be screened for skin cancer. How important is this?
Given the HMOs and authorization process most of us face, is
this something that many people do? How long do you have to wait
to get an appointment? Are there many dermatologists in the
various HMO networks to choose from?
I had to see a dermatologist for something several years back
and there was only one doctor to see and at the time I had to
wait for 3 months to get an appointment. I'm curious as to
whether things have improved and whether such a screening is
viewed as good preventative medicine or the frivolous indulgence
of a hypochondriac.
I do see a dermatologist annually, as I have very fair skin and lots of freckles
moles, with a personal history of severe sunburns when I was a teen. So I suppose
some of it depends on your personal risk factors. But I have also been told by a
family practice doc to just do my own skin check, monthly, using a mirror for my
back...so I suppose that would be an alternative.
Each one in my family sees a dermatologist for skin check every
year, regularly. We call on the phone to our primary physician
to request a referral and make an appointment. We never had a
problem in scheduling it - and our doctors never question it -
just fax a referral to our dermatologist. We choose the time of
the year for which we'd prefer our appointments and schedule
them ahead of time to make it easy. I always make a double-
appointment for my two children, for example, so that I can
show them to the doctor within one trip.
We're with Blue Shield HMO btw.
Well as a very fair skinned person who has had several basal
cell carcinomas removed I highly reccommed an annual, if not bi-
annual, screening. As for the Dermos, I used to have a fair
selection with Health Net, then my retirement package switched
me to another HMO and my selection is the pits. I am more
comfortable seeking women Docs and there is ONLY ONE now in the
entire east bay area (and I'm not thrilled with her) There were
two others who I was seeing, but they both have left (gee, I
wonder why). I've been informed, and it's apparent, that since I
spent a great deal of time in the sun in my crazy youth that I
will continue to have actinic keratoses,etc. I get checked every
year and have ANY irregular mole removed. If something comes up
prior to that yearly visit, I make an appointment right away and
always mention that I've had basal cell cancer in the past.
Years ago I belonged to Kaiser. I had 2 red dots (chest &
forehead). They continued to grow and I went to the dermos. They
froze them off and said that it was probably excema. Over the
course of 2 years I went back 3 times and was always told the
same. I left Kaiser and the new doc referred me to a
dermotologist within 2 weeks. They were confirmed as basal cell
and were now so big that I had to have outpatient surgery.
Since you have had some cancers why take a risk. Find a dermo,
then because of your history tell them you want to be checked on
a regular basis.
sun screen queen
You should get a skin cancer screening if you've had a lot of
sunburns, have a lot of moles, or a family history of skin
cancer. I saw my dermatologist because I saw some brown spots
that appeared to have darkened and my primary care doc had seen
something she was concerned about. I went to my visit not sure
what to expect. But my dermatologist was awesome at the exam,
explaining things and offering some really great suggestions
about skin products. I see her yearly for check-ups. Her name
is Paige Radell and she is in Oakland. I waited for about 2
weeks and it was so worth it!!!! Incidentally, the thing my
primary was worried about was nothing, but Dr. Radell found
something precancerous. Her office number is 763-2662.
I saw a dermatologist recently at Kaiser Oakland because a good
friend of mine just passed away from melanoma last spring at the
age of 39. I made an appointment right away. I had to go to my
general practitioner first and she got me a derm appt two weeks
later. I did not have to wait long. The dermatologist was
great. Told me I could make an appt with him anytime without
needing to go through my gen practitioner. He didn't tell me to
come for regular screenings. Go see a dermatologist (with
Kaiser it's not a problem) and they will tell you if you need
regular screeings or not, which should depend on your past sun
exposure and family history. I say better safe than sorry
because if they catch a melanoma early, you have a fighting
chance, unlike my friend who had no insurance at the time and
had his first melanoma mole removed too late.
I have seen a dermatologist for a yearly skin cancer screening
for five years now, after I had a small pre-cancer lesion
removed. I do not think it's a waste of time, nor do I consider
myself a hypochondriac. Skin cancer is a real, painful, and quick
killer. I do not ever want to have a malignant melanoma, and my
understanding is that regular yearly skin checks can often detect
pre-cancers and even some cancers at early stages, well before
they turn deadly. I am of the skin type that is most at risk, so
that is another factor that leads me to take this kind of
prevention seriously. I used to see a dermatologist who
scheduled these visits six months in advance, and had a horrible
waiting time for regular apts. So I switched. You can too,
although it might take some effort to find a doctor who works
with you HMO. Ask around, and I bet you'll find someone.
I have to note, too, a bit of sarcasm and judgementalism about
this prevetative measure in the tone of your message. What's
that about? Do you consider monthly breast exams a waste of time
and the product of hypochondria? How about wearing sunscreen
when you're outside? How about brushing your teeth or flossing?
The fact is, there are many things we do to protect our health,
and not all of them are crazy. This becomes especially true
after you pass the age of 40. But cancer can afflict people of
all ages. If you are in a group at risk (and your doctor will
tell you if you are or not), then what's the problem about being
I try to see a derm once a year for skin cancer screening. I
know some people who have never gone though and that's their
decision. Both of my parents have had pre-cancerous skin things
removed and are both under the watchful eye of a derm on a
regular basis so I know this is in my family and am hyper about
getting checked. The scary thing about skin cancer is that a
spot can turn deadly very quickly and you can be dead in 6 months
because the cancer can spread so quickly (you can't remove your
skin the way you can other organs that contract cancer).
One thing I did find out recently though is that my general
doctor can do a screen for me during a regular check up (she said
to just mention that I needed it done when making my
appointment). So apparently you don't need to see a derm to have
a basic screen done (if your general is trained). Then what
happens is if my dr. finds something suspicious she'll send me on
to see a derm.
It was recommended to me a few years ago--when i had a basal
cell carcinoma removed--to get an annual skin check. i have
blue shield hmo and go to doctors in the hill physicians
group. there are plenty of dermatologists i can go to, and all
i pay for is the copay. i do have to have a formal referral
from my primary care physician.
i don't think it's frivolous. my father and grandmother have
had numerous skin cancers removed over the years.
I have a close friend that was just diagnosed with Hodgkins
Lymphoma. She is 32 and otherwise healthy. She will start
treatments next week at Stanford. She would like to supplement
traditional therapy (Chemo etc) with alternative therapies as
appropriate. Here is where I need advice... How do we find a
reputable person (natropath, osteopath, etc... ) to advise her
on what supplements and other treatments are safe and effective
in treating symptoms and/or the cancer itself? Any thoughts
(recommended reading, contacts etc..) would be appreciated.
I suggest that you call my naturopathic doctor, Dr. Clare Garcia.
510.410.1087. Part of her medical training included working in
an oncology clinic and I've heard her mention working with
patients with cancer. She's also very sweet, knowledgeable and
perceptive. Best wishes to you and your friend.
There are a few local organizations that you or your friend can contact that would have
information about reputable local alternative medicine practitioners that work with
cancer patients. The Wellness Community in Walnut Creek,
Womens Cancer Resource
Center, and the Charlotte Maxwell Clinic
all have good resources and information.
They also have support groups and other services that she may find very useful. Best
wishes to your friend.
The Women's Cancer Resource Center
(Telegraph Ave, Oakland), has
a library and a number of support groups including one on
alternative treatments. They will also match a woman with cancer
to someone else who has had a similar type of cancer, so you can
get more information and learn what questions to ask. They also
have volunteers who will research questions you have -- so you
don't have to pay for the med-line articles.
The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic
provides complementary care to
low-income women. They also are a good place to call and find advice.
Almost all of the hospitals that treat cancer have some
complementary services. Alta Bates has yoga, guided visualization
and a few other things (you don't need to be getting your
treatment there to go to the classes -- just go to the cancer
center or call them for the schedule). UCSF at the Mt. Zion site
has similar classes including pilates. (My husband says it's a
loss leader -- you spend thousands on treatment and they throw in
a yoga class.)
There are many resources out there, and if you get started with
one, you are likely to find some of the others.
this page was last updated: Jun 21, 2009
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