Archive for January, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Are Getting Help with Radiation Side Effects

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 3.15.27 PMThe patients at Beth Israel Deaconess Cancer Center are able to get Jeans Cream for help with radiation side effects by visiting Windows of Hope. Windows of Hope is a specialty shop featuring products and resources for men and women being treated for cancer.

Founded by a cancer survivor and her husband, Windows of Hope makes it easy for patients with cancer to find the products and services they need in one location. Their staff offers supportive and sensitive advice, in a warm environment where patients can meet and share.

They have a comprehensive list of products for people going through cancer treatment and radiation side effects, such as wigs and partial hairpieces, breast prostheses, hats and scarves, jewelry, journals, books, CDs and specialty creams and lotions.

Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 3.23.38 PM

The Cancer Center at BIDMC is integral to one of Harvard Medical School’s major teaching and research institutions. At BIDMC, scientists and doctors have made many discoveries that have led to greater understanding of cancer mechanisms resulting in improved and innovative cancer care. As a Harvard teaching hospital, they are renowned for leading-edge cancer care and for pioneering discoveries that have led to unique cancer treatment strategies.

They provide their patients with a team of specialists who as experts in treating specific kinds of cancer (surgeons, radiation therapists and medical oncologists), develop care plans that fit a patient’s individual medical situation.

BIDMC’s cancer program is the only program in Massachusetts, and one of only 34 in the country, to receive the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. The commission is a consortium of professional organizations that includes the American Cancer Society, the Society of Surgical Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American College of Radiology, the Oncology Nursing Society the American College of Surgeons.

Additional Achievements
Still other distinguishing strengths of BIDMC and their Cancer Center include:
– Becker’s Hospital Review has named BIDMC for 2012 as one of 70 Hospitals with Great Oncology Programs recognizing the hospital for providing cutting edge cancer treatment, prevention and research and demonstrated continual innovation in treatments and services, patient-centered care, and the achievement of clinical milestones and groundbreaking discoveries.
– BIDMC was recognized again in 2012 by US News and World Report as one of the nation’s top hospitals in cancer care.
– A large number of cancer specialists are once again recognized as Best in Boston for 2011.
– The first center in New England — and one of only a select number of hospitals in the country — to offer CyberKnife, a dynamic new radiation therapy system that is a noninvasive, radio-surgical alternative to open surgery for cancerous and other tumors. BIDMC’s Keith C. Field CyberKnife Center uses precise image-guidance and a multi-jointed robotic arm to deliver concentrated beams of radiation from multiple directions.
– Advanced imaging systems — including Boston’s first PET/CT scanner — for early cancer detection, less invasive breast imaging, advanced gastrointestinal diagnostic techniques, virtual colonoscopy and more.
– Novel breast reconstruction techniques that spare muscle, and research into personalized vaccines that harness the patient’s own immune system to target and destroy tumor cells.
– Genetic counseling and testing of high-risk patients, primarily for breast, ovarian and colon cancers, in order to help care for those who have cancer and advise unaffected family members on how best to stay well.
– Leadership in the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group, which enhances the many strengths of their cancer programs.
– Two of their clinician scholars/researchers each received a $1,000,000 from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to continue their cutting edge treatment research.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Radiation Side Effects: How To Cope with Fatigue

Radiation Side Effects: FatigueFatigue is a common side effect of radiation therapy. While undergoing treatment, you may find that you are far more tired than usual and that you simply don’t have the energy to attend to the tasks of your day as you used to. This does not mean that the cancer is getting worse or that the treatments are not working. It could just be the fatigue that is a common side effect of getting radiation therapy.

Here are some tips to help you cope with fatigue if you’re experiencing it:

1. Let’s face it. You’re going to need more rest as your body undergoes treatment and tries to heal. So make it a priority to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Whatever you usually do in those late hours before bed may not be as vital as your rest, so consider letting them go. Reading a book before bed can help tire your mind out so that you fall asleep more soundly. And if you are able, take short naps (about a half hour is generally good) during the day.

2. Believe it or not, most people coping with fatigue as a radiation therapy side effect find it helpful to exercise each day. A simple 15-30 minute walk or bike ride can make a big difference.

3. Ask for help when you need it. See if you can lessen your work schedule and go into the office part-time for a few weeks. Ask your loved ones for assistance.

4. Slow down, rather than give up. You might simply allow tasks to take you longer to complete, or you might find this approach works the best: Do a task, take a break, do another task, take a break.

5. Make yourself a priority. Honor your limits and do the things that are most important to you first so that you’re sure you have enough energy for them.

Fatigue caused by radiation therapy often clears up after treatment ends but some people find that it lingers for quite a while. So be gentle with yourself. If your fatigue isn’t helped by these tips, or if it is strong enough to cause you concern, talk to your nurse or doctor about it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where a Healing Cream Can Help

IMG_2059Let’s face it. The skin handles a lot. It protects us from a constant barrage of pathogens and environmental toxins. It provides insulation, regulates temperature and moisture, alerts our brains to different sensations, synthesizes vitamin D, and more. It’s no wonder that people can develop challenging skin conditions – whether those last for a few days or for years. A good healing cream used at the right time can help soothe, nourish and heal the skin when it is dry or hurting.

Here are some of the areas we most see with problems that a good healing cream can often help:

Elbows and heels! Sometimes elbows and heels can be so dry that layer after layer of skin begins building into a lifeless callus. We’ve heard of people applying Vaseline or a good emollient, healing cream to these areas at bedtime then covering them with socks (heels) or wraps (elbows) to let the moisture sink in and soften hardened skin.

Dry skin – anywhere! Most dry skin can be attributed to the environment (including weather, heat, overexposure to sun, harsh soaps and detergents, etc.) certain skin diseases can also rob vital moisture from the skin and dry it out. Some of these include eczema and psoriasis. Particularly in cases where outside factors have dried out the skin, a healing cream can be used to form a moisture barrier, as well as provide deep nourishment and moisture.

We have hundreds of customers who use our cream just for this cause – dry skin. So, we know it’s a problem that lots of people face – particularly during the height of summer and winter, when people are inside with heaters or air conditioning on.

The face, neck and hands! The face, neck and hands are all typically exposed to more sun than other areas of the body. This can lead them to dry out, which encourages the skin to wrinkly prematurely. Using a good healing cream can help keep skin moist and encourage cells to regenerate, which would result in less wrinkles

Any area that has a mild burn! When skin is burned, depending on how bad the burn is, it usually does much better with the assistance of a soothing, healing product. Creams with ingredients like aloe Vera and Vitamin E have been shown to be particularly helpful in calming redness and pain, and helping the skin to heal and recover.

Eczema! Eczema is a skin condition that can have different causes and be quite tricky to heal. Some people have found relief – although sometimes it’s only temporary, with a topical product, while others have found the biggest relief to come from staying away from food or environmental allergens. Some food allergens that people have reported as causing bad eczema outbreaks are kale, eggs, dairy, wheat and broccoli, though there are many more as well. Some environmental triggers can include petroleum based detergents and other chemicals.

Psoriasis! This is another skin condition which can be particularly frustrating. Most people manage it with medication rather than heal it for good.

When have you used a healing cream? Is there anything else you’ve found particularly useful for taking care of your skin and helping it to be as healthy as possible?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Why You Need Sunburn Relief in the First Place

IMG_0130Why is it that the whiter your skin is, the greater a chance you have of getting burned and needing sunburn relief when unprotected under the sun’s rays? If you are caucasian and have fair skin, you probably started the season out with very pale skin, then if you slowly got a tan bit by bit, you will be better able to handle the sun for the rest of the summer. Whereas that first time out, your white skin was in real danger of becoming burned.

What causes this?

First let’s learn a bit about how the magnificent organ of our skin actually works. The basic function of the skin is to create an intelligent boundary between your inner workings and the outside world.

In order to perform this function, the skin must be relatively tough (for an organ) and be able to shed layers that get damaged by the environment. There are two main layers. The first, or outer layer, is the epidermis and the second, or deeper layer, is called the dermis. The epidermis is responsible for providing the most protection from the outside world, while the dermis can provide important, complex functions and contains the mechanoreceptors (sense temperature and pain), oil glands, nerve endings, hair follicles, connective tissue, and so on.

There are capillaries in the fatty layer beneath the dermis, which branch into the dermis and not only provide it with nourishment, but also help to cool the body from heat. Interestingly, the outermost skin layer (epidermis) has no direct blood supply of its own and can only be nourished and supported by the dermis.

There are a variety of nerve endings which are found in the dermis. They each can alert the body about different sensations such as temperature, pressure, itching, and pain. These nerve endings are vital to helping you stay safe from abrasions, burns, collision, etc. by sounding the alarm if your skin senses danger.

The outer layer, or epidermis, is made up of four layers. The inner layers are living, and the outer layer is dead. Interestingly, it is the dead layer that we’re actually looking at when we see someone’s skin. But it’s quite thin. The cells on this layer are always flaking away and being replaced by new cells that die off from deeper inside the epidermis.

One of the living inner layers of the epidermis is the malpighian layer. The reason it’s important for us to get so technical here is because not only does this layer give rise to the dead cells of the epidermis, but it is the place affected by the sun when we go outside.

Within the melpighian layer are basal cells and also a type of cell called a melanocyte. This second cell creates melanin, the pigment that colors our skin when we get a tan. When our skin is exposed to sunlight and develops a tan, the melanocytes increase their activity and produce more melanin, or color. When someone has naturally darker skin, however, their production of melanin is ongoing – regardless of sun exposure, and so they will have more pigment year-round than a fair skinned person.

When these melanocytes are damaged by too much UV radiation, the cancer called melanoma can develop. In darker skinned people, the melanin is protecting their melanocytes from UV radiation and thus protects them from needing sunburn relief or from getting cancer as well.

When people with light skin get a sunburn, they have an increased blood flow to the affected area of the skin (creates redness and swelling), which is triggered by DNA damage and inflammation. The process increases the cancer risk for anyone who has developed a sunburn and needs sunburn relief.