Targeted cancer therapy – what is it and how does it work?

We’ve done our best to round up some key facts that will help to demystify targeted therapies and the science behind them.

targeted cancer therapy

If your doctor has recommended that you start a course of targeted cancer therapy, you might have a lot of questions. How is it different to chemotherapy, radiotherapy or other kinds of cancer treatment? Are targeted therapy side effects better or worse? How exactly can a drug “target” the cancer?

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6 key questions to ask at your first oncology appointment

You might be wondering what to expect from your first oncology appointment. Thinking of the right questions to ask your oncologist about your diagnosis, or what to ask your doctor about cancer treatment can be an added pressure at a difficult time. So we’ve compiled some key questions for your first cancer appointment, to help you make sense of living with cancer.

Talking to your doctor can be hard at the best of times. You might feel embarrassed talking about personal health problems, or maybe you find it tough to get all your questions answered. But when your appointment has something to do with cancer, things could feel even more daunting – especially if you’ve only just been diagnosed.

However, a little preparation beforehand can help you to beat the “mind blank” brought on by nerves and emotions, and get more out of your appointment. We’ve done some research in the online cancer community and come up with the best questions to ask your oncologist at your first appointment.

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Cancer and chemotherapy – Will you need a PICC line?

Travelling With Cancer: 5 Inspiring People Who Did It

Organising a holiday can be challenging at the best of times, but how on earth do you tackle travelling with cancer? 

We’ve put together our top 5 favourite stories from across the internet about people who didn’t let their cancer stop them going on holiday, and we think they’re pretty inspiring.

1. Laura from FindingCyril.com

travel with cancer Laura pizza

One of our favourite bloggers, Laura, is a 27 year old teacher living in London, In 2016 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. To help her talk about her illness, she and her dad decided to refer to her cancer as “Cyril”, making it seem just a little bit less scary. Laura’s imaginary conversations with Cyril often show how doubts and worries can creep into your daily life with cancer, but the FindingCyril blog is bursting with heartfelt humour, joyous photos and Laura’s upbeat personality.

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What to pack in your hospital bag for chemo

Be Prepared Part 1: We list the most recommended essentials to bring with you to hospital for chemotherapy

women having chemotherapy

Let’s be honest, hospitals are not much fun. And when you’re diagnosed with cancer, it may feel like you spend more time in waiting rooms and clinics than in your own living room. Whether you’ll be in hospital for a few hours for your chemotherapy treatment, or required for a longer stay overnight, preparation is key. We believe a well-stocked hospital bag can make all the difference during your time in hospital, and we want to help you feel comfortable, entertained and occupied while there.

Today, we’re going to look at the essentials to pack in your chemo bag. Look out for Part 2 where we’ll discuss the Top 10 things to pack in your mastectomy bag.

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5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment

Doctor's appointments picture - 5 top tips for

An upcoming doctor’s appointment can put dread and fear in even the bravest of people. Doctors hold information that you need, and not knowing can build anxiety and stress. Visiting the doctor is also quite different to other appointments; there are often substantial waits, and visits can really vary in length.  Continue reading “5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Doctor’s Appointment”

Do I Need A Double Mastectomy?

Do I need a double mastectomy?

In 2013 Angelina Jolie announced she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy. Her choice for having the surgery was due to her having inherited the BRCA gene. Since then, studies have found that the “Jolie effect” has caused a significant rise in genetic tests and preventative double mastectomy surgeries.

But what is the BRCA gene? And how does it affect your risk of developing cancer? In the third of our myths and misconceptions series, we delve deeper into the BRCA gene and the “Jolie effect.”

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Top 10 Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother”- Abraham Lincoln.

Most of us would say our mother is one of the most important people in our life. Mums and mother figures care, provide guidance, and show us love and support. So having a mother or being a mother undergoing cancer treatment and diagnosis can be a difficult experience. Role reversal or accepting extra help can feel uncomfortable. This is a normal response, and you are not alone. We want to add a little sunshine to all the mums undergoing cancer treatment this Mother’s Day, so we’ve put together our top 10 products for mums.

The Live Better With Limited Edition iBeani

The iBeani has helped many a person defeat boredom during their cancer treatment. Allowing you to read or use your tablet comfortably at home or in the hospital, it is clear why it is so popular. With spring fast approaching, we have created the limited edition Live Better With iBeani in a fresh and cheerful daffodil print. It’s a great way to treat yourself or your mum this Mother’s Day.

Nilaqua Shampoo Cap

Having fresh clean hair can revitalise the way you feel, but being in hospital or having limited movement can make it difficult for you to wash your hair. The Nilaqua Shampoo Cap looks similar to a hotel shower cap; you place it on your head, massage it into your scalp, remove and brush through! It is the perfect little gift, especially when you’re expecting visitors.

Live Better With Headscarf

Feeling confident with how you look can help to improve your mood and keep you feeling more positive about illness treatment. But hair loss can be a knock to that confidence. We wanted to improve the way you feel by creating a high quality 100%  cotton headscarf in a variety of colours, so you’ll find a scarf to suit your individual taste.

Defiant Beauty Cool and Refresh Spritz for Face and Body

Cancer treatment can leave your skin dull and dry. The Jennifer Young Defiant Cooling Spritz is ideal for a quick fix when wanting to feel fresh and energised. The spritz can also benefit those who experience hot flushes due to treatment, as the formula is very cooling on the skin.

The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook

Cooking can bring great pleasure to some. But cancer treatments can leave people feeling nauseous and without enough energy to cook. The Royal Marsden Cook Book provides quick, delicious, and most importantly, nutritious meals, in order for you to maintain your energy levels.

Your Brain After Chemo by Dan Silverman

A recent study found women who have had treatment for breast cancer reported a greater rate of cognitive decline than women who had not been diagnosed with breast cancer. Mild cognitive impairment in the cancer setting has been named “Chemo brain.” Chemo brain can be a distressing side effect of chemo, especially if you have never heard of it. Your Brain After Chemo by Dan Silverman provides reassurance and invaluable steps to help improve your cognitive function after chemo and to help you get your brain to where it was before treatment.

Able Label Sophie Jersey Dress

Looking good and maintaining a sense of style is important to lots of women. It may seem silly to want to continue your level of effort into how you look during cancer treatment, but it’s not. The problem is finding comfortable clothing that is designed with the women undergoing cancer treatment in mind. The Able Label Sophie Jersey Dress has done that. Designed specifically with the cancer patient in mind, it is easy to undo and made from a comfy jersey material.

Gel’O Cool Pillow Mat

Cancer treatments can wreak havoc on your hormones, leading to menopausal symptoms and night sweats. When chilled, the Gel’O Cooling Pillow can cool you down and aid sleep. In addition, the mat is also perfect for those with stiff muscles as it can be heated and placed on aches and pains.

cancer gifts for mum

Badger Night Night and Sleep Balm Set

A good night’s sleep can be hard to come by during cancer treatment. A busy mind, medications and all the other stressors that come from being a mother can keep you up at night. The Badger Night Night and Sleep Balm Set contains two soothing balms to help you clear your mind and drift off to sleep naturally.

presents for mum cancer

RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum

If eyes are the window into the soul, then the eyebrows are the curtains that frame the windows. Eyebrows can often be forgotten when discussing hair loss in the cancer setting, but they do play an important role in how you look and feel. The RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum has a patented formula that will help nourish and improve the look of your eyebrows.

mother's day cancer gift

Myths and misconceptions: cancer medication

Myths and Misconceptions: Medication

You may find yourself prescribed a lot of new (and probably unheard of) medications when diagnosed with cancer. And that’s not taking into account treatment. People may need multiple pills a day, which can cause confusion and low adherence. Additionally, some medications, such as morphine, are stigmatised and can lead to misinformation. So we’ve cleared up some of the common confusions on the subject of medications and cancer.

I don’t feel well. I must need antibiotics

Antibiotics are often a source of comfort when fallen ill. At the first sign of a cough or cold, people commonly look to their doctor to prescribe them antibiotics.

Antibiotics kill bacteria, but different antibiotics kill different bacteria. Therefore, taking antibiotics that you were prescribed for contact dermatitis, for example, may not work if you start taking them for a chest infection. Also, antibiotics will not work if your symptoms are not bacterial related.

In the last few years, healthcare professionals are seeing more patients becoming resistant to antibiotics due to overuse. This can be problematic in the cancer setting if you become unwell and need antibiotics; as you may find the bacteria is resistant to the antibiotics you are prescribed.

I don’t want to take morphine because I don’t want to become addicted

Morphine is commonly prescribed in the cancer setting for pain relief. It comes in many forms and can be taken orally, injected into the skin (subcutaneous) or directly into the vein. For patients with advanced cancer, pain can become a significant problem that will affect their quality of life. Morphine and other types of opiates are clinically proven to help alleviate pain, and most importantly, improve functionality associated with pain.

There is a misconception, though, that if you take morphine or any type of opiate you will become addicted. And to a degree this is true; opiates, such as morphine and heroin are abused and often sought for their euphoric “high” effect. But if you are experiencing pain that can be controlled by opiates and are not experiencing these highs it is highly unlikely you will become addicted.

Patients can develop tolerances to opiates, meaning the dose or medication they previously used may not be as effective over a period time and you may be required to increase your dose of medication or add/change medication. Tolerance and addiction are different, and not necessarily associated together. Many patients worry that they are on too high a dose of pain relief, due to tolerance, but if it relieves your pain and allows you to keep up activities without side effects, it is the correct dose.

I feel better, I can stop taking my medication

Although medications can help dull side effects and symptoms, they can also treat conditions.

If you complain of a headache and take pain relief, it is usually acceptable to stop taking pain relief once your symptoms resolve. However, for some side effects or symptoms, they may return if you stop taking your medication. There are some medications, as well, where you don’t feel any different while taking them. Equally, for some medications, such as steroids or antidepressants, stopping medications, as oppose to slowly decreasing the dose over a period of days to weeks can be problematic.

Your doctor should be more than happy to discuss your medications and whether you need to continue taking them. But it is very important to follow the instructions given by the healthcare professional.

If the symptom doesn’t go away, it’s ok to take more medication

All medication has something called a therapeutic window. The therapeutic window is the range of medication where it is effective and you won’t experience toxic side effects (you could think of it as Goldilocks trying the three different porridges).

Taking more than the recommended dose puts you at risk of having toxic side effects, some of which can be very harmful to your kidneys and liver. Your doctor or emergency department should be contacted immediately should you find yourself in immense pain, or with severe side effects or symptoms that you cannot manage with medication dose prescribed.

The more medication you need, the more unwell you must be

Not necessarily true. Cancer is a complex disease, and people often find themselves on more medication during their cancer treatment then they have taken in the entire lives! Just because you find yourself on more medications that someone in a similar position to you, does not mean you are more unwell. Being a complex disease, everyone reacts uniquely to information, treatment, and medications; and this may cause you to need more medications, or at a higher dose.

I’m taking a medication and don’t feel well, but I guess that’s to be expected

No, if you start experiencing side effects of medication, whether mild or severe, it is very important to inform your treating doctor or nurse immediately.