Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cool: "Gene Mutations Shows Potential in Treating Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma"

I just read a really cool new study that may lead to finding new ways to treat and/or cure non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The bad news: researchers have found new genetic mutations that could lead to the development of a scary aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The good news: these findings provide insight into the way cancer cells survive, which means they can more easily identify potential new targets for treatment of the disease.

In this study, scientists began by identifying different variables that affect how lymphoma cells survive. They discovered that interference of some components caused many lymphoma cells to die.

Kinda confusing, but stick with me. Then the researchers looked for adaptations in the genes of the tumors. They discovered that 20% of the tumors had mutations, which blocked a braking process that normally turns off the pathway's response to inhibitory signals.

Okay, I've already confused myself, but in conclusion, this is all very good stuff that will lead to better treatment developments. Yippee!

Feeling a little down

Lucy hasn't been wanting to eat or drink anything since yesterday. She's been in bed all day since yesterday and although I've tried to cheer her up, I feel like there's not much I can do but let it pass. I tried to get her up to play Wii yesterday but it's no use, she felt really weak. This morning for breakfast I made her her favorite breakfast: an omelette with avocados, bell peppers and onions, toast and a glass of OJ. I brought it to her in bed but the sight of it made her almost puke.

The doctor said it may be a few days before she gains her appetite back. Then she'll have another dose of chemo in two weeks and be weak again for a while. Sigh. Poor Luce.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lucy's first chemo treatment

So today was Lucy’s first chemo treatment. I cried like a baby, of course, but she took it like a champ. She started to feel really sick this evening, but I’ve been keeping her spirits up with hilarious jokes and sexy dance moves. More news on her treatment soon.

In other news on non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, check out this video the bros over at LIVESTRONG did to explain the disease:

Today's the day

I’m going with Lucy to her first chemo treatment today. Not sure how I feel about it. I want her to get better, of course, but knowing how much pain she’s going to have to go through first is making me majorly nervous. Lucy’s a gorgeous girl (I don’t want to post pictures because she doesn’t want me to, that baby), and I know how scared she is at the thought of losing all her hair, losing a bunch of weight and being tired all the time. I’m going to be with her every step of the way though, and we’ll get through this together.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cool story: Senator overcomes cancer

Not to get all sappy on your butts, but this is pretty inspirational.

Read in the Associated Press today that US Senator Lautenberg of New Jersey says he's now free of cancer.

This dude is the Senate's oldest member of the Senate and he just beat cancer! He's 86 years old and was attending the Garden State Equality Dinner (a gay rights group, which also makes me really happy that he is a part of) when he let everyone know that his cancer has gone bye-bye.

What happened to this guy was that he fell down in his home a few months ago and when he was taken to the hospital for a bleeding ulcer, the doctors found B-cell lymphoma in his stomach. B-cell lymphoma is a kind of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Ouch.

That's a bunch of these little guys

Not what you want in your tummy.

After months of chemo, he is now free of cancer. Go Sen. Lautenberg!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The difference between Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Lucy's doctor explained this to us when she was diagnosed, but until then I didn't know the difference between Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Lemme break it down for ya...

Basically, there are two different kinds of lymphoma, which in case you're totally unaware is cancer affecting the lymph nodes. The two kinds are known as Hodgkin's Disease (or Hodgkin Lymphoma) and Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The diseases are pretty similar in that they both involved rapid cell growth in the lymphatic system of our bodies, but with Hodgkin's disease there is a presence of a Reed-Sternberg cell (see image below).

Reed-Sternberg cells determine whether a patient has Hodgkin's or Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The scientists who isolated the Reed-Sternberg cell were able to tell Hodgkin's from non-Hodgkin's. Hodgkin's Disease usually affects younger people, but it's pretty rare (about 8,000 cases per year). Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is what my sister Lucy has, is much more common (about 65,000 cases per year). Both Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's have many of the same symptoms, which can be anything from enlarged lymph node(s), weight loss, fevers, and night sweats. Weird tidbit: a symptom of Hodgkin's Disease is itching and pain when drinking alcohol.

The treatments for both Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's are similar, usually involving chemotherapy, radiation and drugs. The diseases will kill you if you don't treat them, but the good news is both enjoy pretty good rates of cure.

Anyway, that's the difference in a nutshell.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh crap.

I just read over on this Wordpress blog that people who are born to older fathers have a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Holy crap that's weird because my dad was 55 when Lucy was born. Contributing factor? I think so.

I'm reading the report now and it says that "the study revealed that participants born to fathers older than age 40 faced a 59 percent greater risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma compared to similar women born to fathers younger than 25."

Ugh. Not cool.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Vitamin D--not helpin' me (with cancer anyway)

About a month ago I read that vitamin D might reduce cancer risk. Now, call me crazy, but when I read this kind of information from a credible resource, I went on over to Whole Foods and laid down $5 for a bottle of vitamin D, mmkay?

Well, turns out I've been wasting my money. The National Cancer Institute published the results of a research study this week that said vitamin D doesn't actually help anyone protect themselves against non-Hodgkin lymphoma or any other rare cancers.

It was a pretty intricate study. Data from blood samples that were originally for 10 other studies were put together for this research. They studied to find out whether people who have high amounts of vitamin D in their systems were less likely to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma or cancer of the endometrium, esophagus, stomach, kidney, ovary, or pancreas. The American Journal of Epidemiology printed this quote from Dr. Demetrius Albanes of the National Cancer Institute: “We did not see lower cancer risk in persons with high vitamin D blood concentrations compared to normal concentrations for any of these cancers. And, at the other end of the vitamin D spectrum, we did not see higher cancer risk for participants with low levels.”

So basically, take as much or as little vitamin D as you want, it's not gonna affect your chances of getting cancer. Do take it for better bone health, however!

Until next time...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hilarious lymphoma blog

...Haha, yes, you read that right.

You guys: if any of you want to learn about lymphoma cancer and have a laugh at the same time (whooda thunk that'd be possible?), you gotta check out this dude's blog: I MADE CANCER MY BITCH!

The link is here:

Educational cancer stuff mixed in with a lot of hilarity.

Finding out about Lucy's cancer

I just found out my sister Lucy has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. And you know what? I didn't know a damn thing about it. So needless to say, I was shocked, scared, and mostly confused.

I started doing my research, and it turns out there are a lot of things scientists are finding that lead to NHL, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

Now I'm obsessed. I've spent the last week reading tons of survivor stories, as well as blogs from people living with the disease. So I've started this blog because I want more people to know about NHL and get involved. Let's talk about it here, discuss possible causes of the cancer and treatment procedures. I want to have an open discussion about all things non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, so let's talk.