Sunday, June 17, 2018

Healing Hope and Survivorship

Last weekend, I attended the 2018 Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey's Survivor's Day. Over the past 10 years, I have attended a number of Survivor Day events and heard many wonderful advocate/speakers from Valisia LeKae to C Vivian Stringer to Bruce Feiler.

This year the keynote speaker was survivor, physician and cancer advocate Wendy S. Harpham ( During her keynote speech I found myself shaking my head in agreement. You see she was talking about hope - Healing Hope in particular - an  how we can be healthy survivors. 

Many of the points she made were part of her latest book- Healing Hope Through and Beyond Cancer. As part of the day, we were each given a copy of the book to take home. The book includes graphics to describe each topic.

Over the past few days I have been working my way through the book. This page, Don't Wait and See ... Live and See, is one that I felt really spoke to those of us survivors who worry as we wait for scan results.

"I have today.While waiting for news or anything else I'll live and see"

Great advice!

If you are a survivor or a caregiver I strongly recommend that you purchase a copy. You can find it on Amazon by visiting here.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

#ASCO18 Twitter Highlights June 4, 2018

Many gyn cancer research topics as well as survivorship issue  were covered on Monday at the ASCO Annual Meeting.

If you were at the meeting and think I missed any important developments please share a link to it in my comments section below.

Genetics / Genetics Counseling

Risk Reducing Surgery


Endometriosis and Cannibis Treatment


Patient Reported Outcomes- Pain
Enodmetrial Cancer- Posters

Ovarian Cancer - Posters

Fertility Preservation

Metformin in Cancer Treatment


Palliative Care

Recurrent Ovarian Cancer

Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy - OC

 Further details may be found at 

Cediranib and Olaparib for recurrent OC
Further info may be found at

Thank you to all the researchers , advocates, and cancer centers who tweeted from this year's Annual Meeting.

Every Day is a Blessing!


Monday, June 4, 2018

#ASCO18 Twitter Highlights June 3, 2018

What do you do on a windy, cloudy, raining Sunday in NJ?
Follow tweets from the ASCO of course.

My Twitter news stream was filled with comments on these two non-gyn cancer studies.

Breast Cancer -
The Adjuvant Chemo and 21 Gene Expression Assay study reported at ASCO by Dr J Sparano may be found in this NJEM article
"Investigators “found that gene tests on tumor samples were able to identify women who could safely skip chemotherapy and take only a drug that blocks the hormone estrogen or stops the body from making it.” From the ASCO Cancer in the News e-mail  .

Lung Cancer - Keytruda Study (Pembroluzimab)
Keytruda "boosts the immune system outperforms chemotherapy in fighting advanced lung cancer, a new trial shows. Keytruda (pembrolizumab) extended life four to eight months longer than chemotherapy in lung cancer patients whose immune systems had been duped by their cancer cells.
"This trial shows that pembrolizumab used alone improves survival as opposed to chemotherapy," said lead researcher Dr. Gilberto Lopes, a medical oncologist with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System." From HealthDay / ASCO Cancer in the News e-mail.

Now on to the gyn Tweets/ Studies.

Keynote - niraparib and pembrolizumab
(Median duration response rate of 9.3 months)

Vaccine Trial

Genetic Testing

HPV / Cervical Cancer

Immune environment
Trial Design


Cancer Prevention

Will check into the #gyncsm and #ASCO18 tweet streams a few times today to catch more news from the meeting. If you are there feel free to use those hashtags or tag me @womenofteal in your posts.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

#ASCO18 Twitter Highlights June 1 & 2, 2018

What does the first weekend in June mean for oncologists and cancer researchers throughout the world? It means it is time for the  ASCO Annual Meeting in Chicago. I was not able to attend the ASCO Annual Meeting in person this year so I am following the tweets my friends who are attending are sharing.  I was able to take part in a Guideline meeting held at the Meeting on Saturday afterbiib via Webex. So I was there in a sense.
As i the past I will be following the meeting via tweets by doctors , researchers and advocates who are attending. It is not as much fun or exhausting as being there in person but it allows me to keep up to date on the latest results. I'll share the Tweets I found most interesting in the next few blog posts.

I also have been getting e-mail updates from ASCO regarding breaking news and important topics from the meeting. Below the tweets you will find some articles from the ASCO Daily News and ASCO Post that you may find of interest.

First the Tweets:

Lynch Syndrome:

Endometrial Cancer

Clinical Trial Participation:

ASCO POST or DAILY News Articles:

Lynch Syndrome:

Patient Communication:

Patient Survivorship Care:

IMPACT Trial :

Patient Education and Quality of Care:
Economics and Value Discussion:

I'm looking forward to the next few days when there will be a greater emphasis on Gynecologic Cancers.

Every Day is a Blessing!

Friday, May 25, 2018

2018 Annual Retreat on Cancer Research in NJ - Public Forum focus on HPV Cancers

Yesterday,  I attended this year's Annual Retreat on Cancer Research in NJ. I usually attend the Public Forum only but this year I registered for the entire day. This gave me the opportunity to network with more researchers during the poster sessions  listen to the keynote given by Dr Doug Lowy (Deputy Director of the NCI) and listen to my gynecologic oncologist present research on precision medicine and disparities in Latino populations.

Here are some highlights of what I found most interesting:

Public Forum
Preventing HPV Related Cancers: Advances and Challenges

Welcome and Overview - Dr Epstein
  • Cervical Cancer is a worldwide problem.
  • In Australia , they have an 83% vaccination rate of young girls which has lead to a decrease in cervical cancer diagnosis. 
  • In the UK , all 12 year old girls get vaccinated in school. 
  • In the US, only 40% of the girls eligible to be vaccinated are. National Goal is 80%. 
  • "HPV should be considered a routine vaccination." 
HPV Related Cancers in Sexual Minority Men: Missed Opportunities for Prevention - Drs Halkitis and Kapadia
  • Sexual minority men with HIV are at a higher risk for HPV.
  • "Poor people have poor health outcomes." 
  • Frank discussions about sexuality are needed.
  • In a cohort study for HIV in men they looked at HPV vaccination rates and found vaccination rates for HPV were low. 
  • Direct messaging of the signs and symptoms of anal cancer are needed

HPV Vaccinations for the Low Income and Uninsured Populations in New Jersey - Dr Tsui
  • There is no mandate in NJ to have young girls and boys receive the HPV vaccination. 
  • Only 45% of young girls who get TDAP vaccination get the HPV vaccination. 
  • Northern counties of NJ have lower vaccinations rates the the rest of the state. 
  • With programs to assist those without insurance to get health care services has led to young girls 11-12  without insurance to have higher rates of HPV vaccination that those with medicaid or insurance. 
  • The vaccination requires 2 doses ( 2 visits) and many are not returning for 2nd dose. 
 Preventing HPV Associated Cancer Through Vaccination and Screening - Dr Lowy
  • 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers are due to HPV
  • The HPV test detects HPV but many women will not need treatment or develop cancer.
  • It takes years from HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer. 
  • Cervical cancer  develops in women who are HPV + and their  infection does not clear. 
  • Costa Rican study showed level of antibody sufficient from single dose of vaccine ( 7 yrs). Trial of 2 vs 1 dose is ongoing now in Costa Rica.
  • Poor countries use an ascetic acid screening test.   
  • Studies confirm the HPV vaccination is safe. Article reporting dangers of vaccine has been retracted. 
My take away from listening to these HPV focused talks:
We have a foolproof way of preventing cervical cancer - and other HPV cancers ( anal, vaginal, vulvar, throat cancers)
We need to better educate parents on the benefits of the HPV vaccine as a cancer preventer.
We need to better equip pediatricians, PCPs and family physicians with tools to have the conversation regarding the vaccine to insure that young girls and boys are getting vaccinated.

Interested in learning more about HPV ad the vaccine?
Check these resources

Every Day is a Blessing

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Another Graduation!

When telling my story on this blog, I tend to put life events in relationship to my cancer diagnosis.

I was first diagnosed right before my son, Matthew, returned to college for his sophomore year.   My husband drove him back to Virginia a few weeks after my surgery. This is one of my favorite photos from when I was in treatment. My daughter drove me to one of his crew meets. 

In the spring of 2008, I was there to see him receive his Bachelor of Arts degree. I wasn't sure back in 2005 that I would be there.

Five months after his graduation in 2008,  I had a recurrence which required another surgery and chemotherapy. Two years later in  2010,  I returned to campus to see him receive his Master of Arts degree.


On May 7th of this year my family celebrated once again. My son received his PhD in History. I was very emotional when I heard them say, " Doctor " as he received his hood.

It is hard to express how grateful I am to all my gyn oncs and nurses who got me to each and every graduation and to my family and friends for their unending support.  Seeing him reach his goal was amazing. And I could not be prouder. 

Every Day is a Blessing!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Needs of Women with Ovarian Cancer


As you know, I am the co-founder and co-moderator of the #gyncsm Community on Twitter. Christina and I founded the community in 2013 for those impacted by gynecologic cancers and those who care for them.

In early 2016 we began working with Teresa Hagan Thomas and other researchers to better understand the needs of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer . We discussed those needs during the #gyncsm monthly chat, Re-envisioning Ovarian Cancer Survivorship in April 2016.

I am pleased that on April 26, 2018, "The Needs of Women Treated for Ovarian Cancer: Results From a #gyncsm Twitter Chat" was published  in the The Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Review. We are honored to be involved in this research. 

Follow this link to read the entire article.…/vo…/iss2/3/

Every Day is a Blessing!