Weight Wednesday

Today is Weight Wednesday. I went to the gym to end 2014 on the right foot. I weight lifted, stretched, and foam rolled for 45 minutes. For weight lifting I did two sets of twelve of bench presses, overhead pulls, and curls. I did one hundred crunches and forty rows and lunges. I stretched by using resistance bands and did forty clam shells. I foam rolled for about ten minutes. I did all of these exercises because I need to start strength training and get my core tight for the marathon. I will continue this workout every Wednesday I go to the gym.

Afterwards, I did the arc trainer for an hour. So far this week I’ve put in 13 miles from doing 7.8 miles on the arc trainer on Monday and then today adding 5.2 miles more. Tomorrow, I will be running 11 miles starting in Wellesley and heading into Boston on the Marathon route with my DFMC team for an unofficial group run.

Today’s question relates to the New Year since New Year’s Day is tomorrow. What are six ways cancer patients can stay positive in the new year?

1. Have a positive view.

Everybody has stressors, but if you can do one thing to feel less stressed and more in control, that will help. For example, you can clean up some clutter which will give you a sense of control and help you stay positive.
2. Visualize positivity.

Sit down and imagine something positive that could happen to you in 2015. Imagine you are better and it might help you feel better.
3. Choose to do positive activities.

Do things that make you feel good and help you stay positive. Add some music to your life. If you listen to uplifting music if can help you feel better. Watch programs that have an uplifting message, whether they are dramas or comedies. Be with friends that make you feel good. Make it a point in 2015 to connect with people who you want to get to know better or spend time with old friends that help you stay positive.
4. Keep moving.

Think about one small physical activity you can do to improve your health and that will help improve your outlook on life. A daily walk is a great place to start.

5. Get enough sleep.

When people are rested they feel better and have more energy to have a positive outlook on life. Take naps ­ even for just 10 minutes it will help you stay refreshed and relaxed.
6. Eat plenty of natural foods.

Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible, with as few added ingredients as possible. Eating foods in their natural state can help your body feel less sluggish from digesting heavily processed foods. It can provide your body with more energy to accomplish things and therefore can lead to a clearer mind.

Motivation Monday

Today I went to the gym and I did an hour and a half on the arc trainer. I am trying to keep my cardio up and ready for my 11 mile run on Thursday. DFMC hosts an unofficial group run called the New Year’s Day “Welly Ellie Run”.

The “Welly Ellie Run” is a long standing tradition of a fun informal run on January 1st.
Everyone meets at Crossroads Pub (495 Beacon St. Boston) around 11 AM. There are several options for the run, if you are ambitious you hitch a ride from friends and family to Marathon Sports in Wellesley.

Marathon Sports will be open for runners to stay warm and use the facilities.
At noon the group starts it’s 11 mile run back into Boston along the marathon course.
If you want to run a shorter distance, you can take the T to Newton Center (approximately 6 miles) or out to Woodland and get a 9 mile run in.

Runners of all levels are welcome.

When we finish we enjoy some free pizza and soup compliments of Crossroads staff.
Great afternoon hanging out having a few beers and watching the bowl games.

The question for this week is how does the new year impact a cancer patient?

How does a cancer diagnosis typically impact someone’s plans for the coming year?

Anytime someone receives a cancer diagnosis there is cause to evaluate life plans. If you’ve recently been diagnosed, the upcoming year can be a way to re-evaluate personal goals and make an outline of ways to positively support those goals. Around this time of year, it is common to reflect on life experiences. If the goal is to have a strong immune system, what changes in sleep, stress or diet can you make to bolster your immune system so you can better tolerate treatment?

Is there a difference in being diagnosed around the New Year versus any other time of the year?

There isn’t a big difference between learning about a cancer diagnosis around the New Year versus any other time of year. That said, the New Year is an opportunity to more seriously consider change. You may want to eat differently, improve your sleep or connect more with family and friends. The New Year presents an opportunity to start fresh.

What can those who are newly diagnosed do to refocus their lives in the New Year?

In general, it’s important to ask, “In regards to my treatment or my new diagnosis, what do I want to accomplish and how can I do this? In what lifestyle areas (sleep, diet, stress management, relationships) can I create positive change to support myself and my immune system in the coming year?”

Should those newly diagnosed make resolutions specifically related to their cancer?

It’s not necessary to have all New Year’s resolutions be specific to cancer or treatment. A part of coping well is maintaining normalcy, so you should have some goals unrelated to cancer, too. Consider learning a new hobby or starting a new family tradition.

Do cancer patients find it difficult to think about anything but their treatment in the New Year?

A lot of patients find it difficult to think about anything but their treatment because it is such a part of their lives. Whether or not it’s the New Year, the lives of cancer patients are generally re-organized around treatment schedules and doctor appointments. Scheduling activities that are unrelated to your treatment can be very therapeutic.

Should cancer patients even focus on other goals for the coming year? If so, how do you suggest they refocus their lives during treatment?

It’s all about balance. Yes, a treatment schedule can keep patients and their loved ones busy, but this shouldn’t mean that time with family and friends is less important. For example, if you’re a guy who always went out to watch football on Sunday, but you’re experiencing fatigue from your treatment, consider inviting your friends over instead. That way you can maintain friendships and engage in fun activities outside of treatment.

What are common concerns of cancer patients as they look to the future? How can they address those concerns in a healthy way?

Concerns vary person to person and can be highly specific. The most important thing is to be open about your concerns, whatever they may be, and talk with people who are supportive. If it helps to talk with a trusted friend or family member, then do that.

How can survivors channel the positive energy of survivorship into their goals for the New Year?

This is very individualistic and may depend on the personality of the individual. Some people are more private and others are more open about their illness. For some patients, having cancer is a life-altering event that may bring on existential questions about the meaning of their life and how they want to live their life both during and after cancer. Some people find a new meaning in their life and re-order their priorities. They adopt a new perspective on what’s important and what’s more trivial. For many people, their new outlook alters how they relate to loved ones and others in their life. Overall, it’s a keener appreciation of other people.

Survivorship may reveal a lesser-discussed phenomenon in which these individuals experience doubt or fear of recurrence. Some of the energy that propelled survivors through diagnosis and treatment may let up. Survivors need to address the sadness associated with this change before they can fully accept their good news. It is wise for survivors to face each day with openness and awareness of their own emotional state.

What are common ways cancer survivors react and refocus their lives upon becoming survivors?

A few commonalities are relief, gratitude and perhaps a new commitment to give back to others in some way. For many people there is a sense of grieving for the changes that have happened to them during treatment or due to treatment. At times, there is a sense of a loss of innocence about life itself. Many of us move through life with a quiet assumption that things will always go well or that we will always be in good health. That’s why a cancer diagnosis is so shocking.

Weight Wednesday

Today is Weight Wednesday. Instead of weight lifting today I am putting in miles on the arc trainer to meet my mileage for the week. I am doing 11 miles adding on to the 6.5 mileage I did on Monday to make 17.5 miles for the week.

Today’s question relates to Christmas since today is Christmas eve. What are five unique gifts to get cancer patients for Christmas?

It’s that time of year again — the holiday season, where gift giving is on the minds of many. While the holiday season is supposed to represent a time of joy and giving, some people may not being feeling holly and jolly this year. If a family member or loved one has been recently diagnosed with cancer, they may not be feeling the holiday spirit. Finding a nice gift to give to your loved one may seem a little more daunting than it has in the past. But there are many gift options for cancer patients, even some that can’t be found in stores!

Time Together

Whether you set a weekly coffee date or go to their home just to chat, spending time with your loved one and just listening to them is worth more than you may know. But don’t think that you only have to talk about their cancer the entire time! Many patients love to hear about your life and worries too; it’s a nice break from their worries and their disease.

Cozy Clothing

While recovering, a patient may spend a lot of time resting. Buying some soft cotton pajamas is a practical gift that will be helpful in keeping your loved one feeling comfortable. A common side effect of cancer treatments are night sweats so consider buying clothes with sweat wicking technology or consider something unique like the Kool Tool, a reusable cooling towel that is perfect for relieving a patient from their sweats.

Gift Certificates

Whether it’s gift certificates for movie tickets or a favorite restaurant, giving cancer patients a night out and a chance to think about anything but cancer is a great gift. Gift certificates for a night out is something that a patient can look forward to if they’re still recovering. Think about making some homemade certificates as well– offering to clean the house, do laundry, pick up groceries, or give rides to appointments are examples of helpful and meaningful gifts.

Beauty Products

For a loved one who has lost their hair due to treatment, a gift of a head scarf from Wallaroo is a great alternative to a wig. If you’d like to give an indulgent gift like lotions, be sure that they are free of chemicals, dyes and scents as treatments can make patients sensitive to chemicals.


Consider a Shadow Buddies doll for a child battling cancer. These dolls can be ordered to look just like their child and can be used for a teaching tool with their doctor to better understand their disease. For the patient struggling with nausea from treatment, try the PsiBands, an acupressure wristband designed to help ease nauseous side effects.

Donate Platelets to Help Cancer Patients in Need

Today, I went to the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center and donated platelets for cancer patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I made a promise to myself that starting on my 29th birthday (May 10th) of this year I will start the end of my 20s on a high note and I will donate blood for cancer patients and donate it until I will not be able to any longer.

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(The picture above was taken this year in the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital Blood Mobile on my 29th birthday, May 10th, 2014).

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(The above picture was taken at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital on December 22, 2014).

About Blood Donation at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital

People undergoing treatment for cancer — as well as accident victims, transplant recipients, and many other patients — depend on transfusions to control their bleeding. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood products for these patients.

When you donate whole blood or platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, or give blood onboard the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham and Women’s Hospital Blood Mobile — the traveling extension of the Kraft Center — you are making a life-saving difference for patients in need, right here in the community.

Being able to count on volunteer blood donors at all times is especially important because blood has a limited shelf life. Volunteer donors ensure that there will be a sufficient supply of blood for the patients who need it, whenever they need it.

Blood donations benefiting Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s patients are collected in two locations:

At the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, located on the first floor of the Jimmy Fund Building at 35 Binney Street in Boston.

At blood drives hosting the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Blood Mobile, which travels to community organizations, businesses, and schools throughout greater Boston.

In general, to donate blood, you should be:

At least 17 years old
110 pounds or heavier
In good health

And you should not:

Be pregnant or trying to become pregnant

Have had a tattoo within the past 12 months

Have had a dental procedure, including a routine cleaning, within 48 hours of donating

Have traveled to a malaria-risk country

Have felt sick within 72 of your donation appointment

About Platelet Donation

Platelets are the blood component serving as the body’s “bandages.” They allow blood to clot, helping wounds to heal.

Cancer patients, people who have sustained trauma, babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, and many other critically ill patients are at serious risk because their blood does not clot properly. They need transfusions of healthy platelets to control their bleeding. Volunteer donors are the only source of platelets for these patients.

Being able to count on volunteer platelet donors at all times is especially important because platelets have a shelf life of just five days. Volunteer donors ensure that there will always be a sufficient supply of platelets for patients in need.

Platelets benefiting patients at both Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s are collected at the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center, located on the first floor of the Jimmy Fund Building at 35 Binney Street in Boston.

In general, to donate platelets, you should be:

At least 17 years old
110 pounds or heavier
In good health

And you should not:

Have had a dental procedure, including a routine cleaning, within 48 hours of donating

Have taken any antibiotics within 72 hours of donating

Have taken any aspirin, or drugs containing aspirin (such as Anacin, Excedrin, or Feldene), within 48 hours of donating

Have taken any Aleve, ibuprofen, or drugs containing ibuprofen (such as Advil, Motrin, Nuprin, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), within 24 hours of donating

Have felt sick within 72 hours of donating

For more information on how to donate, hours, locations, and FAQs about donating visit this website.

I hope you will consider becoming a donor.

Motivation Monday

Today is Motivation Monday. I went to the gym and used the arc trainer for an hour and fifteen minutes. I plan on doing a long run on the arc trainer on Wednesday since I will be away this weekend and I have the day off from work on Wednesday so I will need to get my mileage in for the week.

Today’s question relates to the holiday season since Christmas is on Thursday. How do cancer patients cope with cancer during the holidays?

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can cause extra stress and fatigue on a person, especially those undergoing cancer treatment.“I always tell my patients that just because they are going through cancer treatment, it doesn’t mean they cannot do what they want and enjoy the holidays,” says an assistant professor in the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine. “We talk about what they are looking forward to the most and ways to make that happen.”

The grueling side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea and lack of energy, may present the biggest discomfort during the holidays.

Discuss treatment options

If possible, BMC will tell their patients they can delay chemotherapy for up to 1 week. Patients should discuss with their treating doctor if this is a possibility they are comfortable with, since it could prevent some of the discomfort they cause during the holidays.

But if it’s not possible, there are a few other things that may help.

A lot of people undergoing chemotherapy are at risk for infection, so travelling might be a problem. Consider asking your family to come to you, instead of making the trip to them.

Discuss your individual situation with your doctor to make the best and safest plan for potential travel.

Families of patients undergoing chemotherapy should take the best precautions to prevent spread of any infections to their loved ones, such as constant hand washing and safe food preparations. If you have been exposed to an infection, it may not be the best idea to bring that exposure back to the patient.

Ask for help

Chemotherapy can also cause additional anxiety and depression. Support groups may be a good outlet to cope with this, especially at the holidays.

It may be really hard for some people to ask for help, but do not be afraid to do so. Everyone needs a little help every now and then.

Little things may also help, such as eating peppermints and ginger to help with the nausea. Additionally, some research has shown ginseng may help with chemo-related fatigue.

BMC always recommends keeping up with exercise – 3 to 5 hours a week – and to maintain a normal body mass index. But it’s ok for someone to have a few sweets and gain a few pounds during the holidays. It’s ok to indulge a little and cater to that sweet tooth while enjoying holiday festivities.

Fit Friday

Today is Fit Friday. I went to the gym and used the arc trainer for an hour and a half so I am prepped for my first training run with DFMC tomorrow morning. I plan on running a short distance since I ran a half marathon last weekend and the most amount of mileage people at the group run are running tomorrow are 10 miles.

On Monday, I am heading to donate platelets at the Kraft Family Blood Donor center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Today’s topic is related to donating blood. How does donating blood help people with cancer?

Blood cannot be made in a laboratory, so the blood or blood cells used in transfusions to help people with cancer must come from a donor.

A person who is healthy, weighs at least 110 pounds, and is at least 17 years old is usually able to become a blood donor.

Donating one pint of blood usually takes 10 minutes and is safe and simple.

Donating platelets is a two-hour process, and it provides as many of these blood-clotting cells as 12 to 18 whole blood donations.

More than 44,000 blood donations are needed every day. Many of these donations are given as blood transfusions to people with cancer. A blood transfusion is a procedure in which blood or a blood component is transferred from one individual (donor) to another (recipient). Cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and bone marrow transplantation, or the cancer itself may cause the need for a transfusion. A person may choose to donate whole blood or specific parts of the blood, such as platelets or red blood cells.

Why blood is needed

Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to every part of the body and takes away waste products. Unlike some other materials made by the body, blood cannot be made in a laboratory; it must come from a donor. The parts of the blood that are most commonly transfused are platelets, red blood cells, plasma, and cryoprecipitate.


Platelets are blood cells critical to blood clotting, which is the process that stops bleeding. When cancer and/or cancer treatment causes a person’s platelet level to fall too low, a transfusion may be given to reduce the risk of serious or life-threatening bleeding.

Red blood cells

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen throughout the body to vital organs and tissues. They are used to treat anemia (a low number of red blood cells), which can be caused by cancer and/or cancer treatment.


Plasma is the pale yellow liquid portion of the blood in which cells travel. It carries proteins that help control bleeding and antibodies that help fight infection. A plasma transfusion may be needed if a person has experienced severe bleeding.


Cryoprecipitate is the part of plasma that separates as frozen plasma slowly thaws. It contains a higher concentration of blood clotting proteins than regular plasma. This blood component is not often needed by patients with cancer.

Most donors give whole blood, which is then separated into the various components.

Who can donate blood

Donors need to be healthy, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be at least 17 years old. (Some states allow 16-year-olds to donate blood with a parent’s consent.) Other factors that may affect a person’s eligibility to become a blood donor include:


Most medications do not pose a problem. However, people taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, must wait for a specified time after taking their last dose before they are able to donate blood.

A history of cancer

Most cancer survivors can donate blood if they have been cancer-free for 12 months. (People who had a low-risk skin cancer removed do not need to wait.) People with a history of blood cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma, cannot donate.

A history of other diseases or conditions

Certain diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, make a person ineligible to donate blood. Other chronic health conditions may make donation unsafe for individuals.


A person who has traveled in an area where malaria is common should wait 12 months to donate.


Pregnant women cannot donate blood and must wait six weeks after giving birth.

Donating blood

Donating blood is safe and simple. Before giving blood, donors should drink plenty of liquids, eat foods rich in iron, and avoid fatty foods. Upon arrival at the donation center, donors should be prepared to provide identification and a short medical history, including current medications. Donors then have a mini-physical, which includes taking their temperature, pulse, and blood pressure and testing their hemoglobin levels. In addition, donors complete a questionnaire to determine their eligibility to give blood. All information provided to the blood donation center is confidential.

It only takes about 10 minutes to draw one pint of blood, the usual amount given during donation. Immediately afterward, donors receive a beverage and a snack to help restore fluids and nutrients to the body. For the rest of the day, donors are advised to drink more fluids and limit exercise.

After blood is drawn, it is tested for blood type (A, B, AB, or O) and Rh type (a type of protein on red blood cells; a person is either Rh-positive or Rh-negative). The blood is also screened for any unexpected red blood cell antibodies that may cause problems for a recipient, as well as for diseases that can be spread to recipients.

Healthy donors are able to donate blood every eight weeks.

Donating platelets

One platelet donation can provide as many platelets as 12 to 18 whole blood donations. This is beneficial to patients with cancer who have weakened immune systems because they are not exposed to as many donors. During the donation, blood is drawn from the arm through sterile tubing into a centrifuge, a device that separates platelets from the rest of the blood and then returns the remaining blood to the donor.

This carefully monitored, two-hour process may involve one or both arms, depending on the collection machine. Although donation is easy and painless, some donors experience mild side effects that the donation center staff can help manage, such as tingling sensations, especially around the face and mouth, and feeling chilled. Platelets can be donated every seven days, but most centers limit donations to 24 times per year.

Donors interested in giving platelets should:

Avoid aspirin or products that contain aspirin at least 48 hours before a donation.

Consume extra calcium and fluids before donating.

Avoid heavy lifting or strenuous exercise immediately after donating.

Other blood parts, such as red blood cells and plasma, can also be donated individually.

Frosty Half Marathon

Today I ran the Frosty Half Marathon with two girls of the girls that I trained for the Hartford Half Marathon. I did not train for this race but I did finish. I finished the race in 2:52:21 which is fine for me after not being able to run outside since the Hartford Marathon. I am so proud of these girls! Next weekend, is the first DFMC group run of the season and I cannot wait to see all of my DFMC family.


Fit Friday

Today I worked out for a little over an hour at the gym. I used the foam roller and then I did clam shells with resistance bands. Lastly, I went on the arc trainer for an hour. Sunday is my last race of 2014 and its the Frosty Half Marathon. I will be running it with two girls I trained to run the Hartford Half Marathon.

Today’s question relates to exercise. Does exercise help fight cancer?

Exercise is one of the most important actions you can take to help guard against many types of cancer. Up to one-third of cancer-related deaths are due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, including two of the most common cancers in the United States, breast and colon cancer.

Many people exercise to prevent heart disease, but exercise can also play a key role in preventing cancer. Most cancers are caused by lifestyle factors—not genes.

Tips for fighting cancer with exercise

Reduce your waistline and breast-cancer risk

More than two dozen studies have shown that women who exercise have a 30 percent to 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer than their sedentary peers. The female hormone estrogen seems to play a key role. Women with high estrogen levels in their blood have increased risk for breast cancer. Since exercise lowers blood estrogen, it helps lower a woman’s breast-cancer risk. Exercise also reduces other cancer-growth factors such as insulin.

Even older women need to be concerned about estrogen, because after menopause the hormone is produced by fat cells. Women who exercise have less fat and therefore produce less estrogen. With more than 150,000 new breast-cancer cases reported in the United States each year, preventing cancer through exercise is one of the best ways a woman can take charge of her health.
Win the battle against colon cancer

Exercise plays a dramatic role in preventing cancer of the colon and rectum. Nearly 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year, and nearly 50,000 die from the disease. Encouragingly, more than three dozen studies show exercisers reduce their risk of colon cancer by 20 percent or more compared to sedentary people, and the benefits are seen in both men and women, although the effect is greater in men. Changes in digestive acids and other substances also occur with exercise, and these changes are believed to provide some protection from colon cancer. Decreases in body fat, insulin and other growth factors also may contribute to exercisers’ lower colon-cancer risk. Current research is also uncovering new ways in which physical activity cuts cancer risk—from reducing chronic inflammation to improving DNA repair.

How much exercise is too much?

According to national activity guidelines, a good goal is to exercise at least 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. To get the most benefit, though, aim for about an hour a day. Moderate-intensity activities such as brisk walking may be sufficient, although there is more benefit with increased intensity.

Get up off the couch!

It’s easier than you think! A half hour of physical activity daily such as walking, slow swimming, leisurely bike riding or golfing without a cart will get you started. Here are some other ways to be more active:

Use stairs rather than an elevator.

Walk or bike to your destination, and walk around the block after dinner.

Exercise at lunch with your family or friends.

Go dancing.

Wear a pedometer every day and watch your daily steps increase.

Join a sports team.

Walk to visit co-workers rather than send an e-mail.

Use a stationary bike or do sit-ups, leg lifts and push-ups while watching TV.

Park a little farther from your office, the store or the library for a nice walk.

When the weather is too poor to be outside, grab a partner and “walk the mall.”

Vary your type of exercise so you won’t get bored or think it’s a chore.

Often people view exercise narrowly as a way to lose weight or to look better. These incentives can be effective, but exercise is really about a person taking charge of his or her health, preventing chronic diseases like cancer, and living longer.

Women it’s never too late to start

Even moderate activity can be critically important in helping menopausal women reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic ailments. Exercise reduces fat deep in the abdomen (“intra-abdominal” fat), a hidden risk factor because it can raise insulin levels, which promote the growth of cancer cells as well as cholesterol levels. Most American women gain 1 to 2 pounds on average every year, and that adds up to dangerous levels over a lifetime.

The beauty of exercise as a method to reduce total and intra-abdominal fat—and therefore chronic disease —is that it can be done by most women at low cost and with low risk of side effects. It’s never too late to enjoy the health benefits of exercise!