Posted in asbestos, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, mesothelioma

A Survivor’s Tale


mesothelioma-survivor-1-520x245
©Unknown

Katherine Keys has been fighting Mesothelioma for 9 years. When she was first diagnosed doctors told her she had less than 2 years. Katherine refused to believe her time was limited and instead decided to fight the cancer. Katherine is convinced that it was her positive attitude and determination to win that has allowed her to survive against the odds.

 At first Katherine thought she had the flu. She was prescribed medication and painkillers but the pain persisted. When the pain was too much to take, Katherine went to the ER, it was there that she discovered she had cancer. Katherine was 49 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 1 pleural Mesothelioma.

For treatment, Katherine had her right lung and the lining of the lung removed, a major surgical procedure called extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP). After several months of recovery, Katherine began radiation treatments. She had treatments five times per week for several months. Although she had been scheduled for chemotherapy treatments, she was relieved to learn that she didn’t have to have them.

Upon completing her treatments, Katherine attended her regularly scheduled follow-up appointments. At first, they were monthly, then every two months, three months, six months…and now annually. Her follow-up appointments typically consistent of blood tests, a PET scan, x-rays and other tests to confirm that she is still cancer-free.
Katherine was also helped greatly by the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma Lawyer Center. They were able to get her financial compensation which helped with her treatments and quality of life.

Today, Katherine feels blessed to be able to spend time with her family and share her story with other people living with mesothelioma. While she has been through a lot and is still challenged by physical pain and limitations after having a lung removed, Katherine sees every day as a gift. She hopes her story brings resilience and positivity to people living with mesothelioma.

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Posted in asbestos, awareness, Blessed, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S Kauffman, Heather Von St. James., imogen rayne, mesothelioma, miracle, survial

Mesothelioma Awareness and A Story of Survival


By, Crystal S Kauffman, Staff Writer/Heather Von St. James-Guest Blogger/Collaboration

©Heather Von St. James
©Heather Von St. James

Patients and doctors want to raise awareness for cancer that is caused by asbestos, which was used in factory and other places people worked at for many years of their love. So, Mesothelioma Awareness Day was created and was celebrated on Sept. 26th, 2015. Survivors are happy to be alive. but they are angry that the use of asbestos has not been banned. The fibers are invisible and deadly, yet 30 million pounds are still used by many different businesses.

This dangerous substance is also used in homes, buildings, schools, and commercial buildings all over the world. Additionally, asbestos is the leading cause of cancer in the workplace around the entire United States. The peak of using asbestos was 30 years ago and over 43,000 die each year from exposure the asbestos, which is still in work places like: mills, military, and in old housing units.

Here is a personal story about a spectacular woman named Heather, who is a courageous survivor of this deadly disease. She is on a mission to spread awareness about the disease, in any way she can. Additionally, if her story, can save one person and their family from facing what she went though. Then, she has accomplished her mission to help families to avoid what she has endured once she learned that she had Mesothelioma.

***Personal Story Written from Heather Von St. James***

In 2005, when I was 36 years old, I was diagnosed with pleural Mesothelioma. This was only three months after giving birth to my baby girl Lily. The symptoms I had could have easily been chalked up to postpartum issues. I was tired, I had only gained 5 lbs through the whole pregnancy, and I had difficulty breathing. I was lucky, and I got my diagnosis within two weeks and that is not usually the case for Mesothelioma patients.

My journey then led my husband, newborn baby and I to Boston, and Dr. David Sugarbaker, who was a world renowned surgeon. I had my left lung removed on February 2nd, 2006, and spent 18 days in the hospital afterwards recovering. My husband had to stay home in Minnesota and work, because the bills still needed to be paid. He saw Lily a total of 36 hours in 3 months. It was a big sacrifice but needed to be done for our family.

After going back home, I did 4 rounds of chemo, and 30 sessions of radiation. I finished my last treatment almost a year to date from the onset of my symptoms. The reason I got sick in the first place was from wearing my father’s coat when he got home from work. He worked with drywall and construction, and at the time as a little girl I did not know that his jacket carried harmful asbestos fibers that would ultimately cause my illness many years later. But, here I am.

I am lucky to be here today, and I’ve made it my life goal to be a voice for the victims, the family members who have struggled with this disease and those who know someone battling or who have lost someone to this disease. Asbestos is still not banned in the U.S. or Canada, and can be found in many commercial buildings and products today. I share my personal story to help spread hope and awareness, in hopes that one day no one else will have to go through what I did.

***Meet Heather Von St. James on Facebook or Twitter ***

Let’s raise awareness together!

©Heather Von St. James
©Heather Von St. James
Posted in Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, Families, Healthy Living, imogen rayne, Laugh At Cancer Support Community, Wings of Hope Program

Wings of Hope Project: The New Patient Bags


angel1Do you have different books lying around your house that may uplift someone’s spirit? The books must be in good condition that you would like to give away. Currently, the Laugh at Cancer Support Community has started to collect books, in order to give them out to a local cancer center in Jacksonville, FL. We also give out a “New Patient Bags”, which is filled with different things that the nurses can give away during the month of December.

These books will be given to men, women, and/or children. We are asking you to send all types of books that may be for children and adults. Additionally, I would like to include Bibles with these new patient bags. The patient generally gets brochures, a blanket, A beanie baby or small stuffed animal, a gift bag, figurines, Christmas cards, Christmas stuff, and an inspirational greeting card.

However, we do not give out “Get Well” cards; instead we add “Thinking of You” cards and “Christmas” cards. Volunteers can donate things like: small toys, throw blankets, Bibles, figurines, bookmarks, books, Christmas cards, and greeting cards. I am the founder and I would like to send more cards, but I would need help. Due to the clinic regulations, we give the nurses the “New Patient Bags”.

I am looking forward to getting this project off the ground quickly, so we can gather up enough Christmas gifts for as many patients as we can. These books will be in a box or spread among the clinic waiting room, where patients can pick a book or two to take home and read it. This is a way to help get patients something that may take their mind off their cancer treatment. They can allow their imagination run wild for a short while.

The visitors can also take and return a book, but the patient or caregiver can keep the book. We need bookmarks with inspirational quotes and positive quotes that will help raise a patient’s morale. Maybe, a church or company can help us make this happen, but for now it is in God’s hands. Thank you to all my friends and volunteers, whose help has made the project successful.

We also have been able to give away these new gift bags for their new patients or existing ones. The life of this support community has changed, since we first started in 2004, as a small local support group. In the past years, the Ning.com community was our home, until I could not pay the monthly cost about $30.00 to keep our network that we built. Many members described it as a Facebook for people, who have been touched by cancer.

Although, we tried several different free networks; I ended up staying with Facebook. However, now I would love to build a new private place or discussion board, where members can share their own stories. Additionally, the members may need someone to talk to or just a new friendship; who they can turn to when they are having good times and bad times. Get involved and become a volunteer, you just need to post inspirational stuff.

I also would like to engage the members into conversation, as we grow in the future. I pray for serious volunteers, who want to make a difference and/or a chance to help a person touched by cancer. The volunteers will help us grow into a place that helps patients. Share new article about health, nutrition, and inspirational post and/or pictures. However, please don’t post information about businesses or miracle cures.

Be there for the members, when they choose to talk to you about their journey with cancer’s touch. Any cancer patient can write their story and send it to me; if they would like to become a guest blogger on my blog. I thank you for continuing to be a part of this support community. I personally would like to create a community where all kinds of patients, family, caregivers, and loved ones can tell their story.

Anyone who would like to help build a free private community or discussion board, please email me. I pray that we can cheer up some patients this upcoming Christmas season. Just a quick reminder, that the yearly “Wings of Hope Project” has been changed, from two times a year to once a year in December. We will have a giveaway every year in December, because this will help us collect more gifts to give out to different centers.

We also take and need small donations to buy a few things for this project. We ne need help with things like: gas, coloring books and crayons, and dollar store toys or items that would lift someone’s spirit. The Wings of Hope Project involves making “New Patient Packages”; which different local nurses can give out to their new patients. This way, the patient knows that there is a network of people out here, who cares about what the patient is going through.

If you can help us gather the items we need, please contact me by Facebook Messaging or by email: laughatcancer@gmail.com. Please discuss your donations you plan to send or your intention to volunteer online and off-line with our Facebook community. We will be working on collecting at least “50 New Patient Bags or even more”, which is needed to give out to the different local cancer centers we visit.

Sometimes, we will visit one nursing home and donate every bag we having, which are filled for patients. They need personal items, so fill up a shoebox and mark it by its contents with either: women, man, or child–boy or girl. This helps the facility in gathering up enough gifts, so no patient is left out. When we are visiting a nursing, I will let you know as soon as I know. Help us collect gifts that can be used to cheer patients up, as well as let them know we care.

Thank you for taking the time to think of others, who are fighting for their lives and remember to say a prayer for them. In addition, I want to engage my members, so any thoughts and help are appreciated tremendously. I am collecting items now, so I have more time to receive enough donations of items or a little cash. My revenue from writing is used to keep our community alive and growing, so take time to read the articles I post on my wall or on my Author Crystal S. Kauffman page.

Please contact me, if you are familiar with monetizing my two blogs on Word Press or Blogger. Thank you, in advance for helping us to obtain this goal, by December 15, 2015. Thank for helping us to make cancer patients feel special, and loved by our volunteers. I look forward to chatting with you about the ways, in which you can help us create another successful Wings of Hope Project this year. Last year, we did not get any children’s items, so we need books, paper, and coloring supplies.

Let’s make a difference in the lives of those touched by cancer, who need to feel special on occasions!

The Laugh at Cancer Support Community on Facebook

Twitter: http://twitter.com/laughatcancersu

My Personal Twitter: http://twitter.com/imogenrayne

Email Me: laughatcancer@gmail.com

Volunteers needed to mail out greeting cards for holidays and important dates like: member’s birthdays, an anniversary of your survivorship, and/or a marriage anniversary. Also, we need someone who would like to post updated health information. This will help members stay informed and will possibly help our expanding community. It would be nice to have a nutritionist or member sharing the best health food website. Furthermore, we need Peer and Spiritual Counselors, for members who may need a shoulder to lean on, so become someone’s Wings of Hope.

©2015, Crystal S. Kauffman

Previously Published

Posted in adults, Cancer Patients, Caretaker, children, Crystal S. Kauffman, illness, teens

Build an Illness Support System


illness support 1

Have you recently been diagnosed with a chronic disease or medical condition? Are you looking for a support group, online or locally, to find a shoulder to lean on? There are several types of support groups to choose from, no matter what condition or disease you have. Many groups offer individual help in a local location and some are located on the Internet. However, you must be sure to that you choose one, which will benefit your personal needs.

Online Support Communities

Did you know there are thousands of different support communities on the Internet? They are usually open twenty-four hours a day and can be accessed from any home computer. This way, the families that are unable to visit a local group in their town, due to their condition or circumstances. Many groups offer several types of services and resources for patients and their loved ones. Before signing up, be sure to talk with the members and see what they think.

Local Support Groups

Have you asked your doctor about local support groups in your town? These types of groups will help you deal with your diagnosis or condition? In addition, you could talk to other patients or nurses, because someone will know about an existing group. After you find a group, be sure to talk to the members, in order to learn more about their mission. Unfortunately, most groups usually meet once a week, so you may want to have a separate support system.

Professional Counseling

Sometimes you will need more support than any type of support group can offer, so it is important to find a psychologist. They can help in ways a support group can not, since you may need medicine to help with depression or anxiety. Ask your doctor to refer you to someone he trusts or talk to your church minister about your needs. However, be sure to pick one that you feel comfortable talking to. This is important, because you will be discussing personal things with them.

Family and Friends

Are you close to your family and friends, who live near you? Do you have friends that will drop everything, if you need them? If, so lean on them throughout this frightening time and allow each of them to help you in any way you need. However, if you not close to your family, then it is important for you to lean on members of your support group. That is why it important to look for a group with members you can trust, just in case you need a shoulder to lean on.

Conclusion

Today, there are many avenues for a patient and caregivers to find support for those, who suffer from a chronic illness. Start by researching the best options that are available to you and your family. Be sure to find someone that you trust, no matter what kind of support you need. It is important for you to find a group that allows you to feel comfortable. Therefore, you will find the right support system, which you will need to make it through your journey against your illness..
Previously Published in 2007

©2007, Crystal S. Kauffman

Posted in author, Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, Family, grandpa, imogen rayne, love, Relationships

Grandpa’s Sweetheart


Grandpa Ray L. Amon

RIP: Ray L. Amon/Grandpa

As a young girl, I met my Grandpa on my dad’s side of the family. For those of you who don’t know Ray C. Amon adopted me and my two brothers, as his legal children when he signed our birth certificates. So, legally he is our father and I reconnected with him about ten or more years ago. During that time, I always asked about my grandparents and I learned a few months back that my Grandpa had cancer.

As I first talked to him recently, I began to remember his voice from when I was a young girl and we were living with my dad and mom in Jacksonville, FL. Anyway, I remembered that he came to visit us and I vaguely remember what he looked like then. However, I remembered his voice when he spoke on the phone. He always called me “Grandpa’s Sweetheart”, which he called me again when I spoke to him recently on the phone.

When he became sick, I got sad because I wanted to see him before he passed away. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit him and he went to be with the Lord, but I know he will be watching over me. I hope he gets to meet my other family members and loved one that have already went to rest in the Lord. When I spoke with him, his voice sounded excited and he said, “Hello sweetheart!”  I haven’t heard his voice or him say this to me, him since I was a very young girl.

It felt so good to reconnect with him, but I wish I could have seen him and hugged him before he passed away. However, during the conversation we had; he said that, “He was proud of me and he would see me on the other side.” I knew he loved me throughout the years we were apart and I knew he missed me as well. I just wanted to let him know that I love him and will miss his voice so much, but I am glad he is with the Lord. Thanks to my dad for letting my grandpa and I reconnect with each other, because it meant a lot to me to hear his voice again.

Previously Published

©2014-Crystal S. Kauffman

Posted in Cancer, Cancer Patients, Crystal S. Kauffman, Donations, Laugh At Cancer Support Community, Spiritual, Wings of Hope Project

Wings of Hope Project-Dec. 2014


Wings of Hope Project has started on November 1st, 2014. We will be giving out patient bags to the Shands Infusion Center for Women in Jacksonville, FL. After they are told they have cancer, the patients will receive one of our bags that will let them know that there is some out there that cares about them. Our goal is to make up 20 bags, so please take a moment and help us make someone day a little brighter.

We need small gifts:

Figurines (Angels are a big hit)

Homemade Bracelets

Small Bibles

Bookmarks (Positive Saying)

Journal or Diaries 

Stickers (positive stuff)

Small Day Calendar ( keep track of appointments for 2015)

Can you help us?

We will be giving them out the week before Christmas.

Thank you! 

Please email me for more details…laughatcancer@gmail.com.