Tag Archives: cancer

DHEC in the News: HPV, flu, critical need for more emergency medical professionals

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

This virus causes 31,500 cancers annually but few complete the vaccine to prevent it

Vaccination rates against HPV remain low in South Carolina, according to the national Blue Cross Blue Shield association, despite a wide acceptance by doctors as a key in preventing cervical and other types of cancer.

Gardasil had been administered in three doses until 2016, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended two doses of the same vaccine for adolescents. The Blue Cross study examined the percentage of children who got the first dose by the time they were 10 and the percentage who had gotten the final dose three years later.

Urgent care chain expanding as flu cases spike

As flu cases and related deaths continue to increase in South Carolina ahead of the peak flu season, urgent care facilities like American Family Care are rapidly expanding and opening more clinics in the Upstate.

American Family Care opened its newest location on Friday in Boiling Springs to help meet the surge in patients dealing with the flu or flu-like symptoms.

Fire chief: Critical need for medic professionals in York Co.

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — A local fire chief is speaking out about the lack of medical resources in the area.

City of York Fire Chief Domenic Manera tells NBC Charlotte his firefighters are also licensed EMTs, because the closest hospital is more than 20 minutes away. …

Chief Manera says there is a critical need for medic professionals in the western York County.

From Other Blogs: Vaccination and cancer, ALS, Winter Olympics & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Vaccination Nation: A Real Shot at Preventing Cancer

Suppose someone tells you there are quick, easy ways to help keep people from getting some kinds of cancer. Would you believe it?

Luckily, you can. You already know vaccines stop you from getting dangerous diseases from bacteria and viruses. You don’t even realize you have some viruses because they may not cause any symptoms. But a few of them can lead to cancer if left untreated. — From The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) The Topic Is Cancer blog

National ALS Biorepository – A Component of the National ALS Registry

The National ALS Biorepository is a component of the National ALS Registry that will increase the number of biological samples from persons with ALS available for research.  These samples, along with the extensive epidemiologic data collected by the National ALS Registry, are a valuable resource in the fight to identify the causes of ALS. — From the CDC’s Your Health — Your Environment blog

Traveling to South Korea for the Olympics? Bring Back Great Memories, Not a Pest or Disease

The Winter Olympics begin shortly in South Korea, bringing us two weeks of incredible athletic performances. While many of us will watch the games from our TVs, computers or phones, some lucky individuals will travel to witness the games in person. And when traveling, people often bring back items as souvenirs or as gifts for those of us at home. If you are traveling to the Olympics (or anywhere outside the country), keep in mind there are rules about agricultural products being brought into the U.S. — From the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

USDA Agencies Band Together to Assist Producers Impacted by 2017 Hurricanes

Just as families, friends and communities came together to respond to damages that occurred during the hurricanes of 2017, so did government agencies.

When hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria made landfall, the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), Rural Development (RD), and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) worked together, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other intergovernmental groups, to provide information and recovery resources to agricultural producers who experienced losses. — From the USDA blog

From Other Blogs: Flu, women and heart disease, carbon monoxide & more

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

6 Things You Need to Know About This Flu Season

Seasonal flu activity has been intense this season. As of January 20, 2018, all 49 states in the continental United States reported widespread flu activity for three consecutive weeks. This is a first since CDC’s Influenza Division began tracking flu this way. It’s likely that flu activity will be elevated for many weeks to come. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Matters Blog

Women and heart disease: what every woman should know

You may be surprised to know that heart disease is the leading killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, approximately one woman dies from heart disease every minute. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

When can you go back to work or school after an illness?

Staying home when you’re sick is important, but how do you know when you’re okay to venture back into the world? Katie Schill, nurse practitioner with Palmetto Health’s Mobile Clinic, offers some answers… — From Flourish

Are You Part of the Silent Epidemic?

You’ve heard of mammograms to find breast cancer and tests to find colorectal (colon) cancer. But do you know how to help prevent liver cancer?

There’s no screening test for liver cancer. But there is a screening test for hepatitis C, which is the leading cause of liver cancer. — From the CDC’s The Topic Is Cancer blog

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning Prevention

Every year, at least 430 people die in the U. S. from accidental CO poisoning. Approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency department each year due to accidental CO poisoning. There are steps you can take to help protect yourself and your household from CO poisoning.

CO is found in fumes produced by portable generators, stoves, lanterns, and gas ranges, or by burning charcoal and wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO. — From the CDC’s Your Health — Your Environment Blog

From Other Blogs: Super Bowl leftovers, health and safety tips for mass gatherings, cancer

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

End Game Strategies for Super Bowl Leftovers

The game is over and your team WON, or maybe not. But two things remain after the game — friendly rivalries and lots of leftovers. There are some important rules you need to follow regarding Super Bowl Party leftovers to ensure your loved ones don’t get foodborne illnesses after the game. — From the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) blog

Four Health and Safety Tips for Mass Gatherings

There is strength in numbers – both in public health and in public safety. The more people who take action to protect themselves, the better prepared a community is for an emergency.

Communities take different forms. At a mass gathering like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, or in a public place like the airport, the community includes people you do not know, but whose actions could help prevent a catastrophe or save your life. Here are four things you can do to prepare yourself and protect others when traveling to, and attending, a mass gathering event. — From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) The Topic Is Cancer blog

Inspiring and Taking Action Against Cancer

World Cancer Day, observed annually on February 4th, raises awareness about cancer worldwide. For me, it is a time to look back on how far we’ve come in lowering the number of cancer cases and deaths. Today, it’s just as important to set our sights on a future where every person has the right information, makes healthy choices that prevent cancer before it starts, has the right screening at the right time, and gets good cancer treatment no matter where they live. — From the CDC’s Public Health Matters blog

Cervical health awareness

According to the American Cancer Society, each year in the U.S. nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and more than 4,000 die as a result. But cervical cancer is a preventable and treatable cancer, thanks to improved screening and vaccination.

Jennifer Risinger, MD, Parkridge OB/GYN, encourages all women to stay up-to-date on their Pap smears. “Cervical cancer is a completely preventable disease. Women can dramatically reduce their risk of getting cervical cancer and dying from cervical cancer by having Pap smears.” — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

When Breast Cancer Comes Back, Part 2

MaryBright-Darci 2

Mary Bright, right, shares her story with Darci Strickland of WLTX News 19.

In 2015, DHEC’s Mary Bright wrote a blog post about her fight against breast cancer, the most common cancer among women. In late 2017, Mary learned that almost two years to the day that she had rang the bell as cancer free, it had returned. She shares her latest story in a two-part blog series. Today: Part 2 of 2.

By Mary N. Bright 
Public Information Director 
DHEC’s Division of Emergency Response, Nuclear Response and Emergency Environmental Surveillance

If I’m Stage IV, what are my chances?

No one can say.  What I have now is considered a “chronic disease,” like diabetes.  I will be tracked and tested and treated every time my numbers increase or drop.  Unlike diabetes, this disease will eventually kill me.  It probably won’t happen in the next hour or day or week or month but one day it — or possibly a cause related to it — will claim my life.

I will be tracked for the rest of my life; every six weeks if things are going poorly and every three to six months if things are going well.

And I still have no idea how this happened and, sadly, modern medicine hasn’t entirely pinpointed how it happens either.  I told myself to get over the “Why?” question.  I didn’t see the point when facing the daunting gauntlet of the new treatment regimen.

‘I had become the bubble girl.’

Last time it had been eight five-hour infusions every other week for four long months; the first four were a drug called Adriamycin, also known as Doxorubicin, which isMaryBright nicknamed “the red Devil” for what it does to the body.  It kills everything; not just cancer cells but healthy cells and — in my case — white blood cells.  For me, it brought crushing exhaustion and debilitating pain that seemed to ooze out of my bones. But the worst part, the part that actually kept me out of work, was the consistent drop in my white cell count.  Every time I received chemo, my white cell count would drop to 100 or less.  A healthy human’s white cell count is anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000.

I had no immune system.  I couldn’t be around people at all.  My doctor ordered home confinement.  I had become the bubble girl. I even had to wear a mask around my husband in case he brought germs home.  For a self-admitted workaholic, it was torture to be stuck at home with no contact with anyone and no work to keep me occupied.  Daytime television is not what it’s cracked up to be.

‘This time around, the drugs are much more tolerable.’

The last four chemo sessions were a drug called Taxol, which my chemo nurse Jackie told me was usually better tolerated.  The pain began to lessen and the exhaustion eased up, but my white cells stayed low even with injections of Neulasta, meant to increase production of baby, germ-fighting white blood cells.  I quickly realized I wasn’t tolerating it as well as we hoped.  I woke up in the middle of the night and went to the bathroom. When I came back I felt something on the bottom of my left foot.  It felt like one of those little stickers that come off produce.  I grabbed the “sticker” and yanked. It wasn’t a

BreatCancerGraphic

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sticker.  It was a chunk of skin from the bottom of my foot.

In just a few hours since I had gone to bed, the skin had begun peeling back from my palms and soles of my feet.  It looked like dozens of little curly Q strips that had separated and were already dry and stiff.  My fingernails that had already turned black from the Adriamycin where now separating from my nail beds; the tip of the nail extended halfway back into the nail bed.  I actually pulled out medical tape and put it around each finger until I could see Dr. Wells the next morning.  He told me to cut my nails down as far as I safely could and use the medical tape to help re-attach the nails to the nail beds.  Losing a nail would cause a wound that could lead to an infection.

This time around, the drugs are much more tolerable. One is called Carboplatin; the other is Gemzar.  I’m slated to have eight infusions spread out over almost six months. The first Wednesday I went in for an infusion that lasted about two hours; the next Wednesday another one for another few hours. The two sessions amounted to one infusion.  Then I had a week off while my medical team checked my numbers.

‘I’m aware that this will get worse this time’

As long as my numbers were within the desirable range, I’d be allowed to continue on with the next two sessions for my next infusion; then another week off for testing.  This is my routine until we complete eight full infusions.  I should be done sometime near the end of April; after that surgery and the six weeks it will take to recover.  We’ve decided to remove both breasts completely.  The chances of recurring breast cancer are pretty small if you remove as much breast tissue as possible.  We’ll be able to remove about 90-95 percent; you can’t remove every inch without cutting into the muscle below it.

While early into these chemo infusions, I can already feel the difference.  There is less constant pain.  It’s more like spasms in my breasts, legs, hands and feet; even my fingers lock up unexpectedly.  I spend a lot of my off-time massaging my muscles to keep them from locking up.  I have patches of joint ache and neuropathy; pain, tingling and numbness in my hands and feet.

Towards the end of my last treatment I had to use a cane to get around safely; at age 40.  I’m aware that this will get worse this time, because chemo treatments are cumulative and get worse as you endure more of them.  I haven’t lost my hair yet; last time it started failing out after two weeks.  But that is a side-effect of both of these new drugs so I’m not holding out hope.  Hey, I’ll save money on haircuts, shampoo and conditioner, so that’s not so bad.  Like last time, I can smell better than most bloodhounds.  I swear, it’s ridiculous how keen that sense of smell has become.  My sense of taste comes and goes and I’ll probably lose it again.  No nausea yet and my nails and skin seem intact for now.

Once again some incredible good has come from even this horrible situation.  My white cell count this time is hanging tough so I can still work.  The sanity that brings is indescribable.

‘Blessed to be surrounded by the most loving, caring and amazing people’

I once again see how I have been blessed to be surrounded by the most loving, caring and amazing people.  They ask me everyday what they can do to help.  I actually feel bad when I only say prayers and make me laugh every chance you get.  I don’t have a lot I MaryBright-Darci (2)need just yet.  My husband has become my personal chef, making me my favorite meals to make sure I eat and keep my strength up.  The outpouring of support, prayers and well-wishes has brought me to tears.

Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t turn down a winning lottery ticket or as my husband says “a box of hundred dollar bills” because the treatment is far from cheap and every visit or treatment results in another co-pay or balance due.  I certainly understand what is meant when I hear that most American families are one major medical event from bankruptcy.  One of the things I was looking forward to with the two-year anniversary was the end to major medical payments and a chance to pay everything off and start saving for a house again.  But that’s not quite on my mind right now nor is the reconstruction I would need after the double mastectomy.

On the positive side again, I have had so many sweet wonderful people volunteer to come sit by my side as I receive the infusions.  As wonderful as their offers are, I have turned every one of them down, including my husband’s.  For me, to keep focused during this new fight, I need to just put the blinders on and “headphones in” and push through each one while I work through emails and work projects.  I worry that if I break my concentration I won’t regain the strength I need to make it through them all.

‘To all my fellow survivors, keep fighting’

I am convinced I will make it. As my Dad said when I told him about the diagnosis, “OK.  That’s not ideal.  Now what are we going to do about it?” I’m my Daddy’s girl.  When these things happen, take time to sort through the feelings and the devastation. When you’re ready, stand up and fight.

I’ll make sure to let you all know how it’s going and whether we win this round too.

To all my fellow survivors, keep fighting… as long and as hard as we can to squeeze every moment of joy, happiness and love out of this life.

It’s worth it.