1 in 2 Canadians Will Develop Cancer in Their Lifetime; 89% Will Be 50 and Older

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With age comes the increased risk for certain diseases and health problems. At age 51 I was hit with a diagnosis of cancer. When I reviewed the statistics and information on cancer and who gets it, I was quite surprised to realize that one of the risk factors is aging. There were other things I learned about cancer that were quite alarming. I think we all want to believe we are immune to it. It can strike anyone, anytime, but those 50 and older are more susceptible.

“Ageing is another fundamental factor for the development of cancer. The incidence of cancer rises dramatically with age, most likely due to a build-up of risks for specific cancers that increase with age. The overall risk accumulation is combined with the tendency for cellular repair mechanisms to be less effective as a person grows older.” – World Health Organization

The Canadian Cancer Society states cancer is the leading form of death in Canada, and is responsible for 30% of all deaths. The most common types of cancer are lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal (not including non-melanoma skin cancer). Most people who are affected by cancer are aged 50 and older. In fact, 89% of all cancers occur in those 50 and up.

Unfortunately, 1 in 2 Canadians (49% men and 45% women) are expected to develop cancer in their lifetime; 1 in 4 will die from cancer.

Research is always being done and we know that about half of all cancers can be prevented by lifestyle choices. The Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention states there are six things we can do to help prevent cancer:

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight.
  2. Eat healthy.
  3. Be physically active and limit sedentary behaviour.
  4. Practice sun safety.
  5. Limit alcohol consumption.
  6. Don’t smoke tobacco or marijuana.

Cancer is caused by changes (gene mutations) to the DNA within cells. The cells receive errors and normal functioning is interrupted, allowing the cell to become cancerous. Some of these mutations are inherited from your parents, and others you acquire after birth. There are a number of known triggers that can cause gene mutations, such as smoking, radiation, viruses, cancer-causing chemicals (carcinogens), obesity, hormones, chronic inflammation and a lack of exercise. Who and why someone develops cancer while others do not is still remains a mystery for the most part. Research is ongoing to answer these questions.

There are over 100 types of this life-threatening disease. There is currently no cure for cancer, but there are treatments that help extend life (such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery). Early detection is the best way to help ensure the best chances for survival. Unfortunately many cancers don’t have any symptoms until it has spread to lymph nodes or other organs. Cancer often gets found when patients are having tests done for other health concerns.

The 10th common cancer found in women that can be successfully treated and prevented if detected early is cervical cancer. Regular screening for this type of cancer is recommended and it is performed in the doctor’s office. This is called a Pap test.

Lung cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer (in women) and prostate cancer (in men) are most frequent types of cancers that develop in those 50 and older. 2 out of 3 people who get lung cancer are aged 65 and older and the average age of diagnosis is 70. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women. Smokers are at a high risk for lung cancer.

Cancer screening looks for cancer before it causes symptoms. When I turned 50, I remember getting a notice in the mail for me to get a test to check for blood in my stool. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends screening for early signs of health problems that could lead to cancer. The areas that they recommend screening for those who are “older” are:

  • Breast cancer – breast exam, mammography
  • Colorectal cancer – Fecal Occult Blood Test
  • Other screening tests include: digital rectal exams, and prostate cancer screening.

Although age is the number one risk factor for cancer, a family history of cancer is the second risk factor. Those who have close family relatives who have developed cancer should discuss this with their doctor. The third risk factor is obesity. Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of some cancers.

Cancer is a disease that no one likes to think about or talk about. It’s a condition that affects people of all ages, but is more commonly found in those 50 and older. There are steps that can be taken to reduce our risk of getting cancer, and there are screening tests that can be done when we are feeling well. Being in tune with our bodies, reporting any unusual symptoms such as pains, bleeding, lumps or sores that don’t heal to your doctor are important steps in early detection.

Angela G. Gentile

 

Resources:

Cancer Fact Sheet, World Health Organization. Feb. 2017. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017. http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/canadian-cancer-statistics-publication/?region=bc

Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention. https://cancerprevent.ca

Cancer – Diseases and Conditions, Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/basics/causes/con-20032378

Key Statistics for Lung Cancer, The American Cancer Society. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-small-cell-lung-cancer/about/key-statistics.html

 

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

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Virgil’s Story About His Experience With Mesothelioma

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Danger Asbestos – Photo credit: www.caslab.com

Please welcome our guest writer, Virgil Anderson. He has a diagnosis of mesothelioma which is a rare type of cancer that presents itself mainly in people aged fifty to seventy. He says over 90% of mesothelioma cases are found in people aged 55 plus and it disproportionately affects men due to the correlation with working in the trades. Virgil is from the USA. If you are looking for Canadian content, you can visit the Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation for more information. For more information on asbestos, visit Web MD.

My Cancer Story

My name is Virgil Anderson, and my experience with mesothelioma has been a difficult one. I was exposed to asbestos through the work I did as a young man and am paying the price now by being diagnosed with this rare and terrible cancer. It causes uncomfortable, painful symptoms, limits my ability to get around, and has left me with deep emotional scars. And yet, I have managed to maintain hope and a positive perspective as a I fight this disease.

Asbestos in the Workplace

My story begins with my upbringing in West Virginia. We all worked hard in my family, and had to in order to make ends meet. As soon as I was old enough for a real, paying job, I got into demolition. This was as a teenager when I was young and strong and able to do this tough, physical work. As I helped tear down old buildings I remember being constantly surrounded by dust. Only later did I realize that there were asbestos fibers in the dust and that I was inadequately protected from it.

Later I was able to get more skilled work. I learned to be an auto mechanic, which was much more interesting work and paid better. Throughout my career in this industry I also did work that caused me to be exposed to asbestos. I tore out hood liners, which had been made with asbestos to protect against the heat of the engine. I removed and replaced brakes and clutches, also made with asbestos. Opening up those parts, the dust would fly, and again it was asbestos.

A Mesothelioma Diagnosis – The Risks of Asbestos

All of those tiny fibers of asbestos I inhaled over the years would come back to haunt me. Not everyone who is exposed to asbestos gets sick, but those who do suffer from the damage the small, needle-like fibers cause as they lodge in the tissues of the body. Because the fibers are often inhaled, they get stuck in the tissue around the lungs, called the pleura. Here they cause damage that can lead to a number of illnesses.

In my case, that illness would turn out to be pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the pleural tissue. Around the age of 50, after working for decades, I began to experience respiratory symptoms. When I went to the ER, I was diagnosed with pneumonia, but antibiotics didn’t help and my symptoms only got worse. Eventually I was correctly diagnosed, and found out I had developed mesothelioma after years of working with and around asbestos.

Treatment for Mesothelioma

Getting treatment for mesothelioma was challenging, as there are few specialists qualified to work with this rare cancer. Ultimately I was able to secure financial assistance and care through the National Cancer Institute. I was not a candidate for surgery, but I have had chemotherapy treatments to slow the growth of the tumors.

What really keeps me going and motivates me to keep fighting are my family and my faith. Without family I don’t know where I would be. Since I can’t work I can’t earn and I rely on them to provide me with a home and to take care of me. As I fight this awful cancer, I know I may not survive it, but I take comfort in my faith and in the time I still have with the people I love. My message to others with this disease is to find your own source of comfort and inspiration. Keep fighting, and enjoy the important things in life.

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Written by Virgil Anderson

 

 

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Call For Submissions for Upcoming Book on Anal Cancer

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Call for Summary/Ideas – Deadline for Submissions December 10, 2017

Re: Anal Cancer (AC) Book – A Collection Compiled by Angela Gentile (title to be determined)

 

Dear Potential Co-Author,

This is your chance to become a published author and to help you promote any other work you may have (books, blogs, etc.). Your contribution to this book on anal cancer will provide your invaluable insight, advice and support to others who may be going through something similar. It could help end the stigma of this disease and educate others on the importance of the HPV vaccine.

I am putting together a collection of works by many authors. I have written two other books and they are both on Amazon. This will be my first “anthology.” This book is intended to educate, inspire, strengthen and empower those affected. I am looking for chapters written by anal cancer patients/survivors/caregivers.

At this time, I am looking for 10-20 authors to provide a total of 10-20 chapters for this self-published book. I will put my time, money and energy into making this a meaningful book for those who are affected by anal cancer. It will also be of interest for those who want to learn more about the disease. If you are successful in being selected as one of the co-authors, I will help you write and refine your chapter(s) and I will also have it professionally edited.

There is no cost to you, and there is no compensation (other than knowing you will be helping others!). However, I will ensure you get two copies of the paperback book. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds will go to charity, and we will decide which one.

I have put together a listing of chapter ideas for you to review (see FILES in the closed members only Facebook group: AC Book or ask me for a listing). If you would like to do something else that is not on the list that is fine, too.

Please submit the following information via the form below, or ask me for my email address:

1. Your Name, Full Address, Phone Numbers (Home, work, cellular), Email.

2. Summary of your idea (up to 500 words). You can submit as many summaries as you’d like. Include the topic, what you want the main points to be, and whom you think will benefit most from your story or topic. The more personal and original the better! (Have a friend or family member review and proofread if you’d like a little more feedback before submitting.) Keep in mind, your completed chapter should be between 2,000 – 5,000 words.

3. Deadline for summary submission: Sunday December 10, 2017. Submit via email in form below. (.doc or .docx is acceptable. Google Docs is also accepted.)

If you already have a completed work (between 2,000-5,000 words), please feel free to submit that instead of a summary. Ideally, each chapter will be about 2,500 words but this is only a guideline.

I will review the submissions and get back to you, either way, on or before January 7, 2018.

Thank you for your interest and I look forward to your submission(s)!

Warm regards,

Angela Gentile

P.S. If you have a Facebook account and would like to be a part of the AC Book group, please request to join!

Contact me, here:

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

A Story of Cancer Survival That Will Touch Your Heart and Soul (and Funny Bone!) – Book review

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Brown Ribbon by Robbi Woolard

Psychologist Dr. Robbi Woolard is a survivor of a rare form of cancer. She was encouraged by two of her friends to put her experiences and thoughts into a book (eBook for Kindle). “Brown Ribbon” is part memoir, part self-help book and is written with a humorous slant (a story about a doctor and a commode made me laugh out loud!). She has an “incredibly strong faith” and her beliefs in God and heaven are referred to throughout the book. She is clearly not afraid of death and is a very brave and courageous woman. She believes accidents, illnesses such as cancer and other traumas are random events and no one is immune (no matter how well one lives their life).

Woolard writes in an entertaining, yet educational and inspiring tone. The book could have used some editing, however, the reader can forgive this oversight as she speaks in a conversational tone and the stories flow nicely. There are some repetitive themes, but overall it’s an easy and pleasurable read.

The warrior spirit in Woolard spares us the gruesome details of her anal cancer treatment. She gives the reader just enough information which helps one to imagine the suffering she experienced. She writes in a way that reassures the reader that although cancer and it’s treatment are difficult, the alternative is worse.

For those who want closure, they will find the last story of her post-anal cancer treatment to get a “colposcopy” a bit frustrating. The chapter called “Caving” does not provide the reader with the results of her biopsy, but Woolard states she hopes she had experienced the last appointment with that doctor (we can only hope along with her!).

In the final chapter, Woolard shares her own personal growth experience. I found this chapter called “Everything I Have Learned from Cancer” especially inspiring (as I am also affected by anal cancer myself). Many of her insights such as “setting new goals after cancer” and “improving connections with others” are very positive and uplifting. I can definitely identify with her lessons learned. She states, “As I age, I’ve begun to believe something that I’d never pondered in years past. I’ve always assumed that all of both the good and the bad that we experience culminate in who we become. Now, drawing upon many decades of both ends of the experience spectrum, I think all of it should be credited with making us richer, deeper, more complete human beings.”

A recommended read for those affected by cancer, especially newly diagnosed anal cancer patients, their families and survivors of cancer.

Get your copy – Brown Ribbon: A Personal Journey Through Anal Cancer and the Adventure it Entailed (2016) by Robbi Woolard.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

I Kicked Cancer in the Butt!

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I kicked cancer in the butt

I have had quite the encounter with cancer. I was diagnosed with anal cancer in May 2017 and went through chemotherapy and radiation treatment for six weeks. At three months post-treatment I am recovering nicely.

The good news is that I received results from my CT Scan and it is clear! I am now cancer-free! I am a survivor of cancer.

I kicked cancer in the butt! Literally and figuratively. It was a brutal and torturous treatment ordeal, but I am on the road to healing.

I started a new open Facebook page called “God, Cancer and Me.” I offer encouraging, motivational and inspiring posts. I share some of my thoughts and feelings, too. Please come join me there.

Blessings to you and yours.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

The Journey to Kidney Health Starts with this Book (Book review)

 

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The Renal Diet Cookbook for the Newly Diagnosed: The Complete Guide to Managing Kidney Disease (2017) is not your average cookbook. Author Susan Zogheib is a registered dietician and is considered to be a leader in the field of renal nutrition. Her expertise, experience and client-centred, holistic approach to kidney health makes this book an enjoyable read (her third book on the subject). The book is full of tools, tips, advice and practical help for the newly diagnosed. It is set up in a way so that the advice can be personalized to suit the reader’s situation.

This helpful, empowering book is written for the person newly diagnosed with early stage chronic kidney disease (CKD). Sprinkled into the book is advice about the helpfulness of a “positive attitude”, “supportive people” and “happy activities” as well as exercise and smoking cessation. It is a pleasure to read due to the colourful photographs of healthy food, and the occasional green and orange colour in the titles. The foreword is written by a doctor and the introduction provides an empowering message of taking control of your kidney disease by advocating a “kidney-friendly lifestyle.”

The first of 14 chapters start out with positivity and education about CKD and gives hope that although kidney disease has no cure, it is completely manageable with diet and lifestyle –“kidney disease will allow you to take control of managing it.” Zogheib explains the role that diabetes and high blood pressure has for people with CKD. She uses encouragement, education and her professional expertise which helps the reader trust the information provided.

Zogheib explains information about the “CKD 1-4 Diet”, with the main premise being a careful monitoring of protein, sodium, potassium, phosphorus and in some cases, fluid. This diet, as well as her book’s main purpose is to help slow or avoid CKD progression (avoiding need for dialysis). She often refers to having a doctor and the health care team (including a dietician) review the person’s personal health history as well as encouraging regular checkups and reviews.

Daily Meal Plans, Pantry and Shopping Lists, Worksheets, Tables, Tips, Dos and Don’ts, How To’s, Recipes, Appendices, Resources, References, Indices (2!) make this book very useful and a great reference for those starting out in their quest for successful management of their kidney disease. Zogheib didn’t leave anything out.

Of the 100 Recipes (in chapters 5-13), I found a few that stood out that I’d like to try (and I don’t have kidney disease!). Roasted Broccoli, Asparagus Lemon Soup, Creamy Pesto Pasta and Lemon Garlic Halibut all sound good to me! All the recipes look great and include serving size, preparation time, cook time (no more than 30 minutes), nutrition info, description and tips.

Zogheib notes that people aged 60 and older are at a higher risk for CKD. She also notes high blood pressure (hypertension) is the leading cause of kidney disease – which I know is a very common affliction of many. The book provides unique tips and strategies for anyone who is on a restricted diet (e.g., sodium) or watching their intake. The “Strategies for Dining Out” is a section that everyone should read especially if they like going to the “all-you-can eat buffet.” Any newly diagnosed kidney disease patient or their family members would benefit from this book. Highly recommended.

*I was provided a digital review copy of this book for a fair and honest review.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Sugar, Cancer and the Link

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Cookies from the CancerCare Manitoba treat trolley

There are a few simple pleasures in life that we all take for granted. For example, a sweet treat like a cookie or a piece of pie can make us feel happy due to the sugar high (dopamine) we get when that sweet goodness hits our taste buds. Some people say sugar is much like an addictive drug.

However these sweet treats are not good for some of us. Especially if we indulge. Especially if we have an illness or condition that requires us to restrict the consumption of simple carbohydrates and too much sugar. For example, those who are diabetic are required to reduce the consumption of sweets and simple carbohydrates in order to keep their bodies running optimally.

One area that has caused a lot of debate is the consumption of sugar and how it relates to causing or feeding cancer. Some people believe that a diet including too much sugar causes cancer. Just do a Google search on “sugar feeds cancer” and you will find sensational articles such as this or this which don’t necessarily have all the correct information.  There have been many reliable scientific studies on this subject, and so far there is no conclusive evidence that eating more sugar leads to more cancer. However, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, we do know that being overweight or obese can cause an increased risk for developing cancer.

News agencies are always reporting on this topic, as people are desperately wanting to know how to prevent and treat cancer. CNN reported on “Sugar and cancer: Is there a link?” and it provides an overview of some of the research that has been done on the subject. The bottom line is that Thevelein, the researcher, does not believe that eating more sugar leads to more cancer. He goes on to say that eating a lot of sugar can cause one to become obese, and obesity is linked to a higher risk of cancer.

If anything, Thevelein suggests cancer patients eat less simple sugars and more complex sugars as those found in starch and whole grains. He recommends looking for alternative ways of providing sugar and energy to cancer patients rather than rapidly metabolized simple sugars.

My experience with cancer and sugar

This brings me to my own experience with cancer and my relationship to sugar. When I was diagnosed with anal cancer, my body and perhaps my mind, started to reject simple sugars. I avoided eating sweets, and I think my body was somehow rejecting the simple sugars. Intuitively my body and mind decided what my body needed was protein and complex sugars. I had read or heard over the years that sugar can cause cancer (true or not), so I guess this message was internalized.

I remember I used to love “Fibre One” bars. These are snack bars made with granola and chocolate chips. When I found out I had cancer, I couldn’t enjoy them anymore due to the extreme sweetness that I didn’t notice before. Other sweet treats I used to enjoy like chocolate were off my shopping list (for the time being).

To my surprise, as I was going through cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation), the volunteers would come around with cookies and drinks like coffee, tea and juice. It was a nice little treat to have while us cancer patients and sometimes our family or friends were with us. But it made me wonder, why, with all the fear of the link between sugar and cancer, would this be a refreshment of choice? I guess this was NOT an issue with the CancerCare Manitoba dieticians, doctors and other health care professionals. So at that point, I thought it must be okay to eat sweets like cookies during cancer treatment. Maybe everything I’d heard was hogwash.

Cancer risks include obesity and aging

As research progresses regarding the link between simple sugars and cancer, I will be curious to see what recommendations come out from leading cancer treatment centres. Will they still be serving cookies? Is this in the best interests of their patients? Are they encouraging the obesity epidemic, therefore increasing the risks for cancer? Perhaps there is a healthier alternative, such as some naturally sweet options or those made with natural sugars (i.e. fruit or applesauce)? For now, I will cut back on sugary sweets and have them in moderation.

“Getting older” is on the top of most lists regarding who is at risk for developing cancer. The American Cancer Society reports that nearly 9/10 cancers are diagnosed in people aged 50 and older. About half of men will be diagnosed and a third of women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime.

If you have cancer and you are concerned about your diet and how sugar affects your treatment and recovery, I would suggest you talk to a dietician who specializes in oncology. Your medical team can help direct you. If you don’t have cancer and you’d like to reduce your risk, please talk to your healthcare professional.

Be well.

Angela G. Gentile

 

Additional info:

University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre (top-ranked cancer hospital in the USA in 2016) – Does sugar cause cancer?

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Does sugar feed cancer?

Mayo Clinic – Cancer causes: Popular myths about the causes of cancer

Oncology Nutrition – Sugar and Cancer

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patience: A Calm, Accepting Approach to Interrupted Plans

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We were running out of eggs and milk (and a few other things) so I decided to make a trip to Costco. Also, I had to pick up some medication. I call it a “trip” because I find the whole process quite overwhelming, even on a good day.

Recovering from a serious illness like cancer and it’s treatment takes time. Everything is slowed down and I have to be wary of running into some unexpected physical problems. I have to be ready for anything.

I learned something about myself today as I ventured out. Over the last few months I have developed a very enhanced skill of patience. I noticed a lack of frustration and agitation as I moved through the motions of this Costco trip. What would normally make the average person impatient or annoyed, didn’t seem to bother me. I have never been much of an impatient type, but today I noticed a greater sense of calm and tolerance about me.

As I entered the parking lot, I didn’t mind that there were cars stopped, turning, moving slow, in front of me. I didn’t mind that I had to go to the far side of the lot to find a parking spot (I thought it wouldn’t be busy on a Tuesday morning – Ya, right!). I was “in the moment,” enjoying the “flow of life.”

When I arrived at the entrance of the store, there were a lot of people getting shopping carts, and getting in line for the “membership card” check. I didn’t mind having to wait my turn. At this point I noticed a lot of people (all ages, male/female) rushing. Almost cutting me off at times. I wondered if I was moving too slow? Well, I wasn’t about to pick up the pace, as I was doing the best I could.

As I moved deeper into the store, I was noticing how quickly some people were moving. I found myself asking them in my head, What’s the rush? Is life that hectic for you that you practically have to “run” through Costco with your super-sized cart? Almost running into people? I wondered if anyone has been knocked over before. Or hit with a cart. I immediately became more aware of the space I was occupying and tried to stay on the sidelines in order not to get hurt.

I enjoyed all the sights. All the new things. I picked up my needed items, and found myself browsing through isles I hadn’t been in for a long time. Seems like most people were practically running by and throwing things in their carts. A younger mom with a child practically threw a bag of frozen blueberries into her cart, barely stopping to let the door of the freezer close. Meanwhile, here I was, taking my time, looking at labels. Letting people go ahead of me.

When I got to the pharmacy, there was an older woman in line. I asked her if she was in the “Pick Up” your medication line. She only smiled at me. So I got closer and asked her again as I realized she didn’t hear me the first time. She apologized for not hearing me and said she was in line and moved forward a bit. I was not annoyed at all by her initial lack of response. Again, that sense of calm and patience was with me and I was surprised at the amount of understanding and compassion I had for her. I told her not to worry. I got in line behind her. As I picked up my medicine, I told the staff member I needed some info changed on my account (my phone number, etc.). She apologized and told me I had to go to the “Drop Off” line. I was completely okay with it and moved into another line.

I completed my shopping and got into another line to go through the checkout. A middle-aged woman cut in front of me, and smiled. She said, “I am just trying to get in line.” I smiled back and gestured to her to go ahead of me. I was thinking maybe she has someone waiting for her at home, or maybe she’s on a tight deadline. So once again, my patience grew.

As I was leaving the store to get back into my car, there was an older man coming up and one of us had to let the other go by first or we’d crash into each other. I decided to slow my pace, and let him go before me. I wondered what the proper etiquette is nowadays. Does a middle-aged woman (younger) let an older man go first? Or should the older man allow the woman to go first? Either way, I felt another surge of kindness and patience, and let the man go first.

I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation in the last few months. Does that have an influence on my patience and calmness? I wonder. Or is just because I have been away from the hectic “Rat Race” for so long?

When I Google the definition of “patience”, the following comes up: “Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.” I’d say I totally agree with that definition, as I lived it today.

As I get older, as I get more experience in life, my ability to be patient is developing into something beyond what I ever imagined. They say patience is a virtue. So that’s a good thing, right? However, maybe patience is a day-to-day thing, and maybe I won’t have much of it left by tomorrow.

What is your patience level like? How do you feel waiting in lines and having people cut you off? What do you make of this trip to Costco?

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

Ways to Improve Your Memory Skills Podcast Interview

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I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kathe Kline in March 2017 for the Rock Your Retirement Show and it went live on 23 Oct 2017. Have a listen to my 30-minute audio only podcast (it’s like a radio show) to hear me talk about various topics including tips on how to improve memory skills. You can play it off your device, or download and listen to it later. There is a freebie on this as well, you just have to sign up to get a copy of it (see link below).

Link to the interview – Ways to Improve Memory Skills

Here are links to the show in popular smartphone apps:

iTunes

Stitcher

iHeartRadio

I have also provided a Freebie for the listeners – Five Strategies to Help Improve Memory Skills.

After you’ve had a listen, please feel free to comment on the Rock Your Retirement Show interview link page (see link above), or down below, here. Or just send me a personal note.

About Rock Your Retirement and Kathe Kline.

Rock on!

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

A Prayer Shawl is a Perfect Gift of Comfort

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“It is a truly helpless feeling when a loved one has a very serious diagnosis, knowing she will have to endure brutal treatment as a result. Creating the prayer shawl was therapeutic for me. Putting my energy into knitting it, and thinking of her, and praying for her while I knit it, helped me feel I was doing something to help.” – Lynda

Early on in my cancer diagnosis, as I was awaiting treatment, I received a beautiful hand-knit blue shawl from a dear friend, Lynda. She packaged it up in a beautiful aqua-coloured gift bag and presented it to me one evening at church after we had attended Novena (a Catholic Church mass).

As I open the gift, I am awestruck by the beauty of the colours and the softness of the yarn. The blues, aqua and white are so heavenly to me. Colours are chosen for a reason. Lynda explained that she hand-knit it for me. In the card she gave me, the colours are explained:

“In Prayer Shawl Ministry, the colour blue signifies healing and spiritually; aqua – courage; and white – peace. Think of it as a hug from me whenever it’s by you.” – Lynda

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I used this shawl a lot at the beginning of my treatment and it comforted me. I felt the love and energy from Lynda, knowing she had put so much effort into it. The little beads at the ends were a pretty touch, too. Now, I keep it near me, and use it when I feel I need a little extra comfort or hug. I plan to use it when I attend church.

The information that came on the card from the parish reads:

“This shawl was made especially for you. It is a gift from the people of St. Paul’s. The crafter prayed for you while making it. When your shawl was completed, the members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry gathered in a circle and blessed it. May you find comfort and solace as you wear it. May it encircle you in God’s love and peace. Blessings” (The Parish Family of St. Paul’s, Fort Garry)

Lynda says that when she saw me “leaning into my faith” during a difficult time of tests, diagnosis, pain and treatment, she felt confident this gift would be well-received. She says not everyone turns to their faith when tragedy strikes. Some people get angry with God and turn away from their faith. That wasn’t the case for me.

Included in my gift was more info on the history and meaning of Prayer Shawls:

For it was you who formed my inward parts. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

The word “shawl” first appears in the English language in 1662, and it is derived from the Persian word shal.

“Shawls have been made for centuries; they are universal and embracing; symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify. Those who have received these shawls have been uplifted and affirmed, as if given wings to fly above their troubles.” – Janet Severi Bristow, 1998

In 1998, Janet Bristow and Vicky Galo started the Prayer Shawl Ministry in Hartford, Connecticut. In only 7 years, the ministry had grown to over 900 groups across Canada and the USA, with groups sprouting in Great Britain, Australia, Philippines, South America, Greece, New Zealand and South America,

These mantles are called Prayer Shawls, not because they are to be ceremonially worn during prayer — But because woven into the miles of yarn are prayers for friends and strangers. Blessings are knitted into every shawl through every stitch, as needleworkers invite God’s bountiful blessings for healing, hope, comfort, gentle caregivers and peace of mind for the shawl recipients. Like a calming mantra, they are made of a 3-seed stitch, reminding us of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer; Faith, Hope and Charity; past, present and future; birth, death and re-birth; mind, body and spirit and so on. For those who receive them, the shawls wrap them in the prayer and love that is so much a part of each shawl created.

Information adapted from The Parish Family of St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Fort Garry, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

I would highly recommend a Prayer Shawl as a gift to someone who is going through a difficult time. It has meaning way beyond the physical. There are many books written on the subject and if you check the Prayer Shawl Ministry website mentioned above, you will find lots of helpful resources.

Peace, love and hugs,

Angela

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities, Aging Well for Women as well as God, Cancer and Me. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

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