The ​Long Road to Recovery

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Anyone who has had or has cancer or any other chronic illness or disease knows there is a certain amount of time when they feel they are truly on the road to recovery, recovered, or have discovered their “new normal.” I am one of those people.

I was diagnosed with anal cancer in April 2017. I finished treatment in August 2017. One and a half years later, I can say I am starting to feel “recovered” for the most part – “still recovering” in other areas –– and have discovered my new normal.

My new normal includes ongoing and long-term physical rehabilitation as a result of pelvic radiation damage. I am not complaining (radiation saved my life!), I am just sharing that although some people look great after a big ordeal like cancer, there could be ongoing battles that you may know nothing about. Invisible wounds and scars are very common for people who have experienced cancer.

Recently I attended an art show, and I received a few compliments on my appearance (the picture above was taken at the end of a Hawaiian vacation last month). I know I am feeling much better physically, and my self-image is shaping up. My hair is almost all grown back and highlighted again; I am back to yoga once weekly, and I have started back on my elliptical and doing stretches and weights. I even started wearing my FitBit again. My modest goal of 6,000 steps daily is still a ways away, but at least I am working towards it.

I have also been enjoying my new “intermittent fasting” lifestyle and my relationship with food. I am feeling in control of my life and my body. It’s taken almost two years, but I finally feel like each day I feel better and better.

I am enjoying moderating and managing support groups on Facebook. The “Anal_Cancer Support” group on Facebook is doing amazingly well and has recently achieved the 10-year milestone and the 300th member. Having cancer has expanded my social network by leaps and bounds. A profound and harrowing experience can bring more people into your life – if you want it. You just have to open up and ask for it.

The “Dementia Caregiver Solutions Support Group” is also growing and the admin team recently expanded to include two new moderators who are actual caregivers. They join three professionals to moderate and keep things on track. I find comfort in knowing I have given caregivers this safe forum to share, vent, and get advice for such a difficult time in their lives.

I am also pursuing other volunteer opportunities to help me reach more people who may benefit from my experience, passion, and support. I seem to have an infinite amount of “help” to give, and I am looking for ways to do so –– in a way that will keep me balanced and not over-taxed.

I continue to write for a company called Trualta. I am enjoying my writing projects and look forward to writing for more companies and individuals as the opportunities present themselves.

I am also helping people get married, sort out their problems, write books, develop websites and more. I am starting to consider finishing up my book on aging well (this will be my fifth book!).  Where all this will take me? Who knows. The long road to recovery takes us places that we never dreamed of. I am looking forward to continuing on this journey.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

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Cancer Up the Wazoo Book Launch — Photos and Video

Reading

Angela Gentile reading from Cancer Up the Wazoo

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Purple suit to match the ribbon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, September 27, 2018, my two latest books Cancer Up the Wazoo and How to Edit an Anthology were presented and launched at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was also a fundraiser for the “CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.” 60 people attended and Tache Pharmacy sponsored the beverages. There were also decorated sugar cookies (made with love by me, Sheila and Simone) and brownies (made by Cupp, my husband).

 

Hope

Cancer Up the Wazoo, How to Edit an Anthology, Hope symbol, and Me (Angela Gentile)

I also revealed my latest project — a symbol of HOPE. It includes the anal cancer ribbon in green and purple and a dragonfly. The logo was created with the talented help from Fusion Communications. The dragonfly is a creation of Chinese brush artist Virginia Lloyd-Davies. Her artwork is also found in the book, Cancer Up the Wazoo. I have plans to help share this beautiful logo with those as a symbol of strength and hope.

Although there are 25 people who contributed to the book, only 5 of us were able to be at the launch. These three short speeches were very touching.

Speakers

Three guest speakers. Left to right: Lynda Sie Greaves, Maureen Warren, Me (Angela Gentile) and Virginia Davis Wilson).

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Me and Father Sam, one of my esteemed guests!

The presentation was 26 minutes in total. I have put it on YouTube, in two parts.

Part 1:

Part 2:

 

Signing

People bought books and I signed them if they wanted me to!

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Overall, the launch was a success and we raised $300 for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation! In addition to that, $1 from the sale of each copy of Wazoo will be donated to the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.

To purchase copies, you can find Cancer Up the Wazoo and How to Edit an Anthology on Amazon or at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

 

A special thank you to all who attended, donated and purchased books.

Warm regards,

Angela G. Gentile

www.AngelaGGentile.com

Press Release – Book Launch Fundraiser to Help People Coping with Cancer

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September 19, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For More Information contact Angela Gentile.

BOOK LAUNCH FUNDRAISER TO HELP PEOPLE COPING WITH CANCER

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA—Anal cancer survivor Angela Gentile is donating a portion of the proceeds from her Cancer Up the Wazoo book launch to help others cope with cancer. The book launch and reading will be at McNally Robinson Booksellers, 1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, Sept. 27, 7 p.m. The donation from the sales will go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. Additionally, a coin collection will be taken for CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Sponsored by Tache Pharmacy.

Gentile was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2017, was treated with chemoradiation, and now is cancer-free. As she searched for information and statistics after getting the diagnosis, Gentile discovered resources were even more limited than an anal cancer diagnosis which afflicts approximately 25 Manitobans each year and one in 500 people annually.

As a result, Gentile decided she would create the resource she wished she could have found. “After my diagnosis, I had difficulty finding the resources I needed that would help me. I vowed that I would create a book that would be helpful, comprehensive and diverse to help others who might get the same diagnosis I did,” Gentile said. “The result is Cancer Up the Wazoo.”

Cancer Up the Wazoo is an anthology of writings from 25 people whose stories cover a wide range of topics about cancer. Contributors include teachers, professors, nurses, social workers, technicians, clinicians, principals, counsellors, personal support workers, among others. Some of the contributors, including Gentile, have personally dealt with anal cancer while other writers have been witnesses to what cancer can do to their loved ones or people they care about. There are personal stories, interviews, references to current research, photos, art, poetry, supplies lists, hope and inspiration, self-affirmations, a glossary, and an extensive index to help readers find what they need. Specific information includes symptoms of and diagnosis of anal cancer, how to reduce the risks of getting anal cancer, advice for newly diagnosed patients, pelvic radiation disease, HPV vaccine, complementary and alternative medicine, dealing with shame and stigma, coping techniques and general resources. Another book, How to Edit an Anthology, is an offshoot and is also being launched on the 27th.

If you are unable to make the book launch and are interested in getting a copy of the book, you can purchase it on Amazon. For information about Gentile and her other publications, visit her website at https://angelaggentile.com.

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Cancer Up the Wazoo Quotes

Please feel free to share these photos and quotes! We are happy to share!

Angela and Alan self-affirmations with Michaels' photo

Self-Affirmations

 

Angela Rare cancers deserve attention

Rare Cancers Deserve Attention, Too

 

Angelas quote on sharons photo 2

Integrative Medicine and Cancer

 

Joana photo quote

Anal Cancer and Shame

 

Jodi quote

The Impact of Cancer

 

Joys funny quote

Funny Quote from Joy

 

 

Laura's photo and quote PRD

Pelvic Radiation Disease and Cancer

 

Maria photo quote

Anal_Cancer Support group on Facebook

 

Marshall quote with my pic

Anal Cancer, Shame and Stigma

 

Maureens quote on Asger's photo

Cancer and friendship

 

Michael sitting on mountain quote

Cancer and Resilience – Inspiration

 

Peggy photo and quote

Anal Cancer, Hemorrhoids and HPV

 

Sharie Vance depression quote

Cancer, Anger and Depression

 

Sharon Basic quote

Thankful Survivor of Cancer

 

Sheila's quote

Cancer, Friendship and Health

 

Sue inspiration quote

Cancer and Inspiring Others

 

Virginia quote Asger's photo

Cancer and Mother Bear

 

Calvin Nokes assbassador quote

Assbassador of Anal Cancer

 

alan quote standing

Cancer, Guides and Mentors

It Takes a Village to Write a Book!

Cancer Up the Wazoo (not yet released!) is comprised of the efforts of 25 people (and that doesn’t include all those who were paid and unpaid who have reviewed, alpha read, beta read, proofed, offered design suggestions, etc.).

Thank you to all who are involved in the making of Cancer Up the Wazoo: Stories, Information, and Hope for Those Affected by Anal Cancer. Two writers chose to remain anonymous, and I respect that!

A COLLECTION

Please share with your social networks and help me get these fine folks the recognition they deserve!

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW

 

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Angela G. Gentile, B.S.W., M.S.W., is a registered social worker and is employed as a Geriatric Mental Health Clinician in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is married to Agapito and has two adult children, Lorenzo and Simone. Angela enjoys writing, reading, and travelling and considers herself a realistic optimist. For more info: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

How a Dog or Puppy Can Bring Joy and Companionship into Your Life

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When I was going through my cancer ordeal, my dog, Rocky (a senior), was my constant companion. He lay beside me on my bed, he followed me downstairs when I went to get something to eat, and on the days I was bedbound, he seemed to be aware of my plight. When my family went out to work or school, or attended family functions that I wasn’t well enough to go to, Rocky was there with me. He seemed to get me more than anyone else. We bonded in a special way. I was never alone.

After my treatments were completed (which were absolutely torturous!), my daughter Simone started talking about wanting a new puppy. She was saying how she was missing having a little girl-dog around, so I encouraged her to get one for herself. I told her we would help her look after it. It didn’t take her long to decide and she went for it!

Well, what a joy this little one has brought to our lives. The fun and excitement started when my daughter called us to say one of the breeders she called said she had puppies that were just a few days old, and she could come and take a look! Soon after, Simone and I made plans to go out to the country to see the puppies. They were purebred Havanese (like a small poodle).

Simone picked out a blond female and named her Berkeley. We visited her every week as she grew old enough to be weaned from her mother. I (we) had something fun, sweet and exciting to look forward to. This helped get my mind off my cancer ordeal. Rocky was still my trusty companion, and this little addition was going to bring a new dynamic to our household. The anticipation of the day we could bring her home was killing us! We were in love.

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When we went to get Berkeley to bring her back to her forever home, it was as if we had brought home a new baby! We had visitors, puppy gifts, even a “Puppy Shower” my daughter planned. Simone wanted to bond with the puppy so she made sure she looked after all the pup’s needs – such as comfort, food, water and a warm comfy place to sleep. She had to get up in the night to let her out to do her business. The household and family dynamics were changed. Even Rocky had to adapt to having a little one around. Heck, I am even called Gramma now!

I was house-bound for many months during my healing and recovery, so I was the main one helping with the house-training. Often I played with Berkeley as she had lots of energy and a playful spirit (when she was awake). When she started teething, we had to make sure she had lots of appropriate chew toys and made sure the house was “puppy-proofed.”

Berkeley has added so much joy to our lives. I can’t imagine what my recovery journey would have been like without Rocky and our new little one. Raising a puppy is hard work, but the rewards are tremendous.

Please share your dog (or pet) story.

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. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.

“Cancer Up the Wazoo” – Upcoming Book Announcement

Cancer Up the Wazoo book cover

Cancer Up the Wazoo

Buy “Cancer Up the Wazoo” on Amazon.com

 

I have been working on a new book! It’s an anthology for people who have been affected by a rare form of cancer – anal cancer. I have a great group of writers who are putting together their experiences and thoughts and I am editing it and putting it all together. It will be professionally copy-edited and I will be self-publishing through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It will be available on Amazon. We are planning for a paperback copy. An electronic version will be provided if there is a demand for that.

The target date for release is in Fall 2018. If you want to be advised when the book is available, please contact me and I will put you on my notice list!

The book is inclusive and diverse and will have stories written by men and women. Friends and family members of those affected also have some advice and experience to share. We have contributions by teachers, professors, nurses, social workers, technicians, clinicians, principals, counsellors, personal support workers, and so many more! It will be helpful to anyone who is affected with cancer, especially anal cancer. Professionals, family members, caregiver, patients and survivors will enjoy this book. It will include almost everything you need to get through!

Topics in Cancer Up the Wazoo to include:

  • Anal Cancer – The Basics
  • For the Newly Diagnosed
  • Mental Health and Coping
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Advocacy and Awareness
  • List of Supplies You May Need
  • Positive Affirmations to Help You Get Through
  • A Transformational Journey Through Cancer
  • When a Close Friend Has Cancer
  • The Power of a Mother’s Love
  • Cancer Blessings
  • What Cancer “Taught” Me
  • Overcoming the Shame of Anal Cancer
  • The Seven Phases of the Cancer Journey
  • Moving On After Cancer
  • Etc.

There will be tons more! This book will have tips, support, resources, advice and especially HOPE for those who are going through this cancer experience. There are references to God and faith. There will also be some humor sprinkled throughout!

Warm regards,

Angela G. Gentile

P.S. There is still time to contribute if you want to have your voice heard!

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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. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

 

 

 

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The Truth Is – Alternative Therapies Provide Nothing More than Placebo Effects (Book Review)

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Trick or Treatment by Singh & Ernst

Dr. Simon Singh and Professor Edzard Ernst team up in Trick or Treatment: Alternative Medicine on Trial (2008) to bust the myths of the effectiveness of some of the most popular complementary and alternative treatments. Ernst’s impressive occupational and education history make him far more than qualified to be the one to take on this task. He was formerly a clinical doctor and studied homeopathy. Singh has a Ph.D. in particle physics and is a New York Times bestselling author. Trick or Treatment was written in response to His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales’ request to have alternative treatments examined closely for their efficacy based on scientific testing. Ernst and Singh put together an impressive lineup of reasons why unorthodox and ancient treatments such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal medicine are mainly nothing more than a placebo and also come with risks.

This controversial stand on alternative treatments has me convinced, as I am a scientific-based kind of believer – especially when it comes to healthcare, risks and providing false hope. I am a cancer survivor and have done my due diligence of researching treatments and cures, both orthodox and integrative. I do sway sometimes into the “fantasy” and “wishful thinking” camp when it comes to some of the energy healing modalities, such as Spiritual, Reiki, Chakras and Pendulum (or dowsing) healing. I consider myself very open-minded, and if there are little costs and little risks involved, I am willing to give anything a try.

The book is quite repetitive on some points, mainly, that alternative therapies don’t work. It also seemed to be one big advertisement for St. John’s Wort, an herbal medicine that has been proven to treat mild to moderate depression. There was also some support for “fish oil” to combat inflammation in arthritis.

I liked the fact that Ernst has a history in homeopathy and he took the time to research many of the alternative and complementary therapies according to scientific-based evidence. Many of these therapies have been studied and he has dug up the dirt and given us a couple quick reference tools to refer to. For example, he has two pages of “Herbal Medicine Ratings” and cautions people that even though these are categorized as “natural” remedies, they are not always safe. He also strongly urges people to let their doctor know what herbs they are taking as they can interfere with pharmaceuticals. His second guide will be discussed below.

There are many references throughout the book giving examples of how people with cancer often seek alternative therapies (or at least are recommended by others to seek them). For example, the often-recommended “natural anti-cancer” treatment of laetrile (apricot pits) has been used and promoted since the nineteenth century. Due to scientific rigors, laetrile has since been labelled as “quackery” due to its ineffectiveness and risky side effects. Although this information is out there, people continue to use it to this day. This is true for many other alternative treatments.

The authors list ten culprits why these unproven and disproven treatments continue to be used, promoted and wrongfully touted as effective. It is an actual eye-opener, especially when we realize the power of the media, universities and alternative gurus such as Deepak Chopra and Dr. Andrew Weil.

There is an impressive “Rapid Guide to Alternative Therapies” which has about 35 different modalities covering many popular and not-so-popular techniques and gadgets people are using (e.g., crystals, magnets, special diets). The authors include a definition, background, evidence and conclusion and reassure the reader these therapies have been rigorously investigated against scientific evidence and meta-analyses where available.

This is a well-written book which has helped me open my eyes to the reasons why these alternative therapies are still around, despite the truth, that they are nothing more than placebos (and some come with risks that are rarely talked about). Placebos that are harmless offer nothing more than psychological benefits. Where there is belief and hope that something will work, it most likely will. That’s the power of the mind at work. If nothing else, it will provide the person with a sense of hope for the future, a feeling of wellness and a certain level of comfort that there is something “magical” at work. As long as there are little risks, little costs and big rewards, people will continue to seek out these treatments. Unfortunately there are some very expensive “treatments” as well, and charlatans and quacks are taking advantage of people when they are vulnerable.

Some people feel that doing something is better than doing nothing – as the placebo effect works in mysterious ways.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know the truth about alternative medicine and would rather put their efforts, resources and hope into reliable, scientific-based, effective medical treatments and cures.

The other book I read on this topic came up with the same conclusion about the placebo effect – Do You Believe in Magic? The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine by Paul A. Offit.

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 “Living Well With and After Cancer” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

Surviving and Thriving – Before, During and After an Anal Cancer Diagnosis (Book Review)

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Kicking Cancer in the Butt by Theresa Mayhew

4/5 Stars

Theresa Mayhew’s part memoir, part self-help book, “Kicking Cancer in the Butt: A Guide to Thriving in Spite of Anal Cancer” (2010) is an account of her experience with a rare form of cancer. She speaks highly of her involvement with the website and online community called “Blog for a Cure” and some of her female blogging friends also share parts of their experiences and advice. They have all been diagnosed with anal cancer.

Mayhew’s book is quite short, and there are lots of empty pages and white space (perhaps for notes?). The layout and formatting came with a couple of errors (such as a small gutter on the left page and page numbering format at the bottom suddenly switches at page 10.) All in all, 66 pages and a bigger font, makes for a quick read. I was able to complete it in two sittings.

Mayhew divides the book into three parts – Before (Diagnosis), During (Treatment) and After (Post-treatment). She comes from a spiritual background, called “Eckankar – Religion of the Light and Sound of God.” I had to look that one up and found out that this religion believes in karma and reincarnation. She also believes in and subscribes to non-traditional forms of healing such as “The Healing Codes” (another topic I had to look up.) She claims her spiritual and healing code practices “helped keep her in balance emotionally.” She also spoke of “MindMovies” and practicing “The Five Rites” which were all topics I was unfamiliar with.

Mayhew provides very basic information on anal cancer and a very long list of questions to ask your doctor (this list would take a long time to discuss!). She provides a list of things you may want to have on hand before your treatment starts, like ointments and baby wipes. There is a very short chapter on financial assistance.

In the first section of part two, “During”, she chronicles her own treatment, week by week, which included chemotherapy and radiation. She also includes some photographs to help the reader envision her and her experience. In this section of the book, her online blogging friends who also have cancer share some of their own experiences. Nova Sprick’s writing is very impressive throughout the book, and she shares some interesting concepts such as “Yoga Nidra” which means sleep yoga. I looked this up on YouTube and found some great relaxation guides (learned something else new!).

Mayhew and her friends at Blog for a Cure include all kinds of tips and terms, side effects, after effects and suggestions of how to navigate and cope with the diagnosis, treatment and how to “thrive” after the treatment of anal cancer. I wish they had talked more about the need for professional help in terms of depression and/or anxiety as I know this is a troublesome area for some (myself included).

The last pages of the book include a page “About the Author” and a page of “Resources.” It was an enjoyable read and I added many of my own notes, as I have been through anal cancer treatment myself. I tried to look up Mayhew via her website as noted in her “About the Author” section, but her page is no longer in service. I later found out that she passed away in 2011.

This book would be a good read and reference tool for anyone who has a diagnosis of anal cancer and it would also be of specific interest to those who are followers of Eckankar practices. Those who believe in God or a higher power would also find it helpful, as there are references to spiritual comfort and meaning throughout the book. Loved ones or caregivers would also benefit as it helps them understand what the person with anal cancer may be going through.

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. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com