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Hockey great keeps Hodgkin’s lymphoma in check

Written by Community Health Network on 2/21/2014 10:30:00 AM

For his performance during the 1992-1993 season with the Pittsburg Penguins, back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships and gold medal win in the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake, Mario Lemieux earned the name “Super Mario”. But what is truly super about this hockey legend is that he is a cancer survivor.

In 1993 Mario was having the season of his career and was close to establishing a new National Hockey League (NHL) scoring record. Then, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, now known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

A cancer of the blood, Hodgkin’s lymphoma develops in the lymph system, part of the body’s immune system. There are two kinds of lymphomas: non-Hodgkin’s and Hodgkin’s. Both types of lymphoma have similar symptoms and characteristics, which include swollen lymph nodes, fever, night sweats and weight loss.

Mario had discovered a swollen lymph node on the back of his neck that was determined to be cancerous. After its removal he underwent radiation therapy, one of the procedures used to treat this cancer. But, on the morning of March 2, 1993, Mario finished his last radiation treatment, took a plane to Philadelphia, and scored a goal and an assist against the Philadelphia Flyers. Talk about keeping cancer in check!

Mario is now 20 years cancer-free and his personal experience with cancer led him to create his own foundation.

“My battle with Hodgkin’s disease in 1993 made me realize how fragile life can be,” he said. continue reading ...

Former Olympian gives birth after cancer

Written by Community Health Network on 2/17/2014 7:15:00 PM

Shannon Miller, former Olympic gymnast, is an ovarian cancer survivorThis month we’re recalling former U.S. Olympians who were challenged by cancer. One such Olympian is Shannon Miller, who competed as a gymnast in two Summer Games: Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996. She was one of the “Magnificent Seven” and is the most decorated American gymnast in history.

Miller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in February of 2011 after physicians discovered a cyst on her ovary during a routine gynecological exam. Miller underwent surgery to remove her left ovary and had nine weeks of chemotherapy treatment.

Last June, Miller and her husband welcomed a healthy baby girl, named Sterling. This achievement rivals her Olympic performance, especially because Miller is a cancer survivor.

One concern facing women with ovarian cancer is infertility post-treatment. While Miller already had a son, Rocco, she had considered having other children. In a People magazine interview she said, “Instead of calling my parents to tell them they had another grandchild on the way, I was calling to tell them I may have cancer. My world stopped.”

Now, Miller recognizes motherhood as her biggest achievement. “I've been blessed to have the opportunity to do some amazing things in my life, but being a mom is second to none,” she said.

Fertility and cancer

For many women with ovarian cancer, fertility may not be possible due to treatment. In cases like Miller’s, the cancer was only in one ovary, still allowing her to reproduce. However, if you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and fertility is an important issue, there are options for preserving fertility.

Cancer prevention

In 2013, 450 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Age, obesity, reproductive history, birth control, gynecological surgery, fertility drugs and family history can all be risk factors for ovarian cancer. Symptoms often include discomfort in the lower abdomen, weight loss, abnormal bowel movement or urination, vaginal bleeding, or shortness of breath. But knowing the risk factors and symptoms can help prevent ovarian cancer. If you think you may be at risk or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, contact your OB/GYN.

Ask an expert

For more information early detection and treatment of female cancers call 800-777-7775 or ask Dr. Wafic ElMasri, gynecologic cancer expert

Testicular cancer can’t slow Kessel down

Written by Community Health Network on 2/16/2014 6:45:00 AM

Phil Kessel, testicular cancer survivor and star hockey player You may know Phil Kessel as the leading scorer for the Toronto Maple Leafs, or remember him skating his way to a silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 with the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team.

What you may not know is that this hat trick-scoring hockey player is also a cancer survivor.

In 2006, as a rookie with the Boston Bruins, Phil detected a small lump in his testicle. He was concerned and approached a physician. After an exam and ultrasound, he was diagnosed with embryonal testicular cancer.

"I couldn't believe it," said Phil Kessel at the time. "It was tough. I had a hard time with it."

Phil underwent surgery and had his right testicle removed. Despite missing 11 regular-season games that year, he went on to win the Masterton Trophy.

Now, seven years later, the cancer survivor is attending his second Olympic games. He helped take Team USA to victory over Slovakia and Russia. Kessel is also a part of the NHL Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, and organization that has raised over $12.8 million for research and cancer care treatment centers in the U.S. and Canada.

Ask an expert about men's cancer

To learn more about how we help men battle testicular cancer visit our website and ask a member of our cancer care team.

Olympic figure skating great Dorothy Hamill recalls chemotherapy side effects

Written by Community Health Network on 2/15/2014 10:15:00 AM

In 1976, Dorothy Hamill trademarked the "Hamill-Camel", a figure skating spin, and won gold at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck. Instead of retiring from the sport when she was at the top of the podium, she went on to compete in the next year’s World Figure Skating Championship—and won. Dorothy applied those same guts when she was diagnosed with cancer.

In 2007, the figure skating champion was diagnosed with breast cancer. After extensive chemotherapy and treatment she was declared cancer-free in 2009. But even a few years after her last chemotherapy session, Hamill still felt drained from all of the treatment.

“I don’t have a lot of energy,” said Hamill in a 2010 interview with People magazine. “I get really tired. Even when I’m not skating I get tired.”

Christina Kim, M.D., an MD Anderson Cancer Network™ certified physician at Community Health Network, specializes in breast surgery. She says there are common long-term side effects from chemotherapy. continue reading ...

Radiation therapy: Zeroing in on cancer part II

Written by Community Health Network on 2/14/2014 11:00:00 AM

This is the second blog (view part one here) in a three-part interview series with Dr. Chandrika Patel, radiation oncologist. She is board certified in radiation oncology by the American Board of Radiology and a MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician at Community Regional Cancer Center - East.

Is radiation therapy given alone or in combination with chemotherapy or immunotherapy?

At Community Cancer Centers you have a cancer team that includes a medical oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist and nursing support team. We identify your cancer type and stage and develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Combination therapy is not unusual. In addition to radiation therapy, chemotherapy attacks the cancer cells directly. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, targets the body’s immune system to fight the disease.

How are patients supported throughout and post- treatment?

Survivorship is a very important part of the patient experience at Community Cancer Center.  For example, we have breast health navigators who are matched with every breast cancer patient and help guide and support that patient through their journey. The health navigator is there to help that patient from the time of a positive biopsy through the course of treatment which may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy or a combination of such. Our health navigator holds their hand along the way and makes sure all of their questions and concerns are addressed.

I recall having a female patient who was an avid biker. After breast cancer treatment, she was able to go back to riding 30-40 miles per day. It’s so rewarding to help our patients resume living life. Then there was also an individual who was treated and went back to compete in national pool tournaments. There is life after cancer treatment and we want to help our patients get there. 

Has the affiliation with the MD Anderson Cancer Network™ impacted radiation oncology services at Community Regional Cancer Centers?
From a Community Health Network perspective, we have incorporated some of MD Anderson Cancer Network’s techniques into our patient’s treatment plans. It’s been very helpful to review their methods and have access to their specific cancer specialists with regards to more complicated or rare cancer cases. In those situations, we review treatments methods that they used and discuss our cases with them. For the patient, we are able to provide the expertise of world renowned cancer experts right here in Indiana.

Learn more about the MD Anderson affiliation
To learn more or gather information for a loved one, request a FREE white paper to share.

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Appointments available!

To make an appointment with an MD Anderson Cancer Network® certified physician at Community, call 800-777-7775 today!

Meet our nurse navigators

When it comes to your fight against cancer, they've got your back. Our nurse navigators act as a guide, resource, advocate and educator for newly diagnosed cancer patients and their families. Learn more here.