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Singing you to sleep: Friendly Friday

Imagine going into theatre for urgent cancer surgery and the reality of it suddenly hitting you. Imagine the kind anaesthetist singing you sleep.

This is just one of the acts of kindness, above and beyond the call of duty, experienced by our members during treatment. (I don’t think singing is taught at medical school.)…

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Consumers' Code of Rights

If you are like me, you will be vaguely aware of the Code of Rights for consumers using the health system. You will have seen the tomato-coloured posters on waiting room walls entitled “Your Rights” or “Ou Tika”. You'll largely ignore them although you have been known to fire off an emotive email to a hospital department at times.…

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Network News

This week one of our members Alan Evans (82) passed away 8 June 2017. Alan and his wife, Marlene, were two of the first people I met at the Auckland Support Group. They were regular attenders prior to Alan's advancing illness. Alan was unable to speak. Despite that he enjoyed the group. Marlene was his voice, and their close and warm relationship was…

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Weekly Wednesday, June 14

It’s hard to make sense of all the cancer research out there: a phantasmagoria of hopeful reports full of scientific jargon. Some themes come through: how scientists might be able to tackle cancer at its very heart inside our genes and the way our immune system can be switched on to recognise cancer cells and attack them. And then there are the superfoods that might contain cancer-fighting properties. The latest: the red onion.

 (Note: The usual…

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Birds of the Year : Friendly Friday

We don’t have lions and tigers, kangaroos and koala bears in New Zealand, but we do have a collection of unique birds. The handsome, quarrelsome tui might be our emblem but lots of our other birds have strong personalities too.

New Zealanders love their birds - we even have a Bird of the Year Competition - and Friendly Friday is a chance to put a smile on your face with a list of past contenders.

When I first left full-time work, leaving Rotorua at…

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Cancer: Hype versus Hope

This is my summary of a talk by Professor Bill Wilson of the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre. Entitled Cancer, Hype versus Hope, it was given at the May meeting of the U3A Hibiscus Coast. Professor Wilson is speaking at the evening lecture on World Head and Neck Cancer Day at Domain Lodge. You can learn more about his research on the centre’s…

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Weekly Wednesday - 7 June 2017

The disfiguring effects of treatment are well known to many patients who have been through it - scarring, missing teeth, muscle wastage and more. The story below however does suggest some help with one of the common effects - lymphedema - could be on the way.

Meanwhile consider:
The Prince from Cinderella must have had a serious foot fetish to not remember any other discernible characteristic about her or maybe the only difference between passion and…

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"Scanxiety": Tuesday Contributor

“Scanxiety” is a big part of the head and neck cancer experience. I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to Kathryn’s words. 

We have asked Kathryn to write a column from time to time as a Tuesday Contributor.

Greg has been called into hospital to get his bloods done.  This means that scan time is imminent.

No matter where we are on this cancer journey, scan appointments always always induce…

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Monday News, 5 June 2017

Happy Queen's Birthday from all of us. Welcome to new members.

We received the sad news last month that Laura Taylor Lopes passed away on 26 May. Laura lived in Whangarei but received her treatment in Auckland and attended our meetings. She called in recently on her way to Mercy Hospital to see about the Keytruda treatment. 

At 39 and pregnant with baby Theo, Laura was in a different demographic to most of us. She endured the surgery and radiation bravely, visiting us on…

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Kath Broad from Pinc and Steel

If you divide a circle into three equal sections, diagnosis and treatment would fill two of them and rehabilitation the third. Rehabilitation is one of the neglected stages in a cancer patient's pathway, says Kathy Broad from Pinc and Steel.

Rehab of cancer patients is Pinc and Steel's stock in…

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As you can see, we have adopted the tui as our emblem. Above is the late, famous talking tui of Whangarei. Saw him with my own eyes, heard him with my own ears or would never have believed it. Tui are cool!

And what is it about cats on the internet? They've always been a thing, ever since the early days back in the 90s. One of my favourites is Maru, the…

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The Fibula Flap: Thursday Investigator

Just as the inner wrist provides smooth, unspoiled, almost hairless tissue for tongue reconstruction, the thin fibula bone in the leg provides surgeons with a convenient flap to reconstruct the jaw after head and neck cancer surgery.They are both suitable for harvesting blood vessels to join to vessels in the head/neck area.

 Last week, when  I wrote about the radial free forearm flap, I was describing a procedure I’m very familiar with as a patient. This…

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Wednesday Weekly - 31 May 2017

If there is any overall message to take from trawling through the libraries of news stories about head and neck cancer it is that a lot of people in a lot of countries are working on the most effective forms of treatment. That can range from drug treatment to robotic surgery and more, supporting the patient during and following treatment is another issue and one that groups like this network are constantly advocating for.

Meanwhile consider; Everything in the universe is either a…

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[Questionnaire Update] We did it!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our questionnaire. Thanks to everyone who shared the link, or coerced their partner. This is an authentic, credible dataset. From here we can analyse the information, and prioritise our work. Look out for our summaries, as they are published here over the next few weeks. We all have much to learn, and it starts here with quality information for…

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Friendly Friday: Pride, hope and laughter

Should be New Zealander of the Year every year

In this tough old world, there are some bright patches. How proud were we when New Zealand doctor, Lance O'Sullivan, burst into an anti-vaccine film screening in Kaitaia and argued for life-saving vaccinations of children? What a brave and committed thing to do. Here's a radio interview.…

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