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A small turnout on Thursday 6 July. The America's Cup parade was on and the weather was atrocious. Nevertheless we had a fruitful meeting, getting to know a new member of our network, Sharmayne and welcoming Marlene Evans back into our midst. 

We started with a video about WHNCD, a day of observance that started in 2014. It featured Jatin P. Shah who is the head of the International Federation of Head and Neck Oncological Societies as well as Michael Douglas and…

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How to raise awareness of our support network on World Head and Neck Cancer Day? How to make new head and neck cancer patients aware that we exist and they are not alone? Diana and Olwen came up with a plan: provide care packs for patients undergoing treatment. 

We had recently rebranded with our tui…

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Being a Caregiver

When one member of the family gets cancer, the whole family gets it, people say. In our head and neck cancer community we have many members who have become strong advocates for their partners. Here is one such story of love and commitment. 

Taking on the role of caregiver came to me on two occasions only a few short years apart.  Suddenly and devastatingly each time, with no warning and no instruction manual.  It landed on my lap by default…

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It often surprises just how many people get a head and neck cancer. I recently discovered a singer/song writer favourite, John Prine, had a cancer back in the 90s and Val Kilmer recently confirmed that he actually did have a cancer this year (after first denying it.) Both survived and are apparently going strong - something the stories below suggest are becoming more of the norm. However, as always, a little skepticism never hurts.…

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Network News - 3 July 2017

Since our last Network News one of our members, Udaya Kovvuru, passed away on 21st June 2017. We met Udaya, and his wife Shoba last year after his surgery. We have followed his journey through our Facebook group. Udaya, was fortunate to have wonderful support from Shoba. She is a wonderfully generous and wise person, sharing their story, and…

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What are the  psychological effects of head and neck cancer?

We were privileged to hear a talk by Sandy Cavell, then of CMDHB on 4 June, 2015. 

Sandy Cavell, health psychologist at the ORL module at the Manukau Superclinic, was our speaker today. Sandy has conducted a lot of research into the psychological effects of this cancer, including into “unmet needs” and “benefit findings”. Sandy barely got through her slideshow…

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Path to Diagnosis, Part 1

With WHNCD less than a month away, I am replacing Friendly Friday with stories on aspects of head and neck cancer care. Olwen Williams collected and collated these stories.

Head and  neck cancers have a variety of symptoms and are often not recognised for some time.  Here’s how a number of people were diagnosed. These symptoms include a cough, a sore on the tongue, a swelling on the nose, swallowing problems, blocked sinuses. Other members, not…

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In lieu of the regular Weekly Wednesday whose writer is otherwise occupied at the moment, I want to introduce you to our World Head and Neck Cancer Day build up. From now on we will have a series of articles relating to many different aspects of the disease: the path to diagnosis, being a caregiver, HPV, laryngectomy issues and many more. 

What is WHNCD? 

World Head and Neck Cancer Day on July 27 each year was established in 1987 as a way to bring…

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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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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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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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