8 posts from July, 2017

“I promise not to look upon myself with the scornful eyes of my past” – PatientsLikeMe’s Becca shares her promise

Posted July 24th, 2017 by

Becca Getto is an Associate Product Manager at PatientsLikeMe, and is recovering from an eating disorder. During her time in Monte Nedo Laurel Hill treatment program, she wrote a poetic and moving promise to herself, and in it she shares her past struggles and hopes for the future. Becca is more than her condition: she’s kind, caring, passionate and ambitious. Here’s her promise…

Stories about eating disorders

I promise to walk through life with my bare feet. I promise to feel the blades of grass tickling my soles, the warm grains of sand between my toes, the sharp edges of tiny pebbles beneath my feet. I promise to keep moving forward, to keep walking over the damp earth of a dirt trail, over hot pavement and uneven ground, through freezing snow, through overgrown weeds, through thorn bushes, through brambles and brush.

I promise to splash in puddles and jump into piles of autumn leaves. I promise to no longer hide my toes, to no longer be ashamed of my imperfections, blemishes and flaws. I promise to paint my toes only when I want to use their hue as a display of self-expression rather than an attempt to cover up reminders of my past embarrassment and mistakes. I promise to keep walking on my still wobbly feet for that is the only way they will one day feel more sturdy.


I promise to take step after step after step until my feet grow calloused and strong in the places that need it and still remain, ticklish, sensitive and soft in those that don’t.


I promise to appreciate my feet because they are truly incredible – they carry me, my entire body, mind and spirit, they withstand my weight and keep me rooted to the ground while simultaneously allowing me to make great leaps and bounds, jumps and strides. They are so rugged and strong yet still sensitive to the smallest sensation of touch. I promise to learn from my feet, to study the footprints I have left behind in order to choose a new path forward. I promise to no longer be ashamed of my feet and the sound they make or the marks they leave behind as I tread bravely through the world. I promise to be proud of my feet and my ankles and my legs and knees and hips and thighs and hands and arms and elbows and shoulders and neck and head and ears and nose and mouth and lips and teeth and eyes and brain and chest and heart and stomach.


I promise to even be proud of my stomach because what would I do without that feeling in my gut telling me right from wrong and the butterflies that dance around giddily when I hold his hand for the first time.


I promise to take pride in my whole body and self if for no other reason than simply because they are mine. I promise to trip and stumble and fall. I promise to struggle and I promise to cry. And when I do, I promise not to look upon myself with the scornful eyes of my past, but with a more weathered pair of eyes, a more compassionate pair of eyes, with my eyes. Eyes that while they still judge and scrutinize can also appreciate the glints of beauty, possibility, potential and hope. Eyes that know that self-criticism and self-punishment and self-denial do not serve me and it is, instead, through love and understanding and forgiveness that I will be able to be my best self, my happiest self, my most kind, caring, compassionate, creative, unique, ambitious, outgoing, shy, quirky, innovative, spontaneous, thoughtful, timid, courageous, intelligent, wild and peaceful self.

I know from experience that it is not easy, changing one’s vision, beginning, to cast aside the critical lens.


It takes work, it takes pain, it takes motivation, it takes patience, but it is worth it to begin to gain even the smallest glimpse of self-acceptance and self-love. But once I tasted that precious un-forbidden fruit it has become nearly impossible not to yearn for another drop of that sweet nectar, impossible not to sew more seeds of self-compassion and to care for them tenderly and to watch them grow inch by inch, stem to twig to branch to trunk to fruitful tree. I still toil in the garden with my watering can, my rake and hoe, removing the rocks and rubble, the dead vines, and weeds that make the soil so inhospitable to life and growth. I still work the land and sweat in the sun but watching my saplings grow, knowing that one day they will give me the sweet sweet fruit I so yearn for makes everything, the pain, the hurt, the discouragement, the struggle, the embarrassment, the shame, the fear, the exhaustion, the unrelenting critic within me, it makes enduring it all so so worthwhile. So my final promise is that I will never stop sewing and planting and watering and trimming and weeding and working in my garden with my bare feet until I find for myself true, deep, unrelenting, and unconditional love for my whole beautiful self.

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10 hot weather and sun-safety pointers for people with lung cancer

Posted July 21st, 2017 by

On PatientsLikeMe, nearly 7,000 members are sharing their experiences with lung cancer. The dog days of summer have arrived, so we’ve rounded up some tips for handling the weather’s impact on breathing troubles and the side effects of chemo, radiation and surgery.

Hot weather tips for people with breathing issues

The American Lung Association reminds those with lung disease that your lungs might be working harder in the summer air. Taking some extra steps may help you breathe easier.

  • Hot and humid weather can cause airway inflammation and add to breathing difficulty. Tip: Use air-conditioners (with clean filters) in your home, if possible.
  • Air pollution (which worsens in the summer due to increased ozone from smog) can also bother your breathing when you have lung disease. Tip: Keep tabs on the air quality forecast in your region, and avoid high-pollution areas (such as jammed highways), if you can.
  • When your body is working harder to breathe, you can easily become dehydrated. Tip: Drink plenty of cold water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

Sun- and heat-safety for people undergoing cancer treatment

Certain kinds of chemotherapy can make you more sensitive to the sun. Radiation therapy sites and surgical scars also call for TLC in the summer. Keep these tips from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network in mind:

  • Ask your doctor if your treatment makes you more sensitive to the sun (sometimes called “photosensitivity”) or heat. In general, you may overheat or get sunburned much more quickly and easily than usual.
  • Try to avoid time in the sun when its rays are strongest, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Use a “broad-spectrum” (UVA- and UVB-protection) sunscreen with an SPF of 30+, and apply it often.
  • Seek shade (under trees or an umbrella) and dress to protect your skin from the sun – but keep in mind that clothing is no substitute for sunscreen.
  • Wear a hat to protect your face and head, especially if you’ve lost your hair due to chemo.
  • If you’ve undergone radiation therapy, know the precise spots where you were exposed because these areas will be highly sensitive to sunburn. Ask your doctor about a good sunscreen for your extra-sensitive skin.
  • If you’ve had surgery, keep your scars protected from the sun with clothing and sunscreen. Members who’ve had surgery also say their scars are sensitive to cold air-conditioning, so you may need to cover your skin indoors, too.

How does the hot weather affect you? Any tips to add? Join the conversation in the Lung Cancer forum.

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