interview

“In my own words” – PatientsLikeMe member Vickie shares about her experiences with lung cancer

Meet Vickie, a PatientsLikeMe member who has survived cancer not once, but twice. She’s sharing her story, from diagnosis to survivorship, during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. She spoke about her reaction to getting diagnosed, the anxiety filled months leading up to surgery and what recovery was like post-operation. Learn about her journey below. The journey Occasionally I received cards in the mail offering discount lung or heart screenings. I think most people do now and then. I always throw them in the trash. In May 2012, I received one. For some reason I didn’t throw that one away. I called and scheduled an appointment for the heart and lung scan. Was told I’d get a letter in two weeks letting me know the results. Imagine my surprise when 4 days later I received a voice mail asking me to call the hospital back as soon as possible. With feelings of dread and fear, I returned the call. Was told they were concerned about 2 places in my left lung. Was cautioned to not jump to any conclusions. They could be any number of things. I needed to have testing done. Was scheduled for MRI and PET Scan. Those results were …

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“I just kind of went on with life.” – PatientsLikeMe member Fred shares his experiences with MS

We’ve interviewed a lot of members on the blog over the years, and each has a different perspective on life with MS. Fred1118 has taken sharing about his life with MS to a whole new level, documenting his life in a personal photoblog and posting the pictures with the world online. Fred shared all about his experiences in a recent interview, everything from his handicap-accessible house to how physical therapy helps him stay mobile. Read his story below. What went through your mind when you were diagnosed with RRMS back in 1994? I didn’t really know too much about MS at the time. I’m not sure if I had even heard of it, so didn’t know what to think. The diagnosing neurologist said, “you have a mild case of MS.” I was young and carefree at the time and didn’t really worry about it too much. I kind of just went on with life. It looks like you’ve done a lot of work on your house to make it handicap accessible. What are some tips and tricks you can share with the community? I would say that everyone’s needs are different. It’s a good idea to have an occupational therapist that …

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“Perseverance, patience and acceptance” – PatientsLikeMe member Steve shares what it’s like to live with MND

Those three words describe how PatientsLikeMe member Steve says he has adapted to life with motor neuron disease (MND). He was diagnosed with MND (also known as ALS) in 2007, and technology has helped Steve navigate the challenges of living with ALS while raising three children. He’s also made a video about his journey, called “Motor Neuron Disease Made Easier.” Steve spoke with us about the decisions that come with a MND diagnosis, the inspiration for his film and “how adaptable one can be in the face of adversity.” Read more about Steve’s story below and head to his blog to watch his film. Looking back over the last 7 years since your diagnosis with ALS/MND, is there anything you’d like to have known sooner that has helped you along your journey? I think I was fairly pragmatic about researching the condition from the outset, so there haven’t been many surprises apart from the fact that I am still here 7 years later (and I just realized it’s actually 7 years to the hour as I write). One of the difficulties with the disease is the uncertainty of the rate or nature of its progression. There is so much equipment, …

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“Hope won’t make it happen” – PatientsLikeMe member Phil shares about her experiences with lung cancer

That’s Phil’s (PhillyH) personal motto in life – “hope won’t make it happen.” She’s a PatientsLikeMe member who hails from Northampton in the United Kingdom and was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012. Ever since then, she’s been learning to live with the ups and downs of her condition. She recently shared her experiences in an interview with us, everything from the reaction she had after her blunt diagnosis to her treatment decisions and son’s new tattoo. Phil also shared her thoughts on what every person who has just been diagnosed with lung cancer should know. As she says, “If you don’t know, you can’t do” – read below to learn about her lung cancer journey. When you were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, what was going through your mind? My first reaction was defense. Somehow I had to deflect the enormity of what I had been told. I was so disappointed, I had been prepared for pneumonia. After all I felt well, wasn’t sick, wasn’t losing weight, still doing everything I had always done. I was so very angry about the way the doctor gave me the news. Before I had even sat down she bluntly announced “well it’s not good news.” I’m …

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“I was just doing my job” – PatientsLikeMe member Lucas talks about his experiences with PTSD after serving in the Marines

PatientsLikeMe member Lucas (Freedom666420), or Sarge, as his friends and fellow soldiers call him, served in the Marines during two tours in Iraq and was injured while literally hoisting his entire squad up and over a wall to take cover from enemy fire. He recently spoke with Sarah, a PatientsLikeMe community moderator, and shared about his experiences in an interview. Lucas talked about his recurring insomnia and nightmares, and how quitting alcohol and speaking with fellow veterans has helped him cope with his PTSD. Read what he had to say below. Will you tell us a little about your story? I enlisted in the military right before I turned 18, graduated basic training about a week after I turned 18. I was in the Marine Corps for about three years total after all the paper work was done. I was discharged medically- honorable retirement discharge because I was injured. I was on my second tour, about half way through when we were taking air fire and I was trying to get everybody over the wall and I looked back, after I got the last person over, I looked back to make sure everything was clear and that’s when I saw an …

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Every three minutes

That’s how often a person is diagnosed with blood cancer in the United States, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). This means that 156,420 Americans will be diagnosed in 2014, and hundreds of thousands more worldwide. But that’s just the start of what everyone can learn during National Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Check out the Lymphoma Research Foundation’s (LRF) video below: Did you know there are actually three main types of blood cancer? Each affects a different kind of cell in your body and can vary greatly:1 Leukemia is found in your actual blood and bone marrow, and it causes abnormal white blood cells to form and disrupt the normal immune system. Lymphoma affects your lymph nodes and lymphatic organs, which are the parts of the immune system that remove excess fluid from the body and produce special white blood cells. Myeloma is the cancer that is limited to plasma cells, which are cells in your blood that help produce antibodies and fight disease. There are many subtypes of these three categories, including conditions like chronic lymphocytic leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and multiple myeloma, to name a few common ones. This month, get involved by participating in a Lymphomaton …

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“Bang for the buck.” PatientsLikeMe member Steve shares about his experiences with ALS and the IceBucketChallenge

Ice + water + video camera = a viral ALS awareness campaign that has spread over social media and the news like wildfire. Millions of dollars has been raised for ALS research while more and more, people are learning about this neurological condition. Recently, PatientsLikeMe member Steve (who has been living with ALS since 2009) took on the challenge, and we caught up with him to find out why. Steve shared about his own diagnosis experience, what he thinks about the ALS community on PatientsLikeMe and what he hopes to see come out of the IceBucketChallenge. Don’t forget to follow Steve on his own blog, too. He calls it Bachblog.  Can you tell us a little about yourself and your diagnosis with ALS? I first noticed an odd cramping in my left hand sometime during the summer of 2009 when I was 49 years old. That fall, I realized I no longer had the strength to use fingernail clippers with my left hand. At the time, I was playing pickup basketball two or three days a week. I began to notice that after one hour of basketball I was “wiped out” and that I was having difficulty taking longer shots. …

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“Speak up!” PatientsLikeMe member Dee speaks about her journey with ALS

  There’s been a lot of awareness going on for ALS with the IceBucketChallenge, and to help keep the momentum going, PatientsLikeMe member Dee (redrockmama) shared her personal experiences with the neurological condition. She made the decision to install a feeding tube early in her journey, and now she is managing her weight through overnight supplements. Read on to learn more about her ALS story and why she thinks every person living with ALS should become their own best advocate.   Tell us a little about yourself and how you are doing, Dee. I am 62, married and a mother and grandmother. I have bulbar onset of ALS. I have always been very active and independent to a fault. I was raised horseback riding and still have a horse. I am told my disease is progressing slowly but of course to me it doesn’t feel that way. Many people in the community talk about how finding an official diagnosis isn’t easy – what was your experience like?  I actually found out fairly quickly. My symptoms started in April 2013. First doctor thought it was a stroke, second told me it was stress and of course they did MRI’s and blood …

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Nola’s new bathroom

It’s rare that we’re surprised by the power of connection in the PatientsLikeMe community—we see members connect everyday and transform their lives through the exchange of information. This story extends beyond shared knowledge, though; it displays the powerful bonds of internet friends who offered truly life-changing support from opposite coasts. Below, listen to them tell their amazing story to our community moderators Sarah and Jeanette. Click to learn how Gary helped Nola regain her independence, her ability to clean herself, and most importantly, her dignity. Nola (6.02x10e23) lives with progressive MS in California. In the past ten years, she’s gone from walking to slightly limping, to using a cane and then a walker. Now, she’s in a wheelchair and cannot use her right arm. “I had to keep adjusting slowly how I did any little thing. How could I write a check? How could I make something to eat? Or get something to drink? Or just get to the bathroom and back? It’s constant change and you have to accept the change and learn how to adapt and try to still be able to get things done that you want done. You’re going to have do it in some very different ways that …

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“Treat the person, not the disease.” An interview with nurse practitioner Phyllis Zimmer

Family Nurse Practitioner Phyllis Zimmer has a Master’s degree in Nursing and is a Fellow at both the American Academy of Nursing and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. It sounds like Phyllis always knew she wanted to be a nurse, but truth be told, Phyllis wasn’t sure what her career path would be until she decided where to apply to college. Then it all came together. Read on as she describes her passion for nursing, her own experiences as a patient, and some of the important questions patients should ask their doctors and nurses. You seem passionate about nursing. Why did you become a nurse in the first place? The short answer? I don’t know. Maybe it has something to do with my years as a Girl Scout, and always wanting to make a difference in my life. When I was in high school, trying to decide on a college, I told my parents that I wanted to be a nurse, but I had no idea where that came from. Years later, I found out that my paternal grandmother, great aunt and her sister were all nurses. My family has a wonderful photo of the three nurses wearing long, …

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