Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “March 22, 2023”

An Organization That Actually Makes An Impact

Over the last couple of weeks, I have shared two posts pertaining to cancer survivorship. One dealt with the acceptance of a shortened mortality. The other dealt with the realization that to survive cancer, and live after cancer, the survivor must learn to advocate for themselves. Well, here comes the third and final post in this series. And I want to stress, though the post clearly focuses on Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, as more and more cancers find cures, which will also mean new and different long term survivors, the strategies necessary to navigate the next several decades, are the same. So please, read on.

Several years ago, in 2016, an organization was created, to help Hodgkin’s patients survive, and live after cancer. Unlike the major cancer organizations, Hodgkin’s International focuses primarily on the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma community. However, like I said, in much of the information and guidance provided, it can be beneficial to other cancers as well. But for being one of the most successfully treated cancers, it hardly gets any attention or focus, and those who survive it, get even less. Which is where Hodgkin’s International comes in.

This meme is so powerful. Yes, it is from Michael J. Fox, who is courageously fighting Parkinson’s Disease, but the quote actually applies in many circumstances. When it comes to Hodgkin’s International, the organization is led 100% by the very experts who have survived Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The seven board members and lone staff member, are all long term survivors of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, like me, and like me, deal with various late developing side effects. Like me, at one time or another, there was struggle trying to find care and answers for unexplained health issues that were coming up. Like me, many face emotional struggles as the physical issues pile on. Who better to provide information and support, than those who have “BTDT” (been there, done that)?

Look, as I have said many times before, no one gets it more than someone who has dealt with cancer before, when you are told you are in remission, and you are declared in remission, and you complete enough follow-ups, you want to take off faster than the “roadrunner” racing off from Wile E. Coyote. While I understand this position, it does leave me concerned. I know, all anyone wants to do is get back to the life that they led before cancer. And you can for the most part, most likely. But there are things you have to realize, and though not guaranteed, the possibilities do exist, there could be things later in life that develop health-wise because of the treatments that gave you that “cure.”

So, regardless if you are a survivor who has had enough when you are given the “ok” sign, or someone who is already dealing with health issues, the point is, to be aware of, and remember, Hodgkin’s International. And for the record, why international? Because there are survivors of Hodgkin’s all over the world, and many of us are connected via social media peer groups. Many without the information that I want to share with you today.

So, without further adieu…

On this website, you will find a variety of resources. It should be noted, it is constantly being updated. The great thing about my fellow survivors, is we share information, whether it be diagnostics, late side effect information, which specialist to see, or how to find a survivorship clinic, because this part of survivorship is relatively unknown, it is taking those who know, those who have the personal experience, to build this website.

One of the unique things offered on the Hodgkin’s International website, are video presentations by patients, survivors, and medical professionals. There are personal testimonials of survivorship. There are explanations of the various health issues that are experienced, and many times, recommendations of what to do about them. Recently, in what was a “two for” presentation, we (survivors) got to hear from an oncologist who also happened to be a long term survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Again, I want to stress, you can learn how to deal with other cancer treatments similarly by learning about the treatments used, and the need to understand how they can affect the body later on in life.

Then of course, there is the information that can be found on the website, from the various late effects possible, both physical and emotional, research articles, and other literature. The website continues to add the locations of known “survivorship clinics,” facilities that at least recognize late developing side effects from treatments. At the very least, you can find a “survivorship plan”, which includes research articles, and other helpful information for you to take to your primary care doctor, if that is your only option available. This is all verified and confirmed research information, by those who have studied late side effects as well as Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

And Hodgkin’s International makes this all easy and convenient for you. You do not even have to just “bookmark” or save the website location. By signing up for the monthly email, you receive announcements about upcoming video conferences discussing topics like mentioned above. You will also be able to read stories from other survivors.

Again, like I said, if you are a patient of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, any cancer really, and you are like I was, wanting just to move on, just remember, that if a time does come, and you find yourself, dealing with unexplained health issues, Hodgkin’s International is the place you want to begin looking for answers and support. I say this without reservation, there is no other organization out there, even the big ones, with the commitment to long term cancer survivorship as Hodgkin’s International. And why is that? “People living with the conditions are the experts.” Thank you Michael for pointing that out.

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