Laurianne's Hope

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Five Blogs That Make Me Think

Shelli at Shelli's Sentiments awarded me the Thinking Blogger Award for this blog.

The participation rules are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to the original post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Between this blog and my less serious blog, I have been thinking long and hard about the blogs that make me think, because almost everyone in my blogroll has at one point or another. (Note that these are not cancer-related blogs, just people who I admire and make me think.) The people I choose are:
  1. Mammassage - Because of her own personal experience with her daughter, she shares information about the importance of organ donation.
  2. Life, Vegas Style - Vegas Princess talks about the issues that are important to her, whether it is family life, career, media, or just something on her mind.
  3. LynneMW - Unfortunately, we will never see this award on Lynne's blog, because she passed away last August. However, Lynne's blog is still out there. In her archives you can find out the struggles she had to go through as a person with non-smoking lung cancer. I highly recommend reading some of her entries. I want to give Lynne's blog posthumous recognition.
  4. For Smith's Sake - Anne is a real person, going through ovarian cancer. Her blog is about her life, relationships, and living with cancer. She shares her thoughts and fears about this path that was put before her.
  5. My Life - Cathy's blog, My Life, is about her life, going to school, and the various triumphs and struggles that she has gone through or is going through. I have gotten some interesting ideas from reading her blog, and I love when she posts a recipe.

Congratulations to you all! :)

Vote for Laurianne's Hope for Best Health Blog for the Blogger's Choice Awards 2006.

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 4:21 PM :: 9 people are more aware

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Clues to the Cancer - St. Petersburg Times

Awareness about the Human Papilloma virus is still relatively new to the public. I found this article about David Hastings to be very interesting and informative. This article seemed like something worth sharing here. (Please note: I have notified Mr. Barry that I would like to share his article on this blog. However, at his request, this post may be removed.)
David Hastings nearly died last year from throat cancer. His wife Jo saved him by nagging him to see a doctor.[Times photo: Martha Rial]
David Hastings nearly died last year from throat cancer. His wife Jo saved him by nagging him to see a doctor.

Clues to the cancer
David Hastings doesn't fit the throat cancer profile. So he looked for answers and was surprised by what he found.

By John Barry
St. Petersburg Times
Published April 17, 2007

During the grisly battle for his life, David Hastings played medical detective. He read everything he could find on what was trying to kill him. Nothing made sense. Hastings had throat cancer, mostly known for killing old people. Imagine an elderly soul addicted to cigarettes and alcohol for 40 years. There's a likely victim.

Hastings didn't fit. He was 58. He looked 48. He hadn't smoked since college, and he doesn't drink. His chief addiction is cycling. He rides his bike about 100 miles per week.

He'd never have guessed where he finally did fit in.

He did not have an old smoker's disease, after all. His throat had been attacked by a cancer-causing virus infamous for killing women. It was HPV, the human papilloma virus, that causes most cervical cancers. HPV is the virus at the center of a national argument over preventive vaccinations of young girls.

To his great surprise, Hastings discovered that this controversial women's vaccination plan aimed at ridding the world of HPV cancers may have started with the wrong gender.

One day, the answer might be found here. A thousand Tampa men are currently participating in the world's largest study of male HPV infections. The National Institutes of Health has awarded the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa $10-million for the work. It involves 3,000 men worldwide, including the Tampa thousand, and may soon include their female partners. One preliminary finding is a male infection rate double that of women.

Hastings found other studies as well that have long linked HPV to anal and penile cancers. Gay men and men in impoverished countries are most afflicted. They were horror stories - cancers that required the most ghastly of surgical remedies.

By the end of his searches, Hastings had become an official HPV cancer statistic - one of 10,000 American men afflicted by any one of five types of HPV cancers each year. The male number is close to the annual number of HPV cervical cancers detected in women.

Doctors are seeing more and more cases like Hastings': young, nonsmoking men and women who are turning up with oral cancers they aren't supposed to have. There has been an 11 percent increase - after 50 years of constancy - even as smoking has declined. A Chicago conference is planned for June. The maker of the current vaccine for girls is seeking FDA approval to give it to boys, too. Some Johns Hopkins University patients are receiving a new experimental vaccine.

Hastings even found himself briefly inserted into the debate in Tallahassee over requiring vaccinations of schoolgirls. His message to the lawmakers: HPV kills men, too.

It almost killed him.

- - -

Hastings had shaved over a swelling on the left side of his neck in March 2006. "It felt muscular," he says, "almost as if I'd been working out." He ignored it. That was typical of his personal approach to all things medical. "I didn't even know what a primary care physician was."

He's a CPA. His tax office is next door to the Habana Cafe in Gulfport, run by his Cuban wife, Josefa. They've been married for 17 years. They have one of those marriages where the fun and fur fly simultaneously. "She promised me I'd never have to work in the restaurant when we started it 10 years ago," he says. "I've been there every night since the first night."

A month went by before he showed his wife the swelling. It was a Friday morning.

"God, you've got golf balls in there," she said.

Jo wanted his neck checked that day. Over his protests, she started calling doctors. The only one she could find late on a Friday was their neighbor, a plastic surgeon. He felt two swollen lymph nodes and arranged a Monday appointment for Hastings with a primary care doctor. That doctor referred him to a general surgeon.

The general surgeon said it might be cancer or might not be, but, regardless, they should come out. He scheduled surgery for that Thursday.

Hastings was finally paying attention. He wanted a second opinion. Jo thought he was trying to get out of the surgery. She called another doctor neighbor, this one an oncologist.

That doctor told Hastings he didn't fit the profile of a "cancer candidate." He thought Hastings might have caught cat-scratch fever from one of Jo's eight cats. Surgery was scrubbed; Hastings went on an antibiotic. But the oncologist also ordered a CT scan.

Then Jo tricked her husband. She asked him to take her mother to an ear, nose and throat specialist. After examining the mother-in-law, the specialist turned to Hastings: "I understand I need to look at you, too."

The doctor felt the neck. "That's not good." He took a foot-long needle out of a drawer. With the needle, he extracted fluid for biopsy. Then he looked over a report on the CT scan. It contained the word "necrosis." That means dead cells and usually indicates cancer. "I didn't want to read that," he told Hastings.

A week later, the doctor saw him again. "Your wife saved your life," the doctor said.

He diagnosed a deadly squamous cell carcinoma. He said Hastings would need a radical remedy that involves the removal of lymph nodes, jugular veins, nerves and muscle between the tip of the ear and the collar bone. It would leave him with a drooped shoulder. And afterward, Hastings would still need chemo and radiation.

His chances of survival after all the cutting, chemo and radiation would be 60 percent.

Hastings fainted.

- - -

He again went looking for options. He ended up at Moffitt, which gave him the first good news since he'd felt the lumps. It concluded he didn't need the surgery. It preferred simultaneous radiation and chemotherapy as a first step, saving Hastings from a crippled upper torso.

During 35 treatments in seven weeks and nausea and dehydration that nearly killed him, Hastings read up on HPV.

It's sexually transmitted. About two-thirds of the population are infected with it in young adulthood. But about 3 percent of women get a strain called HPV-16 that causes cervical cancer and kills about 3,700 women a year.

Last July, the FDA approved a HPV-16 vaccine called Gardasil for young girls. Almost immediately, legislatures, including Florida's, drafted laws to require the vaccinations for girls in public schools.

Almost immediately, parents and religious groups protested, fearful that the vaccinations might encourage sexual promiscuity and take medical choices away from parents.

Overlooked in the furor was the fact that men can get HPV-16 from having sex, too. Sexual encounters in their teens can come back to haunt them in their 50s. The virus usually lies latent until middle age. Then it can show up in anal and penile cancers or in oral cancers like Hastings'.

HPV vaccinations of schoolgirls are a fine thing, contends Brian Hill, founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation in California and a survivor of HPV cancer in his tonsils.

"But if they don't do boys it's solving only half the problem."

- - -

Studies at Moffitt are tending to confirm that. Early findings in one study are showing a 60 percent overall HPV infection rate among men, compared with less than 30 percent among women.

Anna Giuliano, Moffitt's lead HPV researcher, is seeking an additional grant in order to add female partners to her study of the 3,000 men. Then she should know if men are more commonly infected than women.

The ultimate goal, she says, is "one simple vaccine" for all.

Merck, the maker of Gardasil, has already submitted to the FDA its tests of the vaccine on boys ages 9 to 15. They're in the process of testing boys and men ages 16 to 23. Moffitt is participating in those trials. Gardasil is already given to boys in European Union countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Hopkins is testing an HPV vaccine specifically for men who already have oral cancers. "It's designed to enhance the immune response to the HPV-16," Maura Gillison, the lead HPV cancer researcher at Hopkins, said by e-mail.

Hastings has tried to get into the trial. He did so by pressing Moffitt to send his cancer tissues to Hopkins for HPV-16 testing.

Last month the tests for HPV-16 came back positive, vindicating his medical detective work.

Some good news from Hopkins came as well: People like Hastings with HPV cancers have a higher survival rate than those with oral cancers from smoking.

Now Moffitt, which has sent other samples besides Hastings' to Hopkins, is testing a screening procedure of its own.

- - -

Hastings took his message to the Legislature's House Education Committee in early April. He flew to Tallahassee with Ed Homan, a Tampa representative who was sponsoring the schoolgirl vaccination bill. He told Hastings, "Tell them you're a man with HPV."

He had three minutes. Hastings is a guy who has trouble telling his name in three minutes. He rattled off his message as fast as he could. "I was told my testimony was emotional."

Then, with little discussion, the committee rejected the vaccination plan.

Hastings left the hearing shocked by his three-minute civics lesson.

"Unbelievable!" he sputtered. "Kids will die in Florida."

John Barry can be reached at (727) 892-2258 or

Fast Facts: HPV- The human papilloma virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses. More than half of all people will be exposed to any one of 80 HPV viruses.- The HPV-16 strain causes most cervical cancers, nearly 10,000 a year in the United States. It kills about 3,700 U.S. women annually.- HPV-16 has been linked to oral, penile and anal cancers in men. About 9,800 U.S. men are afflicted each year.

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 12:13 PM :: 1 people are more aware

Monday, April 16, 2007

Blogger's Choice Awards Update

We are still needing a lot of votes for Laurianne's Hope at the Blogger's Choice Awards. It looks like we are no longer in the Best Educational Blog category, but we are still in the running for Best Health Blog.

If you haven't voted, please consider doing so. I am proud of the work my dad and I have done on Laurianne's Hope. It would be nice to be recognized and possibly even bring in more traffic.

Of course, then I should probably post more. :)

Vote for Laurianne's Hope for Best Health Blog for the Blogger's Choice Awards 2006.

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 12:07 PM :: 0 people are more aware

Friday, April 13, 2007

Pall Malls

Yesterday, I read the Kurt Vonnegut died. I also read he was a long time fan of Pall Malls cigarettes. It got me to thinking.

The Pasadena Weekly said: Vonnegut smoked non-filter cigarettes most of his
adult life. Pall Malls to be exact, which back in Vonnegut's beginnings in the
mid-1950s had a catchy TV commercial pitch that invited consumers to try a smoke
that was “smooth and rich, and you can light either end.”

The Republican quoted a local lawyer as saying: "He always smoked Pall Malls and
drank JB with soda on the rocks," Scheinman said.

The Times Union said: Mr. Vonnegut died Wednesday at 84, some age for someone
who so long ago called himself an old (mildly scatological word here) with his Pall Malls.
From what I have read of Mr. Vonnegut, he seemed to have known the risks of lung cancer. It is even said that he felt his unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes were "a classy way to commit sucide". And what does he die from? Hitting his head.

The point I am trying to make is not that you shouldn't smoke. Ultimately, that is your decision. The point that I am trying to make is that you never know what is going to do you in. Still, people want to blame lung cancer on smoking. I think more awareness is getting out there, but I have learned of so many people who have died from lung cancer, and never smoked. We need to think of these people too.

I have said it before, and I will say it again. Until we found out my sister had lung cancer, I would have been one of the people who said, "Well, you shouldn't smoke if you don't want lung cancer." I probably would not have attributed smoking to increasing breast cancer, colon cancer, prostrate cancer, any other type of cancer, but smoking increases your risk of getting those types of cancer as well.

So, how is it that a man can smoke for 70 years, and die from brain injuries, and someone in their 40's, 30's or 20's can be a non-smoker and die from lung cancer? Because other factors besides smoking can contribute to lung cancer. Other factors besides smoking can contribute to any kind of cancer.

That is why we created this blog.

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 10:48 AM :: 2 people are more aware

Monday, April 09, 2007

St. Baldricks - March 2007

Here are the pictures of St. Baldrick's for March 2007. These were taken in Santa Rosa, California, at Sweet River Grill & Bar. One of the young boys pictured below raised $1000 to have his head shaved and help find a cure for childhood cancer!

To find out more about a St. Baldrick's event in your community, visit

(On a side note, don't forget to vote for this blog in the two categories it has been nominated for - Best Educational Blog and Best Health Blog. See more details in the sidebar.)

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda :: 9:38 PM :: 0 people are more aware

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter and Vote for Us!!

Guess what!? Laurianne's Hope was nominated for Best Educational Blog at The Blogger's Choice Awards! Last I looked, we were on page2. If you want to vote, you will have to register. Registering is easy and takes about 30 seconds. So, please vote for Laurianne's Hope! We can't win without your vote!

Laurianne's Hope

Laurianne's Hope was also nominated for Best Health Blog. Last I looked, we were on page 2 there as well. Go vote!!

Laurianne's Hope

Happy Easter!

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 10:47 AM :: 2 people are more aware

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Laurianne!

In My H
eart Forever
I thought of you with love today.
But that is nothing new.
I thought of about you yesterday.
And the days before that too.
I think of you in silence.
I often speak your name.
Now all I have are memories.
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake.
With which I'll never part.
God has you in his keeping.
I have you in my heart...forever.

Twenty seven years ago a beautiful baby girl was born.
One year, 5 months, 2 weeks and 2 days ago this beautiful blue eyed girl grew wings.

Today we celebrated her 27th birthday in a quiet way. Unfortunately, this year Lynda was not able to come but Lynda and Dan had their own celebration for Laurianne.
We put some flowers by her picture and lit several candles.
In the afternoon we released balloons. We got two large balloons and seven smaller balloons.
Each balloon had a little card attached with the blog address and a Happy Birthday note on the back. We released them one by one and watched them till they became a tiny dot in the sky. Who knows, maybe someone will find one of the cards an will leave a comment on this blog.
Laurianne's favorite dessert was chocolate cake. Of course we could not pass up the day without indulging in some chocolate cake to celebrate Laurianne's special day.

Loving you is easy,

We do it every day,
Missing you is a heartache,
That never goes away.

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Henry (Calem's Opa) :: 10:50 PM :: 0 people are more aware
Happy Birthday, Laurianne!

If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven't, you cannot possibly imagine it.

-A Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortnate Events), Lemony Snicket

Today is Laurianne's birthday. She would have been 27. Yesterday, I was feeling a little artistic, so I modified this picture to express my feelings about this. Even though we can't see her, she is still there - in our memories, in our hearts, in Calem.

Happy Birthday, Laurianne!
We miss you!!


Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 9:15 AM :: 0 people are more aware

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Cancer Stories: Mike's Mom

This is Mike's mom's story. Today is the one year anniversary of her passing away from breast cancer.

It is important that anyone can get breast cancer. Men typically do not get mammograms, but like women, they can do a monthly self-check to make sure there are no lumps in their chest region. Despite all you hear about breast cancer, there is still no cure!

I am sure after reading Mike's story, you would not want to see any loved one have to go through what his mom did. (And if you have a moment, you can see in his comments the effect cancer has had on others as well.)

This was originally posted in October on Mike's blog, The Mindless Dribbler, which is now defunct.


In Honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month...and one of my best friends.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Being breast cancer awareness month, it's bringing about mixed feelings for me. Not that I'd ever declare a month dedicated to breast cancer awareness as stupid, not at all...but just the fact that it raises so many uncomfortable thoughts, I'm kind of feeling....sad and inspired at the same time.

I'll tell you my own personal story for the sole purpose of recognizing how important getting your regular mammogram is. Mainly because I wouldn't wish this on anyone, not even my ex wife and that in itself speaks volumes of the cancer's ability to darken even the brightest of days.

The last month of my Mom's life were the hardest for me. I helped get her in the tub for her baths, I helped set her on the portable toilet we kept by her bed, I helped change her clothes, and Trish and I laid in her bed with her to keep her company. I could understand this if she were 80 years old...but at the time, she was only 56.

For most of her last month, she was incoherent in speech and void of any meaningful conversation.

The night they took her to the hospital for the last time, my sister called Trish and I and told us to come to Mom's house as quick as we could. We showed up and they were "prepping" for her return to the hospital. The last sound I heard issued from Mom's mouth was a scream filled with such agony and pain that I had to turn away. As bad as that sounds, I couldn't look at her. It killed a part of me, mainly because I knew the inevitable was upon us.

Once we reached the hospital, they started the morphine until 4 days later, her last day. I never heard her voice again. The only sounds were of her labored breathing.

I have seen up close and personal the ravishing effects breast cancer has on a person. I have seen eyes that have always shone with such life and optimism turn into windows to one's soul where I could see nothing but sadness and terror. A mouth that had always been so quick to smile and tell you that she loves you, turn into a permanent grimace from the pain endured.

I not only lost my Mom to the vile cancer, I lost an amazing friend who'd call out of the blue and offer to buy me lunch once a week. I lost a guidance counselor and a teacher. I lost an inspiration....a "holy spirit on two feet" as her husband once told me.

On one of her many stays in the hospital, she came shuffling back to her hospital room from the chapel and told us about a family that needed praying for, someone she had met while there praying. I thought "here she is, fighting for her own existance and yet, she's down in the chapel praying for everyone else". That was just her character.....she never changed or waivered from being selfless.

Breast cancer isn't a joke. For your own health and peace of mind, get your yearly mammogram. Breast cancer doesn't just affect the one it inflicts, it takes a part of everyone that's close to that person.

I'm proof.

You folks be careful.

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Lung Cancer AwarenessPosted by Lynda (Laurianne's Sister) :: 7:11 AM :: 3 people are more aware