Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tumour Measuring Hack

"Has your tumour shrunk at all?"

How was I supposed to know? The doctor's were the ones with the fancy measuring tapes. The best I have is a straight edge, not the best tool for measuring a 3 cm tumour. Anyway, this chemo stuff isn't actually supposed to work, is it? Well, guess what. Three weeks after starting chemo, the oncologist measured my tumour and found it had shrunk 0.5 cms in one dimension and 1 cm in another (the 3rd dimension being unmeasurable by hand). That was enough to inspire me to figure out a way that I could easily measure my tumour to monitor how much it was shrinking.

Here's my handy method that requires no tools (provided that you can feel your tumour).

With one hand, place your thumb and forefinger on the outer edges of the tumour. Then with the other hand place as many fingers as will fit between the two fingers of the first hand. Make a note of the number of fingers (and which ones) -- this is your measurement.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

CancerHacker's Top 10 Tricks for Toronto Cheapskates

Just in time for Christmas, here are 10 of my personal strategies to reducing my cost of living in Toronto.

*Update 3-Jan-2014*: I forgot to include Toronto On A Shoestring - another wonderful source of cheapskate knowledge!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Docetaxel and Me

It's been a year since I had my last docetaxel infusion and I still haven't written anything about how I coped with the experience. To be honest, I'm not really sure I did, not well anyway. I know that not everyone reacts badly to docetaxel, but I was not so lucky. That said, I've been making notes of the various things I tried in my attempts to survive with my sanity intact.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

8-Wheeled Anti-Radiation Tomb and Other Radiation Skin Care Tips

The one side effect that everyone undergoing radiation therapy will experience is skin irritation and potential breakdown. Most people compare the skin reaction to a sunburn -- how bad of a sunburn will depend on a number of factors. Don't assume that having darker skin will protect you from the effect, you should still care for your skin as if you are the palest person you have ever seen.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Travel Insurance Showdown: vs

After two months of alternating between being out of the country and being sick, I am finally starting my reviews of select travel insurance policies. This week I am comparing the policies currently being offered by online travel giants and (note the ".ca" part of the names -- this is specifically about the policies offered to Canadians). But first a few things to keep in mind...

Travel Medical Insurance is intended for emergency care, not routine or planned care. Do not expect it to help you get care at your favourite US cancer centre. It doesn't work like that. They will shoot that claim down faster then a rabid squirrel.

If your doctor tells you not to travel, then don't.

If you have symptoms before you travel, don't wait to see a doctor. Being in denial about your situation is not an insurable condition.

In general, medical coverage begins on the departure date and cancellation insurance coverage begins on the date of purchase (of the insurance). The pre-existing condition stability period is determined according to the coverage start date for each of these.

For the purpose of this review, I am assuming the purchaser is under 65, has provincial health coverage, has or has had cancer, and considers their condition to be stable. This review will help you to determine if your condition is stable enough and has been been stable enough for the required period of time to be covered by the insurer. It is up to you to decide if the policy covers all of your needs (for example, missed cruise ship disembarkation, additional pet boarding expenses, luggage delay or loss, etc.).

If you haven't read my previous post on travel insurance, Have Cancer Will Travel, then please do. And now lets begin!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Have Cancer Will Travel

Update (2013-03-06): I found a few nasty catches in a few policies that everyone needs to be aware of.

  1. Some policies will not cover you if you have ever had a bone marrow transplant.
  2. Some travel medical insurance policies will not cover you if you have ever been diagnosed with lung cancer or metastatic cancer.
  3. Some travel medical insurance policies will not cover you if you wind up having to have chemo between the date you purchased the policy and your date of departure.
  4. I came across one plan that requires you to inform the company if there is a change in a previously stable pre-existing condition before your date of departure. The company will then decide if they wish to continue to honour your insurance policy, whether that be for the travel medical portion of your policy (which makes some sense) or for the trip cancellation portion of your policy (seriously not cool).
I will be writing a few reviews of policies in both Canada and the US, in order to give you all a feel for what is out there.

For me, travel is an artform. It is my favourite past-time. It's relaxing. It's exciting. It's educational and emotional. Travelling and planning to travel are some of my favourite ways to escape my every day stresses. So imagine the suckage when I realized that having had cancer could interfere with travel insurance coverage.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cancery Gifts for Cancery Friends

Partway through chemo my office sent me a big basket of chocolate bars. It was well-meaning. However, I had been on a health kick long enough by that point that I had gotten down to my ideal BMI, chocolate was rarely part of my diet, and I was feeling really proud of how well I was taking care of myself (all things considered). Unfortunately chocolate is a bit of an addiction for me and the basket of temptation was too much to resist, particularly since my energy levels were nil. If you are trying to figure out what to get a friend who is going through cancer treatment, have a look at my suggested gift items.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chemo - There's an App for That

Like all things in life, (keeping track of everything for) chemo is much easier when you have an iPhone app to help you. Below are my favourite AppStore apps for keeping yourself organizized through treatment.