H.O.P.E. Blog

A Different Kind of Food Chain

food assistanceFriends and family can provide welcome practical support to cancer patients by delivering healthy snacks and meals. Once the patient gives the go-ahead, here are some practical suggestions.

  • Someone needs to be the coordinator. He/she will organize the menus and schedule the cooks.
  • Find out what the patient needs/wants. This can include asking about food restrictions, preferred meal sizes, favorite foods, foods that may not taste right or cause nausea, or foods that the patient has never liked.
  • Focus on high-quality foods. Go easy on the sugary treats or comfort foods and try to offer a balanced meal high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains with limited animal protein. Especially try to avoid high fructose corn syrup.
  • Be aware of food safety. Because patients are weaker and often have compromised immune systems, it is important when preparing meals that the cook adheres to good safety methods: wash hands and surfaces often; separate raw meats from other foods; cook to the right temperatures; refrigerate foods promptly.
  • Consider convenience. Schedule drop-offs at times when someone (not the patient) can be there. Include clear cooking instructions and any other information required. Provide disposable utensils and other containers so that no dish washing is required.

For the person or people in charge...

For those who find themselves overwhelmed by the responsibility, here are three great free organization sites you can use.

This article is reprinted from H.O.P.E. Lifeline (April, 2016) - monthly newsletter distributed by H.O.P.E. Click here to view the full newsletter.  If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail each month, you may subscribe today (no cost or obligation and you may unsubscribe at any time).


Pasta, Anyone?

pasta dinner benefitThere is just something special about sharing a great plate of pasta with friends in the bleak month of February. Dimos and Vicky Papageorgiou have welcomed H.O.P.E. friends to their New Freedom Restaurant on a Monday evening in February in past years to enjoy food and friendship, and have given all the proceeds of the evening to H.O.P.E. Even the servers have donated their tips. This year, the Papageorgious presented to Barb with pride a check for $3,535.21 from the pasta event. Wonder if their magic extended to the wonderful weather we had this year for a change?

The next time you’re in the mood for pasta stop by New Freedom Family Restaurant and congratulate Dimos and Vicky for earning their Angel Wings.

This article is reprinted fromH.O.P.E. Lifeline (April, 2016) - monthly newsletter distributed by H.O.P.E. Click here to view the full newsletter.  If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail each month, you may subscribe today (no cost or obligation and you may unsubscribe at any time).


Don't Underestimate the Power of Positive Thinking

Positive thinking may aid in the success of clinical trialsA few months back we gave some information about clinical trials. These are vital in helping scientists and medical personnel determine the efficacy of new drugs and treatments. Yet many people are reluctant to look into them. One common complaint is that the patient might be given a placebo and thus has wasted his or her time and maybe even lost ground. Here’s a story that appeared in the March 2016 AARP Bulletin that could put that fear to rest.

A 60-year-old New York man was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in July 2011 and told he had a year to live. The cancer had spread to his liver, where doctors found an inoperable two-centimeter tumor. The man entered a drug trial alongside the traditional chemotherapy regimen. Some of the participants received an experimental drug while others got a placebo. The article quoted the patient as saying, “I sat in my little attic apartment and took this drug, and told myself, ‘This is a miracle drug that is going to save my life.’” That September the man’s oncologist called him in shock: Scans showed that his tumor had disappeared. And he received one more shock after that: he had been given the placebo treatment. Five years later he is still cancer free.

This article is reprinted from H.O.P.E. Lifeline (April, 2016) - monthly newsletter distributed by H.O.P.E. Click here to view the full newsletter.  If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail each month, you may subscribe today (no cost or obligation and you may unsubscribe at any time).


Cervical Cancer Screenings on the Rise

cancer screening for womenSay what you will about “Obamacare” (the Affordable Care Act), it has improved the prospect for survival from cervical cancer among young women under the age of 26. Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that because young adults are permitted to remain on their parents’ health insurance policy until age 26, more young women are now being screened and thus receiving early-stage diagnoses. This improves the prospect for survival because treatment is more effective and the chance of remission is higher. It also bolsters women’s chances for preserving their fertility during treatment.

In general, since the ACA has been fully implemented, the U.S. has seen a 35 percent drop in the uninsured rate. An estimated 17 to 23 million uninsured people have gained coverage under the health law and today more than 90 percent of Americans have health insurance—the highest rate in the country’s history.

This article is reprinted from H.O.P.E. Lifeline (March, 2016) - monthly newsletter distributed by H.O.P.E. Click here to view the full newsletter.  If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail each month, you may subscribe today (no cost or obligation and you may unsubscribe at any time).


March is Amazing Marousek Month

What are the odds that all three children from one family win the same college scholarship?

scholarship recipients where are they nowLacey, Brandon, and Leah Marousek are three exceptional young adults who lost their mother to breast cancer while they were in high school, yet they still graduated with honors and won scholarship recognition.

First-born Lacey Marousek Sheppard was also the first of her three siblings to win a H.O.P.E. scholarship. Lacey received her award in 2006 when she was a senior at Kennard-Dale High School. That fall she enrolled in Towson University where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance with a K-12 certification.

Lacey was a freshman in high school when her mother Cindy was first diagnosed with breast cancer. Lacey remembers that after her mom told her children about her diagnosis she got them a kitten to “cheer us up from the bad news.” Lacey is pleased to report that the cat is still living with her 14 years later. She said her mom was extremely strong during the whole ordeal and never let cancer stop her from taking her and her siblings to their various activities. Her mom’s battle lasted four years; Lacey lost her when she was a freshman in college.

Today, Lacey’s life is full and then some. She married her high school sweetheart, Mitchel Sheppard, and they recently purchased a home in Catonsville, Maryland. Lacey teaches dance at Brooklyn Park Middle School, a magnet middle school for the performing and visual arts in Anne Arundel County. And best of all, they’re new parents to their son Clark, who was born in December, and about whom she says, “We could not be more in love!”

Middle child Brandon Marousek followed in older sister Lacey’s footsteps. Brandon won his H.O.P.E. scholarship in 2007 when he was a senior at Kennard-Dale. The following fall Brandon entered Catholic University of America, from which he graduated in 2011.

With his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering Brandon is now a field engineer for Illumina, a bio-tech company based out of San Diego, California. According to Brandon, “Illumina is a leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of life science tools and integrated systems for large-scale analysis of genetic variation and function. These systems are enabling studies that were not even imaginable just a few years ago, and moving us closer to the realization of personalized medicine.” Brandon said that his mother’s cancer had an influence on his choosing to work for Illumina. Although it isn’t a field a mechanical engineer usually goes into, Brandon is proud that he can help scientists further their studies in personalized medicine and genomics.

Brandon was a senior in high school when his mother passed away. He said she loved coming to watch him play football, even during her worst days of cancer. One of his favorite memories occurred during a home game against York Catholic. Brandon’s coach was pretty certain Brandon was going to surpass his 3000 career rushing yards in that game, so he made sure Brandon’s mom would be there. When Brandon topped the 3000 mark his coach stopped the game, invited Brandon’s mom onto the field, and presented her with the ball. Brandon recalls, “She had one of the biggest smiles on her face that day. This is one of those days a person never forgets.”

Life is good these days for the middle Marousek. Soon to move into his newly purchased, first home in Shrewsbury, he enjoys spending his non-working time with his girlfriend and other friends, riding four-wheelers, or fixing or tinkering with something.

Leah Marousek is the youngest of this scholarly family. Leah was awarded her H.O.P.E. scholarship in 2011, her senior year at Kennard Dale High School. Her first college was Old Dominion, in Virginia, but she transferred after her freshman year to West Chester in Pennsylvania, where she earned a bachelor’s in psychology in 2015.

Early in her college years Leah was trying to figure out what career she wanted to pursue, and to that end she sought out the career counseling office at West Chester. After shadowing one of the counselors Leah became so interested in the job that she sought and landed an internship in the office, and a career was born. Leah is now attending Widener University where she is pursuing a Master’s in higher education counseling, and with that degree she will be able to provide the assistance she found so helpful several years earlier.

Cancer is no stranger to Leah’s family. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Leah was in middle school and lost her battle with it two years later. Leah also lost her aunt to breast cancer, and one of her cousins survived the disease. Leah was tested for the BRAC2 gene and when the result was overwhelmingly positive she underwent a double mastectomy and reconstruction during her junior year in college.

Life is also busy for Leah. She became engaged this past August and the tentative wedding date is June of 2017, after she graduates from Widener. Although she and her fiancé are living in different places they manage to get together on weekends, and during the week her days are packed with classes and work at Widener as a graduate assistant, where among other jobs she hires college students to tutor public school elementary children in reading and math. Although Leah and her fiancé have been together since high school, she isn’t quite sure what he does, only that he works for the government in computer security. And that’s probably all she needs to know.

This article is reprinted from H.O.P.E. Lifeline (March, 2016) - monthly newsletter distributed by H.O.P.E. Click here to view the full newsletter.  If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail each month, you may subscribe today (no cost or obligation and you may unsubscribe at any time).


For VP Joe Biden, One Door Closes... Another Opens

Vice President Joe Biden Cancer InitiativeVice President Joe Biden personifies the expression when one door closes, another opens. His decision in October not to run for President of the United States cleared the way for him to redirect his attention to fighting cancer. President Obama even made that official when he declared the vice president the “cancer czar” during his State of the Union Address, saying it was time for a “moonshot” on the cure for cancer.

As the Vice President said in his October speech, “I believe that we need a moon shot in this country to cure cancer. It’s personal. But I know we can do this. The president and I have already been working hard on increasing funding for research and development, because there are so many breakthroughs just on the horizon in science and medicine, the things that are just about to happen. And we can make them real with an absolute national commitment to end cancer, as we know it today.”

Anyone who knows or has followed Vice President Biden knows that we can’t have a more sincere, tireless champion for our cause.

This article is reprinted from H.O.P.E. Lifeline (February, 2016) - monthly newsletter distributed by H.O.P.E. Click here to view the full newsletter.  If you would like to receive the newsletter by e-mail each month, you may subscribe today (no cost or obligation and you may unsubscribe at any time).


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