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Backpacking after Chemo/Radiation

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Backpacking after Chemo/Radiation

Postby maverick » Thu Jan 18, 2018 5:39 pm

A friend of mine, who really loves backpacking, was recently diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, she is more concerned about what the effects of the therapies, which starts in a week, will be on her backpacking season.
If anyone is willing to share their experience, on how long it took for the side effect of the drugs to wear off, to the point that you could get back onto the trail again, it would highly be appreciated? I do understand that each individual case is different, but hearing some fellow backpackers experiences would give her something to look forward to. Thanks
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Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org



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Re: Backpacking after Chemo/Radiation

Postby Tom_H » Thu Jan 18, 2018 10:15 pm

My wife went through an accelerated course of radiation-about 30 sessions of exposure over a 6 week period. Hers had been Stage 1 and after the lumpectomy, she had the radiation, but since all lymph nodes were clean, they skipped the chemo.

It was like the worst sunburn you have ever seen a hundred times over. The side of her breast was like an onion that had been baked in a blast furnace. There were about 20-25 layers of dead and decomposing skin all peeling away on top of each other for a 3 month period.

Radiation and chemo sometimes occur at the same time, but more frequently they do one, then the other. The sequence depends on the particular case. My wife (a level 1 backpacker) thinks that if it were only one of the two, it might be possible, but if your friend has both sequentially, it is doubtful she will get to pack this summer. But that is just one person's opinion. As always, the woman's own oncology team are the best people to ask.

Our best wishes and positive thoughts for your friend, Mav. I hope she has close family support. It is scary for the patient and family both.
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Re: Backpacking after Chemo/Radiation

Postby edhyatt » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:38 am

I had a series of 30 radiotherapy treatments over 6 weeks for throat cancer - and a couple of operations; the chemo regime was relatively 'light' - one 6 hour session a week.

I got rather slender but was back on trail within a couple of weeks - good uphill, then I'd collapse...stamina gone. After a few trips I was back to fullish strength.

I walked 3 miles each way to my treatments most days which probably helped.

My consultant suggested I was genetically tolerant to the treatment, so I guess I was relatively fortunate.

My best wishes to your friend.
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Re: Backpacking after Chemo/Radiation

Postby Mtbski » Fri Jan 19, 2018 9:02 am

After a seven week radiation and chemo treatment regimen, I was backpacking four months later. Trips were short, long weekends, 3-5 miles each way. Did week long trips 14 months after treatment. I probably could have done a week trip 10 months after treatment; but it was winter. Everyone responds to treatment differently. I suggest to your friend not to push things too early; because it may prolong her recovery period. It is important to rest and allow one's body to heal. A year and a half after treatments, I am back doing everything I did prior to cancer without losing a step. Best wishes to your friend.
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Re: Backpacking after Chemo/Radiation

Postby maverick » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:28 pm

Thank you very much to those of you have replied and shared your experiences, information from fellow backpackers will give my friend hope and and some understanding on what to expect! :nod:

On another note, heard about this new $500 test coming, that can screen for 8 different types of cancer: bowel, breast, liver, lung, oesophageal, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancer.
May this be another helpful tool in fighting this disease and save many lives down the road!

An international team of researchers have developed a new test that screens for multiple types of cancer using only a blood sample.

The research published today in Science and led by scientists at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore describes a new test called CancerSEEK, which simultaneously looks for the presence of eight different types of cancer, including lung, breast and colorectal cancers, which are together responsible for more than 60 percent of cancer deaths in the U.S.

The researchers took blood samples from 1,005 people with one of the eight different cancer types, finding that CancerSEEK was able to reliably identify the tumors in 70% cases. The success rates ranged from an impressive 98% in people with ovarian tumors to only 33% in people with breast tumors.

However, the researchers are positive about the potential impact of the test. "If we are going to make progress in early cancer detection, we have to begin looking at it in a more realistic way, recognizing that no test will detect all cancers,” said Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Professor of Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

The scientists also used CancerSEEK on 812 healthy people with no history of cancer to make sure the test only picked up genuine cancers. Only seven of the 812 healthy people tested were flagged as positive using CancerSEEK, with the researchers noting that they couldn't be certain whether these seven individuals were true false positives or indeed had early-stage cancer with no symptoms.

The rate of false positives reported here is far lower than with conventional screening tests for specific cancers, such as mammography with a 10% false positive rate and colon cancer screening with variable rates of false-positives depending on the test used. Additionally, the proposed cost of CancerSEEK is $500, less than most currently available screens for single cancer types, making it an appealing prospect for individuals and insurers alike.

Blood-based "liquid biopsy" tests have been hit with recent controversies about their ability to accurately detect cancer mutations. Combined with their several-thousand-dollar price tag, it is safe to say that the jury is still out as to whether they will justify their early hype and become routine tools for diagnosing and helping guide treatment for cancer patients.

Most liquid biopsies survey a large number of genes in an attempt to identify therapeutic targets for drugs, but CancerSEEK takes a different approach and focuses on early diagnosis, looking at mutations in just 16 cancer-associated genes and the levels of eight protein biomarkers. The data from these two parameters are then combined with an algorithm to "score" each blood test and ensure that the results are accurate and reliable.

Early-cancer detection tests do exist for some cancers and are very effective in diagnosing cancer early, such as mammograms for breast cancer and cervical pap smears for cervical cancer. The only widely-used blood-based test is a controversial test for prostate cancer looking at just a single protein biomarker, prostate specific antigen (PSA). Remarkably, despite having been around for 25 years, scientists have been unable to reach a consensus as to whether the PSA test is actually useful or not, so there is undoubtedly great room for improvement with blood-based cancer screens. Importantly, for five of the eight cancers tested for by CancerSEEK, there are no early screening tests currently available.

Even the most detailed scans can only pick up tumors when they reach a certain size. Currently available liquid biopsy tests give no indication as to where a tumor might be, with many cancer mutations found in a variety of tumor types. Remarkably, using only blood, in 63% of patients CancerSEEK was able to specify the organ where the cancer was, giving oncologists vital clues as to where to do further scans in order to pinpoint the location of the tumor and prescribe effective treatment. In 83% of people, the test was able to narrow the location down to two anatomical locations.

Many adult cancers grow very slowly, taking 20 to 30 years to progress to full-blown, symptomatic cancers. By the time they are diagnosed these cancers have often spread, making them incredibly difficult to treat. Cancers that have not spread past the original tissue they started in can often be cured by surgery alone, sparing a patient from the considerable potential side effects that often accompany chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.

Joshua Cohen, the lead author of the study, said, "our ultimate vision is that a person goes to their primary care provider for a routine checkup and at the same time as testing their cholesterol, they have a screening to test for different types of cancer.”

The researchers stress that a larger-scale trial must be done before CancerSEEK can be made commercially available, and they are embarking on a new study featuring 10,000 healthy individuals, which they hope will allow them to further evaluate if the test is able to accurately predict who ultimately develops cancer.

“The prospective study will answer the question, can this test detect cancer earlier than conventional methods, and at the same time as this, we will be working on improving and refining CancerSEEK," said Cohen.

However, CancerSEEK is not quite the lone ranger in developing blood-based tests for cancer diagnosis. GRAIL, a spin-out company of Illumina created waves this time last year after an ambitious proposal to study the effectiveness of their early-diagnosis test, also via the recruitment of 10,000 individuals, this time with and without cancer. With an impressive list of investors, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Merck and Amazon and a scientific advisory board with substantial credentials, GRAIL seems to be in a very strong position. Notably however, GRAIL only tests for tumor DNA, not the additional protein biomarkers that CancerSEEK includes, so it remains to be seen how the two compete on vital elements such as ability to detect various cancer types and avoiding false-positives.

Currently, screening for specific cancer types is only recommended for at-risk people, whether it be due to a family history of cancer, underlying genetic conditions predisposing to cancer or just older age. However, the affordability and reliability of CancerSEEK raises the genuine possibility that cancer screening could become as mainstream as a cholesterol test.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/victoriafo ... 01da0e7dd4
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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