October 18, 2017 – The Story of Iris Gerken, CanCare Volunteer/Breast Cancer Survivor

Thank you to Houston Chronicle for highlighting the inspirational story of our sweet volunteer and breast cancer survivor, Iris Gerken. “Her desire to “give back” became stronger after she completed her treatment. Iris wanted to be available to other women who had just received news of their diagnosis. She wanted to offer hope and be a support to them.” To read the full story click here.

October 12, 2017 

What can I do to reduce my risk of breast cancer?

Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women. The following are steps you can take to lower your risk:

  • Limit alcohol – The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. The general recommendation — based on research on the effect of alcohol on breast cancer risk — is to limit yourself to less than 1 drink per day as even small amounts increase risk.
  • Don’t smoke – Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
  • Control your weight – Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
  • Be physically active – Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.
  • Breast-feed – Breast-feeding might play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
  • Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy – Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. You might be able to manage your symptoms with non-hormonal therapies and medications. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you and continue to have your doctor monitor the length of time you are taking hormones.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution – Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. While more studies are needed, some research suggests a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.

Can a healthy diet prevent breast cancer?

Eating a healthy diet might decrease your risk of some types of cancer, as well as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. For example, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, like olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.

Maintaining a healthy weight also is a key factor in breast cancer prevention.

Is there a link between birth control pills and breast cancer?

A number of older studies suggested that birth control pills — which often had higher estrogen doses prior to 1985 — slightly increased the risk of breast cancer, especially among younger women. In these studies, however, 10 years after discontinuing birth control pills women’s risk of breast cancer returned to the same level as that of women who never used oral contraceptives. Current evidence does not support an increase in breast cancer with today’s birth control pills.

What else can I do?

Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.

Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/breast-cancer-prevention/art-20044676?pg=2

October 5, 2017 – The Story of Lauren, CanCare Volunteer/Amazing Mom/Breast Cancer Survivor

Lauren first came to CanCare as a caregiver to her younger sister who was diagnosed with cancer. Lauren says, “CanCare was instrumental in helping me discover how to walk side-by-side with my sister through her health event.” In May 2006, Lauren joined Class #38 and began providing clients with support and encouragement. She also began volunteering at CanCare’s special events, like the Annual National Cancer Survivors Day Luncheon and Annual Golf Tournament. “Every day is different. It is a joy to give back and I find it helps me grow, too, in the process,” expresses Lauren.

Little did Lauren know, she would also hear those three words her sister heard almost a decade earlier.

Lauren shares, “In October 2014, I was diagnosed with an aggressive stage III breast cancer. The verse I claimed through my cancer experience was, ‘I will live and not die to declare the works of the Lord’ (Psalms 118:17). Praise Him! Today I am alive and healthy! As someone who has been given a second chance at life, I appreciate life more and have a new found passion and feel an obligation to share what I have learned through my experience.”

Lauren describes, “On week two of my volunteer shift at CanCare, I answered the phone at the receptionist’s desk and on the other end was a lady who called to learn more about CanCare. She was hurting. As we talked, I listened and learned we were close in age, shared a similar diagnosis and experienced a similar treatment plan. It felt like it was a divine appointment.”

Lauren continues, “Since that first call, she and I have texted and talked by phone. Recently, we met in person for the first time for coffee. We discovered that we share our faith, our love for pets, and even have a few friends in common. As an added benefit, I’ve found that through encouraging my new friend and listening to her through the tough spots, I am strengthened too! Volunteering for CanCare reminds me how far I have come on my journey back to life after cancer. It stirs up my gratitude and gives me great joy. God is good!

September 28, 2017 – Anticancer Fruits and Vegetables

Did you know that 50% of your daily food intake should be consisted of fruits and vegetables? Yet, what kind of fruits and vegetables? Thanks to our friends at MD Anderson and “Anticancer: A New Way of Life” by David Servan-Schreiber, we’ve compiled a list of fruits and vegetables that can help to prevent cancer.

  • Cruciform Vegetables – Prevents precancerous cells from developing into malignant tumors and promotes the suicide of cancer cells
    • Cabbage
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Bok choy
    • Broccoli
    • Cauliflower
    • Avoid boiling cabbage and broccoli because it destroys benefits

  • Vegetables and Fruits Rich in Carotenoids – Inhibits the growth of cancer cells
    • Carrots
    • Yams
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Squash
    • Pumpkins
    • Tomatoes
    • Persimmons
    • Apricots
    • Tomatoes
    • Beets
    • Spinach

  • Berries – Slows tumor growth and blocks the transformation of environmental carcinogens into toxic substances
    • Blackberries
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • *** Ellagic acid also detoxifies cells.  It blocks the transformation of environmental carcinogens into toxic substances and stimulates the elimination of toxins. The toxins we are referring to here are dangerous because they interact with DNA and provoke potentially life-threatening genetic mutations. Hence, ellagic acid is a kind of super molecule that acts on several fronts.

  • Stone Fruit – Blocks the transformation of environment carcinogens into toxic substances
    • Plums
    • Peaches
    • Apricots
    • Nectarines

*** These fruits, particularly plums, are at least as rich in anticancer elements as small berries

  • Citrus Fruit – Anti-inflammatory
    • Oranges
    • Tangerines
    • Lemons
    • Grapefruits
    • Organic skins can be steeped in tea or hot water

Don’t forget to visit our blog every week for new posts!

September 20, 2017 – Financial Resource Available for Leukemia & Lymphoma Patients Who Were Affected by Harvey or Irma

As we continue to rebuild our communities after Harvey and Irma, along with the properties that remain under construction are hospitals, doctors’ offices, treatment facilities and medical centers. Therefore, many cancer patients have had their treatments, surgeries and follow up appointments postponed. During this time, it’s important to not lose sight of the many cancer patients and families that have been evacuated from their homes and are not able to reach their physician or treatment center, or have lost their medications due to flooding.

Thank you to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for providing eligible blood cancer patients who live in declared disaster areas with a one-time payment of $500. Patients must be in active treatment, scheduled to begin treatment or are being monitored by their doctor.

If you are battling blood cancer, and were affected by Harvey or Irma, please use the link below for more information or to apply.


September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Today, nearly 1.3 million people in the United States are living with, or are in remission from, Leukemia, Lymphoma or Melanoma.

For more information visit: http://www.lls.org/blood-cancer-awareness-month?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BCAM&utm_content=BCAM-Lymphoma-Engaged-LLS&spMailingID=30611762&spUserID=MTA1NzIwNTM0Mzg2S0&spJobID=1121750895&spReportId=MTEyMTc1MDg5NQS2

September 18, 2017 – Hope in the Hospital by Teresa

Working as a volunteer in my local hospital has been a life changing experience.  I started my journey at North Cypress thinking that offering my “help” to cancer patients would be my way of giving back to the community and serve others that are just beginning their journey; however, I had no idea the blessings the Lord would put in front of me while I shared my story and reached out to give them hope.

This is not a story of how I helped cancer patients; this is a story of how they helped me!!

Having the honor and privilege to freely help cancer patients in the hospital environment has made a difference in how I look at life.  I have entered rooms of patients with no hope after a diagnosis and had the opportunity to tell and show them there is always hope.  I have seen their eyes light up after explaining to them I am a 10-year survivor after the chemo, radiation and surgeries.  That hope and glimmer in their eyes is what makes it all worthwhile. 

Along this journey I have cried with loved ones, laughed with families and held hands with strangers that seemed as though they were lifelong friends.  I have had the privilege of hearing one cancer patient sing like it was Heaven opening its doors!  Fishing stories, war stories and even stories from families and their love for each other.  This is not just an opportunity for me to help others; it is an amazing ride into the lives and hearts of other people that has made a lifelong difference to me.

There have been numerous occasions when I have walked away feeling that the Lord has filled my love bank and shown me what life is all about.  It is so simple, you give and you receive 10 times more back in return!  I know and understand that is a “cliché”; but, when you learn the value of human life as you share your story, it is priceless!!

September 12, 2017 – Financial Resources Available For Those Affected By Harvey

A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming for all individuals affected – between deciding on treatment, dealing with fear and emotional concerns, and figuring out finances. It is a time in life that no one should have to face alone.

For those individuals that are dealing with a cancer diagnosis along with the tragic aftermath of Harvey, please remember that you are not alone.

Below are some helpful financial resources to help you on your road to recovery.

Disaster SNAP

The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program offers short-term food assistance benefits to families recovering from a disaster. D-SNAP is designed to help when people return to their homes and have access to electricity and grocery stores. Benefits are loaded on a Lone Star Card within three days of applying, and the amount is equal to two months of the maximum amount of SNAP benefits, based on household size.

There is a limited period of time to apply for D-SNAP, based on your county of residence.

To be eligible, you must:

  • Be from a county that has been declared a federal disaster area*.
  • Have experienced a loss of income, destruction of your home or a disaster-related expense, such as temporary shelter or home repairs.
  • Not have been getting regular SNAP food benefits at the time of the disaster.
  • Meet certain income limits. Click here to view income limits.

*Federal disaster counties are:

Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton

Applying for D-SNAP

You must apply in person at a designated D-SNAP location in your county of residence. You will not be able to apply online. D-SNAP applications will be accepted for a limited amount of time in each county.

To apply you’ll need to show:

  • Proof of identity – Examples include a driver’s license or other government-issued ID

If you enroll in D-SNAP and you are pregnant or have a child younger than five, you are also eligible for WIC. This allows you to get health foods such as fruit and vegetables, cereal, bread and milk, as well as breastfeeding assistance, infant formula and help from nutritionists and other sources. Visit TexasWIC.org(link is external) or call 800-942-3678 for more information.

D-SNAP locations

You must apply for D-SNAP in your county of residence. Residents of the following counties may only apply for D-SNAP between Sept. 13 and Sept. 19: Dewitt, Gonzalez, Jasper, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Matagorda, Newton, Orange, Sabine and Tyler. You will need to apply on certain days depending on the first letter of your last name. Offices will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information visit:  https://hhs.texas.gov/services/financial/disaster-assistance/disaster-snap

American Red Cross Disaster Financial Assistance 

The American Red Cross is providing some financial assistance for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

With the Immediate Assistance Program, people who were directly affected by the storm can receive $400.

Please note that assistance will be available for those significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey which includes:

  • Primary residence was severely impacted by Harvey.
  • Household is in need of emergency assistance.
  • Household was displaced by the impact of Harvey.

Verifiable pre-disaster primary address in one of these 39 Texas counties Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzalez, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Walker, Waller and Wharton.

The American Red Cross is currently experiencing a high demand, and is asking for individuals to check their website at a later time. The program is open through October 10.


September 11, 2017 – FEMA/State of Texas Open Three Disaster Recovery Centers in Houston

Three State of Texas/FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers will open Monday, September 11, 2017, in the cities of Katy, Baytown and Houston.

Disaster recovery centers offer in-person support to individuals and businesses in 39 counties included in the Texas federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent floods.

Recovery specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the State and other agencies will be at the centers to talk about assistance and to help anyone who needs guidance in filing an application. The new centers are at the following locations:

Katy Mills Mall (Fort Bend County)
5000 Katy Mills Circle
Katy TX  77494
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Baytown Community Center (Harris County)
2407 Market Street
Baytown TX  77520
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Greenspoint Mall (Harris County)
263 Greenspoint Mall
Houston TX  77060
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) disaster assistance employees are committed to helping businesses and residents rebuild as quickly as possible. SBA representatives are available to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program and help business owners and residents apply to SBA.

Disaster Recovery Centers are accessible to people with disabilities. Centers have assistive technology equipment allowing disaster survivors to use amplified telephones, phones that display text, amplified listening devices for people with hearing loss, and magnifiers for people with vision loss. Video Remote Interpreting is available and in-person sign language is available by request. The centers also have accessible parking, ramps and restrooms.

If possible, homeowners, renters and businesses should register with FEMA before visiting a recovery center. Eligible residents may register for assistance the following ways:

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Phone 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS-Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).
  • Via the FEMA app, available for Apple and Android mobile devices. To download visit: fema.gov/mobile-app.

The following information is helpful when registering:

  • Address of the location where the damage occurred (pre-disaster address).
  • Current mailing address.
  • Current telephone number.
  • Insurance information.
  • Total household annual income.
  • Routing and account number for checking or savings account (this allows FEMA to directly transfer disaster assistance funds into a bank account).
  • A description of disaster-caused damage and losses.

Disaster survivors can visit any of the centers for assistance. Locations of other recovery centers are online at www.fema.gov/DRC.

Homeowners, renters and businesses in Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Bee, Brazoria, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Dewitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzalez, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Lee, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Jacinto, Refugio, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Waller, Walker and Wharton may be eligible for help.

Thank you, ALERT HOUSTON, for this helpful information. CanCare community, please remember, if you have been affected by Harvey, please contact us at 713.461.0028. We are currently in the process of assessing what needs our community has, and are ready to help you.

September 6, 2017 – Harvey Crisis Response Guide

Thanks to our friends at Insperity for sending us this helpful ‘Harvey Crisis Response Guide’.  This guide contains information to help anyone who has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  It was prepared by Baker Botts and covers a broad variety of topics, such as how to file flood claims, renters’ rights, how to replace your passport and/or credit cards that may have been lost or damaged in the storm, information about schools and about small business administration loans, and tips to avoid home repair fraud. It also contains a broad list of other resources and includes contact information for them. Click the link below to view guide.

Harvey Crisis Response Guide

CanCare community, if you have been affected by Harvey, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 713.461.0028.

September 1, 2017 – A message from our President/CEO

To our CanCare community:

On behalf of CanCare, I want to offer my greatest concern and deepest compassion to all the individuals affected by the devastating storm along the Texas coastline, and Houston region.

Like many of our Houstonians today, I too, have personally experienced the loss and uncertainty that a storm of this magnitude can bring. I have faced the devastation of waking up at 2 a.m. with close to four feet of water in my home, rounding up my family to safely evacuate, and leaving all our personal belongings and decades of memories behind.

One thing that I learned throughout that experience was, I was not alone, and neither are you.

With my 14 years of experience at the American Red Cross along with our dedicated CanCare staff members, we are here to help connect you with the assistance you may need during this trying time.

Although our office will be closed until September 5th, we are available to assist those in need now. If you have been affected by Harvey, we want to hear from you.

Replacing fear with hope has been the mission of CanCare for 27 years. When you choose CanCare, you choose hope that comes from survivors sharing their own cancer experiences. It is our utmost commitment to ensure that no one battles cancer alone, and as we begin to rebuild our great city of Houston and the surrounding communities, we want you to know that you are not alone on this journey either.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about your road to recovery. I am here for you.

Stay strong, Houston. We are with you, always.

Warm regards,
Cristina Vetrano