Sunday, December 29, 2019

Volunteer Appreciation Supper and Social

Marshall and Betty Bjork and Chip Kurzenbaum were honored, on Oct. 13, at a Cheerful Heart Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Each has volunteered for Cheerful Heart for 17 years caring for cancer patients in Lake County. Betty continues serving soup at Polson Oncology Clinic.

Cheerful Heart has 20 current volunteers. On Tuesdays volunteers serve soup at the oncology clinics in Polson and Ronan. They provide transportation and often are a second set of ears at a doctor’s appointment. Patient needs vary and the Cheerful Heart Volunteer Coordinator, Barbara Morin, connects with volunteers who can provide the service requested. Services can include meal preparation, running errands, walking the dog, etc. A Polson Beta group, Xi Alpha Gamma, is currently offering to provide housecleaning for cancer patients.

To volunteer contact Barbara Morin at 883-3070 and leave a message with the best time to reach you.

Board members from left: Leah Emerson, Valerie Lindstrom, Sarah Teaff,
Rich Forbis, Jeanne Doepke, Barbara Morin, Teri Warford

Targeted vs standard chemotherapy

Sources: National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Science Daily, Web MD

Targeted cancer therapies are drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules that are involved in the growth and spread of cancer. 

Targeted therapies differ from standard chemotherapy  in several ways:
  • Targeted therapies act on specific molecular targets that are associated with cancer, whereas most standard chemotherapies act on all rapidly dividing normal and cancerous cells.
  • Targeted therapies are deliberately chosen or designed to interact with their target, whereas many standard chemotherapies were identified because they kill cells. 
  • Targeted therapies often block tumor growth, whereas standard chemotherapy agents kill tumor cells.

Targeted therapies are currently the focus of much anticancer drug development. They are a cornerstone of precision medicine, a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes and proteins to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.

Many targeted cancer therapies have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat specific types of cancer. Others are being studied in clinical trials (research studies with people), and many more are in preclinical testing (research studies with animals). Read more.

History of Targeted Therapy
Targeted therapy was first used in the 1940s when iodine was used to kill thyroid cancer cells. Tamoxifen, first developed in 1970s as a contraceptive,  was found to bind to estrogen receptors in breast tissue. Some breast cancer cells require estrogen to grow and  tamoxifen can prevent recurrence of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer for pre- and post-menopausal women. 

In the past two decades, the discovery of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, and the completion of human genome sequencing fueled some major advances in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms leading to cancer. Subsequently, such newly emerging biological and genetic information rapidly prompted the introduction of a large number of new targeted cancer therapies.

Types of Targeted Therapies:                                      
There are two main types of targeted therapies: small molecule medicines and monoclonal antibodies.

Small molecule medicines are small enough to slip inside cancer cells and destroy them. Small molecule meds treat cancer by blocking signals that tell tumor cells to grow and are usually administered in pill form.

Monoclonal antibodies are too big to get into cells. Instead, they attack targets on the outside of cells or right around them. Sometimes they're used to launch chemo and radiation straight into tumors. They are usually administered through an IV in a vein in the arm at a hospital or clinic. Sometimes they are given as a shot.

Scientists have come up with many small molecule meds and monoclonal antibodies that make use of different targets to treat cancer in different ways. Varieties of therapies include: hormone therapies, signal transduction inhibitors, gene expression modulators, apoptosis (natural cell death) inducers, angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels feeding tumors) inhibitors and immunotherapies. Read more.

Latest targeted therapy news . . .

More targeted, less toxic:. The golden future of cancer treatment: New synthetic molecules are up to 24 times more effective at killing cancer cells than a widely-used cancer drug and they're built with resistance-fighting features to keep them effective over time, unlike current chemotherapies. Pre-clinical studies show the molecules are promising candidates for development into a new class of gold-based drugs that can wipe out the cancer without destroying healthy cells. Read more. 

Clues to improve cancer immunotherapy revealed.
Helper T cells appear vital to more robust anti-tumor response. Cancer immunotherapy drugs trigger the body's immune system to attack tumors and have revolutionized the treatment of certain cancers, such as lymphoma, lung cancer and melanoma. Yet, while some patients respond well to the drugs, others don't respond at all. Cancer immunologists want to change that.

A new study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis indicates a way for cancer immunotherapy to spur a more robust immune response. Such knowledge could lead to the development of better cancer vaccines and more effective immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors. The study is published Oct. 23 in the journal Nature. Read more.

Cancer Support Group

Coy and Charlie

Coy Theobalt, of Goat Peak Ranch Retreat for cancer patients, is now the Cheerful Heart Cancer Support Group leader. Coy and partner Charlie Davis work together to organize and lead the group that meets at noon on the second and fourth Mondays of the month at the First United Methodist Church located at 301 16th Ave. E. in Polson. 

Coy began his career as a therapist after finishing graduate school in Denver. He maintained a private practice for 17 years as well as managing an inpatient men’s program at a treatment facility in Tucson, Arizona. In 2003 he co-founded a non-profit organization for men battling cancer. They provided three-day all-expense paid fly fishing trips to men with any stage and type of cancer. You can read more about it at 

Charlie spent all of her 35-year career working for Weyerhaeuser, mostly in the information technology world,working her way up from an accounting clerk to the Southern Timberlands Information Technology Manager and Senior Project Manager. Her passion for helping cancer survivors and their caregivers began when her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. 

The support group welcomes those recently diagnosed, those undergoing treatment, cancer survivors, and/or family members. The aim is to provide a safe place for members to share, learn, support, and encourage members after a cancer diagnosis; and, to conquer the fear in themselves and others. Confidentiality is practiced, anything spoken in group stays with the group. Gatherings are informal allowing folks to drop-in when schedules and life permits. Attendees are urged to bring a brown-bag lunch. A list is maintained and Charlie will send reminder texts to cell phones before each gathering. To be added to the list or if you have questions, leave a message at 406-578-8078.