In my previous post I wrote about Chadwick Boseman and how he recently died of Colon Cancer, which is a type of Bowel Cancer. www.cancerresearchuk.org have the following quote about Bowel Cancer, “Bowel cancer can start in the large bowel (colon) or the back passage (rectum). It is also known as colorectal cancer. Bowel cancer is divided into different types depending on where it starts in the bowel, and the type of cell that it starts in. Knowing this helps your doctor decide which treatment you need”
Earlier this week British Olympic Champion Kris Akabusi revealed that he has undergone treatment for early stage Bowl Cancer, and that he was urged by his friends to see his Doctor after a discussion about men being slow to seek help. “Our generation grew up being ‘hard as nails, big boys don’t cry, keep it to yourself’, all that stuff. And I’m an Olympic athlete. But another six months and the cancer could have gone anywhere” Kris Akabusi also had a military career serving in Army as a Physical Training Instructor, which may have had an impact on not wanting to seek help.
Signs to look out for:
Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
Change in bowel habits, either having more bowel, smaller movements; more constipation (Any noticeable change from what is normal and regular)
A change in stool appearance or consistency such mucus in the stools or narrower stools
Diarrhoea or constipation that lasts more than several days
Gas, bloating or cramps in the bowel or rectum
A feeling of fullness in the bowel even after a bowel movement
A pain or lump in the rectum or bowel
Other symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, and unintended weight loss.
Having one or more of the above does not mean you have Bowel Cancer, however if you have any of them do not delay speaking to your Doctor. Had Kris Akabusi waited any longer it could have been too late for him.
Its been a week since it was announced that Chadwick Boseman died of Colon Cancer. For many people Chadwick will be remembered as Black Panther from the Avengers Movies. It has been a long time since I have posted a blog and I have spent the last week deciding between writing about Colon Cancer or Chadwick Boseman. In the end I decided to write about both. This post will be about Chadwick Boseman with Colon Cancer to follow shortly.
Chadwick Boseman was born in Anderson South Carolina on November 29th, 1976 and died aged 43 in Los Angeles on August 28th, 2020, after a four-year battle with Cancer. Like many actors Chadwick Boseman started off with small guest roles on tv shows such as Third Watch, Law and Order as well as CSI New York. In 2008 Chadwick had a regular role in American tv series Lincoln Heights and appeared in his first feature film, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story. Chadwick Boseman also wrote plays such as Deep Azure performed at the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago; it was nominated for a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work. Plays he wrote, including Rhyme Deferred (co-writer and performer), and Hieroglyphic Graffiti were part of the Hip Hop theatre movement.
Black Panther was a ground-breaking movie for many reasons. It was the first blockbuster movie with a predominantly black cast with a black leading man. Even in 2018 there were directors and film critics in Hollywood claiming Black Panther would be a flop simply because it did not have enough white actors. There were also claims that a black man would not be taken seriously in a leading role. Maybe I am naive, however I do not see how the colour of a person’s skin could possibly be an issue in their acting ability. When this was brought up by journalists reporting Chadwick’s death I began to think of all the amazing black actor’s such as Morgan Freeman, Eddie Murphy, Samuel L Jackson and Halle Berry who have all played leading roles in successful films. The more I thought about it the more I realised that these actor’s all spoke with American accents, whereas in Black Panther the actors all spoke in an African accent. To me this still should not have been an issue, again I may be naïve.
Chadwick Boseman’s films, tv appearances and awards are detailed below:
What I find the most amazing about Chadwick Boseman is that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016, yet he still filmed Black Panther, Avengers movies and visited children with cancer in the hospital, all while dying of cancer himself. Chadwick would go to the hospital for cancer treatment, then visit children, film his scenes in his movies and still make all his appearances.
Chadwick Boseman you truly are an amazing man. Rest in Peace.
Large parts of England have been enjoying a heatwave recently. With the warm weather comes increased risks to the health. These include sunburn from being out in the sun too long as well as heat stroke, dehydration and in the most severe cases even death. nhs.uk report an average of 2000 heat related deaths each year in England, with people over 75 years old the most at risk. Some of these risks can be made worse due to current restrictions relating to Covid-19. Where I work for example, we are not allowed to switch on the air conditioning due to concerns that the recycled air could spread any existing Covid- 19 virus from members to other members and staff. To try and reduce this we have all our extractor fans on full as well as opening windows and exits to try and reduce the temperature. We are also only allowing members who pre-book their activity to enter the building and only at the time they booked to help us with track and trace should we need it, along with all of the other current Government guidelines.
So how can we protect ourselves during the heatwave in our personal lives. The first one is to increase our water intake. During hot weather we sweat more to help regulate body temperature. The water loss from sweat needs to be replenished as quickly as possible. Keeping a bottle of water with you is an easy way to stay hydrated. Reducing alcohol intake will also help prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion during a heatwave. I understand this will be difficult for some. When the sun is out on a nice day I enjoy sitting in a beer garden with a cold pint of beer, or going to a friends house for a BBQ, however alcohol increases dehydration so for every alcoholic drink you have aim for two glasses of water to stay hydrated.
Another way we can all stay safe during a heatwave is to stay in a shaded area between 11am and 3pm. This is when the heat from the sun is at its most intense which increases the risks to health. As nice as it is to be out in the sun, we must all do so in a safe way. To help with this use a high-level sun cream, wear a hat, and lighter coloured cloths. For more information on how to stay safe in a heatwave visit nhs.uk.
Another important consideration is the health of any pets you may have during a heatwave. Animals are generally good at keeping safe in the sun by staying in the shade, however it is important to ensure they have regular access to water and shade. If you have a dog take them for their walk early in the morning and late in the evening to prevent over-heating and to protect their feet. When the temperature is high the roads and pavements get hot which can cause the pads on a dog’s feet to burn. Also bring water and a bowl with you in your dog walking bag so that your dog can stay hydrated and cool during a walk.
Finally, if you have a vulnerable family member, friend, or neighbour remember to check in on them to make sure they have everything they need to stay safe.
A condition I find many people misunderstand is Dementia. This is because for some people Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are the same thing, when in fact Alzheimer’s Disease is one form of Dementia. Just as there are a large range of Cancer illnesses such as Leukaemia or Prostate Cancer, there are a large range of illnesses which are types of Dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe various symptoms of cognitive decline, such as forgetfulness. It is a symptom of several underlying diseases and brain disorders. Dementia is not a single disease, but a general term to describe symptoms of impairment in memory, communication, and thinking.
Dementia includes the following conditions:
Lewy body Dementia
Frontotemporal Dementia/ Pick’s Disease
Mixed dementia- When a person has more then one type of Dementia
Normal pressure Hydrocephalus
Alzheimer’s Disease: This is the most common form of Dementia and according to the Alzheimer’s Association 60- 80% of Dementia patients have this form of the illness. In it is early stages Alzheimer’s Disease can cause patients to feel depressed. Depression is not a symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease and being diagnosed with Depression does not mean that you will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. Early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease also include difficulty remembering names as well as short term memory issues.
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by brain cell death. As the disease progresses, people experience confusion and mood changes. They also have trouble speaking and walking. Alzheimer’s Disease is more likely to develop in older adults, however 5% of early onset cases develop in people between 40 and 50.
Vascular Dementia: This is the second most common form of Dementia. Lack of blood flow to the brain causes the illness. Vascular Dementia can happen as you age and can be related to atherosclerotic disease or stroke. Depending on the cause the symptoms of Vascular Dementia can develop over time or develop suddenly. Common early signs are confusion and disorientation. Vascular Dementia can also cause hallucinations and vision problems.
Lewy body Dementia: This is the form of Dementia Robin Williams is believed to have had before he died. Lewy body Dementia is caused by protein deposits in nerve cells, which disrupts chemical messages to the brain causing memory loss and disorientation in patients. Visual hallucinations can also be experienced by Lewy body Dementia patients. Lewy body Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease share many of the same symptoms making it difficult to get an accurate diagnosis. Many patients with Lewy body Dementia develop trembling in their hands, have trouble walking, and feel weak.
Parkinson’s Disease: Many patients of advanced Parkinson’s Disease will develop Dementia. Issues with reasoning and judgements can be early signs. Patient’s may have confusing or frightening hallucinations. Parkinson’s Disease Dementia can cause irritability, depression or cause the patient to become paranoid as the illness progresses. Patients may also have difficulty speaking, remembering words or lose where they are in the conversation.
Frontotemporal Dementia/ Pick’s Disease: Frontotemporal Dementia is a name used to describe several types of dementia, all with one thing in common: They affect the front and side parts of the brain, which are the areas that control language and behaviour. Frontotemporal Dementia is also known as Pick’s disease. This form of Dementia can affect people as young as 45 years old. Scientist’s do not yet know the exact cause; however, it is known that Frontotemporal Dementia does run in families. Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia have mutations in certain genes according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Frontotemporal Dementia causes loss of inhibitions and motivation, as well as compulsive behaviour. It also causes patients to have problems with speech, including forgetting the meaning of common words.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, (CJD) is an extremely rare type of Dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association report that 1 in 1 million people are diagnosed with CJD each year. CJD has similar symptoms to other types of Dementia such as Depression, memory loss, confusion, and agitation. CJD affects the body as well, causing twitching and muscle stiffness.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: This type of Dementia, also known as Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, is a brain condition caused by a lack of vitamin B1, resulting in bleeding to the lower sections of the brain. If left untreated Wernicke’s Encephalopathies physical symptoms begin to reduce and the signs of Korsakoff Syndrome develop. Korsakoff syndrome is a memory disorder caused by advanced Wernicke’s disease. People with Korsakoff syndrome may have trouble, processing information, learning new skills as well as remembering things.
Mixed Dementia: This is when a patient has more then one form of Dementia.This is common with the most common combination being Alzheimer’s Disease and Vascular Dementia. This affected my Nan on my Mum’s side of the family, becoming more advanced over the last four years of her life. According to the Jersey Alzheimer’s Association, up to 45% of patients with dementia have mixed dementia but do not know it.
Normal pressure Hydrocephalus: Normal pressure Hydrocephalus, (NPH) causes a build up of excess fluid in a patient’s brain ventricles. The brain’s ventricles are fluid-filled spaces designed to protect a patient’s brain and spinal cord. An excessive amount of fluid places extra pressure on the brain, causing damage which leads to symptoms of Dementia. An estimated 5% of Dementia cases are caused by NPH.
Huntington’s Disease: Huntington’s Disease is a genetic condition which causes Dementia. There are two types, Juvenile and Adult Onset. Adult Onset is more common with patients showing signs in their 30’s or 40’s. Huntington’s Disease causes premature breakdown of the brain’s nerve cells, leading to Dementia and impaired movement. Symptoms associated with Huntington’s disease include impaired movements, such as jerking, difficulty walking, and trouble swallowing. Dementia symptoms include, difficulty focusing on tasks, impulse control problems, trouble speaking clearly and difficult learning new things.
Much like my post on PTSD, Dementia is too large a subject to cover in one post. Keep in mind that the patient will have good days and bad days, they might not recognise your voice on the phone yet recognise your face so the patient will know who you are when they see you. A Dementia patient might have issues with short term memory yet have an intact long- term memory. Most importantly the patient is still the person they were before Dementia developed, do not treat the patient as an invalid, treat them the same as you would have done before and do not try to make them remember anything. When my Nan was still alive, I would usually have the same conversation with her five times in a ten- minute phone call simply because for my Nan it was the first time, she asked me that question. For more information click on the links below.