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Selected Category: Patients

C. diff survivor and advocate shares her story

Categories: Clostridium difficile, Healthcare-associated infections, Patients

Nancy Caralla

Nancy Caralla

Guest Author: Nancy C Caralla
Founding Executive Director,
President of the C Diff Foundation.

My name is Nancy Caralla, and I know all too much about Clostridium difficile (C. diff).  I am a nurse and contracted C. diff while caring for patients suffering from this horrible infection. Now, I am a C. diff survivor. Tragically, our family lost my father from C. diff, too. I know how fighting a C. diff infection can be exhausting on so many levels. It is a physically, mentally, and financially debilitating infection. It has the ability to steal away a loved one, tear away dreams, create added stress on families, diminish financial nest eggs, eliminate employment opportunities, build geographic mobility limitations, and create tears in even the strongest individuals. All aspects of one’s being are involved in fighting a C. diff infection. This is why I have dedicated myself to “Raising C. diff Awareness” worldwide.

The C diff Foundation was brought to fruition in 2012 with a mission to provide education and advocate for C. diff infection prevention, treatment, and environmental safety worldwide. It provides Antibiotic News, Nutrition Support, Government and private Scientific Research and Development Studies, and a CDF Volunteer program. The C diff Foundation hosts a 24-hour hotline to support patients, families, and health care providers through the difficulties of a C. diff infection (1-844-FOR-CDIF).

Our hotline now gets 20-30 calls a day from individuals impacted by this germ. These are some of the most common questions we get asked: 

Cancer Survivor Employs Simple Steps to Fight off Infection During Chemotherapy

Categories: Hand Hygiene, Healthcare-associated infections, Outpatient Care, Patients

Pamela Bryant and family

Pamela Bryant and family

Author: Pamela Bryant, MS
Health Communications Specialist, CDC

To do:

  • Biopsy
  • MRI
  • Port-a-Cath
  • Chemotherapy
  • Genetic Testing
  • Lumpectomy
  • Radiation

The above list is not exactly the type of to-do list I ever thought I’d be faced with. As you can imagine, this list of tests, screenings, procedures, and treatments was a bit overwhelming as I was diagnosed last October with a Stage II breast cancer. Not only did I learn I had triple negative breast cancer, but I had to accept that my treatment plan would definitely include chemotherapy—8 rounds to be exact—followed by surgery and radiation. My life and my family’s life was about to change during this time. So we talked and prayed, and then we prepared for this journey.

As a “CDC-er,” my work as a health communications specialist often involves taking what our team of scientists knows and putting it into easy-to-understand language for the general public. So after I learned that I had cancer and was trying to prepare myself and my family for what was to come, I read about one of chemotherapy’s most serious side effects that I had never heard of before – neutropenia. Almost instantly, my CDC background kicked in. First of all, I thought, “how do you even pronounce this word (new-tro-pee-nee-a, by the way),” and secondly, “how can I explain the seriousness of this to my family?”

Pamela Bryant, MS

Pamela Bryant, MS

Once I did a little digging, I found an excellent resource (right in my back yard!) that explained this condition to my family and me. PreventCancerInfections.org is a web site developed by CDC that provides practical steps that patients and caregivers can take to prevent infections. This website also helps explain what neutropenia is (a low white blood cell count), how and why it makes you more likely to get an infection, and what you and your family can do to help protect yourself.

Ironically, my CDC job involves communicating about basic principles of maintaining good health, such as frequent hand washing and safe food preparation. Fortunately, these practices came naturally for me, but I kicked them into high gear while I was receiving chemotherapy.

Helping Cancer Patients Prevent Infections this Winter

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Outpatient Care, Patients

Alice Guh, M.D, MPH

Alice Guh, M.D, MPH

Author:   Alice Guh, M.D., M.P.H.
Medical Officer, CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion

When you are battling cancer, the last thing you want to get is an infection.  This is one of the reasons why I am involved in Preventing Infections in Cancer Patients,  a program focused on providing information, action steps and tools for cancer patients, their families and healthcare providers to reduce the risk of developing potentially life-threatening infections during chemotherapy treatment.

With flu season peaking, I thought it was an appropriate time to answer some questions about how cancer patients can take action to protect themselves against the flu and other serious infections this winter.

Why are cancer patients at greater risk for infection from the flu?

Cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy are vulnerable to infections when their white blood cell count is low. It’s important for cancer patients to understand how to prevent infections year-round, and especially during flu season.

In the winter months, cancer patients face an additional infection risk: influenza or flu. Like other infections, flu is more likely to cause serious complications in cancer patients because of their   weakened immune systems. These complications can include pneumonia, a disruption to their chemotherapy schedules, hospitalization and death.

Program to Prevent Infections in Cancer Patients Hits Home

Categories: Healthcare-associated infections, Patients

Lisa Splitlog

Lisa Splitlog

Guest Author – Lisa Splitlog  
Director, CDC Value Communications
CDC Foundation

As a CDC Foundation staff member, I’m always proud to share with my family and friends how we help advance the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) lifesaving work through public-private partnerships that help protect our nation’s health security and contribute to a healthy economy. It’s exciting and fulfilling to work for an organization that makes a difference in the lives of so many.

Over the last few months, though, one of our partnerships with Amgen focused on preventing infections in cancer patients has really hit home for me. I was recently diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer and am currently undergoing eight rounds of chemotherapy, which will be followed by surgery and radiation. It has been an overwhelming diagnosis that has impacted virtually every area of my life—from the wig I wear to cover my bald head to the fatigue and loss of appetite that I typically experience after each round of chemo. Someone compared chemo to “being hit by a bus,” and that’s exactly what it feels like.

 
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