July 25, 2019

God and Medicine Gave Me a Second Chance, and I’m Using It to Help Those Affected by Cancer.

By: Shelley Nolden

In the spring of 2011, I lost the baby with whom I was twenty weeks pregnant, and then almost died, more than once.

Our sweet, little girl received her angel wings while sucking her thumb (according to my last ultrasound).  My devote OBGYN didn’t have experience performing the procedure to remove her from my womb, so she sent me to an abortion clinic, where protesters lining the sidewalk urged me to change my mind.

“My baby’s already dead,” I told one with a sob.

“I am sorry for your loss,” she replied.

Soon, I would lose much more.  

“Your platelet count is dangerously low,” the abortion doctor told me. If I started bleeding during the operation, my body wouldn’t be able to form clots to stop the flow. “We need to get you to the hospital so I can have blood transfusions on hand.”

A week and many other symptoms later, a hematologist informed my husband and me that I had an acute form of leukemia. My cancer had killed our sweet little girl before we even had the chance to hear her borning cry. And, it was causing my bone marrow to produce platelets that wouldn’t mature, rendering them ineffective at clotting (the human body’s Band-Aid).

Fortunately, thank God, researchers had found a combination of drugs that make this form of leukemia highly curable, if the patient survives the highly-dangerous initial stage when their body isn’t manufacturing correctly-working platelets. 

“If you trip on the way to the bathroom, if you bump the guardrail on your bed, if your toddler knocks into you, you will bleed out internally and die,” said the oncologist at the cancer center where I’d been taken via ambulance. 

“Why didn’t I die during the procedure to remove my baby?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

Thank you, God, I whispered.

Around two weeks later, my liver began to form massive clots as my lungs were simultaneously filling with blood. The treatment for each of these problems would worsen the other. I was moved from the leukemia wing to the Intensive Care Unit. 

A large team of doctors and nurses huddled just out of my earshot, discussing my case.

Terrified, I laid there, holding my husband’s hand, too scared to find the words for a prayer.

A nurse approached.

“Am I going to die?”

She burst into tears and fled my bedside.

Late into that night, long after my husband had left to put our eighteen-month-old daughter to bed, I laid awake, sobbing.

Against the backdrop of the raspy breathing of a man, at least five decades older than me, in the neighboring bed, I prayed.

And as I prayed, a calmness descended upon me. I knew that if I died that night, I would be with our baby girl in heaven. And my husband would take care of our toddler here on Earth. 

I fell asleep mid-prayer.

The following morning, the warmth of sunlight on my face woke me. 

That is the closest I have ever felt to God.

Recently, Tom Freiling, the leader of Stop Cancer. Start Praying., sent me an article on supernatural and natural healing. 

I know that the targeted chemotherapy I received wiped out the cancer cells, and I also know that God was with me during those darkest moments. 

With this second chance at life, I have striven to be the best mother and wife I can be. But I believe I have another purpose: to help others affected by cancer. 

Faith + Science + Medicine = Hope.

It’s a beautiful equation that Tom Freiling penned for the header of Stop Cancer. Start Praying.’s Facebook community.

Two years ago, I became involved (as Chairwoman) in a new company called GRYT Health, whose mission is to bridge the divide between the healthcare industry and the humans—mothers, fathers, sons, daughters—that are affected by cancer. In an age of rapid scientific discovery, data mining, and artificial intelligence, the hugely important, unique experience of each person affected by cancer often is neglected. GRYT Health is focused on preserving the humanity in the healthcare system’s approach to treating disease. 

Spirituality is a huge part of what makes us human. For so many people, Faith plays a huge role in their cancer journey. And, I believe it can do even more to help end cancer once and for all.

Cancer research has made massive strides in the quest for cures, but science cannot do it alone. They need us to help them. Cancer cannot be cured solely in laboratories. The researchers need us for clinical trials, and they need to hear from us to develop better treatments with less side effects.

The Power of Prayer.

It’s been proven, and it’s incredible. 

I believe that God is listening to every one of the million prayers each day from the Stop Cancer. Start Praying. community.  

And, I can’t help but wonder if one of the ways He is answering those prayers is through the unity and empowerment of the group itself. More specifically: their ability to take action by helping the researchers.

Through prayer, a million of God’s children have come together. They hold the Faith in Tom’s equation. Amongst them are the people with experiences that Science is currently seeking so that the researchers can create better Medicine.

This community has the power, through God’s will, to meaningfully impact the quest for cures. I believe that by helping bringing together those affected by cancer with the researchers who need their input to develop cures, I can make the most of my second chance at life.

How You Can Help

Currently, GRYT Health has two open, compensated studies (please share with anyone you know who may be eligible and interested):

Bone Health Education Project:

Prostate cancer that has spread to the bone? Lung cancer that has spread to the bone? Living with multiple myeloma? Breast cancer that has spread to the bone? Tell us your experience with bone health during your cancer treatment and help improve bone health education for those living with cancer. Current patients or those 3 years or less into survivorship: answer our online questionnaire and get compensated. http://grythealth.com/beacon-study-main

Seeking Newly Diagnosed Patients:

Our research team is actively looking for newly diagnosed patients to participate in a compensated on-line project. (Eligibility requirements can be found at: https://grythealth.com/newly-diagnosed-study.)

July 17, 2019

Sex, Drugs and Cancer. My Life as a CEO.

I looked a friend in the eyes as she told me how much she doesn’t want to be alive anymore. How opening her eyes each day, makes her angry.

Someone confided in me that bulimia is their way of coping with the abrupt changes of vomiting through chemo to the rapid weight gain from steroids. And how those experiences are intertwined now.

A member of the community messaged me that reading my blog “sex got me through cancer” made them feel understood about something they are hiding for fear of not being accepted.

It was an intense month…

These and other conversations about infertility, genetic alterations, precision medicine, singing, crying, collapsing, finding a way to stand up… are my life now.

These are the real, the raw, the human stories of how cancer affects us. Most people (and I was one of them) keep these experiences locked inside. We don’t want to burden our family. We can’t admit them to ourselves.

When I started GRYT Health with a team of cancer survivors and caregivers, our mission was to create a place for people to have the tough conversations that the rest of the world doesn’t understand. Creating a place to let out the experiences of cancer that we didn’t need to share before cancer… but must now.

As we’ve grown GRYT (“grit”) to a million interactions among people facing cancer in 100 countries, I’ve learned how little I truly knew about cancer (and I’m an oncology researcher).

There is a movement happening. An increasing awareness of how our experiences need to be a part of treating and surviving disease. My team and I are part of that movement; of pushing healthcare forward. Of moving humanity forward.

In the work we do, we invite people to share how cancer affects them. We never reveal anyone’s identity… (I get asked that a lot too).

In these projects, we’ve learned how often people become addicted to pain medication during cancer.

We hear how much anxiety and depression make people feel ashamed or misunderstood. You’re cancer-free… why aren’t you happy? Or… you have a “good” cancer.

We’ve learned why people distrust Pharma companies or clinical trials. And what steps we can take to build trust.

We learn which people are informed about their treatment options and which aren’t.

It’s hard to live this life. I cry a lot. For miracles and for tragedies. I allow myself to cry, because not getting to feel alive would is far worse.

We do this research so we can provide, and help improve, what’s available to support people through cancer.

For me, admitting that I didn’t know if I was still a man after losing both testicles, my fertility, my sexuality and my identity to cancer… opened me up to realize I’m more of a man now than I was with those things.

We all, every one of us, have things we hide because we don’t think others will understand. Or, we hide them because we can’t accept them about our self.

I’m not here to force anyone to share things they’re not ready to. But if you’re curious what can happen when you start to let out those things you’ve been hiding, we’re here. A lot of us are here.

I won’t say it’s easy. It’s not. I will say that learning to accept myself is a miracle I thought was out of my grasp.

Helping others accept themselves, is a calling I never knew I’d find.

If I can ask you one thing, next time someone says something that makes you uncomfortable, welcome it.

That feeling of initial discomfort might give way to a new understanding about someone or about life. But even if it doesn’t change anything, it shows people they can be uncomfortable exploring life with you.

I’m proud to share some of the resources our community says help them the most; find their way to treatment, support, acceptance, life or faith.

You have the power. Your peers are here to help.

Julie Larson
Stop Cancer. Start Praying.
ReVital Cancer Rehabilitation.
GVCC - Everyone’s Experience Matters

Join the conversation.
I’ll meet you there,
Dave Fuehrer

July 16, 2019

Chemo Brain AppChat Supports National Cancer Institute Research

Join GRYT Health and the National Cancer Institute on Tuesday, July 23rd from 8-9 pm ET / 7-8 pm CT / 5-6 pm PT for a Chemo Brain AppChat hosted by Dr. Todd Horowitz. Participate LIVE in the conversation on the GRYT App, available to download for free in the Google Play and App Stores.

GRYT Health is helping to support National Cancer Institute Test My Brain! research examining cognition in people who have been affected by cancer. The Chemo Brain AppChat is part of this effort to create awareness around both the topic of chemo brain and current research. Keep reading to learn more about the National Cancer Institute’s current Test My Brain! study and how YOU can contribute to the way cognition is assessed and understood in people affected by cancer.

Test My Brain!

Why is the National Cancer Institute studying cognition in people affected by cancer?

More than 15 million people in the United States are affected by cancer each year, and in 2019 alone it is estimated that there will be 1,762,450 new cancer cases in the United States.1 Growing research indicates that cancer exposure and treatment can lead to long-lasting cognitive side effects, commonly referred to as “chemo brain”. Course, severity, and remediation of chemo brain are largely unknown. A major barrier to understanding cancer-related cognitive impairment or dysfunction is the lack of appropriate tests.

What is the goal of this study?

The overall purpose of this study is to identify new options for cognitive assessment that may help to improve our understanding of cognitive impairment in people affected by cancer. The National Cancer Institute hopes to identify new options for cognitive assessment by comparing cognitive tests and clinical neuropsychology tests for sensitivity and validity.

How many people will participate in this study?

Approximately 350 people affected by cancer will participate in this study.

Who can participate in this study?

You can participate in this study if:

  • You are between 18 and 89 years of age
  • You have a current or past cancer diagnosis

You cannot participate in this study if:

  • You are currently receiving cancer treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or surgery)
  • You have a disability that substantially interferes with your ability to complete neurocognitive tests

What does participation entail?

Participants that consent to participate in the study will be directed to the study via a link with a coded ID. The coded ID will allow you to access the study in more than one sitting.

The study takes approximately 65 minutes to complete. It contains 2 questionnaires about your background (demographic and cancer information) followed by 12 cognitive tests that look at your attention and cognitive style.

Upon completion of the study, you will receive the results. You will also be able to see how you compare to others who have completed the same tests.

If you are interested in participating in this study, this link will take you to study information and the online consent.

What are the benefits of participating?

You will receive no direct benefits from participating, aside from feedback on your performance following completion of the study.

No compensation will be provided for participating in this study.

Results from this study will allow cancer researchers to identify new options for cognitive assessment that may help to identify mechanisms that cause cognitive impairment in people affected by cancer.

What are the risks of participating?

This study involves minimal risk.

You may experience discomfort when completing the study questionnaires or experimental tasks; you are free to exit the study at any time.

There is a risk for the loss of confidentiality. The researchers have procedures in place to lessen the risk of this possibility.

Who can I contact if I have questions about this study?

Please contact Dr. Todd Horowitz (Todd.Horowitz@nih.gov) if you have study-related questions.

Interested in participating? Click below to test your brain!

Sources

1National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts: Cancer of Any Site. https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html. Accessed 10 July 2019.

What is an AppChat?

An AppChat is a free LIVE event that takes place on the GRYT App. You’ll find input and engagement from the community, along with expertise from speakers. AppChats are not only a great learning opportunity, but a way to connect with other members of the community like you. Check out GRYT Health on Facebook and Instagram for AppChat announcements. Questions? Email us at contacts@grythealth.com.

July 2, 2019

Chemo Brain is Real; Meet the Host of our Upcoming Chemo Brain AppChat, Dr. Todd Horowitz

Join us on Tuesday, July 23rd from 8-9 pm ET / 7-8 pm CT / 5-6 pm PT for a Chemo Brain AppChat in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute. Participate LIVE in the conversation on the GRYT App, which is available to download for free in the Google Play and App Store. Keep reading to learn about the content of this AppChat, interesting facts about cancer and cognition, and the host Dr. Todd Horowitz.

Yes, chemo brain is real! And, chemotherapy is not a prerequisite for it. If you or your loved one has received a cancer diagnosis, this AppChat is for you.

During this AppChat you will learn about:

  • What is chemo brain? How prevalent is it?
  • What do we mean by “cognitive problems”?
  • Are there ways to minimize chemo brain?
  • What is the National Cancer Institute doing to better understand chemo brain? How can you get involved in this research?

This AppChat on the GRYT App will be hosted by cognitive psychologist and vision scientist Dr. Todd Horowitz, PhD; he studies how our brains perceive the world around us. Dr. Horowitz is a Program Director in the Division Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the National Cancer Institute.

Here are some interesting facts about chemo brain from Dr. Horowitz:

  • Cognitive problems that survivors have reported include difficulties with concentration, memory, word-finding, learning new things, and getting lost.8
  • Many studies show that patients are already functioning below normal even before they start chemo treatments. This has lead researchers to start asking how cancer itself, and/or the stress of a cancer diagnosis can be affecting cognition.6
  • It’s not just chemo: radiation therapy, endocrine therapies, anti-angiogenic treatments, and targeted therapies have also been linked to cognitive difficulties.2, 4, 5, 7
  • Some genes may make people more susceptible to cancer-related cognitive impairments.1
  • Cancer survivors have a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.3

Let’s meet our host, Dr. Todd Horowitz!

Dr. Horowitz grew up in Toledo, Ohio and earned his BS from Michigan State University. After two decades of Midwestern winters, he moved to California to study for his PhD at UC Berkeley. From 1995 to 2012, he worked at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where he was Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology.

After nearly two decades in Massachusetts, he took a position at the National Cancer Institute, where he is now a Program Director in the Division Cancer Control and Population Sciences. His mission is to engage other cognitive psychologists and vision scientists with problems in cancer control. For example: 

  • How can we help radiologists read images more accurately?
  • How can we use visual media to help communicate ideas about risk and probability to cancer patients?
  • What is the nature of the cognitive difficulties experienced by cancer survivors, and how can we best measure these problems and use that knowledge to help survivors?

He has published over 70 peer-reviewed research papers, but has never been to Disneyland.

He lives in Washington, DC with his wife Laura. He enjoys cooking, roasts his own coffee, and makes his own yogurt, granola, vanilla extract, vinegar, tonic water, and ginger ale. He is a voracious reader of fiction, particularly contemporary fiction and science fiction. He tries to take advantage of the DC area’s vibrant theater scene. He also enjoys swimming, biking, and long walks around the city; he does not enjoy winter sports.

Sources

1Ahles TA, Li Y, McDonald BC, Schwartz GN, Kaufman PA, Tsongalis GJ, Moore JH, and Saykin AJ. Longitudinal assessment of cognitive changes associated with adjuvant treatment for breast cancer: the impact of APOE and smoking. Psycho-Oncology. 2014; 23(12): 1382-1390.

2Bender CM, Merriman JD, Gentry AL, Ahrendt GM, Berga SL, Brufsky AM, Casillo FE, Dailey MM, Erickson KI, Kratofil FM, McAuliffe PF, Rosenzweig MQ, Ryan CM, and Sereika SM. Patterns of change in cognitive function with anastrozole therapy. Cancer. 2015; 121(15): 2627-2636.

3Bowles EJA, Walker RL, Anderson ML, Dublin S, Crane PK, and Larson EB. Risk of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia following a cancer diagnosis. PLoS One. 2017; 12(6): e0179857.

4Gan HK, Bernstein LJ, Brown J, Ringash J, Vakilha M, Wang L, Goldstein D, Kim J, Hope A, O’Sullivan B, Waldron J, Abdul Razak AR, Chen EX, and Siu LL. Cognitive functioning after radiotherapy or chemoradiotherapy for head-and-neck cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011; 81(1): 126-134.

5Ganz PA, Petersen L, Castellon SA, Bower JE, Silverman DH, Cole SW, Irwin MR, and Belin TR. Cognitive function after the initiation of adjuvant endocrine therapy in early-stage breast cancer: an observational cohort study. J Clin Oncol. 2014; 32(31): 3559-3567.

6Janelsins MC, Heckler CE, Peppone LJ, Kamen C, Mustian KM, Mohile SG, Magnuson A, Kleckner IR, Guido JJ, Young KL, Conlin AK, Weiselberg LR, Mitchell JW, Ambrosone CA, Ahles TA, and Morrow GR. Cognitive complaints in survivors of breast cancer after chemotherapy compared with age-matched controls: an analysis from a nationwide, multicenter, prospective longitudinal study. J Clin Oncol. 2017; 35(5): 506-514.

7McGinty HL, Phillips KM, Jim HS, Cessna JM, Asvat Y, Cases MG, Small BJ, and Jacobsen PB. Cognitive functioning in men receiving androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Support Care Cancer. 2014; 22(8): 2271-2280.

8Myers JS. Cancer- and chemotherapy-related cognitive changes: the patient experience. Semin Oncol Nurs. 2013; 29(4): 300-307.

What is an AppChat?

An AppChat is a free LIVE event that takes place on the GRYT App. You’ll find input and engagement from the community, along with expertise from speakers. AppChats are not only a great learning opportunity, but a way to connect with other members of the community like you. Check out GRYT Health on Facebook and Instagram for AppChat announcements. Questions? Email us at contact@grythealth.com.

June 7, 2019

NEW: Managing Anxiety AppChat!

Join Speaker and LCSW, Julie Larson, on Tuesday, June 18th, from 8–9pm ET / 7–8pm CT / 5–6pm PT for our Managing Anxiety AppChat.

Whether you’ve been newly diagnosed, are a longterm survivor, or a busy caregiver, you can ask your questions, contribute to the conversation and hear from Julie, in the AppChat Discussion Chatroom of the GRYT App!

Julie Larson is a licensed clinical social worker who has spent her career working in oncology supportive care. She has a vibrant private practice working primarily with individuals under the age of 40 years facing an unexpected medical diagnosis. Julie is a frequent speaker — educator to both survivor and professional audiences on the impact of a serious illness at a young age and the innate capacity to live fully after a cancer diagnosis working alongside her clients and audiences, Julie helps people learn to identify inherent strengths and cultivate additional resilient behaviors to build confidence in the ability to navigate hardship. Her clinical work has led her to be a trusted advisor to many advocate organizations on strategies to improve and grow their young adult programming and she has been featured contributor for many online and print publications.

June 7, 2019

The beast is back, and it will eventually kill me.

Being terminal isn’t for the faint of heart.

On August 1, 2017, just weeks before the start of my last year in graduate school, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia — an aggressive blood cancer. I was immediately hospitalized for treatment and on November 7, 2017, I received cells from an anonymous donor for an allogeneic stem cell transplant, a hope for a cure.

Almost exactly one year from my first diagnosis, I was diagnosed again with AML on August 13, 2018. Having a relapse with this type of cancer is dangerous. It is a beast and it will stop at nothing to kill you. As a second line of defense, on October 31, 2018, I had another stem cell transplant but this time, I received cells from my father, another hope for a cure. However, less than five months after my second transplant, I relapsed again — the beast is back, and it will eventually kill me.

When the shock of “being terminal” wore off, my life got significantly better. We tell ourselves we want to live in the moment and this is my opportunity. I don’t have a timeline. I don’t know when I’ll be too sick to do what I want. For now, I wake up, I eat delicious foods, and I travel to as many places I possibly can. I want to be with the people I love, pet dogs, and learn to cook the perfect filet mignon. My life has never, and will never be defined by my diagnosis, but my diagnosis has helped me define and morph my life into something I never imagined it could be.

GRYT is what polishes the stones and makes the pearls. It’s the little pieces of dirt and grime, the hard times that annoy you, that if left alone, make something worth keeping.

GRYT is pain and suffering in any form that force change upon a person.

GRYT is at the crossroads of time and discomfort where you find growth and progress despite the circumstances.

June 7, 2019

Cancer Stories of Hope, Death, and Inspiration: Tell Your Story Event Videos, Pictures, and Stories Upcoming!

VP of Programs for GRYT, here. Many of you know me from interacting on the GRYT app. Full disclosure, I’m usually in my pajamas on my couch when we’re chatting.

It’s been an immense pleasure to get to know the GRYT community over the past couple years, and that was just through the screen of my phone! GRYT had the opportunity to up the ante the past two years at CancerCon to host our only in-person event to date: the Tell Your Story Open Mic Night.

This 90-minute experience for patients, survivors, caregivers, and professionals gives everyone both the opportunity and the platform to take two minutes to share with the audience anything they’d like about their story. And I mean, anything. There have been stories of hope, of death, inspiration, and a lot that made the whole room cry.

Two minutes doesn’t sound like much. I mean, what can you actually do in two minutes? Send a text? Pop something in the microwave? Set up a coffee pot if you have the beans pre-ground? Yet it’s 120 seconds of panic-stricken, sweat-inducing time for me. Public speaking isn’t my forte… even though I seem to find myself in repeat situations where I do it. There’s something about a microphone that terrifies me. Maybe it’s the awkward echoing that occurs as you say your first few words. Or the fumbling through adjustments to get the microphone at the right angle. The static feedback, sharp tones, and loud booms embody my nightmares. If we’re being honest here, I’m awkward and don’t recover easily.

This past April, we had twenty-eight people embrace those two minutes and share unbelievable stories of courage, defeat, sweat, tears, happy moments, and fear. Many shared with me how they were flat out scared beforehand. My go-to response is always an exasperated, You’ll be fiiiiine, knowing full well I wouldn’t be the one in a vulnerable position. Hypocritical, I know.

The first speaker who braved the podium is a melanoma patient, a single mom, and going on her second year of treatment. She shared the following story:

Somewhere Before and After

Before:

First, let me start with a spoiler. We’re all going to die.

I know, right?! I was living my life without this knowledge too.

October 23rd, 9:30 am

There is this moment

After the biopsy. Before the results.

Cancer purgatory. In which I both

Have cancer and do not yet have cancer.

Schrödinger’s Cancer

Living and Dying. Simultaneously.

October 30th, 5:17 pm.

After:

Do you know how many Cinnamon rolls I’ve justified eating because I have cancer?

Except I’m not on death row planning my last meal.

And you have to find a way to live in the space in between living and dying. Not as an excuse but as permission.

You spend a lot of time on pause for someone whose life suddenly has a big question mark after it. You’d think living would hurry up for the dying.

She gave me a lot to think about. My brain immediately took me to lecturing myself about how every day is a gift and need to actually take vacations and leave my phone behind. Food for thought.

Following her were twenty-seven other courageous people. Their stories embodied the authentic truth that is cancer. Among them, a speaker from Australia, an oncology social worker, and a caregiver whose daughter had traveled with her. There were students and grieved speakers whose loved one had been taken by cancer.

A young adult who had just quit his job and then subsequently been diagnosed; a father who was a doctor and had to give the news to his daughter that she had cancer. An app user, a survivor herself, had lost a close friend to cancer earlier this year. A son who had to translate to his parents in Spanish that he was just diagnosed with cancer. Probably the most memorable was a set of twins; one terminal and the other, her caregiver, who read her sister’s carefully articulated eulogy. Everyone’s story equally as touching and valuable to hear as the last.

The audience that slowly grew over those ninety minutes probably fascinated me the most. Without knowing each other, they laughed, cried, and cheered in unison. Myself included. The speakers’ triumphs, defeats, and frustrations mirrored those of the audience members. The harmony among the crowd came from the commonality of cancer. These weren’t expert speakers trying to push fundraising initiatives or personal agendas. They were normal people, just trying to live their lives when cancer was suddenly dropped onto their laps.

Over the upcoming weeks, GRYT will be posting these stories. Through videos and pictures, you can immerse yourself in the same experience that the twenty-eight people shared with the in-person audience.

I challenge you to watch every single one. Allow yourself to embrace the emotion and get inspired. Then hop on the app and share your story, share a low point you had or a high you were on after a personal triumph. Share your advice, your experiences, and your own emotions. Or even just let that speaker know how much it meant hearing their story to you. They had the courage to move past the awkwardness of the open mic and their maybe sweaty hands, to work through the momentary panic to share that piece with the audience in that room and several others, like you, here on the internet.

This was our second year hosting the Tell Your Story Open Mic Night and it was just as unique as the first one. The stories touched my heart along with the people sharing them. I look forward to seeing the years progress forward into more stories, more inspiration, more authenticity.

Your voice could be the next voice to inspire others. GRYT will be hosting this same event during GVCC. The good news? You’re off the hook for the awkward microphone transition.

May 29, 2019

Approach a Breast Cancer Diagnosis with a Sense of Humor!

Rhayne’s Story of GRYT


My cancer story was actually quite simple but nonetheless, shocking. You see, I have been fundraising voluntarily since 1976 because I believe we should take care of each other. I am a full-time Blues vocalist and my shameless begging style to spread awareness worked magic during performances.

No, it did not run in my family, no I never drank, used drugs or smoked, no
I didn’t eat sugar, yes I took care of my body…yet it showed up anyway. Oh boy. Since I have been telling people for centuries to be informed and NOT live in fear, I was now in a position to walk my talk. And I did. I HAD to!

After a “concerning spot” appeared on my MRI, I had a biopsy on Thursday, April 28, 2011 and I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 4:11pm on Friday, April 29, 2001 in Scottsdale, Arizona while visiting two great friends. Since my hubby was in Las Vegas where we lived, I called and told him the news. Then I called all my friends to make sure they, too, were aware. Then I went
to an art party with my two great friends. On Saturday, April 30th, I went shopping all day, and on Sunday, May 1st, I laid by their pool in their gorgeous sanctuary backyard; and Monday, May 2nd, at 7 am, I was looking at my doctor and her scroll of things I needed to do before a lumpectomy. I didn’t live in Arizona, but I got out my GPS, went to every place on her list for
blood work, tests, oncology, etc., finished it up on Tuesday, May 3rd and on the morning of Wednesday, May 4th, I was on her surgery table getting that lumpectomy. Oh yeah…Thursday, May 5th, I was heavily bandaged and out running my 2-mile trek like usual.

With my lumpectomy surgery complete (and with help from the biopsy bruising), I now had a greenish-black breast that I affectionately named My Franken-Booby! I was now on track for 45 rounds of radiation, no chemo, lots of scans and, after 6 weeks of radiation, watching the flesh decompose under my right armpit. I just have to say that it was bizarre, unbelievable and a
little funny in a sick sort of way. It smelled like rotting raw chicken meat, funky gym shorts, and stinky armpit, and made it impossible to wear a bra. So I didn’t. And I cut the right side out of every shirt, went places and told them I was “an Imhotep mummy (LOL!) so please forgive my rotting, stinky armpit and my open to the public boob!”.

Most people looked really concerned once they heard the word cancer but laughed once they realized I had a pretty good sense of humor about my status. Yep…got the chance to use my heal your heart through laughter & prunes inspirational message on myself!

So, there you have it. It’s not really a giant story compared to so many others I have read, heard or seen but, it keeps reminding me why I will always continue to fight for breast cancer awareness, inspiring others at all times and the strength of positive thoughts and humor.


GRYT is remembering that breast cancer does NOT discriminate when it comes to race, age or sex!
GRYT is turning the BEST medical team into lifelong friends because they really do care!
GRYT is not letting cancer, or ANY illness, define who you are!!
GRYT is having a husband who stands in any and every storm with you to get the job done!
GRYT is knowing that the absolute worst cancer is the one of the mind!
GRYT is knowing that my voice is a God gift to always be used as a blessing to myself and others.


Facebook: Rhayne Thomas and The Lady And The Vamp
Twitter: @RhayneThomas @PrunesAreSexy
Instagram: @PrunesAreSexy, @TheLadyAndTheVamp
Email: PrunesAreSexy@hotmail.com


Like what you’re reading? Follow GRYT Health on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter for more inspiring news and stories!

May 29, 2019

What You Can Expect During Our Cancer and Exercise AppChat!

Moderated by Stephen Cerne, Owner/President of Fully Functional Fitness, Inc.


Join us on June 4th, from 8–9pm ET / 7–8pm CT / 5–6pm PT for our first Cancer and Exercise AppChat! Caregiver and Exercise Expert, Stephen Cerne from Fully Functional Fitness will be leading the discussion on the GRYT App. We’ll be chatting on everything from guidelines, to exercise programs, and different ways to alter and adjust exercise to accommodate different needs.


What we’ll be covering:

What makes up a well-rounded exercise program?
• Cardiovascular-Respiratory
• Muscular Strength & Endurance
• Flexibility
• Balance

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Guidelines on physical activity:
•How does one determine exercise intensity?
•How to determine your maximum HR
•Tools for use in determining intensity

Specific Guidelines
•Cardiovascular-Respiratory
•Muscular Strength & Endurance
•Flexibility
•Balance
•How does one alter an exercise program?

Factors:
•F- Frequency (How often)
•I- Intensity
•T- Type/Modality (Ex. Walking, biking, swimming)
•T- Time/Duration (length of workout)

Get to know Stephen by reading his bio here!


Like what you’re reading? Follow GRYT Health on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter for more inspiring news and stories!

May 28, 2019

GRYT Health Hosts Inaugural 2019 Global Virtual Cancer Conference (GVCC19) to Drive Collaboration and Improve Cancer-Related Outcomes and Experiences

 ~ First Conference of Its Kind to Bring Together Patients, Survivors, Caregivers, Non-Profits, Healthcare Providers, Hospital Systems and Industry Professionals ~

~ ’Everyone’s Experience Matters’ Theme Aims to Make the Ideas and Experiences of People Impacted by Cancer Central to Future Healthcare Innovation, Legislation and Decision-Making ~

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 28, 2019 – GRYT Health (“GRYT”), an award-winning, mobile app-based social community for people affected by cancer, today announced it will host the first-ever Global Virtual Cancer Conference (GVCC19) on October 5, 2019. GVCC19 will give patients, caregivers, advocates and healthcare decision makers from around the globe a “hands-on” opportunity to collaborate towards creating a new patient-centric framework, through a full-day of interactive virtual sessions hosted on the GRYT digital platform. The conference aims to elevate the voices of those who have been profoundly impacted by cancer, to ensure their critically important and valuable ideas and experiences are central to future healthcare innovations, legislation and decisions.

"Traditionally, treatment decisions have been made without fully considering the patient and caregiver perspectives. When I was diagnosed with cancer twice in my twenties, I remember how anxious and overwhelmed I felt, constantly wondering if I was making the right decisions – if these were really my only options,” said David Fuehrer, CEO of GRYT Health. “Through the Global Virtual Cancer Conference (GVCC19), we are creating a level playing field where everyone in the cancer community is able to work together towards improving the experiences of people facing cancer today and developing solutions that make healthcare and information more accessible to patients and caregivers.”

Leading companies, non-profits, patient advocates and influencers including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Family Reach will be providing expert insights, case studies, and keynotes focused on patient-centered drug development, clinical trials, psycho-social issues and quality of life. Through GVCC19, patients and caregivers will have a platform to share their ideas and experiences on the topics that are most important to them.

“We look forward to collaborating with GRYT Health and engaging with patients and caregivers in a new way through GVCC19,” said Cathy Trzaskawka, head, global advocacy at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Patients are at the center of everything we do and by focusing on their needs, and the needs of their families, we maintain a sense of urgency that drives us to work smarter and faster. Our patients know their life and their goals better than anyone else, so engaging them at the right time, with the right content, and on the right platform will allow us to use those insights to create more solutions for those facing serious disease with limited or no options.”

GVCC19 will be hosted on the GRYT app and a desktop virtual platform for a full-day of live, interactive programming. GVCC19 offers a way for everyone to participate in and enjoy the same benefits of a physical conference, without the travel and expense that can often place a significant burden on people dealing with cancer.

“Many families facing cancer are confronted with financial barriers that force them to make dangerous choices, such as whether to pay for treatment, transportation or child care. GVCC19 provides our families with a unique opportunity to connect with others and gain access to important information without the added burden of travel and expense,” said Carla Tardif, CEO of Family Reach. "We are thrilled to partner with GRYT Health and to be a part of GVCC19 to help bring attention and support to the millions of families who are struggling financially simply because they are trying to care for themselves or a family member.“

ABOUT GVCC19

At the 2019 Global Virtual Cancer Conference (GVCC19), patients, caregivers, healthcare providers and industry leaders will lead interactive discussions on topics that are changing the future of cancer care. Through virtual sessions hosted on GRYT’s platform, conference attendees will address topics critical to improving patient equality in cancer care and collaborating to understand and solve for the issues most important to the cancer community. A specific focus will be placed on patient-centered drug development, access, clinical trials, psycho-social issues and quality of life.

GVCC19 is committed to improving the way healthcare consumers learn about and interact with brands whose values align with theirs; not just in managing disease, but in living their lives. To reflect this, GVCC19 participants will have the opportunity to engage with brands and their content through an interactive virtual exhibit hall. Participants are also encouraged to visit the GVCC19 “Virtual Clinical Trial Fair” where participants can learn more about clinical trials that may be appropriate for them. To learn more or register for GVCC19, please visit www.gvcc19.com

ABOUT GRYT HEALTH

GRYT Health is an award-winning, social community and research platform founded by cancer survivors and caregivers. Through GRYT’s technology, people affected by cancer are able to connect to others with similar experiences, access information that is tailored to their specific needs/diagnosis and collaborate with the world's largest pharmaceutical companies to provide insights that help these firms improve quality of care.

GRYT’s community of patients, survivors, medical professionals, researchers and advocates, extending across all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 100 countries worldwide, have participated in almost one million interactions to date. The company's research initiative, The GRYT Project, bridges the communication gap that has traditionally prevented the cancer community and industry from optimizing care through an equal partnership. GRYT values and partners with socially-conscious brands and brand experiences that inspire people to live according to their own standards. The company is headquartered in Rochester, NY. For more information, please visit www.grythealth.com. To download the app, please visit www.grythealth.com/app.To join The GRYT Project, please visit www.grythealth.com/the-gryt-project.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Vikki Christian
424-610-1241
vikki@grythealth.com