Cancer Care During Extreme Weather: Precautions and Considerations

Blizzard on the road.With winter upon us, it is important for cancer patients to be prepared in the case of severe weather. During severe weather, such as a blizzard, it may be difficult to get to Weill Cornell Medicine. All of our physician practices have coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so if you have any urgent questions or concerns, please call the regular number and you will be able to reach the on-call physician.

If you are due for an infusion or injection during an episode of severe weather, we can discuss the risks/benefits of finding a safe way to get to the treatment center vs. delaying treatment vs. finding an alternative temporary treatment center.

Storms can cause travel delays, especially on roads, so consider allowing for extra time and taking public transportation whenever possible. Drive slowly, and remember that injuring yourself in an accident may also impact your cancer care. It may also be an option for you to stay in a hotel near the hospital to avoid hazardous road conditions.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell Medical Center is open to serve patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the event that the outpatient center is closed or unavailable due a natural disaster (which is rare), the emergency department will likely be open.

If you are uncertain about travel conditions, the emergency hotline is 212-746-WCMC (9262). Travel alerts for road conditions are released by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). If you are having a medical emergency or need an ambulance, dial 212-472-2222 or 911.

For people undergoing cancer treatment, blizzards and cold winter weather can impact more than just the ability to travel to treatment. Patients are more susceptible to hypothermia since side effects of treatment can be dehydration, fatigue, and anemia. Patients undergoing or having previously received certain types of chemotherapy can experience extreme sensitivity to the cold. Other chemo patients can actually feel less sensitivity to the cold and a decreased sensation in the hands and feet. This may lead to a major problem because it puts you at risk for frostbite since you are unaware of how cold it really is. Also, patients with lower than normal amount of platelets in the blood, might result in more serious bruising or bleeding with an injury or fall.

It’s important that patients feel safe and prepared to “weather the storm” during severe weather, including a loss of power or blackout. When weather or other issues can be anticipated, make sure you have enough medication and food/supplies on hand.

In general, but especially after severe inclement weather, be sure to communicate with your physician and healthcare team if anything out of the ordinary happened. For example, close the communications loop if you ended up going somewhere else for treatment or ran out of medication. This way we can make sure we update your medical records.

Most importantly, trust your instincts and don’t panic in bad weather. Wishing everyone a very safe rest of winter!

Movember 2016

Movember_Drs Nanus Beltran TagawaFor the 7th year in a row, we are proud to participate in a month-long campaign to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues each November, also known as Movember.

The Movember Campaign helps men live happier, healthier and longer lives through investing in prostate cancer and testicular cancer screening and research, as well as mental health issues.

What’s Movember?

The initiative started in Australia in 2003, when two friends decided to try to bring back the moustache trend by growing out moustaches during the month of November. The following year, after they realized that this facial hair was quite the conversation-starter, they decided to channel that energy to raise money for prostate cancer research.

Over the next few years, both the moustaches and audiences grew. The fundraiser gained traction in Australia and New Zealand. In 2007, Movember officially launched globally with partnerships in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Spain, all with one cause in mind – to change the face of men’s health – literally and figuratively through increased awareness and funds.

movember_group_wgcToday, more than 5 million “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” from more than 20 countries around the world have collectively raised over $700 million dollars to fund 1,200 men’s health projects.

How can you get involved?

A number of different ways!

  1. Join our Movember team. Our team, the Wild Weill Cornell Mos, is committed to raising awareness and funds for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts.
  2. Grow a moustache. How low can you grow? Make a statement! Commit to going razor-free and growing a moustache in solidarity this month. It’s a great conversation starter to encourage friends and family members to donate to Movember.
  3. Get moving! Take the Move challenge and increase your physical activity. You can “Fly for the Guys” by teaming up with us at two special Flywheel spin classes to benefit the Wild Weill Mos Movember Team. Never taken a spin class before? This is the perfect opportunity to try it out, and there will be many beginners. Mark your calendars and sign up today:
  1. Make a donation. Donate now to support our team.
  2. Get checked. Research shows that many men only go to the doctor when they’re sick. In honor of Movember, make an appointment to visit your doctor for an annual physical or encourage a loved one to visit the doctor. Many diseases can be prevented or at least treated when caught early, including cancer.
  3. Socialize and celebrate with us at Draught 55 on Thursday, December 1st. 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales will be matched and donated to Movember.

What type of research has been funded by Movember?

Movember is committed to funding research that will halve the number of deaths from prostate and testicular cancer by 2030. The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF), one of our partners in research, is partnered with Movember to distribute funds to the most worthy scientific teams and projects.

pcf-retreatWe at Weill Cornell Medicine have been fortunate to receive many of these grants over the past several years. Some of these recent Movember-PCF Challenge Grants have funded our research to study:

  • Blood tests that assess the tumor’s circulating DNA to predict reasons for treatment resistance
  • Circulating tumor cell (CTC) tests to predict which patients are more or less likely to respond to hormonal therapy or chemotherapy
  • Assessing the genome of “primary” tumors (i.e. the initial tumors in the prostate) compared to advanced, treatment resistant tumors
  • Evaluating inflammation in adipose (fat) tissue around the prostate, which is associated with tumor growth.

Learn more about the cutting-edge research funded by the PCF-Movember Challenge Grants in 2016, 2015 and 2014.