Are You a Veteran & Applying for Disability?

Then you should know about the ABA Veterans Claims Assistance Network . . .

The American Bar Association Veterans’ Claims Assistance Network (ABA VCAN), along VCANwith the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is providing a program where volunteer lawyers work with unrepresented veterans with pending disability claims.

With the help of legal assistance, veterans will complete their claim packages for expedited review by the VA and will receive disability compensation.

The ABA’s goal is to help address the VA claims backlog and get veterans the disability benefits to which they are entitled.

For more information about ABA VCAN, click here.

What kind of water should I drink?

by Julie Lanford, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN
Infused-Water-in-Jars-landscape-reshoot-Photo-by-Vanessa-Greaves-e1434731790958
First off, it’s important to remember that we need to drink fluids to keep our bodies hydrated. In general, our bodies simply need plain water. It’s our taste buds (and sometimes our emotions!) that want something different!
 
Just because your water is clear, does not mean it is healthy! The majority of flavored waters that are available, such as vitamin or sparking waters, are filled with sugar and artificial sweeteners. The best way to know is to simply read the ingredient list. 
 
Unfortunately, even the “vitamin water” brand is not just water with added vitamins. There are many ingredients in these beverages that have no benefit to your health. To see a full list of these ingredients, check out my post “Is Vitamin Water Healthy? Plus a Recipe to Make Your Own” (link here: http://www.cancerdietitian.com/2011/07/is-vitamin-water-healthy-plus-a-recipe-to-make-your-own.html). Most of the added vitamins in these drinks come from synthetic forms and do not provide you the same benefit as you would by eating food. 
 
Remember that drinking any form of plain water is better than choosing a soda or other sweetened beverage! Luckily, there is a way to drink delicious flavored water without being at risk of consuming unnecessary additives.
 
Make your own infused water!
 
Here are a few tips to get you started making your own infused water. Not only is it nutritious, it’s also really pretty!!
 
First, you choose the flavor. There are limitless possibilities! You can choose fresh fruit flavors such as strawberry, orange, or blueberry or you can choose a vegetable-based flavored water by adding cucumber, beets, or celery. 
 
Herbs and spices such as basil, rosemary, and cinnamon can also be used to add some extra flavor. I think the best flavored water comes from a combination of all of the above! Making your own infused water gives you the opportunity to select the flavors that you like best and allows you to individually customize each beverage you make.
 
The directions for making your own “vitamin water” are very simple. 
1.     Choose your fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs. 
2.     Make sure you thoroughly wash your produce.
3.     Slice or cut your produce however you like it. The more surface area of the produce that touches the water, the better!
4.     Add all the ingredients into a pitcher filled with water.
5.     Let it soak in the refrigerator overnight. 
6.     Enjoy!
You also want to make sure to use cold water. Hot water can make produce fall apart and compromise some of the nutrients. Also if you want an extra “vitamin boost”, feel free to eat the produce!

Unflavored sparkling water is equivalent to flat water. One of my favorite ways to have a “special drink” is to mix 1 part juice to 2 parts sparkling water. Have it over ice, with a slice of lime and an umbrella and you’re really feeling good!!

The Cancer Dietitian BOTTOM LINE: Drink water without added sweeteners (artificial or natural) most of the time. Have processed water drinks (sodas, diet sodas, “vitamin waters”, etc) 2 times a week or less. If you like a little flavor to your water, find ways to add flavor with fruits or vegetables!

Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN, is a member of Triage Cancer’s Speakers Bureau and wellness director for Cancer Services, a non-profit in Winston-Salem, NC. She is a registered dietitian, licensed nutritionist and a board certified specialist in oncology nutrition. Lanford developed www.CancerDietitian.com a healthy living web site for Cancer Services that translates evidence based nutrition guidelines into consumer friendly messages for everyday life.

Medical Marijuana: A Guide to Navigating Employment

A few months ago, we posted a blog about the legal and practical issues of medical Triage Cancer Blog Medical Marijuanamarijuana. This blog follows up on the challenges facing employees who are using medical marijuana to address their side effects from cancer treatment.

Legal Cases, Updated Laws, and Employment Issues

Currently, 25 states and the District of Columbia allow for the use of medical marijuana. In an article written by Jon Woodruff, a legislative attorney for the National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws, it is estimated that about 70-80% patients using marijuana are between the ages of 18 and 60. These numbers indicate that many of those patients are currently in the workforce. With more and more state laws increasing the availability of medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, new legal issues are occurring at the workplace between employers and employees.

Despite the state-by-state legalization, the fact remains that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. This makes treading the employment waters very tricky for both employers and employees.

This leads to the biggest question, can an employee be terminated or have a job offer rescinded based on their use of medical marijuana? The answer is . . . it depends. Under most state laws, an employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana, but there are some exceptions to this.

Breakdown of Requirements for Employers to Accommodate Employee Use of Medical Marijuana by State

  States
State law does not explicitly address employer accommodation Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Vermont, and the District of Columbia
Employers are NOT required to accommodate Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington
Employers cannot discriminate against or terminate a registered patient (other than a federal employee) Arizona, Delaware, Minnesota, and Connecticut*
Employers are required to make attempt to accommodate use Nevada, New York, and Illinois
Pending bills requiring more employer accommodation Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, and Rhode Island

*Connecticut statute does not address accommodation, but states that employer cannot refuse to hire based on status as a “patient.”

Court cases in New Mexico, Colorado, and Oregon aren’t making it any easier to understand when and where it is acceptable to work as an employee using medical marijuana. In New Mexico, a court ruled that it would not require employers to accommodate the use of “a drug that is still illegal under federal law” (Garcia v. Tractor Supply Co.). Meanwhile, in Colorado, one of the states that has legalized marijuana for recreational use, a court ruled that termination of an employee is valid because marijuana is still classified as illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act (Coats v. Dish Network). Brandon Coats, a quadriplegic, licensed to use medical marijuana after his painkillers used to treat muscle spasms had lost effectiveness, was terminated from his job when failing a mandatory drug test. The termination was deemed valid in Colorado’s Supreme Court. Finally, in a court case in Oregon, a state that does not require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use, an arbitrator reinstated a Lane county employee that was fired for medical marijuana use outside of the workplace, while off-duty.

A Lack of Research Findings

Medical marijuana has become a hot topic for legalization for a number of different reasons. The reported ability to help reduce pain and nausea and to increase appetite are the major contributing factors to its promotion, particularly in the cancer community. However, despite the attention, the research on marijuana’s ability to control pain, nausea, and stimulate appetite is severely lacking. In an article published in Cure Magazine, the author summarizes what studies have been conducted and why it has been so difficult to develop better studies in recent years. The major issue facing medical marijuana research is the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance with “no medical uses,” under the Controlled Substances Act. This makes it difficult to get funding or materials to conduct research or a clinical trial. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians have both published articles attempting to summarize the research that has been done, but combined found a total of nine studies that looked into the use of inhaled cannabis for pain and even less (only two) met inclusion criteria for studying the effect of inhaled cannabis on chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. While each of these studies did find that marijuana use decreased the effects of pain, the study size and duration leaves much to be desired in terms of power. Outside of established medical journals, trials have found that smoking cannabis does help chemotherapy patients with controlling nausea and vomiting better than a “no treatment” test group and the ingestion of a purified active ingredient of cannabis.

There are other concerns about the use of medical marijuana, including a lack of regulation of quality, dosage, and a lack of understanding of how it may interact with other treatments, such as chemotherapy.  Testing of available medical marijuana has found fungus, bacteria, and other ingredients which could be unhealthy.

The minimal research that has been done so far does show promising results with data concluding that inhaled cannabis helps with pain, nausea and vomiting, and increased appetite in chemotherapy and AIDS patients. Current FDA approval exists for pill forms of medical marijuana in Marinol (dronabinol) and Cesamet (nabilone), for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in patients with AIDS or who are undergoing chemotherapy, respectively. However, we now need higher quality studies of medical marijuana to fully understand its benefits and determine whether the benefits do outweigh the risks, such as paranoia, anxiety, irritability, lethargy, acute increase in blood pressure, cognitive impairment, and other possible side effects.

What Does This Mean for Employees and Patients?

As an employee, it is important to make sure that you know your employer’s policies on drug use. Some employers have a “zero tolerance” policy, because it makes managing employees simple or it may be a company that is in multiple states. Other companies take a more relaxed approach, by delegating certain “safety-sensitive” positions that do allow for termination if an employee is found under the influence. For example, you probably wouldn’t want your school bus drivers or your airline pilots to come to work under the influence.  Employers also need to know their legal responsibilities under relevant state laws or they may find themselves in violation of disability laws for not reasonably accommodating their employees. As always, if you have any questions, it is best to seek legal advice from a professional in your area.

The Danger of Fixed Indemnity Plans: But Not in the Eyes of the Court

A recent court ruling declared that consumers must have the option of buying certain types of health insurance that do not meet the standards of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA).

One of the many ways in which the ACA tried to protect consumers, was by not allowing Cautioninsurance companies to sell “fixed indemnity” health insurance plans as a stand-alone product. A fixed indemnity plan is a type of health insurance that pays consumers a fixed amount for each service, regardless of the actual cost of the medical care received. For someone received treatment for a cancer diagnosis, these plans can prove to be very dangerous, leaving patients with huge out-of-pocket costs. However, these plans do give people the freedom to visit their preferred doctor or hospital, without having to stay within a defined “network” of providers.

In 2014, the Obama Administration enforced rules that such insurance could only be sold to those with more extensive coverage; where the fixed indemnity plan was meant as a supplemental policy, not as a “substitute for major medical coverage.” The Administration was concerned that allowing consumers to buy fixed indemnity insurance plans as a stand-alone product gives people “the mistaken belief that it provides comprehensive coverage.”

And we have certainly seen that to be true. Marketing of these plans can be deceptive, and many people do not realize that the policy they have bought will not cover much of their medical expenses, leaving them with enormous medical bills, and only bankruptcy ahead of them. In some circumstances, people have not been able to get the medical care they need because they cannot afford it. In addition, because these are limited policies, hey do not meet the requirement that most people in the United States have health insurance coverage, leaving people with an additional penalty to pay come tax time.

Despite these issues, the Court disagreed, ruling that the Obama administration could not restrict the sale of these plans. The Court agreed with the plaintiffs in the case, who felt that because fixed indemnity plans are a branch under catastrophic health insurance (policies that are intended to protect you from unexpected health costs), these plans could be a valuable option for those who have incomes that fall in the coverage gap: they make too much for Medicaid, but too little for financial assistance in the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Although the court ruling may provide more health insurance options for consumers, it poses hidden risks. Consumers with fixed indemnity insurance generally have fewer protections, meaning that they can still have pre-existing condition exclusions, caps on benefits, no access to free preventive services, and the policy does not have to cover a certain percentage of medical costs. In addition, because the stand-alone insurance has a fixed amount for each service, it may leave consumers with a large bill to cover the difference, depending on their health needs. And, despite the lower monthly costs, there is usually a higher annual deductible. Thus, it’s imperative that consumers are not only aware of the costs, but also the protections each respective plan provides for them.

Triage Cancer is hosting a webinar on October 18, 2016, on “Choosing Wisely: How to Pick Health Insurance Plans.”  Register Here. In the meantime, there are other webinars available for watching at any time here.

New Triage Cancer Resource: Quick Guide to Clinical Trials

For many reasons, becoming a participant in a clinical trial is surrounded by a great deal of Triage Cancer Clinical Trials Quick Guideconfusion. Triage Cancer wants to provide you with information about participating in a clinical trial, understand insurance coverage for clinical trials, and help you find trials that may be available to you.

Triage Cancer has created a new resource: a Quick Guide to Clinical Trials.  The Quick Guide includes information about clinical trials and resources, including:

Finding a Clinical Trial

The first step in your journey is to find a clinical trial. It is important that if you are interested in enrolling in a trial, you work closely with your health care team. Your health care team can help you identify any trials that may be a good fit for you. Sometimes, your first choice for a health care team may not be involved in any ongoing clinical trials, if this is the case and you are still interested in participating, you may choose to seek a second opinion from another health care provider.

You can search for active clinical trials through the American Cancer Society (ACS) Matching Service, the National Cancer Institute, or the National Institutes of Health.

Qualifying for a Clinical Trial

Another thing to keep in mind is that even if you are eligible for a clinical trial, it does not always mean that you will be accepted. Clinical trials must enroll patients that will not skew the final result. This may mean that you have already used a different treatment making you ineligible, the trial may already have enough patients enrolled, or you may not meet other trial criteria. However, if you are still interested in receiving a specific trial treatment, you can request an exception, but your results will not be included in the research study.

Insurance Coverage for a Clinical Trial

Another aspect of clinical trials to consider is whether or not your health insurance will cover treatment or parts of treatment and what your out-of-pocket costs may be. The ACA requires most private insurance to pay for the routine costs involved in your care. These costs include office visits, blood tests, and imaging scans that you would receive if you were already receiving the standard of care. Additionally, insurance companies cannot drop your coverage or refuse to let you take part in a clinical trial. In some cases, however, clinical trials may require additional screenings and tests that your insurance company may not cover.

Clinical trials will often cover these costs. Insurance companies are also not required to cover care from out of network providers or hospitals. The key to avoiding any surprise out-of-pocket costs is to talk with your health care team and your insurance company directly.

For more information, visit our Clinical Trials Resource Page.

Triage Cancer is also hosting a Clinical Trials 101 Webinar on August 31, 2016.

This webinar will be presented by Dr. Susan Love and Monica Bryant, Esq., and will provide tips on how to find clinical trials, dispel common myths, and explain insurance coverage for clinical trials. More information and registration.

Triage Life: Part 3 –Taming Time Around the House

Cleaning is one of those activities that most people don’t enjoy. 

During cancer treatment, you may have a weaker immune system, which means that Triage Cancer Blog - Home Cleaningavoiding germs is crucial. One way to cut down on germs in your house is a no-shoes-in-the-house rule. A scary number of germs hide on the bottoms of your shoes and end up in your home.  You can keep a basket or a shoe shelf by your front or back door.  You can also clean the bottom of shows with antibacterial wipes (e.g., Clorox wipes). If you have pets that are tracking in dirt and germs, there are Pet-E-Pure all-natural antibacterial wipes ($10 for 100, pet-e-pure.com).

Here are more everyday cleaning tricks, brought to you by Real Simple that will make life easier, while saving you time and money:

http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/everyday-cleaning-tricks

If you don’t have the energy to clean, think about asking a family member or friend to help.  There are also organizations that may help for free, like Cleaning for a Reason.

Always feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day?

Watch this 30 second video for some time-saving tips in the Kitchen:

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/time-saving-kitchen-tricks

Have you ever thought to pin your socks together with a safety pin before washing them? Eliminate all that time searching for the missing sock!

How about hanging your Christmas tree lights vertically instead of around the tree?

Here are 30 more time-saving tips in the kitchen, around the house, and at the doctor’s office: http://www.realsimple.com/magazine-more/ten-years-of-time-saving-ideas.

And, here are new uses for old things, which can save you time and money:

http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/home-organizing-new-uses-for-old-things/time-saving-new-uses-old-things/more.

Why a Clinical Trial May Matter to You

Triage Cancer - What is a Clinical TrialIf you or a loved one have started considering treatment options, or if you are considering making some changes to your treatment, you may want to know more about participating in a clinical trial.

What is a clinical trial?

A clinical trial is a research study that “prospectively assigns human participants or groups of humans to one or more health-related interventions to evaluate the effects on health outcomes.” Practically speaking, clinical trials are research studies that find and test new treatments or procedures (interventions). Without clinical trials, we would not have the medical and scientific advances that we have today.

The most important first step is to understand your diagnosis. Make sure you discuss with your doctor and other members of your health care team the type of cancer you have, the stage of the cancer, and what all your possible treatment options might be.

There are a few things you should know about clinical trials. First, you should know that a clinical trial is an investigational treatment or procedure. This can mean that you may be receiving something not approved by the FDA or is not approved for the specific treatment you are receiving. This does not mean that a clinical trial is a “last resort,” many clinical trials are already in place because research indicates they are likely better than the standard of care. Clinical trials aim to improve the current standard of care, and as a participant, you will receive at least the current standard of care for your diagnosis. For some patients, this means you will get an excellent level of care because they are being carefully monitored and evaluated. But what if I get the “placebo?” When we are talking about cancer care, you will not be receiving “no treatment.” You will receive the current standard of care, which means that you will receive at a minimum what other patients facing the same diagnosis will receive.

Have a conversation with your healthcare providers. If you are interested in learning what clinical trials may be available to you, ask your doctor or other members of your health care team if they offer any trials or if you are eligible as a candidate for any current clinical trials. If you are really interested in getting involved in a clinical trial and your doctor does not have any available, it may be beneficial for you to seek a second opinion or check many of the online resources that list current clinical trials. Http://www.Cancer.gov and htty://www.clincialtrials.gov are great resources for available clinical trials, in addition to valuable information regarding the clinical trial process.

The low down on the safety of clinical trials. There are a lot of safeguards in place for patients who participate in clinical trials. Clinical trials are designed to minimize potential risk and have to abide by a strict set of guidelines. Each trial has a treatment protocol that must be followed. This protocol is reviewed by the Institutional Review Board, or IRB, to ensure patient safety. Throughout the trial, data is reviewed to see how patients are responding to treatments, and it is determined whether or not the trial should continue.

You should also know about informed consent. Informed consent is contained in a document that you sign, which protects you as a patient. You cannot receive treatment until you have signed this legal document. In order for you to give your “informed consent” to participate in the trial, you must receive all of the information about the trial and who you can contact with questions or if you experience side effects. It also contains all of the information regarding the process, whether you will have to take any extra steps or tests during treatment, what the known risks or benefits may be, and detailed information on patient rights. When you sign this document, you are not giving up your rights. You are still able to drop out of the trial at any time and leave without penalty. As with any legal document, it is important to sign it only if you understand what it contains. If you don’t understand any part of it, be sure to ask questions.

Weighing the pros. The best possible outcome of a clinical trial is that the treatment has a positive outcome, and improves upon the current standard treatments. This may mean that patients see a better quality of life with the treatment, or that patients have a positive reaction to an investigational drug or treatment. Participating in a clinical trial gives you the ability to be an active participant in your treatment process by understanding and evaluating your diagnosis. There is a certain level of altruism involved in knowing that you may be helping other people, and are contributing to the advancement of science and research through participation.

Weighing the cons. There may be additional costs to becoming a part of a clinical trial. You may face outside expenses, such as travel, childcare, and your insurance coverage may not cover extra testing that you may need in the trial. From a more practical standpoint, there may be extra time involved that may take away from time spent at work or with your family. You may also experience negative side effects from the treatment, making it more difficult to continue working or affect your quality of life while undergoing treatment. Finally, there is no guarantee that the trial you are enrolled in will be any more effective than the current standard of care.

Taking careful consideration and weighing the benefits and risks is a necessary step in making a decision to participate in a clinical trial. And remember that even if you chose to participate in a clinical trial, you are not obligated to continue if a treatment becomes too difficult or you no longer want to participate.

Regardless of your participation in a clinical trial it is important to know where to turn for information and support. Be sure that you are engaged and educated regarding your care plan and ask as many questions as you can about your treatment. It is always helpful to have family member a friend as a caregiver, who is able to help you along the way. Having someone else join you at your appointments can serve as a valuable “extra set of ears” and they may ask additional questions.

For more information on clinical trials and to hear what patients and experts have to say, visit Triage Cancer’s resource page on clinical trials.

Triage Cancer is also hosting a Clinical Trials 101 Webinar on August 31, 2016, presented by Dr. Susan Love and Monica Bryant, Esq.  This webinar will provide tips on how to find clinical trials, dispel common myths, and explain insurance coverage for clinical trials. Register.

Stay tuned for part 2 in this series

Triage Life: Part 2 – Managing Stress & Improving Mood

Triage Cancer Blog - Managing MoodWe all try to live a stress-free, positive life, but the expression “don’t worry, be happy” is easier said than done, right? Sometimes, your road to happiness can be quite simple with some small steps:

  1. Sleep angry

Not only is sleep restorative, contrary to popular belief, it’s ok (and maybe even better) to go to bed annoyed or frustrated. Expressing anger towards petty nuisances only intensifies aggravation. Instead, let those feelings rest because oftentimes a good night’s sleep allows the anger to boil down.

  1. Go outside

Science has proven that the outdoors boosts your mood. So, get some fresh air to take a break from the indoors and because science said so.

  1. Exercise

In addition to improving your physical health, staying active releases endorphins in the brain, relieves stress, and boosts your self-esteem.

  1. Make your bed

As simple as this may sound, making your bed can actually improve your confidence. Integrating this into your daily routine will give you a sense of accomplishment every morning. Not to mention, your room will look significantly neater.

  1. Engage in a hobby or find a new one

A hobby that you enjoy and that demands your full attention provides an outlet that can improve patience, focus, relaxation, well-being and, of course, happiness.

  1. Spend more time with family and friends

With the support, love, and company of others, those positive relationships can significantly improve your well-being.

  1. Fake it ‘til you make it

If you’re feeling down, make a conscious effort to act more cheerful than you feel. It may trick you into actually feeling happier.

  1. Don’t dwell

Dwelling on things will not make bad feelings go away. Instead, try and accept and acknowledge the fact that you feel a certain way. If there’s nothing you can do to fix the situation, move on. If there is, take action!

  1. Do a good deed

Giving back allows you to make a positive difference in the lives of others, which can be very rewarding for you, in many ways.

For more extensive information on managing stress, register for our upcoming webinar, Don’t Stress the Stress!

For more information on being resilient, watch the Triage Cancer webinar on Resilience: Thriving not just Surviving.

Cancer & Employment: International Series – Japan

Triage Cancer Blog - Employment JapanThere are endless questions to think about when it comes to employment after a cancer diagnosis. But perhaps the most important question is one that is out of one’s control: will my country protect and support me in the workplace? In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that not only provides protection against employment discrimination, but also gives access to reasonable accommodations, such as part-time positions and health and disability insurance. Unfortunately, not all countries provide that same security.

In Japan, cancer survivors are heavily victimized in the workplace. Some Japanese firms will explicitly reject cancer survivors solely based on their medical history while many will immediately dismiss the survivors after they are diagnosed. 30 percent of cancer patients said their salary was cut by 70 percent, ultimately forcing them to either reduce treatment or end treatment altogether. The reasons for these injustices are because 1) there is no disability discrimination law in Japan and 2) many believe cancer to be a death sentence, both in terms of health and in terms of maintaining dignity and contributing to society.  The unfortunate truth about cancer in Japan is that the illness carries a severe social stigma that cancer patients have to face both in the workplace and out in society.

All Japanese do not believe this stigma, though. Naomi Sakurai, a cancer survivor, former victim of employment discrimination, and now the head of a job consulting firm, stated that “We, the cancer patients and our families, are a part of society.” Her advocacy for equal rights initiated a revisal of the Cancer Control Law. The revised law requires that employers continue hiring cancer patients, demands that the government promote general education about cancer, and calls for a society that will better provide for and accept cancer patients.

There’s no doubt that the improved law has already taken effect, as Chugai Pharmaceutical Co. recently received the “Excellence Award 2015” from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Cancer Project as an acknowledgement for their support for employees with cancer. This award is given to promote the importance of “keeping a good balance between treatment and work.” With an award like this, Japan is effectively developing into a society in which everyone, disabled or not, is treated fairly.

Sakurai and the government’s actions are leading a movement toward a social environment that includes and accommodates for cancer patients. According to the National Cancer Center’s data, half of Japan’s population can expect to contract cancer in their lifetime. However, 60 percent of sufferers now have at least a five-year survival rate. With serious statistics like these, there’s no doubt that cancer patients will need a place in society, for it will become “an increasingly big issue for companies to secure manpower” without them, says senior researcher Doteuchi.

From having no established disability discrimination law to revising legislation to then nationally awarding a firm for their support for employees with cancer, Japan is slowly but surely transforming into a country where the needs of cancer patients are valid, understood, and heard. And that’s exactly the direction Japan should be heading toward. Soon, Japan will have a culture where cancer doesn’t carry a stigma, a work environment where all employees are treated fairly, and a society in which cancer patients will have complete control over their employment.

Triage Life Series: Part 1 – Where to Start

Cancer comes with a never-ending influx of health records, medical bills, lengthy emails, and important documents that over time can get difficult to keep track of, especially on top of daily clutter. So, here are some organizing tips for a little peace of mind:

  1. Keep it together

If you leave things scattered, there’s a high chance you’re going to lose something important. Create a work space – a desk, computer, or basket – dedicated to keeping paperwork tidy and safe. Maybe start with an inbox, where you can put your mail or papers that are waiting to be filed or organized. You could even have one for things related to your health care and one for everything else.

  1. Be colorful

Adding different color-coded files or tabs can make your space not only, more aesthetically pleasing, but also make it easier to find what you need.

  1. Try a storage rack, file box, or tray organizers.

Clear off a cluttered pile by mounting a storage rack. With this, you can separate the bills from the medical records from everything else in neat, separate stacks.

  1. Organization takes time

Just like it took some time for the clutter to appear, it’s going to take some time to declutter. Set aside time (maybe 20 minutes, depending on your clutter) each week to go through everything.

  1. Streamline your wallet

Do you collect store rewards cards?  If yes, you can go digital. Download the CardStar app (free, cardstar.com), then take a photo of the barcode on each card, or type in the number, then toss the hard copy. The store can scan the bar code on your phone at checkout.

  1. Get rid of junk mail

Nobody likes junk mail because it is, well, junk. So, cancel it by downloading the PaperKarma app ($2/mo, paperkarma.com). Then, take a picture of each unwanted piece of mail with your address showing, click send, and just like that, you will be unsubscribed from each of those mailing lists.

For a more extensive guide on how to stay organized, you can watch the recording of our webinar, Drowning in Documents!