Maryland Oncology Hematology is sad to announce that Dr. Linda Burrell will be retiring from practice effective January 29, 2021. Dr. Burrell has been a pillar of our organization and has provided exceptional patient care to our community for over three decades. Her clinical excellence and fierce dedication to her patients has established her as one of the leading physicians in our region with Dr. Burrell being recognized as a Top Doctor by Washingtonian Magazine. More importantly, as you will often hear from her patients, she has set the benchmark for what it means to offer compassionate care in the most difficult of times.
We at Maryland Oncology Hematology will always value Dr. Burrell for her many contributions to our organization. Her hard work, commitment and dedication set an example for all of those around her. While we will miss her greatly, we know that she will continue to be an example we can all follow in both our professional and personal lives. She has made each of us better as individuals and our organization is now a better place because she was a part of it. She is an irreplaceable member of our team and we all thank her for her years of service.
All of us at Maryland Oncology Hematology look forward to continuing the incredible legacy Dr. Burrell has established in our community. For her existing patients, Dr. Burrell will be coordinating transition of your care. For her referring physicians, our group will be happy to provide care for your new patient referrals. Our entire team of physicians and administrators are ready to assist in any way possible and to answer any questions you may have.
Please join us as we celebrate Dr. Burrell and her many accomplishments and wish her well as she begins this next chapter!
The Maryland Oncology Hematology Team
Making and implementing New Year’s resolutions that can improve your lifestyle while undergoing cancer treatment can seem too difficult to tackle. But it can be done! Working towards maximizing your emotional and physical strength during this time is an excellent goal with long-term benefits.
There are several ways you can improve your lifestyle, helping you to better cope with the challenges involved in battling cancer. Here are five ideas and how you can incorporate them into your routine this new year.
1. Regular Exercise
For many cancer patients, the idea of following an exercise program while you’re going through cancer treatment is overwhelming. But even small amounts of exercise – such as walking around the block or 15 minutes of yoga – will provide long-term benefits.
According to the American Cancer Society, research shows that exercise is safe for most cancer patients. Planning exercise into your daily routine can help with how you feel physically and emotionally. Patients reported:
- Better physical functioning
- Less fatigue
- Less anxiety
If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy for cancer treatment, you should begin an exercise program at a lower intensity and build it gradually. The National Cancer Comprehensive Network urges patients to engage in a moderate workout program such as a daily walk combined with strength training using light weights. Moderate exercise is proven to boost immunity, which is essential for patients battling cancer.
If you regularly exercised before cancer treatment, try not to compare your current pace and workout intensity to what you used to do. Listen to your body and be as consistent as you can.
2. Engage in Meditation
Meditation is recommended for cancer patients because it helps manage anxiety, sleep problems, pain, high blood pressure, and fatigue. You can choose from several methods of meditation – a few examples are: mindfulness meditation, focused meditation, or prayerful meditation. Although side effects of these techniques are rare, experts say patients should inform their oncologist of any complementary therapies, such as meditation, before starting. There are resources for helping you learn how to meditate if this is something new to you. The Mindfulness Center and Hope Connections for Cancer Support, both in the Bethesda area, offer programs that can help you with understanding how to use meditation to produce benefits during and after cancer treatment.
3. Follow a Nutritious Diet
Food may not always sound good, or side effects of treatment can make it hard to eat. But taking in the right amount of calories is still really important for keeping up your strength and maintaining a healthy weight. What you eat while going through cancer treatment may be a little different from your typical diet, but try to keep it as nutritious as possible.
When possible, select healthy sources of fat including avocado, olive oil, nuts and fish such as salmon. Stay away from trans fats and foods high in cholesterol, such as processed snacks, fast food, and shortening. Here are a few suggestions that can help you with following a healthy diet during cancer treatment and beyond:
- Eat protein every day. It will help you feel full, maintain your strength and rebuild tissue during your cancer treatments. This might include nuts, yogurt, cheese, or eggs.
- The American Cancer Society suggests eating at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day, including citrus fruits and dark-green and deep-yellow vegetables. Colorful vegetables and fruits and plant-based foods contain many natural health-promoting substances. During cancer treatment try to cook vegetables before eating them.
- Use liquid meal replacements if it’s hard to get the right amount of nutrients every day. This is especially helpful if you have dry mouth.
- Try eating smaller meals more often so that you can keep up your strength without feeling overly full. Keeping food in your stomach can also counter nausea.
If you find that some of your favorite foods don’t taste quite right during cancer treatment, that’s OK. Eat healthy foods that taste good and make sure to keep them stocked up in the house.
4. Cultivate an “Attitude of Gratitude”
Because of the mind-body connection, a grateful, positive attitude can make a decided difference in how you feel. Thankfulness helps people deal with adversity and is consistently linked to greater happiness. Cure Today magazine encourages cancer patients to find three things each day for which they are grateful. Write them down so you can revisit them when times are hard. This habit will grow stronger the more you engage in it.
5. Let Others Help You
You don’t often hear of resolutions that include “allowing others to help me.” But as a cancer survivor, this is something that you can commit to trying. It’s not only good for you but gives your family members and friends a way to feel like they are helping you. It can also help you avoid feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Allow loved ones to bring you a meal or stop by, even if your house isn’t in perfect order. Joining a cancer support group may also be helpful. These organizations offer the opportunity to share feelings with people who can understand and relate to your situation, and you can do the same for them. Studies show belonging to such groups makes cancer patients feel more hopeful and less anxious. They are available in person and online.
Maryland has an array of cancer support organizations, such as those offered by the Baltimore Cancer Support Group, Hope Connections for Cancer Support, The Mindfulness Center in Bethesda, and the Cancer Support Community. Your oncology team can put you in touch with those who can provide an additional list of cancer support groups available in the Maryland and Washington D.C. communities, even groups that might be for your specific type of cancer.
Q – Which vaccines are available?
- At this time, two vaccines have been submitted for United States Food and Drug (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
- Vaccine availability in Maryland will depend on a number of factors including availability as well as vaccine storage capabilities.
- General information published about each vaccine includes:
- The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: Contains a tiny fragment of the virus’s genetic code made in the lab – called messenger RNA, or mRNA – that codes for a part of the virus called the ‘spike protein’, which sits on the outside of the virus. When the mRNA is injected into the body it can instruct cells to produce these proteins, priming the immune system to be able to recognize and destroy the coronavirus, without exposing the body to the virus itself. This vaccine must be stored at -70°C (-94 oF). This vaccine received FDA EUA approval on December 11, 2020.
- Moderna vaccine: Like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine contains mRNA that codes for the virus’s spike protein. It can be stored at –20°C
(-4oF; normal freezer temperature) for up to 6 months. This vaccine received FDA EUA approval on December 17, 2020.
Q – Which vaccine is most appropriate for me?
- All the vaccines that are approved by the FDA may be considered.
Q – Is the vaccine effective against COVID-19?
- Detailed information about the effectiveness of each vaccine is available from the respective manufacturers, the FDA and the CDC. Based on clinical trials reviewed by the FDA:
- The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective 7 days from the 2nd dose.
- The Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective 14 days from the 2nd dose
- Ongoing studies to assess how well the vaccine works in real-world conditions will continue.
Q – How do we know the vaccine is safe?
- FDA EUA approval requires the same rigorous review of clinical trial data as any other FDA approval.
Q – Is the vaccine safe if I am receiving immunotherapy?
- Based on information studying the influenza vaccines, it appears that vaccines are safe to use in this population of patients. Further information on the COVID-19 vaccines, is not available currently.
- We will continue to monitor for information and guidance on immunization in special populations including patients on immunotherapy.
Q – Has it been studied/is it safe in immunocompromised individuals? What about in pregnancy and children?
- The EUA for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is for ages 16 and older.
- There is no published data in the studies on this; however, we will continue to monitor for published guidance.
- There have been no published studies to include pregnant women or children <12 yrs. of age. These data points are still being collected.
Q – What are the common side effects?
- Each vaccine manufacturer has identified various possible side effects for its respective vaccine. Information about side effects is available from each manufacturer, but some reported side effects include:
- Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine
- Fatigue 3.8%
- Headache 2.0%
- Older adults demonstrated fewer side effects
- Moderna vaccine
- Injection site pain 2.7%
- Fatigue 9.7%
- Myalgia (muscle aches and pains) 8.9%
- Arthralgia (joint pain) 5.2%
- Headache 4.5%
- Pain 4.1%
- Erythema (superficial redness of the skin) 2.0%
Q – Will vaccination help or hinder my response to treatment?
- There is no published data in the studies on this; however, the decision to receive the vaccine should be made after consultation with your health care provider.
Q – What happens if I refuse to receive the vaccine?
- You as a patient always have the right to refuse any treatment. Your provider should provide adequate education to ensure you can make an informed decision.
Q – How soon after I get the vaccine will I become protected from contracting COVID-19?
- According to the manufacturer, the Pfizer vaccine provides optimal immunity 7 days after the second dose.
- According to the manufacturer, the Moderna provides optimal immunity 14 days after the second dose.
- Other COVID-19 precautions such as mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing should be continued after vaccination. It has not been clearly established at what point after vaccination it is safe to discontinue other COVID-19 precautions.
Q – Can I get COVID-19 from getting the vaccine?
- Per the CDC you cannot develop COVID-19 from vaccines that do not use the live virus.
- There are several different types of vaccines in development. The goal for each of them is to teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Sometimes this process can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity.
*These FAQs consolidate into one document information published or otherwise provided by the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration, professional societies, academic centers, and other experts. Any recommended courses of action made by the foregoing agencies or experts and included in this document are only recommendations.
December 22, 2020
To Our Valued MOH Patients:
Many of you have seen in the news that the COVID-19 vaccine approvals were recently
announced by the FDA. The arrival of vaccines is good news in the fight to defeat COVID-19,
but now the challenge begins in the distribution and administration of the vaccine. Although
the Maryland Department of Health has a draft mass vaccination plan (click here), MOH has not
been provided information regarding COVID-19 vaccine availability for our practice and
As frontline caregivers, our goal is to protect the health and well being of our patients, staff and
communities. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep you updated and
informed as more information becomes available on the COVID-19 vaccine via our website.
Please remember that until the population has been broadly immunized, we encourage you to
continue to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing and
washing your hands.
Know that your health and safety continues to be our top priority and we will get through this
Thank you and Happy Holidays.
Joseph Haggerty MD
Jenny Elrod MSN, RN
Director Clinical Services
Maryland Oncology Hematology
Columbia: Columbia Office will be closing today at 2:30pm. The office will reopen Thursday, December 17th at 10:30am.
Frederick & Mt Airy: Frederick and Mt. Airy locations will be closing at 1pm today. Opening 11am Thursday, December 17th
Rockville, Germantown & Bethesda: will be closing at 2:30pm today. Opening at 10pm Thursday, December 17th
Annapolis: Opening at 10pm Thursday, December 17th
Even people in perfect health often feel exhausted and overwhelmed during the holiday season; that feeling is often magnified when you’re battling cancer. You may not have the stamina to battle Black Friday crowds, deck the halls and entertain as lavishly as you have in years past, and that’s OK. If you’re a cancer patient try not to overexert yourself, but don’t isolate yourself either. Here are some ways cancer patients can manage and even enjoy the holidays while undergoing or recovering from cancer treatment.
When you were diagnosed with cancer and going through cancer treatment, you were probably inundated with offers of help and support. Now is the time to accept those offers. Whether you need help hanging Christmas lights or wrapping gifts, don’t hesitate to ask friends, neighbors and family members for help. Most people will feel honored that you asked, and you’ll probably enjoy both their help and their company.
It’s easy to become caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays and become overwhelmed. This year, try to focus on the underlying reason for your traditions: Celebrating relationships and enjoying spending time with loved ones. If your tradition involves gathering the family for Christmas dinner, you can achieve that without spending hours in the kitchen. Ask each guest to bring a dish and have a pot-luck, have the meal catered, meet at one of the many wonderful restaurants in Maryland, or move the dinner to someone else’s house.
Let Your Fingers Do the Shopping
One of the most daunting aspects of the holidays is battling traffic and crowds to buy gifts. You certainly don’t have to buy gifts. However, if you want to consider shopping online. You’ll save time and energy, and you’ll probably also save money. Visit sites such as Retailmenot.com, Offers.com, and freeshipping.org for online coupon codes. Another benefit of online shopping is that many sites offer a gift wrapping option. You can buy your gift and arrange to have it wrapped and shipped directly to your loved one.
Carve Out Time for Yourself
It’s easy to become overwhelmed during the holidays, so take care of yourself by taking breaks to recharge your batteries. Take a walk, take a bath, or take a nap. This is a good idea for cancer patients, even when it’s not the holidays. But it’s almost critical during the holiday season.
If it becomes clear the festivities will carry on into the wee hours, it’s OK to excuse yourself and make an early exit. If you’ve accepted an invitation but aren’t feeling well, feel free to send your regrets at the last minute. The holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. Make your health top priority, and those around you will understand.
You Don’t Have to be Cheerful All the Time
When you have cancer, that fact is always on your mind. For most people, the holiday season is a time for reflection. As a cancer patient, it’s only natural that you’ll mourn your life before cancer and feel anxiety about the future. Anger, sadness and frustration are common, understandable emotions that don’t go away during the holidays. Express your feelings, as your honesty gives your loved ones permission to express their feelings, too. Cancer is a terrible disease, and it’s cathartic to acknowledge that. It’s OK to laugh and to cry.
Celebrate Life, Love and Happiness
You may have cancer, but cancer does not define you. Celebrate and enjoy your life. Whether you spend time with friends and loved ones, volunteer to help others or meditate in preparation for a brand new year, take time during the holiday season to celebrate all the wonderful things about your life, and know that our cancer specialist at Maryland Oncology Hematology are here to help you.
Colorectal cancer actually refers to two parts of the body: the colon and the rectum. Treatment options are often very similar so they’re typically bundled together when explaining prevention, detection and treatment options for either colon cancer or rectal cancer.
Thankfully because of new technologies and greater awareness of screening, the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for decades. Here are some things you should know about how to reduce your personal risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal Cancer Can be Genetic
About one in five people who develop rectal or colon cancer have a close relative (parent, sibling or child) who has had colorectal cancer or a certain kind of colon polyp called adenomatous. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with this type of polyp you should talk to your doctor about starting colorectal cancer screening sooner than the typical age of 50.
There can also be a genetic cause of colorectal cancer for about 5-10% of colorectal cancer patients. If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed, especially if they were diagnosed before the age of 45, you may want to talk to one of our cancer experts about a Genetic Risk Assessment. Knowing whether there are genetic changes present can help your doctor with recommending preventive measures and screening in the future.
Other Risk Factors For Developing Colorectal Cancer
There are quite a few other factors that can play into whether you’re at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Some you can control while others you cannot.
Risk factors you can control to help prevent colorectal cancer include:
- Heavy alcohol use
Risk factors for colorectal cancer you cannot control in addition to your family history include:
- Age – Your risk increases after the age of 50.
- Race – African Americans have the highest death rate from colorectal cancer compared to all other races.
- Type 2 Diabetes – Those with Type 2 Diabetes are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Regular Colorectal Cancer Screenings Save Lives
Even if you don’t have a family history, colorectal cancer specialists recommend that adults get screened between the ages of 50 and 75. The older you are, the higher your risk for developing the disease. While a colonoscopy is the most commonly used colorectal screening process, there are several other options such as:
- Sigmoidoscopy every five years. The doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps, remove them and have them tested. Unlike a colonoscopy, this test doesn’t require you to have anesthesia.
- Virtual colonoscopy every five years. This test does not require anesthesia either. A doctor takes X-rays of your colon, and a specialist looks for signs of cancer.
- Barium enema every five years. For people who can’t safely have a colonoscopy, a liquid is inserted into the rectum that allows trained technicians to see abnormal growths on an X-ray.
You Can Reduce Your Risks
Whether you have a family history of colorectal cancer or not, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the disease. These lifestyle changes include:
- Get screened. Screenings find polyps that can be removed before they become cancerous.
- Exercise. Overweight people have a higher risk of colon cancer.
- Watch your diet. Eating lots of red meat or processed meats (like hot dogs) may increase your risk of colon cancer.
- Don’t smoke (or stop smoking). Smokers have a higher risk of colon cancer. An added bonus of quitting smoking is that you will also reduce your risk of developing many other diseases and cancers.
- Limit alcohol. Heavy drinkers have a higher risk of colon cancer.
Even people who are active, eat healthy diets and have no family history of colorectal cancer may develop the disease. If you start to experience any unusual bowel movements, pain or excessive bloating be sure to schedule an appointment with your general practitioner or gastroenterologist. If they find colorectal cancer present you will need to see a colon cancer specialist for treatment. If you live in or near Maryland, Maryland Oncology Hematology has nine locations making it possible for you to meet with a colorectal cancer specialist near you.
When you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, learning about what a clinical trial is and deciding what treatment to pursue can be daunting. When you’ve exhausted the available cancer treatment options, whether through radiation oncology, hematology-oncology or some other specialty, it can be scary to think that’s there isn’t a treatment option left. Fortunately, clinical trials can provide hope and alternative treatment options for cancer patients who need them.
What Are Cancer Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials are the last phase in getting regulatory approval for new pharmaceutical medications, devices or protocols. After months or years of research and testing in the lab and, in many cases, on animals, human testing is needed to ensure safety and effectiveness. Clinical trials are conducted at many research institutions, hospitals, and community based clinics (or practices) around the world.
Why Clinical Trials Exist
Clinical trials exist to get new treatment options to patients. For instance, a clinical trial about investigational breast cancer treatments may lead to more successful outcomes for breast cancer surgeons and their patients. In addition to measuring safety, clinical trials can determine if a new therapy works, makes no difference or further impairs patients.
Who Benefits From Clinical Trials
Many people benefit from clinical trials. First, patients involved in clinical trials receive life-saving treatment earlier than it would normally be available. This is ideal for cancer patients who haven’t responded to approved therapies. For patients who cannot afford treatment, involvement in a clinical trial is sometimes at no cost to the patient. Second, researchers, doctors, and pharmaceutical manufacturers benefit by having humans to test their experimental cancer treatments on.
Third, no matter what the outcome of the trial, future cancer patients strongly benefit from clinical trials. If a new medication or treatment proves to be successful, future patients will be able to use it as a regular part of their treatment. If the clinical trial fails, future patients will not be exposed, and researchers can identify drugs that could provide better outcomes in the future.
How Clinical Trials Are Conducted
Human clinical trials are conducted in three different phases. Depending on the actual trial, there might be more phases. The first phase involves a small number of patients, and the primary concern is the safety or side effects of the treatment. Clinical trials do not aim to hurt people, so at first, the first phase stays small so researchers can closely monitor what happens. This phase happens after a lot of research has already been conducted in the lab, so there is less chance of a foreseeable adverse reaction.
The second phase also uses a small group of people. Instead of just focusing on safety, this phase examines how well the proposed treatment works. If the results still look promising, a third phase involves a larger number of people with less stringent guidelines. For example, if an earlier phase only allowed geriatric patients to be involved, this phase might expand the parameters to evaluate possible side effects and compare alternative treatments to see which is better for whom.
How to Participate in a Clinical Trial
For patients interested in participating in a clinical trial, the first step is to try conventional cancer treatment options, if possible. Many trials will ask what you’ve already tried. Next, patients need to find clinical trials through online databases, their oncologist or a local cancer center to see who’s eligible to participate.
Maryland Oncology Hematology currently has active clinical trials for breast cancer, lung cancer, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), metastatic malignancies, multiple myeloma, supportive therapies and gastric cancers. These include clinical trials for many different stages of these cancers. To participate, you should ask your oncologist or contact Maryland Oncology Hematology directly.
Maryland Oncology Hematology https://marylandoncology.com Remains committed to the safety of our patients, visitors, and staff during the Coronovirus pandemic. Please take a few minutes to review our video that talks about all of the precations Maryland Oncology Hematology has put in place to safeguard from Covid-19. If you have any questions about the most recent rules and procedures put into place, call your local MOH office. We remain committed to providing the most advanced cancer treatment throughout the Maryland region. As times change, so do your options in advanced cancer treatment. Because hope carried on.
There are more than 200 testing sites available throughout Maryland. Location, contact, and scheduling information for many of the COVID-19 testing sites in Maryland can be found at https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/page…. If you plan to travel, we encourage you to review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website on considerations for travelers—Coronavirus in the US https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html