Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Alternative Care for Breast Cancer
October 30, 2012

This is part five and my final week of blogging about breast cancer for the month of October. This week the subject is alternative care during treatments and after your treatments have ended. As mentioned in part four about help for breast cancer survivors, your oncologist may recommend alternative care. You of course may have to ask.

With my health insurance I buy a policy that gives me so much alternative care a year. It is wise to check with your health insurance carrier. If you enjoy alternative care you can often buy this coverage when you renew your policy for just a few dollars more per month.

 

Acupuncture, chiropractic care and naturopathic medicine are all tied into helping breast cancer survivors. Some clinics have a sliding scale for those without insurance coverage but have cancer.

From recommendation of my oncologist I started at an alternative clinic the same time I started my chemotherapy. I had acupuncture twice a week and met with a naturopath once a month. My ND gave me Chinese herbs that helped with some of my side effects. I had my oncology/radiation team, and my alternative teams helping me achieve breast cancer success!

 

 

Some people have a difficult time with the word survivor. After going through various surgeries, treatments and side effects, I totally embrace the word survivor. For many breast cancer patients the goal is to navigate and thrive to survivorship.

I am so very happy to be a 10-year breast cancer survivor. I am happy to write about breast cancer during the month of October. I hope some of this five part series helped some one or touched some one dealing with breast cancer.

Have you had alternative care? Has acupuncture worked for you? Do you see a Chiropractor or a Naturopathic doctor?

 

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Help for Breast Cancer Survivors
October 23, 2012

 

This is part four of my weekly blogs about breast cancer for the month of October.

In my previous blogs I spoke of awareness, preparedness and holly crap breast cancer happens. This week I want to talk about HELP. All breast cancer patients and survivors need help. The disease can truly be mind fogging and there is help to navigate your course.

 

Breast cancer support groups can be really helpful. Who knows more about what you are going through than other survivors? Trust me when I say most women on the other side of treatments and into survivorship are not judgmental of your choices in treatments or your reactions to the disease. The best support groups can be found from recommendations from your oncologist. Many are supported through the hospital. Some hospitals have a social worker that is available. Other hospitals have support groups for children and partners. The best way to find out is to ask your oncologist.

 

Not a talker? Don’t want to listen or share? No problem. Many on line sites are full of information. Of course finding the most reputable sites is tricky. Once again your oncologist can lead you to these sites once you ask. Many oncology offices give a manual with your diagnosis with lots of resources. Did you know that there is a resource to have your house cleaned for free? Yep it is somewhere listed in resources available to breast cancer patients.

 

Friends and family want to do something for you? Let them. No one wants a martyr! If they cook, let them make a meal or two for you. If you enjoy their company ask them to meet you after a chemo session or during the chemo session.

From my experience, there really can be too many soaps and lotions and not enough prepared meals!

Remember not everyone rises to the occasion just because you have breast cancer. You may have to tell your family that you will not be hosting Thanksgiving this year. As the weeks and months pass with your treatments you may become weaker but it may become yesterday news to family and friends. You must remind them! I have seen irreconcilable feelings between family and friends during an illness and treatment.

 

Have you ever helped a friend or loved one during their breast cancer journey?  Have you ever wished you could have helped or helped more a friend or loved one during their breast cancer treatments?

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Cancer Awareness
October 2, 2012

 

This year I am a 10-year breast cancer survivor. I am hopefully looking forward to another 10 years of survivorship, but I want to look back too.

 

I was familiar with breast cancer before I was diagnosed. I had friends and family go through various types of the disease treatments. I had participated in the Race for the Cure several times. I was in pharmaceutical sales calling on physicians every working day. I was reading medical journals as part of my job. Yet when I was diagnosed I was shocked.

I was aware of breast cancer, but caught up in my own life, I was not truly aware. I may have firmly been in denial.  I thought, how could this happen to me?  I was 48. I was healthy, fit, ate right, exercised regularly and did not smoke or drink. I wasn’t on any medications and had no health issues. I regularly went to the doctor and got a yearly mammogram. This is the case of many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is what many women diagnosed with breast cancer think.

 

So with all the awareness that happens every October, how effective is it?

For many women who do not get a mammogram this awareness can truly be life saving. For women who do not do a routine self-breast examination the awareness helps. For celebrities to use their celebrity status and the power of the media to talk about breast cancer awareness is helpful. For those of us in denial, repetition is helpful.

The pink everywhere is more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago. More women are surviving longer than they were 10 years ago. Genetic testing, research and studies have grown exponentially in the last 10 years. All of this is positive. More women will survive breast cancer. More women will be double-digit survivors!

Has breast cancer awareness worked for you? Have you been caught in denial?

 

 

 

 

 

How to Survive Menopause with-out becoming a Felon: Intro
November 7, 2011

My initial title was How to survive menopause with-out going to jail, but that seemed short sighted. A snarky remark to a policeman pulling you over for no apparent reason may result in a visit to jail. A shove back to an aggressive shopper may bring store or mall security and it is only protocol that everyone gets hauled into jail to sort things out. A shove forward to get your comments heard by your political favorite might be misunderstood and it is a ride to jail.

Becoming a felon means you have really stepped over the line. You have acted out regrettably in a way that can not be sorted out easily. You have become irrational. You have listened to your inner estrogen deprived voice and snapped. You may be reading this too late. For those of us clinging to our rational though estrogen deprived sanity, I write these words of advice. Full disclosure, my advice is from the point of view of someone who can not offset her menopause symptoms by hormones natural or otherwise.

Most women over the course of several years go through a phase called ‘peri-menopause’. This means little side effects are happening. Most women think something critical is wrong with them or it is stress. In reality more often than not, it is the start of menopause. Denial is one of the first side effects of menopause or peri-menopause. I liken the denial phase to the river The Nile. The banks are very lush, the water is very cool the area is very beautiful and if you could just live there in la-la land of denial, everyone and everything would be great!

Sooner or later, the denial phase does not make sense anymore. Maybe a friend, a spouse or co-worker mentions more than once that you are not quite yourself. Maybe you even have a self reflective non-denial thought and think that you are not yourself either. You start to wonder where the hell did you go and who has taken over your body and mind?

There are many wonderful web sites, books and resources available to find out everything about menopause. From the medical to the spiritual to the alternative to the myths, there is information out there. I am going to share in the following weekly posts the most important information and that is how to survive menopause with-out becoming a felon.  The biggest tip I can give overall is that your inner voice, that voice of rational reason may be compromised because of lack of estrogen, and you need to really truly absolutely positively think and think again before you act, lest you become a felon!

Next Week; How to Survive Menopause with-out becoming a Felon: Fashion

 

Breast Cancer Gene Debate
October 18, 2011

The BRACA 1 and BRACA 2 genes for hereditary breast cancer are the only genes currently diagnosable. This means if you are tested for the genes and you have it your chances of getting breast cancer increase greatly as well as your chance of ovarian cancer in your lifetime compared to the general public. But and here is the debate and the big ‘but’, you have to go through genetic counseling and take the genetic test to find out if you even have the genes.

To some women this seems straight-forward.  They know they have a history of breast cancer on their Father’s side and/or their Mother’s side of the family so they see the geneticist specializing in breast cancer found at major urban hospitals.

Let me put up the common road blocks that makes this situation anything but straight-forward; Money, time, insurance, and knowledge. 

The test will be administered after counseling which takes time.

The counseling is after a doctor recommends this to you which is insurance.

The test is not 100% covered by insurance which is the money component.

The knowledge component is the big roadblock for many women. What do you do if you find out you are positive for the gene? Remember the positive outcome of the gene does not say you will get breast or ovarian cancer, but that your chances are higher than the general public.

My opinion is that this is a very important issue for women who are in their mid 20’s and 30’s and are thinking of having children. If a woman in this age group tests positive she can make changes. She can opt to harvest her eggs for a later date, have children as soon as possible or opt to have prophylactic surgeries. These are not changes in diet, exercise or life-style changes, but life altering changes!

Currently there are 250,000 women living in the USA who were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 41. Usually their cancer is a more aggressive form. The financial burden and emotional costs of cancer are difficult to measure at any stage of life but even more difficult to measure in a young woman. Extrapolate this to a young woman who is healthy but has a family history. Do you push her to have the counseling and to take the test?

Many women give the reason why they don’t get a yearly mammogram is because they are afraid of the results. Ignorance is bliss is a common reason of non-action for many. With that in mind how would you react to the genetic counseling and test? What would you suggest to your friends, sisters, or daughter if they fit the criteria for genetic cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pink Fatigue in October
October 11, 2011

October is breast cancer awareness month. Pink is the color associated with breast cancer. Many companies support breast cancer charities and research by changing the colors of their products to pink or put the pink ribbon trademarked by the Komen foundation on their products. So what is the big deal? The big deal is some people are sick of all the pink. Some people have ‘pink fatigue’, meaning the pink has lost impact on them. Some people think the color pink is too cute or too soft or too feminine to be representative of the breast cancer disease.

I don’t know why Komen picked pink to represent their logo, the ribbon, but they did. Their success with breast cancer awareness has snowballed all breast cancer charities and research to use pink in their marketing.

Some people are out raged that Komen.org, the largest charity in the world pays high salaries to their top employees. Some people are outraged that a company will put a cap on their matched donations of $500,000.00, $50.000.00 or $5,000.00 to breast cancer. Some people are outraged that Fast Food outlets will sell nutritiously bad food while donating a nickel per bucket to breast cancer.

Let me address some of these thoughts:

The treatments for breast cancer are; slash, burn and poison. There is nothing cute, soft or feminine about that!

Komen did not get to be the biggest charity by only using volunteers. Just because they are a nonprofit does not mean that their employees don’t get paid. Komen takes the millions of dollars they raise from around the world and fund research on drugs, treatment programs, mammograms and outreach programs. Almost all the drugs used in breast cancer treatment have been a result of Komen dollars.

A company willing to make any donation to Komen or breast cancer research is voluntary and they will get my dollars. Why not?

If you eat fast food in a bucket, and many do, why not have a nickel go to breast cancer research? You are not making the breast cancer patient or survivor eat it!

Here is the low down on breast cancer. There is no cure. There is no cause. The treatments can be barbaric and debilitating.  95% have no family history of breast cancer. The leading causes of breast cancer are being a woman and too many birthdays. 1 out 8 women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. Look around and count starting with me, a 9 year survivor, and count 8 more women in your life.

The next time you consider scoffing at the pink in October, ask yourself if your nickel or dime won’t help your sister, friend, daughter or self in the future?

A Brave New Woman
October 4, 2011

I am not a big fat baby when it comes to new adventures, but lately in comparison to my friends I am certainly in the running. Here is a list of what some of my friends are up to:

  • Took a leave of absence and traveled alone for 2 months to South America with-out being fluent in Spanish!
  • Quit her job and started a 3 year graduate school program at over 50 years old!
  • Took a sabbatical to Europe, bought a car and drove through France and Italy by herself!
  • Sold her home and moved to Mexico with-out being fluent in Spanish!
  • Started her own business in a new service industry she developed!
  • Joined a Dragon Boat Team and traveled to participate in races around the world after breast cancer treatments!

Yikes, right! Did I mention that these friends of mine are every day normal women?  No trust fund babies, Housewives of wherever, extreme thrill or sports junkies in the bunch. Women who through emails or over coffee mentioned to me casually in the same manner as they would say, “I am going to the mall instead of downtown to shop for some black pumps”, except they are doing these huge brave things!

Now we all have done some brave things or events from time to time, but these women are demonstrating a commitment to a new challenge that goes beyond doing a  zip line, walking over a bed of fire, taking up conversational Cantonese, starting a new job, ending a bad marriage or horseback riding! These women are demonstrating a new experience that only 1 out of not very many are willing to take.

 I think what makes my friends remarkable is their desire and willingness to go or do their  adventures by themselves.  How often have we heard someone say “If I had someone to do this  with or if I had the time I would do it”? These women were not held back waiting for that  someone or the perfect time. They left spouses, partners, children, pets, homes, careers and many exclamations of “Are you Crazy” to pursue their goal. Some said it was a lifetime goal, others a whim to seize the opportunity.

So here are my questions: Is there a brave new woman in all of us?

Have you become a brave new woman in the last few years?

Are you like me, almost a big fat baby?

 

Movie Stardom
November 15, 2010

Did you ever want to be in the movies? Who hasn’t had a bit of a fantasy; big screen, gorgeous backgrounds, or exotic locations, costumes and make-up? Yes fantasies are great.

 I was able to participate in some of the fun of movie making in Hot Flash Havoc, http://www.hotflashhavoc.com/.

Since it is in documentary style, I am playing myself, a middle age menopausal woman. So much for the fantasy!

My naturopathic physician friend Kelly Jennings is also interviewed and filmed. Kelly treats effectively, and patiently many women with menopause and breast cancer symptoms. She is also young, smart and gorgeous! So my close up is Kelly giving me an acupuncture treatment. Yes indeed, that is me, the woman in repose with acupuncture needles all over her face, head and neck!

The film has a fantastic concept; educate and entertain about the condition called Menopause. There was a full page ad in More Magazine, the October issue.

The grass roots effort to distribute the film is ongoing. The movie won at the Aspen film festival this year! If you have 2,000 friends who want to see the film as a fund raiser for your favorite charity, contact the producers on the Hot Flash Havoc web site.

My AHA Moment
September 1, 2010

Mutual of Omaha has a series of commercials called “Aha Moments”.  You may have seen these 30-60 second spots on TV shows sponsored by the company. They are usually heartwarming and inspirational.

The campaign was so successful that they continued it with new AHA moment stories from people across the country. You can imagine my surprise and pleasure when I was asked to record my AHA story moment!

The recording was done in an Airstream hauled around the country by 4 people over 3 months. It was a very fun experience.

Please take a look and I welcome your comments. The most views get a better chance for their AHA moment to be aired on national TV. What a hoot!

http://www.ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/17112

Flu Shots, When You Care Enough to Give a Shot
August 25, 2010

There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about Flu Shots. The title, ‘Suntan lotion, Flip-flops, and Flu Shots’ caught my eye. If you are like me and think of November or December to get your flu shot, not Suntan lotion and Flip-Flops season, think again.

According to the CDC, influenza vaccination time should be pushed up to September, even Labor Day. So while you are back to school shopping or thinking about that last summer beach party, stop and think about a flu shot too. In fact stores like Walgreens and Rite-Aid have trained thousands of their pharmacists to give flu shots. This is the first time all 50 states will allow pharmacists to administer vaccinations.

Since most drug store shoppers don’t immediately think to add to their list a flu shot, these stores are trying to change that perception. CVS has increased food products, Walgreens has added beer and wine and Rite-Aid wants you to pick up your milk with the shot.

Walgreens, I think shows the most creative marketing strategy for flu shots. You can buy a flu shot gift card at Walgreens. When you care enough, give a shot!