Archive for February, 2014

Life with advanced breast cancer: a daughter’s perspective

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

(BPT) – Cate Edwards, daughter of Elizabeth Edwards, became part of the cancer community when her mother was first diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Shocked and defiant, Edwards and her mother assembled the best team of healthcare providers and confronted the cancer with grace, courage and perseverance.

“I moved back in with my family to be with my mom through the early stages of her treatment,” said Edwards. “I was sure there was an end to cancer in sight and I wanted to see her through it.”

Less than a year later, they were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Elizabeth’s scans came back clear and she appeared to be in remission. Unfortunately, the cancer was not gone for good.

The cancer returned. This time, it was metastatic breast cancer that had spread to the bone, which was treatable but incurable. Advanced breast cancer (ABC) is composed of metastatic breast cancer (stage IV) and locally advanced breast cancer (stage III), according to the American Cancer Society. Metastatic breast cancer occurs when the cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body, such as the brain, bones or liver. Locally advanced breast cancer means the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and/or other tissue in the area of the breast, but not to distant sites in the body.

The advanced breast cancer felt different. The focus turned from becoming a “survivor” to simply surviving, and Edwards and her mom sensed they were part of a new cancer community.

“Before my mom was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, I assumed breast cancer patients fell into two categories – those who were “survivors” and those who were not,” said Edwards. “When Mom’s cancer metastasized, I realized this wasn’t the case. There is a community of cancer patients who are challenged by an unpredictable, chronic disease that they could live with for weeks, months or years.”

While there are many resources for early stage breast cancer, information specifically for the ABC community – which includes patients and those who care for them – has been limited. A global survey of nearly 1,300 women in 12 countries, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Novartis Oncology, showed that 70 percent of U.S. women living with ABC often feel isolated and left out of the broader breast cancer awareness movement. Additionally, 75 percent of women with ABC feel resources to help family and friends cope with and understand the disease would be especially helpful.

To address the unique needs of the ABC community, the “Count Us, Know Us, Join Us” (Count Us) program was developed with guidance from 13 leading cancer advocacy groups. The Count Us program, which is available in English and Spanish at www.advancedbreastcancercommunity.org, provides education and support to patients, caregivers, loved ones and supporters.

In honor of her mother, who passed away, Edwards has joined Count Us as an ambassador to share her caregiver experience and to help amplify the voice of the ABC community.

“Anyone impacted by this disease – whether a patient, daughter, husband, friend or colleague – is part of the community,” said Edwards. “Living with advanced breast cancer means living with uncertainty, but knowing first-hand the struggles this community faces, there is one thing that’s certain: no one should face it alone.”

Rosalie Canosa, MSW, MPA, LCSW-R, Program Division Director, CancerCare, agrees more support is needed for the ABC community, which has different needs than the early stage breast cancer community, especially when it comes to caregivers who need support as well.

“Seventy percent of women with advanced breast cancer have a caregiver, whether it’s a family member who attends every doctor appointment or a neighbor who brings a meal once a week,” said Canosa. “However, caregivers are often so focused on helping that they underestimate support theymay need over time. That’s why I am happy that Cate is joining the Count Us program, to raise awareness for everyone in the advanced breast cancer community.”

For additional information on the Count Us program and resources for ABC support, as well as video messages from Cate Edwards, visit www.advancedbreastcancercommunity.org.

Courtesy of BPT

Avoiding footwear fumbles when exercising or playing sports

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

(BPT) – No one disputes that exercise provides a host of health benefits, from helping control weight to improving cardiovascular functions. But exercising in the wrong footwear can cause more harm than good, especially since foot health is integral to overall well-being.

“To get the most out of your workout or from playing a favorite sport, it’s imperative to choose the right footwear for the type of exercise you’ll engage in,” says Dr. Matthew Garoufalis, a podiatrist and president of the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). “Improper footwear can lead to irritation and injury.”

Foot or ankle sprains and fractures are the most common types of injuries related to exercise and footwear. The type of exercise or sport you prefer can influence the type of injury you could experience. In general for example, foot and ankle sprains and fractures are more common among football players, while basketball players may suffer more ankle sprains and runners experience stress fractures to feet or ankles.

APMA offers some guidance on how to avoid foot injury while exercising:

* Always warm up before exercise. Just as you stretch to warm up leg and arm muscles, your feet need to warm up gradually too.

* If you experience foot pain while exercising or engaging in physical activity, stop immediately. Foot pain is not normal and you shouldn’t feel any when you exercise. If pain persists even after you stop your workout, see a podiatrist.

* Always wear supportive shoes that are appropriate for the type of physical activity you’re engaging in.

Choosing the right footwear can help ensure you minimize the risk of injury and enjoy a more productive and comfortable workout. When choosing workout or sports footwear, keep these pointers in mind:

* Choose a running shoe based on your foot type: low/flat arch, normal arch or high arch. You can find a graphic of what each foot type looks like on the APMA website. If you have a low or no arch, you need a supportive shoe designed for stability and motion-control. Normal arched feet require a shoe with a balance of stability and cushioning to help absorb shock when your feet meet the ground. For people with high arches, a cushioned running shoe with a softer midsole and more flexibility compensates for the poor natural shock absorption of the higher arch.

* Also take into account the kind of activity you’ll do. Runners need more arch support and cushioning to absorb impact. Basketball players require extra ankle support to prevent injury from side-to-side movement – which is why basketball shoes come up over the ankles.

* Don’t go it alone when you’re shopping for a workout or sports shoe. Go to a store that specializes in athletic footwear and ask to be professionally fitted before you buy. Shoes should fit comfortably as soon as you try them on; never assume you’ll “break in” an uncomfortable athletic shoe. Shop toward the end of the day, when feet are at their largest due to normal daily swelling.

* Whatever your exercise or sport of choice, your athletic shoes should offer plenty of support in the front and back.

Finally, when athletic shoes begin to show signs of wearing out, it’s time to replace them. Examine the tread, especially around mid-sole. Generally, you should replace athletic shoes every year, and running shoes every 300 to 400 miles.

To learn more about foot health, or to find a podiatrist in your area, visit www.apma.org.

Courtesy of BPT

Alzheimer’s caregivers: Tips to take care of yourself, too

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

(BPT) – Taking care of an ill loved one is never easy, but for the 15 million Americans who provide care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the emotional and financial toll of caregiving can be overwhelming. Last year, caregivers provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid care for AD patients, amounting to $216 billion of care, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. They often experience emotional stress, depression, health problems of their own and a loss of wages, the Association reports.

“It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves as well, and to help those they care for find treatment options that can make it easier for both patient and caretaker to better manage Alzheimer’s symptoms,” says Dr. Richard S. Isaacson*, associate professor of neurology and director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program at Weill Cornell Medical College and a respected AD researcher who has several family members with the disease. “Just as there is no one solution for managing Alzheimer’s symptoms, caregivers need to employ a suite of tactics in coping with their responsibilities – from stress-relieving habits and regular medical care for themselves, as well education about nutritional therapy and medication for patients.”

Caregivers should keep in mind that helping themselves stay well is also helping the people for whom they’re caring. If you’re taking care of a loved one with AD, here are some ways you can help both yourself and the person in your care:

* Therapy to mitigate AD symptoms – Coping with common symptoms of AD such as disorientation, forgetfulness and emotional imbalances are among the most stressful aspects of caregiving. Helping patients mitigate those symptoms can improve the quality of life for both the patient and caregiver. Some medications show promise in helping reduce symptoms, and a new medical food, Axona(R) by Accera, Inc. can further help some mild to moderate patients mitigate symptoms, especially when used in tandem with drug therapies.

Axona helps by providing the brain of mild to moderate AD patients with an alternative to glucose – the “food” which fuels brain function. A brain affected by AD doesn’t process glucose into energy as efficiently as a healthy brain, creating a condition known as diminished cerebral glucose metabolism (DCGM)) which most often occurs in the areas of the brain involved in memory and thoughts. The easy-to-mix, once-daily prescription medical food Axona helps provide brain cells with an alternative energy source, which may help ease the effects of DCGM and enhance memory and cognitive function in AD patients. Doctors and caregivers of AD patients who use Axona report patients appear more alert and engaged in daily activities and interactions with others.

* Seek support – Caregivers provide a tremendous amount of support for both patients and those who love them, but they can use support too. If you are a caregiver, join a support group where you can connect with people whose experiences and emotions parallel your own. You can find a support group through the Alzheimer Association’s website, www.alz.org. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family and friends, too. Something as simple as picking up laundry or groceries, or sitting with a patient for an hour while you run errands doesn’t take much time away from someone else’s schedule, but it could give you a much-needed break.

* Keep an organized schedule – Routine can be very comforting for AD patients, and a schedule can help caregivers stay on track and feel less stressed by day-to-day demands. Online calendars or apps for your mobile device can help you keep a schedule and stay organized. Be sure to schedule in some time to give yourself a break, along with doctor’s appointments and medication timings.

* Avoid isolation – Withdrawal from society is common among dementia patients and can take a toll on those caring for them. Caregivers can feel isolated, too. It’s important to connect with others. Seek social interaction that will benefit you and your loved one with AD, whether it’s attending a weekly prayer meeting or a regularly scheduled dinner with family members.

* Keep things in perspective – The Alzheimer’s Association outlines five key things to remember: Don’t take behaviors personally; stay calm and patient; realize pain can be a trigger for behavior; don’t argue; and accept upsetting behaviors as part of the disease. Remember, your loved one can’t control his or her disease, but you can control your reaction to disease-related behaviors.

To learn more about Axona, visit www.about-axona.com/. For more information on AD, including tips for caregivers, visit www.alz.org.

*Dr. Richard Isaacson is a paid scientific advisor/consultant for Accera, Inc.

Courtesy of BPT

One size doesn’t fit all in reproductive health

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

(BPT) – Every woman knows that in the world of fashion, there’s no such thing as “one size fits all.” Yet for decades, American women have seemingly accepted the “one size fits all” approach when it comes to dealing with reproductive health issues. This one-size approach has meant that each year, thousands of women undergo hysterectomies that they may not need.

About 600,000 women have hysterectomies each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet many of these highly invasive surgeries are medically unnecessary. And as more women realize they have options besides a hysterectomy, more women are seeking alternative solutions by consulting with their own doctors, tapping online medical resources, and discussing their experiences and options on websites like ChangetheCycle.com.

The most recent year for which statistics are available, more than 90 percent of hysterectomies were performed for benign conditions; just 10 percent were done to treat cancer of the ovaries, uterus or cervix, according to a study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. Among the most common benign conditions treated were fibroids (35 percent), heavy periods (30 percent), endometriosis and pelvic pain. The CDC notes that fibroid tumors, endometriosis and uterine prolapse were the three most common conditions associated with hysterectomy.

“If a patient does not feel comfortable with a recommendation for surgery, they should seek a second opinion,” says Dr. Jessica Shepherd, assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. “As a woman, I feel it is imperative that we feel we have options, today, women dealing with reproductive health issues such as heavy periods or fibroids have non-surgical treatment options available, too. These options come in medical and surgical forms and I always want my patients to know all of them.”

For example, fibroids or polyps in the uterus can be removed with a procedure called MyoSure, which requires no cutting into or removal of any part of the uterus. The procedure can help patients reduce heavy bleeding caused by polyps or fibroids while retaining a fully functional uterus. Heavy periods, which affect more than 10 million women, can be treated with the NovaSure procedure, a five-minute, non-surgical procedure that can be performed in your doctor’s office. For more than 90 percent of women, the procedure can dramatically reduce menstrual bleeding or even stop it altogether.

“This procedure works very well and can also be done in the office setting,” says Shepherd. “For every procedure, there are those patients that may not be a candidate for them and that is why a detailed conversation with your doctor is important. Feel comfortable asking questions and getting all the information you need.”

Some serious conditions may only be treatable by hysterectomy. According to the National Women’s Health Network (NWHN), these include: invasive cancer, unmanageable infection or bleeding, and serious complications during childbirth, such as rupture of the uterus. Shepherd also adds: “Fibroids do cause heavy bleeding and sometimes the size of the fibroid can be very large and they may require a more invasive surgery. Therefore it is important to talk to your gynecologist about your fibroids and all the options that can treat them.”

However, NWHN “believes that unnecessary hysterectomies have put women at risk needlessly, and that health care providers should recognize the value of a woman’s reproductive organs beyond their reproductive capacity and search for hysterectomy alternatives before resorting to life-changing operations,” according to the organization’s website.

“Before making any serious decision about a health issue, patients should consult their doctor and educate themselves as much as possible about their specific condition and their treatment options,” Shepherd says. “In the end, we as women should celebrate our bodies and having engaging dialogue with your gynecologist and other women only encourages healthy lifestyles. In my forum for women’s health care we discuss all the topics that you may not want to or feel embarrassed about. We want you to open up about these topics and feel empowered!”

Visit her Viewpoint with Dr. Shepherd on Facebook and Twitter at Facebook.com/HerViewpointCommunity, and Twitter.com/HerViewpoint.

To learn more about non-surgical treatment for heavy periods, polyps or fibroids, visit www.changethecycle.com.

Courtesy of BPT

Steps for creating the ultimate game day space

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

(BPT) – Looking for a great space to chill out and hang with the dudes? Call it the basement, the garage, a home bar, or just a room dedicated to enjoying the game – it’s your man cave. This year, take your space to the next level with these important game day essentials. If you’re lucky – it’ll become a known game day spot for seasons to come.

Store away the things you don’t need

Since this space is likely to have quite a few visitors, it’s essential that you can always find what you need and your buds have plenty of space to celebrate. Tip one: Never lose the remote. Velcro works great for securing the remote to a designated space on the wall; that way it’s always in the right place. Tip two: cut back on the clutter. Consider installing some shelving units – nothing says team pride more than painting the selves in your team’s colors. If you don’t have the space, consider purchasing furniture pieces that do double work, such as a storage ottoman with a hidden mini-fridge or a chair with a built-in cooler.

Add some team spirit

Your favorite team doesn’t have an ivory colored locker room, so why does your man cave? Embrace your team colors with a fresh coat of paint, a simple and cost-effective way to update your space. If your team has bright colors, consider painting a few items or striping the walls so it is not too overpowering. When painting the walls, pick up a Purdy White Dove roller cover. It’s especially great for applying paint to large areas and can be easily cleaned and ready for multiple colors. White Dove covers work with all paints and exterior stains, especially where a smooth, lint-free finish is desired.

Allow your collections to manifest

Whether you enjoy building mini airplanes or have a slight movie obsession, make the space your own and showcase that plane collection, baseball memorabilia or movie theme. Having a place to enjoy your hobbies and your friends is a smart way to save space and showcase what you love. If you don’t have any collections, consider hanging a few posters of the hometown teams. Looking to brag a little more? Create a custom banner symbolizing your championship last year in your fantasy football league.

Create your own halftime activities

You could sit there and watch the commentators and commercials for 20 minutes, or you can add some fun and competitive spirit to your man cave. If you have a small space, consider breaking out games like darts or cards. If you have more space, think about incorporating some larger games such as a vintage pinball machine or a pool table in the room.

Feed your friends

Designate an area of the man cave for food and beverages. To really set your space off, consider a vintage-styled popcorn machine or hot dog roller cooker. A slow cooker is also a game day essential for making chili. Sport themed plastic bowls are great for snack foods such as pretzels and chips.

By following these simple tips, the guys will be enjoying the game and your awesome space in no time.

Courtesy of BPT

Back to school, back to easy meals

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

(BPT) – With the hectic back-to-school season underway, it’s time to get back to easy weeknight meals. Preparing a wholesome and delicious dinner may feel extra stressful when time is scarce. That’s why many busy families rely on slow cookers to get them through the week. In fact, slow cooking can speed up your meal planning in a big way.

Ready to go straight from the freezer to the slow cooker or oven, JENNIE-O(R) OVEN READY(TM) Turkey Breast is a great-tasting, time-saving meal option for busy parents doing their best to balance work and school schedules, according to Vicky Braun, slow cooker recipe guru and inventor of the Lid Pocket(R), a hands-free lid holder for slow cookers.

“Weeknight meals are easy if you have a few tried-and-true techniques to fall back on,” says Braun. “Requiring no prep and very little cleanup, one of my favorite convenient meal solutions is to slow-cook a JENNIE-O OVEN READY Turkey Breast one day and then use it as a basis for quick recipes and nourishing snacks throughout the week.”

Braun offers the following tips to keep in your apron pocket for easy weeknight meals:

Talk turkey. Simply place a JENNIE-O OVEN READY Turkey Breast in the slow cooker with a small amount of water before you head to work and by the time you return home, you’ll have a great-tasting, perfectly cooked, wholesome turkey breast to enjoy with your loved ones.

Stir things up. For a hot and simple meal, cut the cooked turkey breast into strips and combine with your favorite vegetables for a quick stir-fry. Serve alone or with rice or pasta.

Spread the love. Make a turkey spread to serve on crackers as an appetizer or fun snack. Put cooked turkey in the blender along with onions, garlic, salt, cilantro and/or parsley, plus light mayo or low-fat cream cheese.

Have fun with fajita pizza. Create savory fajita pizzas with tasty turkey breast meat, bold taco cheese and plenty of nutritious veggies for a fun and convenient family meal.–

Soup’s on. Instead of relying on canned soups for quick meals, use cooked turkey meat to make a delicious soup in your slow cooker every week. It’s an easy and satiating meal for active kids, and a great way to work more vegetables into their diet.

Snack attack. Cut cooked turkey into cubes and place it into snack-sized zip-close bags along with cubes of low-fat cheese to send with kids for a portable, protein-packed snack.

Ensure food safety. Remember to always cook turkey to a well-done 165 F as measured by a meat thermometer.

For further information on JENNIE-O OVEN READY Turkey Breast and more convenient slow cooker recipes, visit JennieO.com or SwitchToTurkey.com.

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JENNIE-O Turkey Fajita Pizzas Recipe

Makes six servings

Prep time: Under 15 minutes

Total time: More than 1 hour

Nutritional information:

Calories: 310

Protein: 25g

Carbohydrates: 25g

Fiber: 2g

Sugars 8g

Fat: 12g

Cholesterol: 55mg

Sodium: 560mg

Saturated fat: 6g

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Ingredients

1 (2 to 2 1/2-pound) package JENNIE-O OVEN READY Turkey Breast

6 (8-inch) CHI-CHI’S(R) Soft Tortillas, warmed

2/3 cup barbeque sauce

2 green bell peppers, sliced into rings

1 red onion, sliced

1 1/2 cups taco cheese

CHI-CHI’S Thick and Chunky Salsa, if desired

CHI-CHI’S Tortilla Chips, if desired

Directions

In slow cooker, cook turkey as specified on the package. Always cook to well-done, 165 F as measured by a meat thermometer. Shred three cups of turkey. Refrigerate remaining turkey for another meal.-
 
 Heat oven to 425 F and spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Arrange tortillas on baking sheets. Spread with sauce. Top with bell pepper, turkey, onion and cheese. Cook 10- to-12 minutes or until tortillas are golden brown. Serve with salsa and chips, if desired.

Courtesy of BPT