Made a run to NC for Thanksgiving with my son and his wife and my two grandsons. It was delightful and busy and just fun. Also got a call from son in California that he was in a wreck and car towed and he walked home. He was having neck issues and once again we see how fast things can happen and change. The car is replaceable but my son is not and I was relieved to hear his voice and know that he would be ok. There is so much we take for granted in our everyday lives and after having driven close to 1000 miles during breast cancer awareness month and then the trip to NC and back and yes even everyday back and forth to work to know that in a heartbeat things can change. I firmly believe as I have said many times, even cancer- I never asked why me rather why not me. We are all dealing with different situations and concerns and it is how we deal with those situations defines who we are. I am not always strong nor am I infallible but human. Stepping outside ourselves and helping others when we can is the best medicine I know so as we approach this holiday season, be thankful for the blessings you enjoy and reach out to others that may be struggling and if I can help in any way...just let me know. Making a great day! S
What is more fun than getting together with family and friends for Thanksgiving? You get to eat and sleep and eat some more and be with those you love. I have already had requests for Grandma's corn recipe for those that will be in other places on this holiday. I sat and wrapped Christmas presents last night and watched Dancing with the Stars. Today is off to Cambridge Springs High School to do breast cancer awareness programs and later my own get together with family. I love the smell of turkey roasting in the oven and bread baking and of course the CHEX MIX to munch on while setting the table and the sounds of Thanksgiving as well. The laughter and banter that is among the group and the phone calls from those that can't be with us during this holiday. Also in my thoughts are those that are dealing with more threatening issues such as Korea, Finances, Health and those families that have members missing at the table this year. The Norman Rockwell picture of the holidays doesn't often happen but looking at what is good in the here and now and what we enjoyed in the past may be what we hold on to to get us through the holiday. I was asked about my SUEISM's the other day and how I always find some bright and funny point to add. I had never thought about it but I am aware I use humor alot to get through the toughest parts of the day. I have a man on my roof this morning working to get ready for the future snow storms, my husband out running errands and me off to school. My laughter is inside of me today as I think of my Mom and Dad that would be so proud of our families and where they are today. I look back at the memory bank and see Mom and Dad in the kitchen with Mom in her nightgown working on the feast. Dad is puttering in the basement and kids are chattering and watching the parade. The constant "Is it ready yett?"continues until at last we sit down the the repast in front of us. I laugh at all the good that is and has been in my life and how blessed I am despite the bumps in the road and trust me there have been bumps, Big and little ones. I am still standing-making it a great day! I wish the best for you and yours and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers during this season and all it has to offer.
Dads Can Pass on BRCA Mutations Most inherited cases of breast cancer are associated with two abnormal genes: BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two). Men are just as likely as women to have an abnormal breast cancer gene. If they have an abnormal gene, men are also just as likely to pass it on to both their daughters and their sons.
So a woman who has a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer on her father's side (her dad's mother or sisters) has the same risk of having an abnormal breast cancer gene as a woman with a strong family history on her mother's side.
Still, the study reviewed here suggests that women are much more likely to be referred for genetic counseling if the family history of breast or ovarian cancer is on their mother's side rather than their father's.
This could mean that doctors aren't recognizing that paternal (father's) family history of breast and ovarian cancer is equally important as maternal (mother's) family history when considering abnormal breast cancer gene risk. It's also possible that women themselves don't consider paternal family history equal to maternal family history when talking about risk and family history with their doctors.
Having an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene has health implications for both men and women.
Women with an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene:
Both women AND men with an abnormal breast cancer gene have a 50% risk of passing the abnormal gene on to their children.
All women should tell their doctors about the health histories of their mother's AND their father's families, especially any history of breast and ovarian cancer. Having a family history of breast or ovarian cancer in first-degree relatives on either side may be an indicator of an abnormal breast cancer gene and higher-than-average risk for breast or ovarian cancer. If your mother or father's family has a strong family history, you may want to consider BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing. Knowing the results can help you develop the best cancer screening and risk-reduction strategies, as well as inform other family members about their risk of an abnormal breast cancer gene.
Had several stops I wanted to make before work this morning and first was to get some money to fill my car with gas and could not find my debit card. I was rather flustered with some personal news so it was yet another test before 7 this morning. It is on those kind of days that I have to pick myself up and Make it a great day!. Most people see a smile and laugh the majority of time but I work hard to keep positive and maintain that smile. We are all bombarded by outside issues and concerns. I don't have a special pass on any of this. I am often tested to my limit and that is when I reflect on who I am, where I came from, and what blessings I do have in my life. I am not a true optimist but a convert that works towards that goal daily. WE have all had major stressors in our lives and sometimes our choices lead us the wrong direction or add fuel to the already burning fire. Sometimes we just have to believe it is right and work at being positive and find that eventually we will get there. Being patient may be the most difficult part of believing. So many people walk in and out of our lives and when stepping out of the picture, I want to make sure that they left with something more for having known me. I hope that I can help and touch the lives of others in a positive way. So maybe today does feel and taste like Monday but think I will add sugar and move on. Making it a great day! S
I have advertised in the paper and on web sites and yet we have a small showing for our support group for caregivers. I am in a dilemma as I am not sure how to proceed from here. I know there are husbands of patients, wives of patients, family members and friends that are struggling with what to do and how to do for the patient as they seek and receive treatment. I see the drawn and distraught faces. I am sure that this may seem one more obligation on their plate to come to a session and it is difficult to verbalize what fears, concerns, and possibly frustration and even anger during this whole process that they may be feeling. I am no expert but I am a great listener and knowing others are with you and understand you and may actually be feeling the same emotions as what you are going through is a tremendous support. I can also say that there are workshops for caregivers of people living with cancer that you can do over the telephone or online. The next one coming up that I would totally recommend is through Cancer care and if is FOR CAREGIVERS: COPING WITH A LOVED ONE"S CANCER DURING THE HOLIDAYS and it is on Tuesday, December 07, 2010- 1:30-2:30 pm eastern time. You can register online at www.cancercare.org/connect or you can call for more information at 1-800-813-HOPE (4673). These programs are for free and I highly recommend the programs they offer and the information and education you receive. Due to the holiday schedule we will not be meeting in December but will resume January 19th 2011. The institute offers a STAYING CONNECTED care group is between 12-1 at the library for past and present patients (anyone going through treatment or has completed it) and then that evening, Jaunuary 19th, 2011 from 7-8:30 in the evening we will be meeting with the THROUGH YOUR EYES support group for caregivers and families. Please feel free to join us but in the mean time if you need help, a listening ear, a friend and support, please call me at the institute at (814)373-3381. Make it a great day!
We had a meeting last night with a group of women with all different kinds of backgrounds, to discuss positive and negative experiences with mammograms, breast cancer and more. This list will be compiled and we will meet again and prioritze those items for future consideration for funding and support through Komen for the state.
I was so proud and honored that so many women showed up and shared what was important to them and I will say we heard them loud and clear. The one faction that I wish I had thought about was including a man since men can get breast cancer too but it may have dampened the conversation flow too so I don't know. Concerns for mammograms for younger women were discussed and due to the breast tissue being denser at a younger age and cancer being dense, mammogram is not always a good tool. We also have MRI and Ultrasound though for screening when needed and it is important for all women to do self breast checks. Unfortunately we know that the younger women usually have a more aggressive cancer.
I also brought to the forefront, needs of men with breast cancer and although the numbers are low at this point we need to be proactive instead of reactive. There still is the false sense of security in thinking that we are safe since no one in the family has had cancer and again that is a a false sense of security. Typical issues circulated around costs, transportation, timeliness of testing and results and plans for treatment and surgery. In a nut shell, communication and education are still key elements.
I spent the weekend in Philadelphia with another participant ( another breast cancer survivor) at a breast seminar who is also a Reach for Recovery Volunteer and discussed what a person in Canada goes through when diagnosed. There are not liasons between hospital and treatment centers, there is not advanced education before treatment and usually only follow up after by Reach for Recovery and if you need Physical Therapy you have to put your name on a list and wait. You have your surgery and go home the same day and probably have a drain that you don't know what to do with and no exercises and no call point in case there are questions or problems. I am not from Canada nor do I know the accuracy of this all but am relaying what I was told. I think we are fortunate to have so many contingencies in our plans to help the person with cancer throughout the whole process from diagnosis to completion of treatment and although there are gaps and wholes, we are growing, learning, and helping those through their walk. I will keep you posted on next week's meeting and outcome but for now- Make it a great day!. S
Spent a beautiful weekend in Philadelphia at a great conference by LIVING BEYOND BREAST CANCER. They had wonderful teleconference on a variety of subjects that is for lay as well as professional people. I often refer patients to their site to get added information. There were presenters talking about diet and exercise and funny true stories and how to reduce stress. There were programs on treatment options for early-stage breast cancer as well as metastatic breast cancer and also clinical trials. Also discussed where tips on making good food choices and that look to have two of each color in fruit and vegetables so two for breakfast, two for lunch and two for dinner plus several snacks as cancer patients should get 7-9 servings a day. As Hippocrates said in 337 BC- let food be your medicine and medicine be your food. There was a presentation on YOGA and taking time to catch your breath( which we all need). There was a program on coping with fears of recurrenc and how to stay ahead of trigger events. A program on beauty inside and out was also included as well as networking and community. I learned alot that I can't wait to share with patients here and support group participators. I do highly recommend you go to LBBC.org and see what they have to offer and I will try to filter some ideas to you in future blogs. Making it a great day! S
Well, I did walk and was so thrilled I did it and then the next night I had family for dinner and woke up the next morning not feeling so hot. Took the day to regroup and get my head out of the toilet and back at work today. I am heading to Philadelphia for the LOOKING BEYOND BREAST CANCER conference and will be back on Sunday. I am not a great fan of traveling by myself and mealtime is awful when you sit and read and reread the menu and sugar packets etc or take a book to the table which just seems rude. I will get to fly in to Philadelphia and then find transportation to get to the hotel. I did win a travel scholarship so that means I also must share a room with another scholarship recipient, someone I have never met. I am also a volunteer at the conference and will be busy helping throughout the time and then back home on Sunday and back to work for the week. Last year I had aroommate as well and although it was not awful it was awkward. I guess I am getting to the age that sharing a bathroom with someone other than my husband is not at the top of my list of wanna do's. There will be a sea of breast cancer patients and survivors at this seminar and we each where a colored necklace that signifies how many years out since our diagnosis. There is much to be learned at this seminar and at days end I will be exhausted but hopefully I can bring back interesting information to share here at the institute. So far now, wish me a safe and uneventful trip and I will be reporting back to you what I have learned when I get back. Make it a great day! S
Ok, so I admit it.... I was exercising to a moderate degree and on occasion rather hit or miss but have come to the realization I have to do better. Be it my age, time of year, the schedule I have been keeping by burning the candle at both ends or what, but I have found I am just too dang tired to muster up the strength to go out and walk. My friend that did walk with me retired and has no desire to get up at 5:30 to walk in the dark and I second that emotion right now. So what is my game plan or should I say, how many excuses can I come up with?
#1 I hate getting dressed 3 and 4 times a day. One to go to exercise and then to take my work clothes and have to dress at the gym,
#2 after work and after dinner, having to change yet again and go exercise and finding a parking place if I choose to go downtown to exercise,
#3 going across town and up the hill to exercise and taking 15-20 minutes both ways to get to workout place and come home
#4 I can't get a membership to the closest place as their are 12 people ahead of me on the waiting list and they have only had two off the list since summer so who knows when and if I could start exercising there although it is close and convenient,
#5 Paying $7 a day to random exercise at the convenient location ( and lets see if I wanted or needed to exercise 3 or 4 times a week that would be $21 to $28 a week and that is getting close to a massage for an hour ( which I would much rather do).
#6 It is just too dark to go in the morning by myself and in the evening, I prefer a buddy to walk with to keep me motivated and my hubby remains working till dinner time and later so that rules him out and I have no one interested in that time as most of my friends are retired that live in town and do their exercise during the day.
#7 It is a hassle just to keep up with cleaning and housework and to add another burden on the schedule along with working and some volunteer activities and all the programs I do during the week and evenings related to work.... I sometimes just need a nothing time so that impinges on making a schedule for exercise and a schedule is the only thing that will keep me on track
#8 I don't like exercise- hmmm the real reason surfaces
#9 It feels too much like work
#10 I am running out of excuses.
Now on the plus side of why I should exercise:
#1 Lower the risk of heart disease
#2 Lower the risk of recurring cancer
#3 Improve my social contacts
#4 Control my weight
#5 Improve my quality of life
#6 Improve my self-esteem
#7 Lessen the risk of osteopenia and osteoporosis
#8 Keep muscles in tone
#9 Better balance and lower risk of broken bones and falls
#10 Improve physical abilities
#11 Maintain or improve range of motion
#12 Help with use of nutrients intake and useage
#13 Improve circulation
#14 Improve heart rate
#15 Exercise dogs to keep them healthier
#16 Makes it more convenient for Ron to make dinner instead of me
#17 Enhances my appreciation of Northwest PA.
#18 Opens the door for help with household activities
#19 Keeps me from watching Oprah, Dr. Phil and General Hospital while making dinner
#20 Keeps me from getting too upset over the nightly news
#30 Gives me a chance to actually talk to my higher power without outside influences and keeps me more alert so I focus better while communicating
#31 Gives me something more to talk about than frustrations of life and aging body
#32 Dang, there are just too many good reasons to get with the program and quit avoiding what is truly better for me.
So I will make it a better day-TODAY, TONIGHT and TOMORROW. You will see me out with my flourescent coat walking one or two dogs and thinking about all the good things that I am gaining from this and burying all my old excuses. TODAY is the day. S (AKA : Former slug albeit part-time)
Vitamin D is the latest vitamin to take the media by storm. Does it live up to the hype? Might vitamin D really have a role to play in breast cancer prevention?
Ecologic studies comparing women in areas of high vs. low sun exposure, animal studies, and some case control studies, particularly in young women, suggest that it can, especially if the blood levels are higher than we usually see with conventional doses of supplements. However, these initial investigations are but first steps.
Studies have shown that women who have lower body fat from diet and exercise are also likely to have higher levels of vitamin D—but we don't know why. It could because of what they eat, or because they are exercising outside. We also are not sure of the target blood level of vitamin D or the age that vitamin D supplementation needs to start to prevent breast cancer. Further, overly high levels of vitamin D can result in side effects such as kidney stones, so it's not as if we can just tell women to take as much vitamin D as they like.
Other findings are mixed. Two randomized studies have compared the benefit of calcium and vitamin D to a placebo. The first was a small study in postmenopausal women. The vitamin D dose was 1100 (IU). This study suggested that vitamin D could reduce a woman's risk of getting all types of cancers, including breast cancer, but the numbers of women who actually got cancer was too small to say that vitamin D reduced a specific type of cancer.
The second study, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), randomized postmenopausal women to take calcium and 400 (IU) of vitamin D or placebo for seven years. Women in both the placebo and treatment arms also were allowed to take up to 1000 IU of non-study vitamin D. This study did not find any relationship between vitamin D intake, blood levels of vitamin D, and breast cancer risk. One possible explanation may be that the women with higher vitamin D levels were also more likely to be thinner and also to exercise. Since these factors can also reduce breast cancer risk, it is hard to know which is more relevant.
Vitamin D is important in the maintenance of healthy bones, muscle, and immune system and probably several other types of tissue as well. Currently, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 200 units a day for children and adults up to age 50; 400 units a day for adults aged 51-70, and 600 units a day for adults age 70 and over. However, many doctors now believe that this is insufficient, and are recommending an adult daily vitamin D intake of 800-1,000 units a day.
You can get this by taking a supplement or by increasing the number of vitamin D-rich foods you eat. Spending 15 minutes a day in the sun without sunscreen will probably not harm you unless you are very fair or have a personal or family history of skin cancer.
It is not recommended that you try to get a lot of vitamin D by, for example, spending a day in the sun on the beach without sunscreen. And remember: More is not always better. The maximum recommended dose of vitamin D is 2,000 units a day. Too much vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, constipation, and weakness. It can also cause heart rhythm abnormalities and kidney problems.
Bottom-line: We currently do not know whether the vitamin D we get through sun exposure has a different impact on our health than the vitamin D we get in supplements. And we can't assume that randomized controlled trials will find that vitamin D helps reduce cancer risk. Let's not forget that we recently saw the results of a study that showed that regular multi-vitamin use does not appear to reduce women's risk of cancer or other diseases—and how many of us were taking multivitamins just for that reason?
National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet on Vitamin D
Chlebowski RT, Johnson KC, Kooperberg C, Pettinger M, Wactawski-Wende J, Rohan T, Rossouw J, Lane D, O'Sullivan MJ, Yasmeen S, Hiatt RA, Shikany JM, Vitolins M, Khandekar J, Hubbell FA; Women's Health Initiative Investigators. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008 Nov 19;100(22):1581-91.
Chlebowski R, Johnson K, Kooperberg C, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2008;100:1581–1591.
Garland CF, Gorham ED, Mohr SB, et al. Vitamin D and prevention of breast cancer: pooled analysis. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2007;103:708-711.
Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, et al. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2007; 85:1586-1591.
Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med 2007;357:266-281.
Holmes MD, Willet WC. Does diet affect breast cancer risk? Breast Cancer Research 2004;6:170-178.
Please tell us how helpful this article was for you: