By: Lisa Quast - Forbes
In support of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, read this emotionally inspiring interview with Karen Vaniver, MD, to find out how having cancer made her a better doctor, why she believes cancer can be used as a stimulus for positive life growth, and her advice for women diagnosed with breast cancer.
When Karen Vaniver found out she had breast cancer, she felt the color drain from her face and her body go numb, but she wasn’t surprised. She lost her grandmother to breast cancer and her mother and sister were breast cancer survivors, so she understood how devastating the disease could be.
What made Karen’s situation unique? She was a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon who had performed breast reconstruction surgery for numerous cancer patients. This meant Dr. Vaniver already knew the difficult road to wellness she would need to navigate. Not only did Dr. Vaniver become a breast cancer survivor, her situation impacted her career by inspiring her to dedicate a large portion of her medical practice to working with breast cancer patients.
Dr. Vaniver was not alone in her breast cancer diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, there have been an estimated 289,870 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed among U.S. women in 2012 and the National Cancer Institute estimates that 1 out of 8 U.S. women are at risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. “Because there was already so much breast cancer in my family, I always secretly suspected I would eventually have to deal with it, but I never knew when it would happen,” recalled Dr. Vaniver.
Q: You previously worked with breast cancer patients in your breast reconstruction work, so you were already familiar with how difficult the treatment process could be when you were diagnosed. How did being a patient help make you a better doctor?
Dr. Vaniver: The first thing I realized was how important it is to be heard. As physicians, we can get more caught up in treating the disease than the patient. I learned it’s really imperative to take the patient’s values into account when leading her through the decision making process. The second thing I realized was how much information a person is dealt. It can be overwhelming and anxiety producing. I think it’s really important for the treating physicians to work as a team, with the patient’s needs in the center, and to be able to flex between specialties so patients receive a fairly cohesive message, even when there are multiple options.
Q: I understand you author a blog, “Cancer Made Me Nice.” Love that title! What’s your take on how cancer made you a nicer person?
Dr. Vaniver: When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was six weeks after my move to Washington State and my world was completely upended. I had recently joined a fitness Boot Camp with a group of women in Enumclaw, Washington, and these women took over my life, shuttling me to doctor appointments, chemotherapy, and the emergency room. They even unpacked my house and my garage while I had every complication known to man during my cancer treatment. Whenever I look back on that period, I know in my heart that those women’s hands were the hands that held me. I started my “Cancer Made Me Nice” blog because I needed to express my shock and fear. While the blog started out as a way to communicate about my illness to friends and family, it soon became a vehicle for me to reach out to others with the lessons I learned. Surgeons are often bred to be intolerant perfectionists, married to our egos, and respecting only our own decisions. Yet sometimes, a patient’s greatest growth is in the dying process. Cancer made me a nicer (and better) person because it taught me about the power of compassion and the courage that lies within vulnerability. My “Cancer Made Me Nice” blog honors the humanity that is so important in all of us.
Q: What advice would you like to give women who have just been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Dr. Vaniver: I would like women to know that while being diagnosed with breast cancer is awful, it isn’t the end of the world. You are starting on a journey, from which I promise you will grow stronger and more centered.
Here is Dr. Vaniver's advice:
- You can look for an accredited breast center in your area through the American College of Surgeons Web Site at http://napbc-breast.org/resources/find.html. At a minimum, you should meet with a breast surgeon or general surgeon who has significant experience with breast cancer treatment.
- Prior to definitive surgery, you should meet with a medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, geneticist (if you are at risk for the breast cancer gene), and reconstructive surgeon. Your physicians are most effective when they work as a team. They should be able to offer you alternative options and to answer all of your questions. If you feel uncomfortable with any of your providers, it is time to get a second opinion.
- Let the people in your life help you. Never be pushed into a quick choice. Waiting a few weeks to wrap your head around the decision making process will not change your prognosis.
- Bring a “buddy” with you to your doctor appointments.
- Meet with all of your doctors, if you can, before you make your final decision. Your physicians should be able to speak to you in plain English and answer your questions. If one session isn’t enough, go back for a second session.
- Keep a pad of paper and pen by your bed, that way, when you wake up in the middle of the night with a burning question, you can write it down before you forget.
- Be clear on your values. For example, for some women, holding on to their own breast is the most important thing. If it is appropriate medically, they may be a candidate for lumpectomy and radiation. For other women, the anxiety of recurrence and monitoring the opposite breast may be enough to put a serious dent in their quality of life. For those patients, bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction may be the appropriate choice. In reconstructive surgery, patient satisfaction is most highly linked to being actively involved in the decision-making process and the relationship they have with their plastic surgeon.
- Take time to rest. This often will include taking time off from your career, and that’s okay.
- Take time to enjoy the people in your life. If you feel like you are doing nothing, remember that doing nothing is actively healing.
- I truly believe facing a major illness should not be seen as the end of the world, but as an opportunity to experience a journey that will uncover previously unknown strengths and abilities. What will you discover on your journey?
The Consumer Research Council of America recognized Dr. Karen Vaniver as one of America’s Top Surgeons and one of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons, she is a recipient of the 2012 Seattle Metropolitan Top Doctors Award, and is a past recipient of the American Medical Association’s Hero in Medicine Award. Karen is also a breast cancer survivor who took one and a half years out of her career to overcome complications related to her disease. While breast cancer could have severely impacted her life and her career, she realized having a difficult disease could be a blessing in disguise if she maintained a positive attitude and looked for the good that could come out of it.
Evelyn Lauder, 1936-2011
By: Felicia Milewicz - Glamour
When Evelyn Lauder died in November 2011, Glamour lost a partner, a friend, and all women lost a hero. But what an amazing legacy!
1) Busy people can still have a life
"When I visited Evelyn at her home in Florida, I saw how much love she and her husband, Leonard [chairman emeritus of Estee Lauder companies] had for each other," says Felicia Milewicz. "She was like that with everyone - she cared about people completely. When you were with her, you genuinely felt like you were her best friend."
2) One woman can change the world
These days, even football players wear pink for breast cancer, but back in 1993, when cosmetics executive Lauder founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the topic was still taboo in many circles. "Every one of us is healthier today because Evelyn stuck her neck out," says Cindi Leive, Glamour's editor-in-chief. "BCRF supported cutting-edge research that often couldn't get funding elsewhere, so we now have life-saving drugs like Herceptin. And BCRF was one of the first to identify how genes and diet affect our risk. She was a true trailblazer, and
and yet I always knew that if I had to pick up the phone to ask her advice on behalf of a friend or a colleague with a cancer diagnosis, she would focus on it as if it were the only thing in her day, which it surely never was."
3) You can be a power woman and a girl's girl
"The first time I met Evelyn was over lunch after she read my Cancer Vixen cartoon in Glamour," says author and illustrator Marisa Acocella Marchetto. "She ordered some broccoli, then leaned over and whispered, 'Cruciferous vegetables fight cancer.' Here was this amazing woman trading cancer tips like makeup tips! When she e-mailed me weeks before her death, thanking me for art I created for BCRF, I was reminded what a crusader she was."
4) Pursuing work you love matters
"Evelyn spoke about fragrance with such passion," says Milewicz. "I learned to love fragrance because of her. And she was what we call a nose; she could instantly identify a best-seller." Lauder was behind Pleasures and Beautiful - two of the most popular scents of all time.
5) A good mentor empowers others
"Evelyn asked me to attend a big-deal conference with her in Vienna and to speak at it, but I was a nervous wreck," says Milewiz. "She said, 'Felicia I believe in you - you're doing this.' It was a big success. Thank you, Evelyn, for your wisdom, your love, and for showing me what I was capable of."
By: Kimberly Bonnell & Pamela Redmond Satrun - Glamour
1) You have to jog somewhere. Why not to H&M?
2) Those poor salespeople. They get lonely too.
3) You're running low on shopping bags.
4) Got to the movie theatre an hour early. Oops!
5) It's fun to torture your boyfriend, just a little...
6) Which is a healthier splurge: an enormous frozen mojito or a cute Marni skirt?
7) You're supposed to dress for the job you want, and you just decided you want a new job. As CEO of a fashion company.
Source: September 2012 edition of Glamour magazine
By: Robin Erb - Detroit Free Press
DETROIT – Go ahead, do it: Grab a pencil. Right now. Write your name backward. And upside down.
But if researchers and neurologists are correct, doing exercises like these just might buy you a bit more time with a healthy brain.
Some research suggests that certain types of mental exercises -- whether they are memory games on your mobile device or jotting down letters backward -- might help our gray matter maintain concentration, memory and visual and spatial skills over the years.
"There is some evidence of a use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon," says Dr. Michael Maddens, chief of medicine at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
Makers of computer brain games, in fact, are tapping into a market of consumers who have turned to home treadmills and gym memberships to maintain their bodies and now worry that aging might take its toll on their mental muscle as well.
But tweaking every-day routines can help.
Like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Or crossing your arms opposite from the way you're used to, says Cheryl Deep, who leads Brain Neurobics sessions on behalf of the Wayne State Institute of Gerontology.
At a recent session in Novi, Deep encouraged several dozen senior citizens to flip the pictures in their homes upside-down. It might baffle houseguests, but the exercise crowbars the brain out of familiar grooves cut deep by years of mindless habit.
"Every time you walk past and look, your brain has to rotate that image," Deep says. "Brain neurobics is about getting us out of those ruts, those pathways, and shaking things up."
Participants were asked to call out the color of ink that flashed on a screen in front them. The challenge: The colors spelled out names of other colors. Blue ink spelled o-r-a-n-g-e, for example.
Several in the crowd at Waltonwood Senior Living hesitated -- a few scrunching up faces in concentration. The first instinct is to say "orange."
In another exercise, participants had to try to name as many red foods as possible. Apple? Sure that's an easy one. It took a while, but the crowd eventually made its way to pomegranate and pimento.
Elissa and Hal Leider chuckled with friends as they tested their recall.
Hal Leider, 82, a retired carpenter, was diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's, and he tries to challenge himself mentally and physically -- bowling and shooting pool and playing poker.
"I think anything we can do might be helpful," says Elissa Leider, 74.
The idea of mental workouts marks a dramatic shift in how we understand the brain these days.
"We want to stretch and flex and push" the brain, says Moriah Thomason, assistant professor in Wayne State University School of Medicine's pediatrics department.
Thomason also is a scientific adviser to www.Lumosity.com, one of the fastest-growing brain game websites.
"We used to think that what you're born with is what you have through life. But now we understand that the brain is a lot more plastic and flexible than we ever appreciated," she says.
Still, like the rest of your body, aging takes its toll, she says.
The protective covering of the neural cells -- white matter -- begins to shrink first. Neural and glial cells, often called the gray matter, begin to shrink as well, but more slowly. Neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, decrease.
But challenging the brain stimulates neural pathways -- those tentacles that look like tree branches in a cluster of brain cells. It boosts the brain's chemistry and connectivity, refueling the entire engine.
"Certain activities will lay more neural pathways that can be more readily re-engaged," Thomason says. "The hope is that there are ways to train and strengthen these pathways."
Maddens explains it this way: Consider the neurons of your brain like electrical wires and the white matter like the insulation. When the insulation breaks down over time, things can misfire.
In labs, those who engaged in mentally challenging games do, in fact, show improvement in cognitive functioning. They get faster at speed games and stronger in memory games, for example.
What's less clear is whether this improvement transfers to everyday tasks, like remembering where you parked the car or the name of your child's teacher, both Thomason and Maddens say.
But when it comes to the link between physical exercise and the brain, researchers and clinicians agree: Physical exercise is good for the brain; it has also been linked to lower rates of chronic disease. Good nutrition is essential too.
Oxygen, itself, is essential, Deep told the Novi group. "Your brain is an oxygen hog."
Diet, exercise and mental maneuvers all may boost brain health in ways science still doesn't understand. In the best cases, the right mix might stave off the effects of Alzheimer's and other age-related disease too, Maddens says.
All this is good news for an aging, stressed out, and too-busy society, he says.
Reading a book, engaging with friends or going out for a walk and paying attention to what's around you -- that's not really about goofing off. Rather, it's critical time that stimulates neural pathways and boosts the odds of longtime brain health.
"It's talking to friends. It's getting out socially. It's engaging in life. The question is 'How do I force myself to learn?' " Thomason says.
The same might be true when it comes to mentally challenging computer games.
Says Maddens: "Would I have patients playing computer games eight hours a day in hopes that they can delay Alzheimer's by two months? No. But you can enjoy (playing such games) and possibly get a benefit from it, too."
Keeping your brain agile needn't take a lot of time, money or even a crossword puzzle. Here are some fun, quick challenges from local brain neurobics presenter Cheryl Deep:
-- Switch it up: Use your nondominant hand to drive your computer mouse or brush your teeth. Slip your watch on the opposite wrist. Turn it upside down.
-- Refocus senses: Turn off the TV volume and follow the action by the visuals only, or keep the volume on and close your eyes to imagine what's going on.
-- Fine-tuning senses: As a passenger in a car on a familiar route, close your eyes and follow the route in your mind. Open your eyes periodically to see if you are right.
-- Turn the page: Read a book upside down.
-- Trash talk: Avoid the word "the" for a two-minute conversation challenge. Partners keep count of each other's "the's" while trying not to say any of their own.
A few more tips for everyday living from researchers and clinicians:
-- Grab your sneakers and a friend: A good walk is not only aerobic exercise, chatting with friends -- discussing a recent book, for example -- can stimulate new ways of thinking.
-- Join the club: Visiting friends, volunteer work and other social connections may protect against cognitive decline over the long run.
-- Get your zzzz's: Sleep deprivation blunts memory and executive functioning. A power nap -- no more than 20 minutes -- can help too.
-- Toss the tobacco, limit alcohol: Research has linked smoking to a quicker loss of memory as we age; likewise, drinks should be limited to one a day for women and two for men.
-- Play: Some research suggests that online games involving problem-solving, speed and memory might sharpen cognitive prowess.
SEATTLE (AP) — A video featuring cancer-stricken children, their nurses, doctors and parents lip-synching and dancing to the popular Kelly Clarkson
song "Stronger" has become an online sensation.
Clarkson, in her own video message to the children at Seattle Children's Hospital, said it was "amazing."
"It made my day. I know it's making everybody else's day online," Clarkson said in a message posted on her website. "I just can't wait to meet you."
The youngsters, many attached to IVs and holding signs that say "Stronger," "Fighter" and "Hope," dance along with parents and medical staff. One child even rides a bike through the hallways of the hematology oncology floor. The video is part of a creative arts program with cancer patients at Seattle Children's.
The kids' video went online May 6. It was the idea of 22-year-old Chris Rumble, a patient at the hospital who was diagnosed with leukemia in April. He wanted to do something to share with his old hockey team in the central Washington town of Wenatchee.
"I'm everyone's big brother and I have a lot of friends here at Seattle Children's," Rumble said on the hospital's blog.
Dr. Douglas Hawkins said the patients and staff at Seattle Children's have been thrilled by the response.
"This morning it was over 900,000 views. It's really incredible," he said Friday.
Hawkins said such projects help the kids maintain their spirits.
"When a child or young adult is treated for cancer, it puts their whole life on hold in a way that doesn't seem fair at all," Hawkins said. "It's a fight for their life. But there are all these other normal things they want to be doing too, or things they want to focus on other than the medicine or the illness or their time in the hospital."
To find out more, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-12/young-cancer-patients-video/54918102/1?loc=interstitialskip
Photo courtesy of Target
By: Arienne Thompson - USA TODAY
Can't make it to Miami to check out ultra-chic boutique The Webster? No problem, because Target is bringing The Webster - along with four other specialty boutiques - to you.
The nationwide retailer has teamed up with hip shop owners from across the country to create affordable limited-edition goods for The Shops at Target.
"The idea came from the fact that we have a lot of people who are out shopping the world all the time, looking for great new ideas, designers, trends," says Target's Home Division senior vice president Stacia Andersen. "As every single group would come back, they would keep saying, 'When you go to Miami, you have to go to The Webster!' or 'Have you been to Connecticut? You have to see Privet House!' It just kept coming back to these shops that we visited and how well-curated they were and how visionary the shop owners were."
And, the opportunity for these small-business owners to showcase their wares on a national level was a dream come true.
"As soon as they approached me, I knew already that it was going to be such an amazing experience," says Laure Heriard Dubreuil, owner of The Webster, which will offer more than 200 exclusive accessories and apparel pieces for women, men and children. "I wanted to share so much with them and learn so much from their point of view and the way they work. I think they're extremely dynamite."
The nearly 400-piece Shops at Target collection, which includes everything from candy to dog collars, hits stores and Target.com
To read more, visit: http://www.azcentral.com/style/fashion/articles/2012/04/10/20120410shops-target-line-hits-ultra-chic-bulls-eye.html#ixzz1rrfJkMGF
By: Janice Lloyd - USA TODAY
Sweet news about those chocolate cravings: People who eat moderate amounts regularly are thinner than those who eat chocolate less often.
The new research involved 1,018 healthy men and women, who exercised on average 3.6 times a week and had a balanced, nutritious diet. The body mass index of those who ate chocolate five times a week was 1 point lower than people who did not eat it regularly. Body mass index (BMI
) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight.
"I was pretty happy with this news myself," says lead author Beatrice Golomb, associate professor of medicine at the University of California-San Diego. "Findings show the composition of calories, not just the number of them, matters for determining ultimate weight."
One point on the BMI scale "is not insignificant," Golomb says; 1 point translates to 5 fewer pounds for someone 5 feet tall, 7 pounds for someone 5-foot-10. Findings were published Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study was observational, meaning it analyzed data based on how much chocolate people said they ate, rather than a controlled trial in which some people are given chocolate and compared with others who did not get chocolate.
Past research has found that dark chocolate can be beneficial for the heart, says physician Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women's health and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. One study of more than 100,000 people found that those who ate dark chocolate regularly reduced their relative risk of heart disease by a third. Golomb's study did not specify the type of chocolate. Neither study received funding from chocolate makers.
Cocoa is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which help fight inflammation, lower blood pressure and improve overall vascular function.
The antioxidants also affect metabolism and improve insulin sensitivity, Golomb says. Insulin resistance contributes to hypertension and obesity. "The chocolate provided better metabolism for all calories, not just the chocolate calories."
At a time when 66% of U.S.
adults are overweight or obese, the results need to be regarded with some caution, experts acknowledge.
"Before you start to eat a chocolate bar a day to keep the doctor away, remember a chocolate bar can contain over 200 calories, which mostly come from saturated fats and sugar," says Nancy Copperman, a registered dietitian and director of public health initiatives at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y.
She advises limiting chocolate to a 1-oz. portion of dark chocolate a day, or adding cocoa powder to your food or coffee just once a day.
To read the full article, visit: http://www.usatoday.com/NEWS/usaedition/2012-03-27-Chocolate-eaters-thinner----_ST_U.htm
By: Kristin DeSutter
As a senior studying advertising at the University of Illinois, the Dove Evolution commercial has been well-respected in many of my classes. Their "Campaign for Real Beauty" launched in 2004 after a survey revealed how few women regard themselves as beautiful, and that most regard true beauty as something they cannot hope to attain. If this is not enough, it is even more alarming to discover that many "perfect" models do not exist. Rather, most models have been digitally altered. Extensively. Watch their enlightening commercial to see for yourself.
To find out more about Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty, visit: http://www.dove.us/Social-Mission/campaign-for-real-beauty.aspx
By: Kristin DeSutter
When I stayed with three of my good friends in Virginia before the DC March almost exactly a month ago, I had a rather startling discovery... I was finishing the last of my breakfast when one of my roommates asked me, "Kristin, what are you taking?" I told her I was taking my daily multivitamin - Women's One A Day - and all three of my roommates stopped their folding, packing, and suitcase-arranging. They just stared at me.
I was so surprised (and upset) to find out the only time they took a daily multivitamin was when they were kids! Although my doctor has recommended Women's One A Day over other multivitamins for girls our age, I am really not one of their advocates. I just really want you to realize how many numerous benefits are associated with this powerful multivitamin. One bottle containing 160 vitamins costs $10; or 16 cents per day.Women's One A Day is formulated to support:
- Bone Strength with a high level of Calcium, more† Vitamin D and Magnesium
- Breast Health with more† Vitamin D
- Heart Health with Vitamins B6, B12, C, E, and Folic Acid
- Immunity with Vitamins C, A, E and Selenium
- Physical Energy with B vitamins and Chromium
- Healthy Reproductive System with Folic Acid, Magnesium, Zinc and Calcium.
- Provides nutritional support during PMS
- Healthy Skin with Vitamins A, C, Copper and Iron
To find out more, check out Women's One A Day at: http://oneaday.com/womens.html