Archive | May, 2012

Living beyond breast cancer

27 May

Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a nonprofit education and support organization that offers a ton of useful information for breast cancer patients, survivors, friends and family.

In one of its print resources, “Getting Connected: African-Americans Living Beyond Breast Cancer,” it discusses common first reactions to diagnosis, lists what steps to take after being finding out you have cancer, offers truths to common misbeliefs like “If a mammogram finds cancer, it’s too late”, explains treatment options, and more.

It’s a colorful booklet full of well-written, easy-to-read information and even has a page at the back where patients can write the names and phone numbers of their health care team (i.e. medical oncologist, nurse, social worker, insurance provider, etc.).

And the best part of all is that you can order a copy for FREE!


Sip on this

27 May

With temperatures in the 80s, 90s and occasionally topping 100 degrees, it’s even more critical that we pay attention to how much water we drink every day because hot weather puts extra demands on our bodies.

Dehydration is when we drink less than our bodies lose through sweat, urine, stool and just by breathing. The symptoms of dehydration include weakness, confusion, or dizziness; heart palpitations (when your heart feels like it’s jumping in your chest), muscle cramps and fainting; a dry mouth and swollen tongue, feeling extra thirsty; or not sweating or peeing as much as you usually do.

By the time your mouth is dry, you are already dehydrated.

How much water should you drink every day?

The Mayo Clinic recommends that you drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid daily, but add extra when you’re exercising, pregnant or breastfeeding, in hot environments or at high altitudes, or are sick and suffering from fever, vomit or diarrhea, because these conditions cause you to lose even more water than usual.

You can prevent dehydration by planning ahead and staying mindful of how much water you’re drinking.

  • Bring water with you to work, school and outdoor events, especially when you’ll be exercising in the heat.
  • Check the weather forecast; if it’s going to be really hot, change your activities so you’re inside where it’s cooler. You can still exercise or relax inside! Try a workout video, simple stretches, or even cleaning your house. All of these count as exercise activities.
  • If you are outside in the heat, take frequent breaks in the shade and sip water or drinks with electrolytes and sodium such as Gatorade.
  • Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine when it’s really hot, as these make you need to pee and are thus dehydrating.
  • Wear light-colored, breathable clothing.
  • Add more water-rich foods to your diet. In addition to drinking water and other fluids, you can consume a variety of foods that have lots of water in them, such as watermelons, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers or peaches.
  • Pay special attention to the water intake of older adults and kids.

For more information on dehydration causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment, check out this WebMD article. The HuffingtonPost also has a good article about what drinks to consume or avoid before your summer workouts.

Safe fun in the sun

23 May

It’s sunny and beautiful in Missouri, so we bet you’re heading outside to enjoy the lovely weather at BBQs, swimming pools and other outdoor activities. You’ve packed your sunglasses, cooler and beach towel, but what about your sunscreen?

Skin cancer is the most common cancer affecting Americans. One in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime; more new cases of skin cancer will be discovered than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined.

Often African American people think that they are immune to skin cancer, but that just isn’t true. 

While white people are diagnosed with skin cancer most often, it can affect people of all skin colors. In fact, because people of color sometimes think they can’t get skin cancer, they are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage when the cancer is more advanced and is even more likely to be deadly, similar to breast cancer.

According to research by the National Cancer Institute, African Americans survive skin cancer at a rate of about 77 percent compared to 91 percent for Caucasians.

African Americans have more melanin in the outermost layer of their skin, the epidermis. Melanin gives their skin a darker color and provided a little more sun protection factor (SPF) than white people have naturally, but it doesn’t completely protect African Americans from skin cancer.

African Americans are most likely to be affected by squamous cell carcinoma, which tends to appear on their legs, anus and genitals, heads and necks.

The Skin Cancer Foundation offers simple tips for sun protection, including:

  • Do not burn: About 12 percent of African Americans reported getting more than four sunburns in a year in a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Stay in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Use 1 ounce (about the size of a shot glass) of broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, reapplying every two hours or just after swimming or activities that make you sweat a lot.
  • Perform self-exams of your entire body every month.

For additional tips, visit the foundation’s website.

Just one foot in front of the other

17 May

You have a full-time job, three kids with jam-packed school and extracurricular schedules, a grocery list, laundry, a house to clean, and no time to sleep as it is. So how are you supposed to find time to exercise?

We know it’s hard, but it’s not impossible, and the benefits are worth the effort. According to the National Cancer Institute, research studies have largely suggested that 30-60 minutes of exercise per day reduce people’s risk of breast cancer.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention other benefits include stronger bones and muscles; reduced risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers; help controlling your weight, a better mood and improved mental health, less likelihood of falling, and a longer life.

According to the CDC, adults ages 18 to 64 should get about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. The good news is that you don’t have to be physically active for two-and-a-half hours at once; you can break it up into 15 10-minute sections.

This could be walking quickly, cycling, dancing, anything that gets your heart pumping and makes you sweat count! So choose an activity you enjoy doing and make time for it.

Then add muscle-strengthening exercise on two days to strengthen all your major muscle groups. Some examples include lifting weights; performing exercises that use your body weight for resistance like squats, lunges or push-ups; or even yoga.

For more ideas on aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities, visit the CDC’s guidelines on Physical Activity for Everyone.


Event rescheduled

16 May

UPDATE: The first Walking in the Spirit event in Jefferson City, originally planned for Saturday, May 26, will rescheduled.

If you have any questions, please contact us via or call program coordinator LaShaune Johnson, Ph.D., at (573) 882-9082.

Columbia takes the first step

14 May

Six members of the Second Missionary Baptist Church attended our first Walking in the Spirit event on May 5 in Columbia.

Six members of the Second Missionary Baptist Church attended the first Walking in the Spirit event on May 5 at the Armory Sports and Recreation Center in Columbia. We had a great time talking about breast self-awareness and going through some simple stretches before taking a quick walk around the neighborhood.

The theme of our first event was “Keeping your eyes on Jesus.” For our spiritual reflection for this month, we suggest Matthew 14:22-33 (KJV):

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

Remember this Scripture this month and try something new. When you feel like you’re ready to give up, make the effort to lift your head up and fix your eyes to Him. Stride confidently ahead and remember the theme of our program:  “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25 (KJV)

One new activity you might find enjoyable is walking, a gentle, low-impact exercise that you can do just about anywhere with just a comfortable pair of shoes. Some of the benefits of walking include weight management, increased confidence and energy, lower blood pressure, lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and higher high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), better mood and sleep, and lower risk of heart attack, stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes and some cancers

To get started, find a comfortable pair of shoes with good arch support, a firm heel and thick, flexible soles, and wear cushy socks to avoid blisters and muscle pain and absorb shock. Also, wear sunscreen and loose, moisture-wicking clothes.

Warm up with a short, 5-minute walk outside or in place, and then stretch your legs, back and arms before heading out on a 5- to 15-minute walk, which you can lengthen as you get more comfortable. Cool down by walking slower for a few minutes and then stretching again.

Plan your walks and other exercise activities in advance. You’ll be much more likely to actually make time for them if you schedule them ahead of time. Think of it as time for you to pray, meditate, or talk with a friend.

Track your progress. Write down how far you walked, how long you walked, and how you felt during and afterward.

Celebrate small victories such as increasing your time or distance with healthy treats like frozen yogurt, new workout gear or a pedicure.

Here’s a great playlist to get you started! You can download these songs or contact us at to get a copy of the CD.

  • “Order my Steps” by GMWA (time: 4:44)
  • “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” by Mahalia Jackson (time: 4:20)
  • “I Smile” by Kirk Franklin (time: 4:59)
  • “Walking” by MaryMary (time: 3:25)
  • “Worthy to be Praised” by Micah Stampley (time: 500)
  • “Put it on the Altar”—Jessica Reedy (time: 4:04)
  • “Just Want to Praise You” by Maurette Brown-Clark (time: 4:59)
  • “Trust Me”—Richard Smallwood (time: 6:19)

We hope you’ll think about starting a new exercise activity, possibly walking. It can be difficult to get started, but once you take those first steps, it gets easier to see how little changes can make a big difference in your health and mood. We’d be happy to talk to you about healthy lifestyle changes. You can reach us at

Be self-aware

13 May

Are you a woman? Then you’re at risk for breast cancer. In fact, most women who are diagnosed have no other known risk factors.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure recommends that you:

Know your risk: Anyone can get breast cancer, so it’s important to know your risk by talking to your family and health care provider. You can estimate your risk using this tool provided by the National Cancer Institute.

Here are some of the risk factors:
• being a woman
• getting older
• starting your period before age 12 and/or starting menopause after age 55
• never having children or having your first child after age 35
• gaining weight as an adult or being overweight after menopause
• recent or current use of estrogen hormones after menopause
• lobular carcinoma in situ – a noninvasive breast cancer in the the parts of the breast that produce milk, which are called lobules
• a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer – you’re especially at risk if you or your mother, sister, or daughter has had breast cancer
• having a previous biopsy showing atypical hyperplasia, when abnormal cells in the breast gather together
• having an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer gene
• being exposed to radiation like X-rays
• high breast or bone density

Get screened: After you know your risk, you should get screened for breast cancer. You should talk to your doctor about which test is right for you, but in general, women with an average risk should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years once they turn 20 and every year once they turn 40, at which point they should also get a mammogram every year

Know what is normal for you: By performing monthly self-exams, you’ll know how your breasts normally feel, and will be able to tell if something is unusual. If you notice something is different, talk to your doctor right away. Here are some  examples of changes that could signal breast cancer: itchiness or a rash on the nipple or discharge that starts suddenly, new pain that doesn’t stop, lumps or thickening in the breast or armpit, a change in the breast’s size or shape; or swelling, darkening, redness or warmth in the breast.

Make healthy lifestyle choices:
maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, breastfeed if you are able, and limit your consumption of alcohol or hormones.

For more information about breast cancer, please review Komen’s “Understanding Breast Cancer Guide.”

Walk in the Spirit with us

11 May

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women and is the second most fatal cancer. About 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

This year, that means about 226,870 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 39,510 women will die as a result, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Of those women, about 26,840 new cases and 6,040 deaths will be among African American women. While white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, black women more often are diagnosed at a later, more advanced stage, when the tumor is harder to treat. Therefore, black women are 39 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.

A new faith-based program called Walking in the Spirit will educate underserved black women and girls about breast health, wellness, and healthy lifestyles.

Making lifestyle changes such as changing your diet or exercising regularly can be difficult, but having a solid support system of family, friends, and community members can make it easier to reach your goals.

The Walking in the Spirit Program events will be both fun and educationally sound, so you’ll have a great time while also learning some simple tips to improve your health. Our events will also nurture your spiritual health; because we know your faith is important to you, we will always feature an inspirational message in our events.

Our hope is that you have fun, learn something new and share what you’ve learned with others. Together, we can make steps towards ending breast cancer forever!

Walking in the Spirit is funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure—Mid-Missouri Affiliate and is supported by the University of Missouri School of Health Professions and School of Medicine and area churches.