Archive | June, 2012

Cool off in Columbia

30 Jun

It’s getting miserably hot in CoMo these days with temperatures topping 100 degrees. It’s important to be aware of the temperature and humidity level, as heat illness, when the body is unable to cool itself through sweat, can be deadly.

“The Columbia Department of Public Health and Human Services offers residents who do not have air-conditioning access to cooling centers located throughout Columbia,” reads a report from June 29. “The nine locations are open to the public during their regular business hours. Residents can visit the cooling centers to rest in the air-conditioning, use the restrooms, and, in some locations, get a drink of water.”

Here are the locations of the cooling centers in Columbia:

  • ARC: 1707 West Ash Street
  • Armory Sports and Community Center: 701 East Ash Street
  • Boone County Government Center: 801 East Walnut
  • Columbia Public Library: 100 West Broadway
  • Missouri United Methodist Church: 204 South 9th Street
  • Oakland Senior Center: 805 Old Hwy 63 North
  • Public Health and Human Services Department: 1005 West Worley
  • Salvation Army: 1108 West Ash Street
  • Salvation Army Harbor House: 602 North Ann

Study finds moderate exercise lowers breast cancer risk

29 Jun

A Reuters article published June. 25 reports that a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researcher found that women who’d exercised regularly were less likely to develop breast cancer after menopause, when most women are diagnosed. Three-thousand women were included in the study.

“Those who’d exercised for 10 to 19 hours a week in their ‘reproductive years’ — the years between having their first child and going through menopause — were one-third less likely to have breast cancer than women who’d been sedentary during that time. Women who’d started exercising after menopause also had a lower risk. If they averaged 9 to 17 hours a week, they were 30 percent less likely to have breast cancer than their inactive peers,” the article states.

It doesn’t even have to be vigorous exercise; any regular exercise will help lower your risk of breast cancer. Some examples of simple exercises you can start now include walking for 30 minutes daily, swimming, biking or performing resistance training moves such as squats, push-ups or lunges.

Read the entire Reuters article here.

Need a mammogram? It might be free!

26 Jun

Ellis Fischel Cancer Center has received a grant from the Mid-Missouri Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure to fund screening mammograms and diagnostic breast work-ups for women with limited resources through March 31, 2013.

“We would like to notify eligible women with limited resources that this grant can provide free, routine screening mammograms and may cover the cost of diagnostic work-up for women who are young and have a breast problem,” said Sue Sinele, R.N., OCN, a staff nurse in Ellis Fischel’s Cancer Screening Services. “We want women to know that these resources are out there so that they can take advantage of them and be screened for breast cancer, because in most cases early detection is the key to beating this disease.”

To be eligible for the screening mammogram, patients must:

• Be between ages 40 to 49 and unable to pay for the mammogram

• Be uninsured or underinsured (including those with high deductibles they are unable to pay)

• Bring proof of income and photo identification to the appointment also fill out the necessary paperwork.

• Not have had a mammogram in the last 12 months

Eligible women ages 19 to 34 will receive an ultrasound and possibly a diagnostic mammogram. Funding is available for a few biopsies, if indicated. To be eligible for the diagnostic work-up, patients must:

• Be ages 19 to 34 with no other source for funding

• Be uninsured or underinsured (including those unable to pay their deductibles due to limited income)

• Have one of the following: a persistent dominant palpable mass demonstrated over two clinical breast exams at least one menstrual cycle apart, an initial abnormal clinical breast exam with clear or bloody discharge, skin changes or dimpling, or a previous mammogram or ultrasound requesting additional follow-up in less than 12 months.

• Bring proof of income and photo identification to the appointment and fill out the necessary paperwork. Participants may be asked to enroll in Missouri HealthNet with the assistance of a financial counselor at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

The Missouri HealthNet Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment program, operated through the Missouri Department of Social Services, will cover the cost of treatment if cancer is diagnosed.

For more information about the grant or to make an appointment with Ellis Fischel’s Cancer Screening Services, please contact Sinele at (573) 884-1140.

5 Questions with the Oncologist

22 Jun

Dr. Rashmi Ramasubbaiah is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and Medical Oncologist at the University of Missouri. Here, she answers some common questions patients have about cancer.

Rashmi Ramasubbaiah, M.D.

Q: What is chemotherapy and who should get chemotherapy?

A: Chemotherapy is a way of attacking cancer cells. The goal of using chemotherapy is to get rid of the cancer cell (curative) or at least keep the cancer at bay for as long as possible (palliative). Whether a patient has to have chemotherapy depends on the stage of the cancer. Specifically with breast cancer, it depends on the size of the tumor and whether any lymph nodes are involved. Almost every patient with lymph node involvement ends up getting chemotherapy. People who have tripe negative breast cancer also get chemo

therapy. We have a couple of tools we use to decide if chemotherapy would benefit the patient, including Oncotype DX, a test that examines a patient’s tumor at the molecular level to determine an individualized treatment plan, and several online tools to help doctors evaluate a patient’s risk of getting breast cancer again.

Q: What are the different types of chemotherapy?

A: There is standard chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, and biological or targeted therapy. Standard chemotherapy is an age-old approach that tends to be given through the IV or by mouth in the form of pills. With breast cancer which is driven by estrogen or progesterone hormones, we are likely to use hormonal therapy (such as tamoxifen or arimidex) to block hormonal receptors. Biological therapy (such as herceptin) uses other targets on the breast cancer cell to fight cancer.

Q: When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, what other health conditions should they address with their doctor or oncologist that might affect their treatment plan?

A: Before administering the drugs we get a detailed history of the patient’s health history, because some of the chemotherapy drugs we use can affect heart function.  High blood pressure should be controlled before therapy.

Q: If someone wants to preserve her breast, how do you go about that?

A: With a large tumor, surgery can be difficult without compromising the breast, but pre-operative chemotherapy can be used to shrink the tumor so it is smaller and surgery can be performed while still preserving the breast.

Q: Sometimes people are afraid to ask about chemotherapy because they’ve heard about side effects from others. What would you tell them?

A: The first thing I’d tell them is that this is 2012, and we have better strategies and newer drugs to prevent side effects than in 2010 or 2009. I tell people not to compare across drugs or treatment strategies, because your body’s response will be totally different than the next person, so you won’t have the same side effects. Most women are worried about hair loss, but we have better support groups now and many women are not as uncomfortable with getting a wig or hair prosthetic. They’re concerned about nausea and vomiting, but we have better drugs to control that. Most women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy do not suffer from nausea and vomiting.  In terms of bone marrow suppression, we teach patients about how to maintain their health and keep their blood counts up by taking preventative measures like visiting the hospital immediately when they have a fever. We have a lot more information about doses of drugs and heart toxicity, so usually there are no issues now. Also, many people experience fatigue, but we’re finding that yoga and exercise helps a lot with keeping people’s energy up. It is so important to be fit and active. In sum, most cancer centers, especially ours with a comprehensive breast cancer center, use an integrated approach with a care coordinator, a social worker, a dietitian, a surgeon, medical and radiation oncologists, and nurses, so there are many more resources than there where even 10 years ago.

You can read more about Dr. Ramasubbaiah here.

Finding peace and healing with God’s word

14 Jun

Perhaps, you were drawn to this program because you were curious about breast cancer in the African American community and wanted to learn about early detection methods.

Even more likely, you, or someone you love, is dealing with medical worries—other kinds of cancers, lupus, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and other illnesses.    

As the Walking in the Spirit Program continues, you will find that much of the health information we are sharing can be useful to people dealing with those medical worries.  So, we encourage you to share the information you get here with friends and family!

This spiritual health segment is for those of you who are already dealing with medical worries.  We know the walk to wellness can be a rough one, so here are inspirational verses to keep you going:

Proverbs 3:1-2 and 5-8, King James Version (KJV)

“My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments:

For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee…

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.

It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.”

A note from the Walking in the Spirit Team

In these verses we are asked to follow God’s commandments.  There is healing in His word.  We know many of you believe this to be true—often just hearing or seeing the Word gives us peace. 

But, in the second part of this section, we are also asked to trust in God’s Plan.  Sometimes, this is the harder part to accept.  What does the Bible say here?  It does NOT say do nothing; it does NOT tell you that you should just give up and wait to die.  It commands you to listen to God’s Plan and trust that healing will happen in the way and time God has planned for us. 

Part of the Plan may look like a friend who offers to go on healthy walks with you; or a doctor or nurse who is willing to sit with you to explain your medications so that you can learn to take them correctly.  Or, part of the Plan might be hearing the pastor read a verse that helps you make a healthier choice in dealing with a stressful person in your life.  Pay attention to these people and these moments—God is working through them to help with your walk to wellness.  As you start to get stronger in your walk, then you can be a witness to others who are struggling. 

But, if you feel like you don’t see the path to health in front of you, slow down and be quiet for a moment.  Next, after that moment of prayerful reflection, stop and ask yourself: “Have I been stubborn and leaning on your own understanding of what’s best for me?  Have I ignored advice given to me by my doctor, traded in my healthy snacks for one too many cookies in the break room at work?  Have I just accepted that things will always be this bad and can never get better?”

Well, guess what?  It’s not too late to make healthy change!  You can get back on the path God has laid for you and move towards greater control over your health. 

We’ve seen examples of this in the Bible—remember in the Book of Job, Job’s wife said to him, “Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die.” (Job 2:9, KJV).  She was leaning on her own understanding of the situation and assumed that God had abandoned their family.  To her, a healing was not possible; it was time to give up.  But, do you recall what happened next in the story?  Even after having everything and everyone taken from him, Job remained steadfast.  He held on to hope and to God’s commandments.  In the end, Job’s health, wealth and happiness were restored to him by God and Job lived to be a ripe old age! 

Better control of your health situation is possible.  Reach out to others in the community—your friends, your family, your pastor, and the health care workers, and ask for their support in your walk towards health.  Open your Bible and find healing in the promises made to you by God.           

Performing breast self-exams

11 Jun

Women are encouraged to perform monthly self-examinations of their breasts beginning around age 20. These quick exams are not recommended as a screening tool, but rather, to help women become comfortable with how their breasts look and feel so they can tell if anything changes. By becoming self-aware, it is more likely that women will notice changes and talk to a health care professional, who can perform additional screening tests.

Watch this short video to learn how to perform the exam.

According to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, some of the changes to look out for in your monthly exams include:

  • “Lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area
  • Swelling, warmth, redness or darkening of the breast
  • Change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Dimpling or puckering of the skin
  • Itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple
  • Pulling in of your nipple or other parts of the breast
  • Nipple discharge that starts suddenly
  • New pain in one spot that doesn’t go away”

Read more about the importance of self-exams and what to feel and look for on Komen’s website.

You can survive cancer

6 Jun

Today the Columbia Missourian published an article and slideshow from the Cancer Survivors Celebration hosted by Ellis Fischel Cancer Center earlier this week in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, which was on Sunday, June 3.

Motivational speaker Kim Becking, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30 in 2002, gave the keynote address, in which she talked about how wanting to see her then-2-year-old son grow up gave her her “fighting mood.”

Read the full article to learn about other survivors’ experiences with cancer and check out Becking’s website for a little motivation on how to live your best life.