Posted in In the Know

Is Humpty Dumpty Real?

Let’s face it, life happens.  We don’t have blueprints for how our lives are laid out.  There are no guarantees about anything much less our health.  When you work with individuals who face life-altering health diagnoses you begin to play detective based on information about a person.  When I heard that Senator Ted Kennedy had a seizure my first thought was a tumor.  I didn’t know where in the brain it would be located, but given his age and relative good health for a 76 year old man, it just made sense.

This really tells us that no one is immune to a health crisis.  Think of Humpty Dumpty…all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together again.  Unfortunately the same is true for Senator Kennedy.  No matter how many connections he has, no matter how much money he has and no matter how famous and a champion in politics he may be, he won’t be put back together again.

It’s a wonderful fantasy that money and success bring good health.  Obviously that’s not the case.  Look at all the women in the entertainment world fighting breast cancer.  This week we saw the passing of Sydney Pollack, a 73 year old man who couldn’t be put back together again.

No one is immune to the body’s betrayal.  We can take steps to reduce our risk, but in the end it only takes one cell or one gene to have a mind of its own and we’re at its mercy.  Give yourself the benefit of increasing the chances for health, but don’t feel that you’ve been picked out of a line-up based on specific characteristics.  I don’t believe in a million years that Senator Kennedy would have considered facing the challenge of a brain tumor.  We’re all in this together.

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Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness

The Impact of Vitamin D On Breast Cancer

I listen to a lot of news programs and interview shows.  I was astounded to hear the findings from the study based out of the University of Toronto.  The study looked at the impact Vitamin D has on women who are facing breast cancer.  The outcome results are amazing and what is surprising me the most is after that first day I haven’t heard anything since.

The study examined Vitamin D levels in women diagnosed with breast cancer.  It found that women who were Vitamin D deficient had serious threats to their health and the outcome of their treatment.  In women who were Vitamin D deficient 93% were more likely to have the cancer spread.  The results become more shocking…74% of breast cancer patients who were Vitamin D deficient were more likely to die.

Now that we know how come this isn’t a huge public health campaign to get the word out to these women?  With this kind of outcome study I can’t believe women aren’t taking to the streets demanding more research and new protocols be developed taking into account the impact Vitamin D has on the immune system.

Working with those facing life-altering health problems for over twenty years I’m disappointed that this news was put on the back burner.  Aside from women sitting in the sun to get Vitamin D naturally what else can be done?  Are there infusions?  Breast cancer patients are already receiving infusions, would one more be so bad, especially if it prevented metastasis or death?

What will you do to check your own Vitamin D levels?  You can see if you have sufficient Vitamin D long before when and if you’ll ever be diagnosed with breast cancer.  Don’t you want to give yourself every possible advantage?

Posted in Emotional Health, Relationships

Make it Count

I had the pleasure of going to visit my family this past weekend in Dallas.  My parents moved there a year ago and my brother his wife and their 3 year old have lived their for the past ten years.  I was great spending the weekend with family but of course around every corner there are unforeseen events that derail the train.

My uncle has been a hero battling melanoma for the past three years.  He hasn’t let his guard down for a moment as he searches for new treatments and experts to help him keep living the life he cherishes.  Unfortunately, we received news that my uncle was hospitalized because of blood clots in his lungs, not a good thing.

I’m not sharing this story for sympathy.  The family is currently in a waiting mode, but I know the outcome will be that he will die.  It shines a light on how brave all those facing a life-altering diagnosis have to be to keep in the game.  It takes determination, perseverance, and the ability to keep your physical and spiritual stamina so you have the reserves you need to keep fighting the fight.

It’s easy to get caught up in the bullshit of the day.  It’s convenient when we get distracted by stupid things that in the big picture have no bearing on the quality of our lives; they simply rob of us moments we have to make memories and share our life energy with others.  The derailment is often subtle, unlike the current news about my uncle.  It often seeps in and robs us of those precious moments we could be spending with friends and family.

We have to make it all count.  The struggles are part of the process.  It’s our job to keep them in perspective and not allow derailments to change the course of striving to continue the journey to keep us “Surviving Strong”.

Posted in after the diagnosis, coping with chronic illness, coping with life threatening illness, Having a Voice, living with chronic illness, Living with Illness, Partnerships, Personal Conviction

Pain and Income…Are they related?

I heard about a study that discussed the amount of pain people experience and believe it or not it’s correlated to income.  I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise since pain management is often related to having good medical coverage, but does that make sense to you?

The study stated that people who make $30,000 per year were in three times greater pain than those earning $100,000 a year.  The degree of pain is directly proportional to income.  I can’t believe that the medical community would allow this to happen.  Having worked in a community health center for years I know there are funds available if someone can’t afford medication and aren’t covered by Medicaid or other insurance.  Clinics have funds for uninsured patients and often have funds to pay for medication with pharmacies in their neighborhood.

Pain is one of the key factors that make facing a life-altering diagnosis so difficult.  It effects every aspect of our daily lives and not having it under control is often debilitating.  This is why we need to look for ways to increase health insurance coverage in the country.

I know that some providers may say that they are afraid of prescribing pain medications because too often patients at all income levels are drug seeking.  Unfortunately, with wealthier patients the pain is taken more seriously.  We all have to break the stereotypes we have about how income level, race, education level have on our perceptions of people when they tell us they’re in pain.  It’s no laughing matter.