Archive for October, 2011
Ah, it’s that time of year where pumpkins are being carved, cobwebs strung from trees and kids are transformed into their super heroes for trick-or-treating. There are several safety tips both parents and kids should be reminded of. A few examples are:
- Avoid trick-or-treating alone, always go with an adult.
- Costume accessories such as swords, knives and similar should be short, soft and flexible.
- Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
- Keep candle-lit jack-o’lanterns and luminaries away from doorsteps, walkways, landings, and curtains. Place them on sturdy tables, keep them out of the reach of pets and small children, and never leave them unattended.
- Provide healthier treats for trick-or-treaters such as low-calorie treats and drinks. For party guests, offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
- Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger or get into their car. Explain why this is not a god idea and what to do if someone approaches them and tries to talk to them.
This morning while I was doing my cardio exercise on the rolling stairs, a commercial came on that caught my attention.
It started off with two guys in a cell phone store. The customer rattled off several questions never missing a beat, always receiving an answer from the guy behind the counter. The next shot goes to the same customer, now turned patient, in the doctor’s office sitting on the table in his gown, tight-lipped. The doctor asked, “Are you sure you don’t have any questions?” The patient just sat there, in silence.
Unfortunately this happens all too often. As a society there are certain scenarios where we ask questions. At restaurants we ask about specials. In the computer store we ask about memory. Traveling to an unfamiliar city we ask for directions. But what happens when it comes to our own health. It is as if there is something taboo about asking our doctor questions.
A few questions or statements might be:
- What are all of my treatment options?
- How do I lose weight or begin an exercise program?
- Where can I find more information on vaccines?
- Have them explain what is going on in layman’s terms.
- Ask your doctor to write it down or draw a picture.
- Discus behavioral health.
- What are some steps to managing a healthy lifestyle?
This post is dedicated in memory of my Aunt Joyce and all the other angels, and in honor of all survivors and fighters of breast cancer.
NFL quarterbacks have a pink towel hanging from their backside. Baseball players wear pink wristbands around their forearms. Feather boas are strung around the necks of those participating in a 3-day walk. Kids are sporting bracelets that say “I heart boobies.” Everywhere we turn, the month of October is filled with pink. For that reason, I feel it is important to share the following information from the American Cancer Society:
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer at some time in a woman’s life is a little less than 1 in 8 (12%).
The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States are for 2011:
- About 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 57,650 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
- About 39,520 women will die from breast cancer
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 1 in 36 (about 3%).
At this time there are more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
- Current evidence supporting mammograms is even stronger than in the past. In particular, recent evidence has confirmed that mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40s.
- Women should be told about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked with regular screening.
- Mammograms for older women should be based on the individual, her health, and other serious illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and moderate-to-severe dementia.
Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional, at least every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year.
- CBE is a complement to mammograms and an opportunity for women and their doctor or nurse to discuss changes in their breasts, early detection testing, and factors in the woman’s history that might make her more likely to have breast cancer.
- There may be some benefit in having the CBE shortly before the mammogram. The exam should include instruction for the purpose of getting more familiar with your own breasts.
Breast self exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
- Research has shown that BSE plays a small role in finding breast cancer compared with finding a breast lump by chance or simply being aware of what is normal for each woman. Some women feel very comfortable doing BSE regularly (usually monthly after their period) which involves a systematic step-by-step approach to examining the look and feel of their breasts. Other women are more comfortable simply looking and feeling their breasts in a less systematic approach, such as while showering or getting dressed or doing an occasional thorough exam. Sometimes, women are so concerned about “doing it right” that they become stressed over the technique. Doing BSE regularly is one way for women to know how their breasts normally look and feel and to notice any changes. The goal, with or without BSE, is to report any breast changes to a doctor or nurse right away.
It is important for you to have frank, open discussions with your cancer care team. Ask questions, no matter how minor you might think they are. Some questions to consider:
- What type of breast cancer do I have? How does this affect my treatment options and prognosis?
- Has my cancer spread to lymph nodes or internal organs?
- What is the stage of my cancer and how does it affect my treatment options and outlook?
- Are there other tests that need to be done before we can decide on treatment?
- Should I consider genetic testing?
- Should I think about taking part in a clinical trial?
- What treatments are appropriate for me? What do you recommend? Why?
- What are the risks and side effects that I should expect?
- What are the pros and cons of having it done right away or waiting until later?
- How long will treatment last? What will it involve? Where will it be done?
- What should I do to get ready for treatment?
- Will I need a blood transfusion?
- Should I follow a special diet or make other lifestyle changes?
I was invited by a few friends to join them for a beautiful hike in New Hampshire. Our destination was the peak of Mt.Chocorua, which stands tall at 3500 feet. It was a picture perfect day. The sun was warm and bright, clear blue skies, a little breeze at just the right moments. At one point along the way, I said, “this is what New England is all about.” No matter how experienced or novice you are with hiking, I think there are several life’s lessons that can be learned. These are a few thoughts I had along our trek this weekend.
Awareness- Becoming aware of everything around and within me. It was as if my senses were stimulated. Sight, smell, touch, sound. From the moment I stepped out of the car, there was this delicious scent of pine. As we began to climb, the early portion of our hike up the mountain we were near a brook. Water was rushing down the mountain, with this sound that could put anyone at ease. Progressing up the mountain, all of a sudden it was still. No more trickling water could be heard. There were brakes in the mountain where we would stop and take in all there is to see. The autumn leaves at near peak season, the rolling hills below us, the presidential mountains off in the distance. And then becoming aware of what my mind and body were going through. How my legs and lungs felt. Where my mind was drifting to and from. At one point I slightly rolled my ankle. That is when I noticed my mind was thinking about something other than the present moment. From then on, there was a shift. I took off my shoes and finished the climb barefoot.
Feeling Connected– The last 30 minutes or so of our ascend I was barefoot. The trail was soft and covered with pine needles, sticks, and other leaves. The rocks we scaled were a combo of jagged and smooth. By taking my shoes off, this allowed me to connect with both the earth and myself. As I’ve told a few others, I wish I had done the whole climb up this way. There was a sense of getting back to our primal roots. Feeling the toes grip as the foot forms to the surface beneath. And then connecting with myself. Noticing how my body and breath were reacting with steep inclines or difficult rocks to maneuver up or around. Taking time to pause when needed. While much of the hike is single file, it felt comfortable being “alone”, all while my friends were within an arm’s reach. And then there is feeling connected to those around me. Knowing that we all have different fitness levels and experience with hiking, going at a pace that worked well for all of us, so no-one felt left behind. Getting to the top as a group was our reward.
Having Support- Feeling the support of solid earth beneath me brings this senses of foundation and support. There were a few moments of imbalance and shakiness. But for the most part, we were supported by earth beneath us. Boulders were so heavy and positioned in a way that 100 people could jump on top and it would not budge. And then there’s the support of your crew. Lending a helping hand to get you across the water or step over a large fallen tree. A few words of encouragement to keeping looking up. Or someone who is there to help you find another path to get to your destination.
These are just a few thoughts I had along our five and half hour journey at Mt.Chocorua.
So, what happens when yogis go hiking? Enjoy these pics…
Hell is the place where nothing connects.- T.S. Elliot
This weekend I had the great fortune to spend time with one of my beloved teachers, Nikki Myers, and a wonderful group of friends as we discussed how yoga and the 12 steps of recovery connect with one-another. The workshop brought people together from all over the country, as they are.
There is a beautiful marriage between the ancient wisdom of yoga philosophy and any traditional step program. Both speak of creating a strong foundation, finding acceptance and the ability to surrender. The more we would dive into one area, the stronger it was apparent in the other.
Often times addiction allows us to disconnect with our bodies. Yoga is just one tool that helps to get back into your body. It is true that our issues live in our tissues. Steps 1-3 are about turning that vessel right side up, creating a foundation. Steps 4-9 are about cleaning out all our gunk and preparing that vessel to sail, building our core from the inside out. Steps 10-12 are setting sail, finding our expression.
All bodies record the physical and emotional trauma of living.- Ida Rolf
I had a very different experience this year during the workshop compared to the last two. There were issues from my past, which I had not considered traumatic, but my body said otherwise. It was very evident during my practice while my muscles were quietly quivering, releasing energy that had been stored for nearly 25 years. And then during savasana, the flood gates opened. At the end of the practice, there was a sense of release.
Trauma comes in all forms. Physical abuse, accidents, surgical procedures, natural disasters, violence, and countless others. I attribute the response during my practice this weekend to a culmination of stuck emotions from being a young child spending so much time around doctors and hospitals, the anniversary of my friend’s death from high school soon approaching and the anxiety I held during this past 9/11. My body needed a release and that’s exactly what happened. I am grateful for this, as now I feel lighter and a little more aware.
Y12SR are classes being held all over that are a combination of a meeting and a yoga class. They generally run 90-120 minutes, depending on the studio or location of the class. All A’s are welcome. As it’s been explained before, “AA, NA, OA, Al-anon- anyone with an @ss is welcome.”
To find more information on Y12SR, please check out: http://www.yogaof12steprecovery.com/