Home  >  Carol LeBeau's Health Journal  >  Carol's Health Journal

Sharon’s Encounter with the “Quiet Cancer”
By Carol LeBeau
4/29/2014 2:29:32 PM


–FULL BIO
 

I got the horrific news from Susan.

Our friend, Sharon, she told me quietly over the phone, had just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer…and the outlook was grim. Doctors called it Stage 3-C – an extremely aggressive form of the potentially deadly disease.

It all happened so fast.  

Within days of her diagnosis, Sharon was scheduled for surgery to re-route a section of her intestines being strangled by the tumors…ending in what hopefully would become a temporary colostomy.

It didn't seem possible. I'd just seen Sharon a few weeks earlier at a festive dinner party at her home celebrating the recent engagement of her 22-year-old daughter, Paige. She was fine. Glowing, in fact.  

But now her life was about to be forever changed by the cancer she was unaware had been silently growing inside her.

Sharon admits she'd been bothered by some vague intestinal symptoms in the months leading up to her diagnosis – gas, bloating and indigestion she treated with antacids and Beano. Then one day, the belly pain became unbearable. She was hospitalized and treated for three days for what doctors believed was an intestinal blockage. Her pain only got worse. Further tests revealed the bitter truth.

The tumor with tentacles was choking her colon and was moving throughout her abdomen.

The good news? It’s been several agonizing weeks, but the surgery restored function of her lower GI. All indications are three rounds of chemotherapy have shrunk the tumors. And now there's hope a final surgery to remove what remains…followed by more chemotherapy and radiation… and will restore her to good health.

But the question remains. How could this have happened? Sharon is smart, healthy and in tune with her body.  With her signature sense of humor, even she wonders how this "alien being" could have overwhelmed her body, virtually undetected.

Unfortunately, “undetection” is the hallmark of this insidious disease.  So while my friend works her way toward a clean bill of health, more than 20,000 new cases will strike women across the United States this year.

What’s frustrating is scientists still don’t know the exact cause of ovarian cancer, so they haven’t found a way to prevent its often deadly progression. So, without the presence of overt symptoms, women need to pay attention to more subtle symptoms.


What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Although ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, eventual warning signs may include:

•    Vague digestive disturbances, such as mild indigestion, bloating, feeling of fullness, or loss of appetite, gas
•    Diarrhea, constipation, or a frequent need to urinate
•    Pain or swelling in the abdomen, or pain in the lower back or pelvic pressure
•    Vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause
•    Shortness of breath

Symptoms associated with advanced ovarian cancer include severe nausea, vomiting, pain and weight loss.

Call Your Doctor About Ovarian Cancer If:
You have unexplained abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, particularly if these conditions accompany the more general symptoms listed in the description section; do not allow such symptoms to continue undiagnosed for more than two weeks.

With great faith and great medical care, Sharon and her family are expecting at a great outcome from her cancer scare.  She’s already got a gorgeous dress picked out for Paige’s wedding!

Love you, Sharon!
 

Running for Fun, Fitness…and a Great Cause!
4/22/2014 4:55:44 PM
 
Would you like to be part of something that’s fun, good for you…and good for others? Then join me Saturday morning, June 7 for a stimulating stroll or fast-paced run along the Embarcadero at the 2nd annual “Run For Independence.”  It’s a 5 or 10-K (take your pick!) for an awesome organization called “TMI.” As you enjoy a great workout along San Diego’s gorgeous waterfront, you’ll also be supporting something big!
 
In this case, TMI doesn’t stand for “too much information!” In fact, we want to spread the word about what may just be the most important non-profit you’ve never heard of!
 
Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has been giving people with disabilities the chance to live happy, fulfilling lives in our community for more than 30 years. I’ve been blessed to see first-hand the changed lives made possible because of the people and programs associated with TMI. 
 
Because of TMI, my entire perception of people with disabilities has changed.  There’s a type of discrimination that exists… I believe rooted in fear… of someone who’s “different….” someone who looks different, speaks differently, walks differently…or maybe can’t walk at all.
 
Because of TMI, I no longer fear or avoid what I don’t understand. I love to engage the delightful young man who bags my groceries at Vons. He’s always cheerful, efficient and clearly loves his job. Anthony also happens to have a developmental disability and that makes him “different.”  So what!
 
TMI’s mission is to provide what Anthony and all people with disabilities want to enjoy…a job, a home…full inclusion in society.  For years, TMI has been looking beyond the differences and seeing the person made by the same Creator…with the same hopes, dreams, desires and aspirations as the rest of us.
 
I’ve spent time with the CEO David Piazza and the TMI team and seen their pure passion for people living with disabilities. They’ve been doing what I believe is God’s work in our community for decades…under the radar with virtually no recognition.
 
It’s time to shine the light on TMI.  Would you think about joining me and hundreds of others in support of the proven programs of TMI as they continue to make dreams come true for people with disabilities?
 
They’re not so “different,” really. Just like you and me, people with disabilities need nothing less than love, acceptance and the opportunity to reach their full potential.
 
Click on this link for a brief look at the fun you’ll have if you join us.   
 
 
Don’t miss this year’s fun. See you June 7!
 
To register, go to: http://www.tmi-inc.org
The Big 6-OH! (It’s not so bad!)
By Carol LeBeau
4/18/2014 1:49:04 PM


–FULL BIO
 

Sixty. I turned 60 this month! I’ve been practicing saying it for months. But now that it’s here, it seems surreal! 

Sixty. Yikes! It sounds so old, and yet, I have to admit, I’m glad I’ve lived long enough to say those words and celebrate their meaning.  I’m alive happy, healthy and surrounded by family and friends who care about me. Those are blessings…at any age.

Not only that, I’m in good company! Did you know Oprah just turned 60?  She’s still going strong and feeling pretty positive about the milestone.  In a recent magazine interview, the superstar shared a few thoughts…echoing my feelings about the benefits of aging up! 

“I’m turning 60,” says Oprah, “and – please don’t take offense, but I no longer have to be concerned what anyone thinks of me! (You know, the old, am I doing it right? Am I saying it right?  Am I being what or who I’m “supposed” to be?)  I’m turning 60, and I’ve earned the right to be just as I am.”

You go, girl!

I may have lost my once firm behind, but, like Oprah and many of you 60-plus gals out there, I’m more secure in being myself than I’ve ever been.  My skin may be saggy in spots, but at least I’m more comfortable in it!

I also happen to know some really “hot chicks” that recently turned 60. “Peeps,” the beloved marshmallow candy,” is celebrating six decades of success and longevity. More popular than ever, the iconic Easter candy is constantly reinventing itself…proving that 60 may just be the new 30!  

So, I’m not going to let a couple of gray hairs get me down. I was 20 once. Now it’s someone else’s turn.  It’s the cycle of life.  And rather than waste time and energy whining about it, I’m going to give myself a birthday gift…a piece of age-old inspiration from one of my feminist heroes…award-winning newspaper columnist, Erma Bombeck.

Check out her hilarious “At Wit’s End” column from 1992 in which the gifted humorist took aim at the problem of aging.   

“Aging Gracefully is Going out of Style”

by Erma Bombeck

One of the bonuses of growing old used to be that you could shrivel and no one cared.  My grandmother shriveled.  She also sagged, shifted, slouched and slumped.  It was as if the floor was the center point of gravity, and with glacier-like movement all of my grandmother’s parts eventually came to rest there.

    No one gave her permission for her body to go from a solid to a jelly state.  It was her rite of passage.

    Had she lived today, she might not have been so lucky. We live in times of the youthmeisters.  There’s the grandmother from West Melbourne, Fla., who wrote that she slipped into a pair of jeans one afternoon and buttoned a plain white blouse over it.  When she saw her 6-year-old granddaughter, Katie, taking it all in, she wiggled her hips and asked, “Does this blouse look OK with the jeans?”

     Katie circled her critically and said, “Yes, Grandma, the blouse looks OK, but if you’re ever gonna be a stripper, you’re gonna have to lose those thighs.”

     There’s nothing wrong with hanging onto youth, but we have gone to war with aging.  Thirty year-olds are “doing their eyes” and having skin peels.  Why?  It’s like having a car serviced with only 200 miles on it.

      My mother said to me last Sunday, “I’m going to lose this stomach if it’s the last thing I do.”  She is in her 80’s.

     Think about what you’re doing,” I said.  “Think about all those women on the Titanic who looked at the dessert cart and said, “No thanks, my waistband is getting a little tight.”

     You could lose a few pounds yourself,” she retorted.  “I’ll bet you couldn’t even fit in your wedding dress anymore.”

     “I get so few calls for it,” I said dryly.

But the pressure is there and will remain there for the rest of our lives.  When I’m 90, I will sit in front of my TV set listening to, “Give us a week – we’ll take off the weight” and shouting at it, “I don’t HAVE a week!”

      I looked through an old photo album and found a picture of my grandmother just before she died.  She had great skin and the best pair of legs this side of the Ohio River.  But she was shaped like an eggplant.  It didn’t matter.  She was beautiful, and she was supposed to look that way.”

Some things never change. 

You Say Tomato..
By Carol LeBeau
4/10/2014 11:03:51 AM


–FULL BIO
 
Following a devastating stroke, my husband’s sweet Dad, “Woody,” lived another five years – each day a challenge because the massive blood clot in his brain left his left side paralyzed. Woody handled his situation with grace and class but it wasn’t easy.
 
Because heart disease and stroke run in Tom’s family, he’s fighting back with a healthy lifestyle and frequent check-ups and I make sure the fridge is full of fresh veggies including tomatoes.
 
A new study shows that men who had the highest levels of lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes, had fewer strokes than men who had the lowest level of lycopene in their blood.
 
And get this. Overall, the risk of strokes was reduced by a whopping 55 percent!
 
But here’s where the study, based in Finland, got my attention.  Lycopene, it seems, is found in the highest concentrations in cooked tomato products such as prepared paste, puree and sauce.  
 
As someone who likes to take short cuts in the kitchen, I was thrilled to learn a cup of ready-to-serve marinara sauce has 10 times more lycopene than a raw tomato.  It’s not only okay to use the stuff in the jar it’s actually better than fresh when it comes to lycopene concentrations.
 
And that goes for the sauce found on fast food pizza and store-bought catsup, too (though high fat and sugar content in these products should also be considered.) 
 
One doctor commenting on the lycopene study in the journal, “Neurology,” says the lycopene study shows “diet is very important” for cutting stroke risk along with exercising and not smoking.  Dr. Rafael Ortiz says lycopene works by reducing inflammation and preventing blood clots from forming.
 
So, when I want a quick and easy meal that’s loaded with lycopene, here’s a simple, little recipe I came up with:
 
*Sauté a chopped onion, green pepper and 1 cup of mushrooms in a tablespoon of olive oil.
 
*Brown one pound of lean, ground turkey and combine with vegetables
 
*Add one large jar of marinara sauce (We’re hooked Costco’s 40-oz. Victoria All Natural Marinara Sauce)  
 
*Simmer all ingredients together for one hour
 
Serve over whole-wheat penne (or pasta of your choice)  
Double the recipe.  It’s even better the next day!  And it freezes beautifully.
 
One more thing…If you’re not a tomato lover, no worries. Lycopene is also found in watermelon, grapefruit, papaya and mango.
Bananas Boring? Think Again!
By Carol LeBeau
4/1/2014 10:57:46 AM


–FULL BIO
 
When it comes to fruit, all the buzz is about the berries – the more exotic the better. From black and blue to goji and acai, these antioxidant superstars get all the attention. And that’s fine.
 
But I think it’s high time somebody gives a shout-out to one of the most popular fruits no one talks about. In smoothies, sliced on cereal or gobbled up before (or after!) a long workout, I’m big on bananas!  
 
For me, and millions of Americans, the perfectly packaged curved, yellow fruit has been a nutritional mainstay for decades.  Tucked in my lunchbox as a child or stuffed in my purse as a working professional…I could always count on a power-packed banana for a burst of energy and sense of wellbeing – all for 100 calories or less! 
 
I decided to investigate whether my favorite fruit could nutritionally go “peel to peel” with other popular fruits. Now, I’ll never look at a banana the same way again after discovering the many health benefits and reasons to keep them in my diet.   
 
If you think bananas are just for monkeys…think again! Here’s a sampling of the benefits you can expect from that bunch of bananas in your fruit bowl:
 
1. Bananas help overcome depression, due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin…the happy-mood brain transmitter.
 
2. Eat two bananas before a strenuous workout to pack an energy punch and sustain your blood sugar.
 
3. Protect against muscle cramps during workouts and night-time leg cramps by eating a banana.
 
4. Counteract calcium loss during urination and build strong bones by supplementing with a banana.
 
5. Improve your mood and reduce PMS symptoms by eating a banana which regulates blood sugar and produces stress-relieving relaxation.
 
6. Bananas reduce swelling, protect against Type II diabetes, aid weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help with the production of white blood cells…all due to high levels of vitamin B-6.
 
7. Strengthen your blood and relieve anemia with the added iron from bananas.
 
8. High in potassium and low in salt, bananas are officially recognized by the FDA as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke.
 
Then there’s bananas and digestion!
 
9. Rich in pectin, bananas aid digestion and chelate toxins and heavy metals from the body…stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel and produce digestive enzymes to assist in absorbing nutrients.
    
Constipated? High fiber in bananas can help normalize bowel motility. They also help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea. Bananas are a natural antacid and the only raw fruit that can be consumed without distress to relieve stomach ulcers by coating the lining of the stomach against corrosive acids.
 
And don’t forget natural cures from a simple banana!
 
10. Eating bananas helps prevent kidney cancer, protects the eyes against macular degeneration and builds strong bones by increasing calcium absorption.
 
11. Bananas help with learning by making you more alert. They’re high in antioxidants, providing protection from chronic disease.
 
12. Eat a banana between meals to help stabilize blood sugar and reduce nausea from morning sickness, lower body temperature and cool you during a fever or on a hot day.
 
And how about this?
 
13. Rub a bug bite or hives with the inside of a banana peel to relieve itching and irritation. Remove a wart by placing the inside of a piece of banana peel against the wart and tape it in place (take that, Compound W!!) and, what the heck…rub the inside of a banana peel on your leather shoes or handbag and polish with a dry cloth for a quick shine!
 
How ‘bout a hand for the mighty banana?  (Now you know why monkeys are so happy!!)
 
Eat a banana today.