For the record, I have never been overly concerned about germs.
Disgusting door knobs on public restrooms? No biggie. Sticky handrails on escalators? Couldn’t care less. And I almost never observe the “five-second” rule when an errant bite of food falls to the floor.
As I child, my Dad assured me germs were good. Germs, he told me, help build a healthy immune system.
But there I was last week, onboard a plane bound for the east coast, meticulously wiping down my tray table, seat belt buckle and overhead lighting button with anti-bacterial wipes before taking off.
You see, as much as I fear being labeled a crazy germ-phobe by my seat-mate, the prospect of picking up the flu bug in the 747’s crowded cabin really freaks me out!
Dire warnings from health experts nationwide have gotten my undivided attention! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn this year’s flu spread could reach epidemic levels. In January, flu-related hospitalizations were more than double that of January 2014.
For young children and those sixty-five and older or immune-compromised, the flu can cause serious complications that can even turn fatal. But even if you’re not at risk of dying from the flu, who wants to put up with the misery and lost weeks recovering from the nasty virus?
So, I got a flu shot and take reasonable precautions to avoid getting slammed with a case of the flu. I wash my hands often, try not to touch my eyes, nose and mouth and avoid close contact with someone who’s sick.
But with another flight to the East Coast in my near future, I’m going to do more. Did you know you can bump up your immune system by eating more flu-fighting foods?
In addition to eating a variety of colorful fruits and veggies and drinking 10 glasses of water a day…check out how these “power” foods can help keep your immune system on guard:
The live cultures in yogurt are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Oats and barley contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities.
Garlic, the potent onion relative, contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. I recently learned that shellfish - oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams - contain selenium. It helps white blood cells produce cytokines - proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. (BTW - salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from respiratory infections.)
And don’t forget chicken soup! You know it makes you feel good, but your favorite soup also blocks the migration of inflammatory white cells that gather in the bronchial tubes when you’re sick.
An amino acid called L-theanine is an immune-booster found in both black and green tea. (Plus it feels so good going down!) And if you’re low in zinc, you could be at increased risk of infection. So now and then, have a bit of beef to shore up your zinc stores.
Keep your skin (first line of defense against bacteria!) strong with the Vitamin A found in sweet potatoes give your immune system another boost by increasing the activity of white blood cells with mushrooms. Add a handful pasta sauce, sauté with a little oil and add to eggs or just pile a bunch of ‘rooms atop a frozen pizza.
Oh, I’ll keep using Purell like crazy while sneezing into my elbow. But with these superfoods on my side, I’m not giving in to the flu without a fight!
How ‘bout you?!
The shorter the days, the happier I am. Call me crazy, but I actually look forward to rolling back the clock to end daylight-saving time. And I’m not alone!
While many people get the blues as winter sets in, some of us prefer colder temperatures and shorter days…experiencing a sense of peace and well-being during the cold, dark winter.
It’s good to know my “condition” has a name. Recent research has discovered people with “summer seasonal affective disorder” suffer symptoms of depression or “blues” from May to September, but report happier feelings as the temperature drops.
It appears I’m not crazy after all!
A small, quiet minority of people actually cheer up and draw energy from the long, dark days of winter. For me, it’s the “cozy” feeling that comes from being home reading a good book with a fleece throw and my kitty, “Bing” warming my lap. It’s like going into hibernation for a few months! (Maybe the colder, darker days just give me “permission” to dial it back a bit?!)
One study found so-called “summer-haters” are miserable and restless from late spring to early fall, while everyone else is overjoyed to be getting outside. Fortunately, recent research is shedding light on the reasons some folks prefer winter. Nine out of 10 people notice seasonal changes of mood and behavior to some degree. In a study of 416 Maryland residents, a tiny minority have seasonal disruptive swings that go beyond feeling uncomfortable on hot, summer days.
Psychiatrists and psychologists can diagnose seasonal mood syndrome based on whether someone becomes depressed, experiences changes in mood, energy, sleep patterns, appetite and socializing during the same months each year.
Dr. Norman Rosenthal, author of Winter Blues says about five percent of us suffer the winter version of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Summer SAD affects a mere 0.7 percent of the population.
If you’re among those who rejoice in winter, (I think Christmas has a lot to do with it!) enjoy—this is your time!
But there’s really no need to let any season get you down. Whether shorter days and colder temps or long, hot summer days…if they cause anxiety, insomnia, weight loss and depression, there is help. A mental health professional can recommend a variety of treatments, including talk therapy, light therapy or antidepressants.
There is a way to turn that seasonal frown upside down!
I really need to update my wardrobe. Nothing much…just a pair of updated jeans, boots and a couple of shirts and sweaters. I’ve been putting it off for months because I hate to shop.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy having nice things. It’s just that shopping is such a hassle and takes so much time. I get overwhelmed by the choices and often walk away with nothing because I can’t make a decision. I admire women who can scan a rack of clothes…zero in on exactly what they want…and make their purchase without second-guessing.
That said, I realize some women love to shop so much, it becomes an addiction. (Don’t worry, I have other problems!) And it’s no wonder…especially during the holidays. Temptation is all around us--daily door-buster deals, friends and family discounts and free shipping if you spend over $150!
Sadly, for an estimated 6% of Americans with compulsive buying tendencies, this is a tough time of year.
“The whole culture conspires against us during the holiday season,” says April Lane Benson, a New York psychologist who has treated compulsive shoppers for 15 years. Besides tempting sales, pressure to top last year’s gifts and the urge to shop for oneself, she says, “the holidays bring up a lot of unfulfilled longing for some people…and that’s one reason why they shop…as a salve for disappointment.”
While the stereotypical compulsive shopper is a woman in her 30’s, experts say the ease and speed of Internet shopping is luring more men and young people.
According to the director of the Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford University School of Medicine, the Internet is dangerous for compulsive buyers in two ways.
“Transactions move so quickly, it’s hard to pause to reassess the buying urge,” says psychiatrist Elias Aboujaoude. He says The Internet also lets people disassociate from reality and assume a grandiose alter ego fueled by virtual cash.
“Online, money is no longer anchored to reality, so what do we do? We spend more,” Dr. Aboujaoude says.
While buying a book on amazon.com recently, another title caught my eye. With one click, I impulsively bought the second book. Makes me wonder whether we’re all at risk. When does “retail therapy” cross the line into compulsive shopping?
Experts says purchasing turns pathological when people continue to do it, even though it causes financial problems, disrupts work, family or social life. If shopping involves deceit, such as hiding bills and packages…that’s another red flag.
Some facts about compulsive spending from the Wall Street Health Journal:
*Most compulsive shoppers earn less than $50,000 a year.
*Compulsive shopping typically starts in the late teens or early 20’s.
*People typically overspend for several decades before seeking help.
*Many compulsive shopper also suffer from depression, anxiety, substance-abuse or eating disorders
*About half of compulsive shoppers also hoard.
While there is no specific treatment for compulsive shopping, experts agree changes in behavior can have a huge impact on breaking shopping addiction:
1. Admit you are a compulsive spender. That’s half the battle.
2. Get rid of checkbooks and credit cards. They just fuel the problem.
3. Don’t shop by yourself. If you are with someone else, you are much less likely to spend.
4. Find other meaningful ways to spend time.
And keep in mind that while behavior change is crucial to recovery, so is reaching out for help. I recommend the Department of Behavioral Health at Palomar Health. Highly-trained professionals there can help you or a loved one shop ‘till you stop!
While swimming laps one morning, I noticed a young lady in the lane next to me was struggling a bit. She would swim a few strokes, then stop and tread water awhile before trying again. She looked very fit, but clearly was not comfortable in the water.
At one point, we struck up a conversation across the lane line and I learned Abby was a marathon runner recovering from surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon. Swimming was not her sport, but she told me she had to do something…first because she wanted to maintain her fitness level. But even more importantly, she did not want to gain weight.
I can relate with the young distance runner. 30 years ago, following a running injury, I recall severely cutting my calorie intake for fear of “blowing up like a balloon!”
I now know that’s crazy thinking.
Injury is an unfortunate, but inevitable fate for most athletes or active people. However, if you’re not able to exercise due to a broken bone, torn tendon or unexpected surgery, the right foods can actually help you heal quickly and avoid gaining weight!
A nutrient-rich diet is key in helping your body heal and get strong again. Eating too few calories during the recovery process can affect complete and adequate healing. Not only that, but an extreme reduction in physical activity during recovery can lead to a natural reduction in appetite and food intake.
So, while you’re healing, choose a variety of quality foods…foods that give you the most nutritional “bang for your buck.” Don’t eliminate food groups, because they all work together.
Eat every two to four hours to keep your blood sugar constant and don’t overeat at the end of the day. Small snacks and meals keep your metabolism active. And be sure to include these nutrients:
Don’t cut out the carbs! When you have bread, fruits, vegetables and whole grains in your body for fuel, the protein you eat can be used to heal and repair muscles. Too few carbs and your body may burn protein for healing, which hinders healing. Combine a smaller portion of carbs with other nutrient-dense foods.
Choose foods such as lean meats, legumes (beans, lentils, soybeans) nuts and low-fat dairy. You need extra protein post-injury to fuel recovery. Make sure each snack or meal contains proteins. Try adding nut butter, egg whites, spinach or lean meats/soy wherever you can.
Plant and fish oils
Fats in these oils (olive, canola, nuts and avocado) have anti-inflammatory properties. Immediately following an injury, the first response is inflammation. These foods can assist in inflammatory control.
Herbs, spices and botanicals
Again, these nutrients can help manage inflammation. Curry powder, turmeric, garlic, cocoa, tea…along with fruits and veggies…are great sources. Consuming these on a daily basis in various recipes provides a strong foundation for recovery.
Vitamins and minerals
An adequate intake of fruits and veggies such as oranges, broccoli, strawberries, baked potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes and cantaloupe provides the powerful antioxidants that decrease inflammation. Vitamin C helps your body form collagen…a protein need for strength and flexibility. It also repairs tendons and ligaments and strengthens bones. Vitamin A helps your body heal by promoting cell growth and development and immune function.
So Abby…you’ll be back in the swim of things (hopefully out of the pool and back on the road!) before you know it! Fuel yourself well while you’re waiting and you’re sure to have a personal best at your next marathon!
Until then, see you at the pool!
When faced with the reality of having a life-threatening disease, most of us run the emotional gamut from shock and denial to despair and gut-wrenching fear. When Patricia Ogundare’ received her diabetes diagnosis two years ago, the otherwise measured, soft-spoken woman was overcome with only one emotion … anger.
“I was very, very angry,” recalls Patricia. “I thought my body had betrayed me.”
Proud of her health and vitality and far from overweight, the petite Patricia found she was also embarrassed. “If I had diabetes, it must be my fault,” explains Patricia.
Well, the Patricia I met recently was all smiles as she came bounding through the park on her morning power walk toward our meeting spot at Lake Hodges.
Through diet, exercise and a positive attitude, Patricia is successfully controlling
her diabetes without medications.
“I go to the gym first thing in the morning, use the elliptical, do strength training and sit-ups,” says Patricia. From there, she heads out for a five-mile trek through Rancho Bernardo. “Instead of waking up and taking a pill, I wake up, eat well and take a walk – that’s my medication!”
Before her diagnosis, Patricia was blissfully unaware of the ticking time bomb inside her. She’d come to the doctor for treatment of a bloody nose. A routine work-up revealed her blood glucose was a dangerously high 300. Today, that number has dropped to a healthy 119. “I still have diabetes,” she acknowledges. “But it’s under control.”
A strong family history and her African-American heritage put Patricia at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. According to Vivek Nazareth, M.D., a family practice physician with Arch Health Partners, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and Asians are at double the risk of developing diabetes.
“Patricia was smart to get control before serious, irreversible complications could take hold,” says Dr. Nazareth.
“From the very beginning, Patricia was receptive, motivated and took advantage
of our team-based care at Arch Health,” says Certified Diabetes Educator Fritz Steen who helped Patricia get on the right track to reclaim her good health.
From anger to advocacy, the 55-year-old dynamo now shares her story so others
might be inspired to make lifestyle changes that can help prevent and control the potentially deadly disease. “Many say they don’t have time to exercise … it’s just easier to take medication,” says Patricia. “For me, it’s easier to exercise.”
Patricia’s experience is also having a domino effect. She’s completely changed her family’s eating habits. She’s working less to minimize stress. And all that walking has become a great social outlet. “I was so busy, I didn’t even know my neighbors,”
Patricia explains. “Now I know them all by name!”
As we wrapped up our visit, I asked Patricia whether she was still angry about having diabetes. With a huge smile she exclaimed, “I love my life! I’m not letting diabetes control me. I’m controlling my diabetes!”
Just had my annual physical and the news is good! My blood pressure, pulse, temperature and blood work are all within normal levels. No change in weight or medications. I’m sleeping well and my energy is good.
But just when I thought it was safe to button my blouse and head for the car, my doctor sat down for a final chat. “Now that you’re sixty,” she pointed out, (what a buzz kill!) I’d like you to make a few more appointments. As she got out her prescription pad, she explained, “You’ll need to get the shingles shot, an updated bone density scan and a colonoscopy!”
What!? I could swear I just had one of the miserable colon scans! But medical records don’t lie. There, in black and white, on my doctor’s computer screen, was the date of my last colonoscopy. 2004! Ten years ago! I was fifty. It was clean. And I didn’t want to have another one.
My whining clearly falling on deaf ears, the doctor handed me the script and advised me to set up an appointment… soon. Well, don’t tell my doctor, but I may just “buy” a little time because there are some new technologies on the horizon that may be easier and even better than the conventional colonoscopy.
Look, I know colonoscopy is important. In fact, the procedure has long been considered one of the most effective cancer-prevention tools. Some studies credit colonoscopies with reducing colon-cancer deaths twenty-five percent over the last decade.
It’s just that, like root canal, colonoscopies just aren’t much fun.
Doctors use long, rubber tubes with small video cameras to probe the colon. On high-definition monitors, they look for abnormal growths called polyps, which over ten to fifteen years can become cancerous.
While many of us avoid the procedure for fear it will be painful or expensive, it’s actually the preparation that ranks highest on the misery scale. Swallowing quarts of nasty drink preparations keep you on the edge of your toilet seat for hours. Uncomfortable at best, the whole process can be exhausting and disgusting.
So forgive me if I’d like to hold off making that appointment. There’s been a recent and exciting surge in new methods and devices already on the market or in the pipeline that just may eliminate (sorry!) the need for invasive colonoscopies!
Imagine swallowing a tiny camera embedded in a pill capsule. How ‘bout a DNA test or an endoscope that provides almost panoramic views of the colon? Sure beats gagging down gobs of chalky goo and a procedure that takes up most of the day!
But alas, while these new technologies could play an important role in reducing colon cancer deaths (nearly 51,000 last year in the US) there are still FDA hurdles to clear preventing their approval… at least in the very near future.
Until then, I guess I’ll bite the bullet and make my colonoscopy appointment. It’s the smart thing to do. Besides, the drug they give you makes you forget all about the gag-a-licious drink from the night before!
But next time, you better believe I’m going for the camera in a pill!
A native Chicagoan, my grandmother lived her entire life on the city’s south side. As Iowa kids, my sister, brother and I thought it was “cool” to visit the big city and stay with Gram in her cute apartment on the top floor of an old, three-story “walk-up.”
But during a summer heat wave, Gram’s third story dwelling was anything but “cool.” With no air conditioning and barely a whisper of cross ventilation, the sauna-like conditions in her home were not only miserable, they were downright dangerous.
Gram actually lost one of her elderly neighbors during a brutal summer heat wave nearly 50 years ago. She died inside her stifling apartment…the victim of heatstroke. Fortunately, my Gram survived the brutal Chicago summers. She lived a full life and died peacefully at the age of 75.
Sad to say, that same scenario continues to play out in cities across the country today. As the temperatures continue to rise is San Diego, the risk of developing heat stroke increases…especially for seniors…like my Gram’s friend.
A recent study at the University of Chicago Medical Center found that forty percent of heat-related fatalities in the United States are among people over the age of 65. As we age, our bodies become less resilient to changes in temperature. In addition, many seniors take prescription medications that can inhibit their ability to regulate temperature or perspiration. Seasoned citizens are also more likely to have chronic medical conditions that change normal body responses to heat.
Heat stroke is the most dangerous heat-related illness, but recognizing the early warning signs can ward off a dangerous outcome.
The first signal is bright red, hot-to-touch, dry skin. By not sweating, your body’s natural cooling mechanism is not working. Body temperature can then rise to 106 degrees or higher within 15 minutes. Dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting, increased fatigue and breathing problems are additional indications of heat exhaustion.
Fortunately, heat stroke is preventable. To stay safe as the temperature rises this summer and early fall, follow these simple guidelines:
1. Stay indoors during the heat of the day. If possible, leave the house before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
2. Drink plenty of water. Even if you’re not thirsty, continue to drink liquids -avoiding caffeine or alcohol, which contribute to dehydration. If you’re taking water pills, check with your doctor about how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Also, avoid cold liquids. They can cause cramps.
3. Dress in light-colored, loose-fitting clothes…in cotton, if possible…it breathes better. Wear a wide-brimmed hat when outside.
4. If you don’t have air conditioning, find cooler places to spend the day. Visit the library, mall, movie theater or senior center to escape the heat.
5. Stay in contact with friends and family. During times of extreme heat, it’s a good idea to have a friend, neighbor or family member check in twice a day to look for signs of heat-related illnesses.
6. Take it easy. Avoid exercise during extreme heat. Rest and take a cool shower or bath.
7. If you notice signs of heat-related illness, be sure to call 911 immediately.
Although air conditioning is readily available, many in southern California choose not to have it. After all, most of the year, our weather is quite temperate. But when that occasional heat wave hits, be on the alert for signs of heat-related illness…in yourself…those you love and the sweet lady in the apartment down the hall.
It could mean the difference between life and death.
What began as a pleasant bike ride took a potentially dangerous turn recently.
You see, I’m training for a bicycle tour in Iowa the end of July. Hoping to be prepared for the seven-day, 300-mile trek across the Hawkeye State, I’ve been slowly upping my mileage since early spring.
So far, so good.
That is, until something went terribly wrong on a typical training ride. It was hot and dry with Santa Ana winds. I though it would be good training since the July heat in Iowa can be oppressive and the headwinds a real challenge.
At 18 miles, I started feeling “funny…” mildly nauseous, cool, and clammy. As I pedaled down the Strand in Coronado, I found myself mildly disoriented.
Then I got scared. I thought back to the 16 ounces of water I chugged before taking off two hours earlier… then checked the water bottle on my bike and saw it was still half full.
That’s when I realized I’d become severely dehydrated.
After downing the remainder of my water, I slowly rode home. Exhausted and a little shaky, I gratefully realized it could have been a lot worse.
It’s not like I don’t know the importance of getting enough water. How could any of us forget the timeless mantra reminding us to “drink eight glasses of water a day?” But with added activity, excessive heat and low humidity, I should have been drinking eight ounces an hour!
As we head into what’s expected to be an especially hot summer, don’t make my mistake. Get plenty of H2O. Need more motivation? Here are a few more reasons to keep your water bottle close by.
Stay Slimmer With Water
Trying to lose weight? Water revs up your metabolism and helps you feel full. Replace calorie-filled beverages with water and drink a glass before meals to help you feel fuller. Drinking more water helps amp up metabolism – especially if your glass is icy cold. Your body must work to warm up the water burning a few extra calories in the process.
Water Boosts Your Energy
If you’re feeling drained and depleted, get a pick-me-up with water. Dehydration makes you feel tired. The right amount of water will help your heart pump your blood more effectively. Plus, water can help your blood transport oxygen and other essential nutrients to your cells.
Lower Stress With Water
Up to 80 percent of your brain tissue is water. If you’re dehydrated, your body and your mind are stressed. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already a little dehydrated. To keep stress levels down, keep a glass of water at your desk or carry a sports bottle and sip regularly.
Build Muscle With Water
Drinking water helps prevent muscle cramping and lubricates joints in the body. When you’re well hydrated, you can exercise longer and stronger without “hitting the wall.”
Nourish Your Skin
Fine lines and wrinkles are deeper when you’re dehydrated. Water is nature’s own beauty cream! Drinking water hydrates skin cells and plumps them up, making your face look younger. It also flushes out impurities and improves circulation and blood flow, helping your skin glow.
Stay Regular With Water
Along with fiber, water is important for good digestion. Water helps dissolve waste particles and passes them smoothly through your digestive tract.
Water Reduces Kidney Stones
The rate of painful kidney stones is rising. One of the reasons could be because people including children aren’t drinking enough water. Kidney stones can’t form in diluted urine, so reduce your risk with plenty of water.
So, are you getting enough water? According to Web MD, most healthy adults get enough to drink by letting thirst guide them. But the exact amount you need depends on your size, level of activity, the weather and your general health. As I learned the hard way, you may need more water, if you exercise or sweat heavily.
Medical breakthrough means hope for those with spinal cord injuries
Medical breakthroughs make great news. In fact, reporting on so-called medical "miracles" has been one of the highlights of my career. But nothing compares with learning one of those "miracles" could possibly help change the life of someone I know and love.
Ten years ago, Glenn Henry was in a freak motorcycle accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. At 65, my professor, coach, mentor and friend had just retired from the athletic department at my alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa.
To celebrate the milestone, Glenn and his wife, Karen, bought a Harley and hit the road. Riding along a quiet, but winding country road one beautiful fall day, their bike suddenly skidded on a patch of gravel and went down. The former winning swim coach, popular professor and successful entrepreneur was able to maneuver the spill so Karen suffered only minor injuries. But Glenn flew over the handlebars...landed on his head and severed his spine at the neck.
Left: Coach Glenn Henry, his wife, Karen, Tom and Carol.
In a split second, one of the most active, full-of-life people I have ever known found his retirement dreams of travel and adventure dashed on some loose gravel. He could no longer do anything on his own but speak and breathe.
With his indomitable spirit, fiercely supportive family and unwavering faith, Glenn has beat the odds and continues to find joy in living – holding out hope that someday, medical science will come up with a cure for spinal cord injuries (SCI).
Recently, his dream moved one step closer to reality.
After his accident, Glenn’s three children connected with the Christopher Reeve Foundation and for the last decade, Lisa, Lori and Lance have been working tirelessly with the non-profit raising money and awareness on behalf of their Dad and others sidelined due to SCI.
Last month came news of what may just be the “miracle” the Henry’s have been praying for. The stunning results of a clinical trial funded by the Reeve Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, could be a game-changer for thousands living with paralysis due to SCI.
Four paralyzed men can now voluntarily move their legs after researchers implanted a device that shoots electrical stimulation into their spinal cords.
Two of the four men were told there was no chance of recovery. But with the help of epidural stimulation, they can now move their hips, ankles and toes.
The study results, published in the journal, “Brain,” are groundbreaking giving hope to many who were given wheelchairs and told to just “live with it.”
The electrical stimulator used in the treatment sends electric pulses of various frequencies and intensities to specific regions of the spinal cord. The electrical signal helped the spinal cord reuse the broken neural network and control movement of limbs.
The treatment also helped improve patient’s overall health. No surprise to Glenn and his family. Because of the added movement, the men in the study developed muscle mass, had better blood circulation and reported greater well being.
You better believe, within moments of getting the news, the Henry’s were filling out paper work to hopefully enroll my friend in the next study. We’re praying this is just the beginning of renewed hope for Glenn and some 200,000 others in the U.S. living with SCI and hope for a future where paralysis is completely reversible.
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!