Saturday November 30, 2013
|Pam Stephan with her Dad
Photo © Karl D. Stephan
Time is precious, and sometimes choosing how to spend your time is difficult. After spending the last seven and a half years working on this site, it's time for me to say farewell. It has been a great gift to me, to be able to spend time with you, my readers, and answer your questions as well as learn from you.
When I was hired for this site about breast cancer, I was a 4-year survivor with vivid memories of my experience with the disease, the treatments, and the recovery process. I had left a good job at a major university, working as a college webmaster. My body still needed time to recover and so did my spirit.
Soon thereafter, my mother passed away and my father, then 80 years old, could no longer live alone. Dad had developed some dementia and it had progressed to the point that his neurologist told him to stop driving. This was quite a blow to him. My sister had spent many years helping my parents during their senior years, while I lived across the country. But now she was raising a small child and needed to concentrate on her own family. My husband and I invited my Dad to live with us, and he has been with us now for 7 years.
Having Dad in my life has been another gift - even though it comes with challenges. We have focused on keeping him in good health, staying active, having a social life, and helping him remember things. As his memory issues progress, it gets harder to spend my time on any other activities. I want to make sure that he stays safe and contented as long as possible and keep him at home with family. So while I've been writing, researching, illustrating, editing, and taking photos for this site, I have juggled that with keeping Dad going. When he developed a heart problem, his memory suffered another drop, and my care for him intensified.
This is my last day with About.com and I will miss it dearly. Perhaps I may return someday, but for now, my course is set and Dad and I - with my husband's help - will cross this bridge into full-time dementia caregiving together. I will learn much about memory loss, and even more about my father, and I will treasure most of the memories that we make. Thanks for reading along with me and staying in touch over the years. Stay healthy and treasure those you love!
My blog about Life with Dad: Dementia and Dominoes
Thursday November 21, 2013
Photo © National Cancer Institute
Eat These, Not Those, To Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Thanksgiving usually means an abundance of traditional dishes created with all the culinary stops pulled out - butter, eggs, sugars, spices, special drinks and appetizers. It's hard to turn down your favorite holiday munchies, especially if you get these only during the holidays. But all those dishes aren't healthy - I know, that's sort of the point isn't it? - so here's some tips to add more anticancer foods to the Big Meal.
Drink Juice or Tea, Not Alcohol: Alcohol intake should be limited or zero, to keep your risk of cancer low. Any kind of alcohol that you consume may change your levels of female hormones, and thus increase your risk of estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Get your antioxidants from tea or coffee, or vitamins from juice.
Snack on Fruit and Nuts, Not Cheese Dip: Steer away from extra fat to keep excess pounds off your frame. Staying slim keeps your cancer risk low, so grab the fruit, crackers, or walnuts at the appetizer table.
Take the Turkey, Not The Ham: Choose lean meats whenever possible and peel away the skin and fat. Avoid red and fatty meats but load up on omega3's in fish. You'll feel less bloated and get stuck with fewer calories after the big dinner this way!
Scoop up the Cranberries, Go Light on Sweet Potatoes: This isn't just about calories here - it's about powerful antioxidants that fight cancer as opposed to sugar-laden, high glycemic starchy potatoes. Yes, I know those golden brown 'taters are tempting, but the cranberries are the cancer-fighters on the table. You get double points if the cran sauce is homemade with natural sweeteners.
Hard Choices - Desserts: Pecan pie is a staple at my house, but I'm going to limit syrup and sugars this year. It sure ain't healthy, so take about 2-3 bites and keep going. Head for the fruit, chocolate, sponge cake, or lighter fare instead.
Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving holiday this year!
Monday October 28, 2013
|Cool Chemo Top with Drain Holders
Photo © Confident Clothing Co.
Smart Designs Deal With Surgical Drain Bulbs After Breast Cancer Surgery
There's nothing the experience to teach you something valuable. For breast cancer survivors, that's very true. No matter which surgery you may have endured, you most likely woke up sprouting catheter lines and surgical drain bulbs that dangled from your tender skin. Those drains are there for a good reason, but they aren't pretty and they sure aren't comfy!
When I was recovering 11 years ago, I was very uncomfortable. The little surgical stitch that held my drain lines in place pinched on a very sensitive spot. I kept the area clean and routinely measured my drain output but gosh! Getting dressed was a pain, lying down was difficult, sitting around felt like dealing with extra arms and legs. My husband tried once to help me adjust the position of the drain lines - he accidentally pulled on the line - and I left scratches on him when I clawed him with my nails. He backed off quickly, poor guy. Nobody gave me anything to help manage those drains and their pendulous catheter lines, except safety pins.
Now things are somewhat better. Several survivors have gone ahead of you and designed tops, belts, bras, scarves, and pockets that camouflage the bobbling bulbs and prevent them from shifting and falling. Check out these seven solutions to surgical drain management, and pack them in your hospital bag. These make recovery much more comfortable.
Monday October 14, 2013
Art © Microsoft
And while we're talking about it, let me give you some good reasons to give up alcohol all year.
Alcohol causes the levels of female hormones in your body to rise. While that may sound wonderfully sexy, it also puts you at greater risk for breast cancer. Most breast tumors thrive on estrogen. Drinking any amount of alcohol, especially daily drinking, exposes your breast tissue to a greater risk for cancer.
If you are going to a "drink pink" event this BCAM, just order a healthy drink like pomegranate juice - without alcohol. If you're craving a little caffeine, ask for a cup of coffee or a green tea. And please don't hesitate to ask for alcohol-free wines and beers - such things do exist and a thoughtful host will have those on hand for such an event (surely!)
So, to lower your risk of breast cancer, keep your glass booze-free! And I don't mean putting down another glass of beer, wine, or liquor. We know alcohol can cause cancers of the liver, head and neck, esophagus and mouth, breast and bowel. So cut down on alcohol, or stop drinking it altogether, to lower your risk for all these cancers.
Need more info - here it is: