Sunday, October 26, 2014


Earlier this month we took a fall foliage vacation.  We cruised the New England/Canada area on the Royal Princess ship.  While the foliage was still pretty green, we spotted a few colorful trees.  (This picture was in Boston.)

The Royal Princess is a huge ship which holds over 3500 passengers and 1200 crew members.  Can you imagine spending seven days crammed into a boat with 4700 people?  We wondered if we would be waiting in line, constantly surrounded by people.  I’m happy to say it was very nice.  This new ship was well designed.  We did not feel crowded.  We had an excellent vacation with our travel buddies RJ and JL. 
We visited Newport, Rhode Island, Boston Massachusetts, Bar Harbor Maine, St John’s New Brunswick and Halifax Nova Scotia.  Each stop was unique, from the big cities of Boston and Halifax to the quaint little towns of Newport and Bar Harbor.  We enjoyed them all.  We spent time off the ship at each port to experience the local cuisine (lunch) We had some great ‘fish and chips’, Maine wild blueberry muffins, and raw oysters (well the guys ate the oysters, not me.)

When did you last take time to rest/rejuvenate?  Whether you go on a trip or just enjoy down time at home, vacation time contributes to our health and enjoyment. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How to protect against infection while undergoing cancer treatments

I recently talked with a former colleague; a retired surgeon.  I knew he was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer and had undergoing treatment.  I asked him how he is doing:  the good news is his treatment has been successful and he is in remission.  He looks healthy.  I was glad to see him doing well.

People undergoing chemotherapy deal with several potential side effects:  one involves the chemotherapy drugs which decrease a person’s white blood cells and their ability to fight off infection.  People going through chemotherapy (and their loved ones) can do several things to protect their health and prevent infections.  This begins with good handwashing with soap and water.  This sounds simple (and it is) but it is a huge protective practice.  More information can be found at
If you or someone you know is dealing with chemotherapy treatments, there is a helpful website from the centers for disease control (CDC) called 3 Steps toward preventing infection during cancer treatment.  Check it out at

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness

October’s PINK UP festivities emphasis breast cancer awareness

What do we know about breast cancer?  Researchers are recognizing that breast cancer is not one disease, but several.  In general, cancer could be described as cells gone wild. But there are multiple types of breast cancer.  Many of them, “70-80% of breast tumors are hormone receptor positive—that is, the tumor exhibits estrogen (ER) and/or progresterone (PR) receptors, which it needs to grow.”   This statement from the Nurses’ Health Study newsletter explains how hormones affect the breast cancer cells.  During the diagnosis process, doctors usually test patients for hormone receptor status (whether estrogen or progresterone) and human epidermal growth protein.  The results of this testing helps determine treatment.  This explains why all breast cancer patients may not receive the same treatment. 
Breast Cancer is a scary, stressful diagnosis to receive.  We all know women and men who have dealt with or are dealing with this disease. For more information about breast cancer, visit The American Cancer Society at
Nurses’ Health Study Newsletter, volume 21, 2014.


Sunday, October 5, 2014


Last year a friend of mine had to deal with shingles.  She suffered a great deal of pain before she got past this illness.  What is shingles?  Shingles occurs when the varicella zoster (chicken pox) virus which has lived in our bodies inactive since we had chicken pox as kids becomes active. 

Symptoms of shingles include a painful, blistering rash which affects nerves on one side of the body (either side but rarely on both sides).  When shingles symptoms occur, the nerve affected may result in pain, burning, tingling or numbness.  Some people notice itching.  After the pain symptoms begin, a red rash and blisters may show up.  Other symptoms some people experience also include fever and chills, aches, headache and fatigue.  These symptoms may last two to four weeks and cause great discomfort. For some people, the pain of shingles continues for months and years.  This postherpetic neuralgia causes long-term pain and symptoms. 
Anyone dealing with shingles should see their doctor immediately for treatment.  Treatment includes antiviral medications as well as drugs to treat symptoms. 

Who is most at risk for shingles?  According to the CDC, one in three people will deal with shingles during their lifetime.  As we age, our risk of developing shingles goes up.  In fact, almost half of all cases of shingles affect people age 60 and older. 

Can we protect ourselves from shingles?  The shingles vaccine has been recommended for people over age 60.  If you and your loved ones are age 60 or older, check with your doctor and insurance co as some will cover the cost of the shingles vaccine. 
For more information about shingles, check out the CDC Prevent Shingles at or Mayo Clinic