December 8, 2013
Over the past two years I have had the privilege of getting to know Dee Dee Ricks. I knew she was a breast cancer survivor, so when I first met her, I asked her to tell me a little about her experience with the disease. Her no-nonsense reply was, “Did you watch my documentary? You need to before we can talk.”
Watching the 2011 HBO film The Education of Dee Dee Ricks, I learned a lot about the woman who had become a fierce advocate for Breast Cancer Navigation. In it, she tells the story, in her gentle southern drawl, of the “education” she received during her three-year journey from (more…)
November 25, 2013
Hollywood star Angelina Jolie was a brave inspiration to all of those women dealing with a BRCA mutation or family history when she announced the startling news of her prophylactic double mastectomy. Most recently “Good Morning America” correspondent Amy Robach announced to viewers that she, too, would soon undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Due to advances in screening and genetic counseling/testing, women have options and information to help them make decisions. When pre-emptive or diagnosed early, women have a much better chance to be cured or avoid the disease.
While making the decision or told you need to have surgery is the biggest step, women still need help in preparing and recovering from these new surgeries.
We at BFFL Co are pleased to share with you The BFFL Co Guide to Mastectomy, an (more…)
November 20, 2013
Holidays and special occasions are meant to be joyful times that create lasting memories. Many people enjoy reuniting with family and friends to celebrate traditions during these times. However, for the person who is caring for a loved one with cancer, it can be challenging to balance caregiving responsibilities while preparing for family get-togethers, parties, and other events. By planning ahead and using the tips discussed here, caregivers and their loved ones can find ways to get the most out of these special times. (more…)
November 17, 2013
Last week, a patient of mine who has lung cancer told me that our recent heart-to-heart discussion about his need to quit smoking cigarettes in order for his radiation treatments to be effective had actually worked: After 42 years of the nasty habit, he had stopped.
The tears that started to well up in my eyes quickly began to dry, however, as he went on to explain that he had replaced his Marlboros with electronic cigarettes.
Like most non-smokers, I did not know much about electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, as they’re commonly called, except that they have been frequently mentioned in the news (more…)
November 10, 2013
I always loved to see my father in uniform. He was a member of the Public Health Service and worked at the National Cancer Institute for 25 years before taking a job at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. His uniform was always carefully laundered and hung proudly in our front hall closet (nobody dared touch it). His father, my grandfather, was a physician as well, and had served in the Army during WWII. He and my grandmother, who held down the fort in South Central Illinois, wrote what eventually became a mountain of letters to each other, each more fascinating and poignant than the last. My father fought the enemy called cancer, while my grandfather fought to save the lives of his fellow soldiers. (more…)
November 6, 2013
It almost seems like an overworked adage: that a man will drive around town for an hour, or stay on a highway for miles past the exit, rather than stop and ask for directions. But there’s a lot of truth to it. Asking for help is a sign of weakness, and men, despite all of society’s (and women’s) efforts to make them more sensitive, like to appear strong and in control.
Health care professionals find that this tendency extends to asking for guidance on medical issues as well. Evelyn, a nurse in a major New York hospital, frequently encounters what she calls the Suffer In Silence syndrome. “Some men will lie there in pain for hours before pushing the call button for help. But that’s my job— I’m here to help!” (more…)
October 23, 2013
The following is an excerpt from a recently-published article in A Woman’s Health that included a profile of BFFL Co. founder and CEO Dr. Elizabeth Chabner Thompson. To read the entire article, click here.
Putting Patients First
Elizabeth Chabner Thompson always knew that she wanted to be a doctor. “I grew up in a very medical home—my father and grandfather were physicians—and it was considered an honored profession,” she says. (more…)
October 14, 2013
It’s October, a time to think about friends and family members who’ve had breast cancer, and to help support efforts to find better and more effective treatments for the disease. This year, almost 240,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and close to 40,000 will die of the disease. One out of every eight women will develop the disease in her lifetime.
Pretty scary statistics, but it also means that seven out of every eight women won’t get breast cancer. (more…)
October 11, 2013
Waiting rooms have twice as many chairs as they have patients. People tend to come in pairs, and that’s a good thing, not only for passing the time waiting, and getting to and from treatment, but also for clinical outcome.
The survival benefit associated with being married is larger than the survival benefit of chemotherapy. After reviewing the records of more than 700,000 patients, researchers at Harvard concluded that married patients were less likely to die from cancer than patients who had never married or were divorced, separated or widowed. The conclusions were significant even after adjusting for type of cancer, demographic characteristics, tumor, nodal stage, and the use of definitive therapy. (more…)
October 7, 2013
When 31-year-old LA Dodgers pitcher Tommy John developed a sore arm in 1973, his pitching career appeared to be over. His UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) had become stretched, frayed, and torn due to the extreme repetitive stress of the pitching motion – pretty much a death knell for a big league pitcher’s career.
Frank Jobe, the Dodgers team physician, had been working on an idea. He felt that he could try to replace the damaged ligament with a tendon taken from somewhere else on John’s body. He would drill holes in the (more…)
September 30, 2013
1. Don’t Smoke
If you’re a smoker, quit – even if it takes you 6 or 7 attempts. In cancer survivors, smoking raises the risk for secondary tumors, cancer recurrence, treatment related complications, chronic co-morbid conditions (heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis) and death. Many cancer patients do not understand that they need or should stop smoking. (more…)
September 28, 2013
“I don’t have cancer, there are just a few bad looking cells.”
One of my neighbors called me last spring to talk after her mammogram and biopsy results showed some possibly precancerous cells. It got me thinking about that fine line between “a little abnormal” and “a cause for concern.”
September 14, 2013
BFFL Co (“Best Friends for Life”) is thrilled to announce the first-ever Limited Edition Breast BFFLBag®, a beautiful bright pink zippered quilted designer tote which, like our flagship line of colorful striped duffel bags, is packed with essentials for breast cancer surgery recovery.
September 9, 2013
A clinical trial is a research study that evaluates a new treatment. In many cases, the new treatment has already shown the potential of being an improvement over the current standard treatment. In these cases, clinical trials are testing to see how much better the new treatment works compared to the old one. Clinical trials help doctors and pharmaceutical companies develop and research new treatment procedures and drugs. (more…)
August 18, 2013
With back-to-school season in full swing, students, teachers and parents everywhere are looking for that “extra edge.” They’re stocking up on the newest calculator, the sharpest mechanical pencils, the latest e-reader, and the snappiest weekly planner. What many of them don’t know, however, is that the best tools for brain power might be sitting in their kitchen!
A growing list of healthy foods, it turns out, are believed to be very helpful in enhancing cognitive function and memory, increasingly important to academic success. (more…)
August 16, 2013
When it comes to anxiety, Goldilocks had the right idea—you want it to be “just right.” Too little anxiety can actually lead to laziness or complacency, and too much anxiety is a recipe for disaster.
As many successful athletes, businesspeople, performers and others have discovered, a healthy balance between too little and too much anxiety can propel you forward in life and keep you on top of your game. The trick is to find that balance and use it to your advantage. (more…)
July 25, 2013
Patients often ask me what they can expect when a treatment plan is presented to them. It can be so overwhelming that they forget to ask the “little” questions that end up keep them awake at night.
A good night’s sleep is often key to helping us deal with a difficult situation with a fresh perspective, clear head, and feeling of confidence. Yet when we are facing something like cancer treatment, sleep is an elusive goal.
July 17, 2013
Now that bilateral mastectomy is part of the vernacular (thank you, Angelina Jolie!) we have become all too familiar with the concept of breast cancer, surgery and motivations for action. It all sounds pretty simple, right? You get diagnosed, you go for surgery. You have radiation. Yet, the truth is, women at high risk or the recently diagnosed are bombarded with options, and it can all be very confusing. And although it’s tempting to hear what a celebrity or friend is doing and conclude that you should do the same, every woman’s diagnosis, risk and health profile is unique. What’s right for one could be completely wrong for another, even when symptoms, age, and other factors seem the same. (more…)
July 11, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I got together for lunch with a bright and fashionable friend who had recently battled breast cancer. As we caught up on family, jobs and recent news, I mentioned an article that I had just read in the British Medical Journal about a meta-analysis (large study comparing and contrasting several research studies on the same topic) that found a correlation between breast augmentation (cosmetic implants) and breast cancer. My friend’s jaw dropped. “I never told you this,” she confided, “but my cancer was hidden under my breast implant. They would have never found it, except for the fact that I kept insisting my implant had moved.” (more…)
July 10, 2013
You planned your summer vacation trip late last fall, and have since received the wonderful news that you’re pregnant. Should you still go?
The short answer is: it depends .
I recently discussed the pros and cons of travel during pregnancy with online pub MedicalDaily.com. (more…)
June 3, 2013
Here are some practical skin care tips that for optimal healing and comfort while undergoing radiation:
- Take a warm, tepid shower, rather than a HOT shower before going for treatment, and skip any lotions or preparations until after treatment. Avoid long baths or soaking, because your skin is too fragile and sensitive.
- If you need to bathe, however, skip the bubbles—suds are created by a chemical called Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which can strip away natural oils.
- No exfoliation- keep everything mild and non-abrasive.
- Wear soft clothing that doesn’t chafe or irritate skin. Natural fibers in soft fabric constructions that are sympathetic to the skin are best. (more…)