Dr. Elizabeth explains the carefully chosen contents in the Breast BFFLBag®.More ›
What Is A BFFL Bag?
Dr. Elizabeth explains the carefully chosen contents in the Breast BFFLBag®.More ›
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Dr. E demonstrates the benefits and features of the Elizabeth Pink Surgical Bra® in this short video.More ›
Back by popular demand during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, our list of 31 Facts About Breasts! Each day in October we will post a new one. Read it here.
Denise has breast cancer, and chose to have a lumpectomy with chemotherapy and radiation instead of a mastectomy.
Long-term studies have shown that her type and stage of cancer can be successfully treated with either lumpectomy and chemo/radiation or mastectomy with chemo.
Denise had her lumpectomy, followed by a year of chemotherapy, and is now preparing for the last step, six weeks of daily radiation. As would be expected of a patient who is also a radio host, she had a lot of questions for me, and of course I loved being a resource to a woman who helps so many others with great advice.
Here are some highlights from our conversation: (more…)
Recent discoveries indicate there may be many more BRCA gene mutations than previously thought, and this may affect how we test for inherited breast cancer in the future.
A public-private partnership, called BRCA Share™, announced in June that it has found a number of new and previously unrecognized variants of the BRCA gene.
When diagnosed with breast cancer, many women describe feeling pressure to “get the cancer out, FAST! ” Others, however, seem slightly annoyed (because of the excellent prognosis for early stage disease) with their diagnosis and would rather not change their plans. They’ll ask, “Can I still go on my cruise?” so that they can enjoy some time before treatment starts. In some cases, doctors have reassured patients that taking a few months to make a decision is perfectly fine, while others have discouraged any delay in surgery and/or treatment. (more…)
This past July, the New York Times published an article entitled, “Americans Are Finally Eating Less”. The article explained how, after decades of bad diets and increases in obesity, our country’s eating habits had finally begun to improve and calories consumed were declining for the first time in over 40 years. Obesity rates had stopped rising for adults and children, and had actually decreased for younger children.
Good news, right? Not good enough, apparently. A subsequent Times article (published this month) tells a completely different story. Despite our country’s best efforts to fight obesity, including a major campaign by Michelle Obama, the share of Americans in that category has edged up.
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what has caused the apparent reversal in progress. However, logical reasoning might indicate that, if lower calorie consumption has not led to a sustainable decrease in obesity, perhaps calorie consumption is not the problem.
Under the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, chain restaurants are required to publish the calorie content of their meals. The federal government has improved the requirements for school lunches, and many schools have completely removed soda machines from their hallways. Some states (such as Berkeley, California) have even begun to tax sugar-sweetened beverages. While these are certainly steps in the right direction, they don’t mean that Americans are stocking their fridges with fresh fruits and vegetables and replacing soda with water.
Calories are not the villain here. Understanding how to fuel our bodies in a healthy way is the key to fighting obesity and improving overall health. Fried chicken, for example, is packed with salt, saturated fat and unhealthy calories. On the other hand, an avocado is loaded with healthy fats which the body can use. The same is true of almonds and other tree nuts. While high in calories, these foods (when eaten in moderation) provide nutrition and energy that evens out blood sugar levels and fuels the body in a healthy way.
The fact of the matter is: When certain foods become unavailable or restricted, they often gain traction as ‘forbidden fruit’ and become all the more appealing. Restricting or taxing soda doesn’t mean that people acquire a deeper understanding of the health risks associated with it. If people want sweets or fast food, they don’t have to look far to find it. If soda isn’t available, there are plenty of substitutes. The prevalence of “low fat” cookies and desserts only fools people into thinking that they are making a better choice. In fact, this can lead consumers to eat larger portions of these products when, in fact, they generally contain higher levels of sugar to offset the decreased fat. Hardly a good choice.
Where is the data coming from?
These figures are released every two years by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, considered by many to be the gold standard for federal health data. The numbers show that about 38% of American adults were obese in 2013 and 2014, up from 35% in 2011 and 2012. Marion Nestle, a professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, said that the trend is “very unfortunate and very disappointing”. She added, “Everybody was hoping that with the decline in sugar and soda consumption, we’d start seeing a leveling off of obesity.”
Some of the most startling numbers were among minorities. From 2011 to 2014, 57% of black women were obese, the highest rate of any demographic. The next highest were Hispanic women (46%) and Hispanic men (39%). Of white women and men, 36% and 34% were obese, respectively.
Obesity and breast cancer
For women, the dangers of obesity (particularly post-menopause) include a possible increased risk for breast cancer. Fat cells produce estrogen and cause inflammation, which is considered a contributor to the development of breast cancer. Maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly can lower the risk.
It seems that, within only six months, our nation’s health situation has deteriorated from promising to discouraging. There are no quick fixes here. Until more Americans become better educated about how what they eat affects their overall health, the fight against obesity will be hard won.
Last week, I received a call from a woman who I consider a business genius. Her friendship is a gift, and she offers a wealth of experience not only in business and finance, but also in travel, hobbies, and relationships. She is a “self-made “success who embodies the vital ammunition of hard work and the type of focus that’s necessary to complete the toughest challenges.
When she called to tell me that she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer, her usual calm and confident voice sounded panicked. (more…)
Many women tell me that the worst part of being diagnosed with breast cancer is hearing that you need chemotherapy. The disease itself is bad enough, but having to deal with the side effects of chemo—hair loss, nausea, fatigue and months of trips back and forth to the hospital—just intensify their fears. However, there is a relatively new test that can be performed at the time of biopsy and diagnosis that can provide valuable information in tailoring a woman’s treatment plan. (more…)
There are so many things to think about when facing breast surgery or any in-patient surgical procedure. Besides packing for the hospital, you have to make sure that everything is in order for your return home. Although your doctor will explain the physical constraints you will face post-surgery, it’s difficult to know what you’ll be dealing with until you actually experience it first-hand. (more…)
It’s no secret that body fat increases postmenopausal breast cancer risk. Regular exercise is an integral part of breast cancer prevention and, further, exercise should play a key role in breast cancer recovery as well (we posted a blog on the subject last summer). But how much exercise is optimal for reducing breast cancer risk? According to a recent study, more seems to be better.
A clinical trial conducted in Alberta, Canada between 2010 and 2013 studied how different levels of exercise affected the body fat levels of 384 previously inactive postmenopausal women (aged 50 to 74 years) in both normal and obese body fat ranges. The participants were randomly assigned workout regimens of either 30 or 60 minutes per day for five days each week (with no dietary changes) and continued the regimens for 12 months. Body fat measurements taken before and after the trial showed that decreases in body fat were significantly higher in those women who participated in a higher volume, more intense exercise regimen (300 vs. 150 minutes per week).
Overall, the women exercising 300 minutes weekly lost 1% more body fat than those in the 150 minute group. An important finding, however, was that those exercising at the higher level did not lose significantly more weight. Many cancer studies focus on how weight affects cancer risk, but this study focused specifically on body fat levels.
Christine Friedenreich, PhD led the study along with her colleagues at Alberta Health Services in order to differentiate between how body fat, not just weight, could lower cancer risk. She said that general guidelines for exercise concentrate on lowering blood pressure and other heart disease-related measurements. But for cancer prevention, Friedenreich says, “We may need to exercise at higher volumes. So yes, doing 150 minutes of activity a week is good, but if you can do more, then from a cancer prevention perspective, 300 minutes is better.”
Since fatty tissue is the main source of hormones that can drive postmenopausal breast cancer, the study results are significant. Fat also plays a role in the body’s immune and inflammatory responses, both of which are involved in cancer. So when it comes to exercise and breast cancer prevention, upping your game could really improve your odds!
When you’re facing breast surgery, there’s a lot of information to process. In addition to all the physical and emotional prep, there are myriad medical imaging and other tests that you may have to undergo. Here’s a list and explanation of the tests that could be necessary (more…)
When you’re about to undergo breast surgery, there are many things to think about and plan for. But it’s difficult to really consider all of the parts of one’s life that the surgery will affect. You think about the obvious things, (more…)
We receive many letters of thanks for the products we offer from people who have used them or bought them for a friend or loved one struggling with cancer. We received this one recently, and were touched by the heartfelt gratitude and, more importantly, by the fact that our Double Mastectomy BFFLBag® and the BFFL Co Guide to Mastectomy were so helpful. This has always been our mission: To improve the patient experience. There’s nothing better than finding out we have done just that. Here’s what she wrote:
The BFFL Company Bag was delivered right on time. I have yet to open it since both my daughter and I are down with an ugly sinus infection, but I will be delivering it to her very soon. I just want you to know what a wonderful difference products such as this and your personal and kind help provide to cancer sufferers and their relatives. I would do anything for my daughter, but so far, except for accompanying her to appointments and doctor visits, I have been able to do little. This product – the thought of it, the hope of it, the kindness with which it was put together – has been so instrumental in providing a little relief to a grim situation.
I was especially impressed with your “The BFFL Co Guide to Mastectomy.“ For 25 years, I worked as an Instructional Systems Specialist – first for the U. S. Army and then the U. S. Coast Guard. Smaller service though it was, the CG, early on, was particularly good at realizing the great advantage of job aids, etc. Your Guide to Mastectomy is one of the best I’ve ever seen, and it even includes a video that I plan to watch.
Ironically to us anyway, my daughter is an oncology nurse, having devoted 13 or more years of her working career to chemo and now radiation. She knows how to care for drains – I don’t — but I will because your video and instruction and her skill set and teaching skills will make sure I get one thing out of this experience and that is how to care for drains. My daughter also got me through a very tough year as my husband struggled with pancreatic cancer. Of course, he ultimately lost that battle, but my daughter was why I could keep his multitude of meds straight and other visiting nurses who patiently taught me were why I could ultimately administer infused antibiotics through a Smart Port twice a day. If you’re me, you think you can’t do these things. If you’re my daughter you not only know you can but you know how to help other people to experience that they can, too. I know you must get accolades and praise all the time, but just wanted to add mine. I think you’re fantastic!!!!
Sheila Shepard, proud mother of the best oncology nurse in the whole world!
Learn how to decode medical test results in our blog on the Huffington Post!
My routine visit with a gynecologist in the spring of 2013 turned out to be anything but routine.
I had just moved back to New York from North Carolina (where my husband Johnny was stationed on active duty with the US Marine Corps) and was meeting with my new gynecologist, Dr. Nabil Khoury. After reviewing my personal and family history, (more…)
How many times have we heard the old adage: “In every cloud, there is a silver lining”? It’s hardly the thing to say when someone has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. But after Hollye Jacobs received this news at age thirty-nine, she decided to use her knowledge of the “practical” matters associated with the disease to help others. (more…)
If you are facing surgery for breast cancer or another condition such as melanoma of the arm or leg, you might be at risk for a condition called lymphedema. When swelling, or edema, involves the body’s lymphatic system, fluid gets trapped and can’t drain. I have seen many patients suffer from this condition which, once it sets in, is something a person has to deal with for life.
What is lymphedema?
The human body contains an intricate roadway of vessels (more…)