Join St. Joe’s for the Great American Smokeout

St. Joe’s is proud to be a part of the American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 17, as smokers across the nation quit smoking for a day, taking an important step toward  a healthier life and reducing their risk for cancer.

According to the ACS, about 40 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death. Studies have shown quitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age.

Quitting is hard, but St. Joe’s would like to offer you support to increase your chances of success. Come to the Event Center at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor on Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. to take the pledge to go tobacco-free – or pledge to support a friend, family member or co-worker for a day – for the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, Nov. 17. All pledges will be entered in drawings for prizes – everyone can participate.

In celebration of the Great American Smokeout, St. Joe’s Market Café will offer a $2.99 Cold Turkey sandwich lunch special on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Follow St. Joe’s on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for tips to quit smoking.

Dr. Sima Saberi Shares Important Health Tips for National Diabetes Month

saberi-simaNovember is National Diabetes Month, and St. Joe’s endocrinologist Sima Saberi, MD, shares some useful knowledge for those with diabetes –  what to eat, which habits to curb and how much exercise to aim for each day. Dr. Saberi shared these health tips with Sharecare’s Behind the Scrubs blog on Nov. 14.

What healthy habits do you practice to keep diabetes at bay?
I try to walk 30 minutes a day, three days a week, and 45 to 60 minutes a day, two days a week. I also watch my diet and try to be careful with portion sizes.

What are your favorite diabetes-friendly snacks? Desserts?
Walnuts or low-fat cheeses are great snack options. One small scoop of ice cream (sugar-free and low-fat options are best) is a yummy dessert option.

What do you wish your people with diabetes did to take better care of their feet?
I wish that my patients wouldn’t walk barefoot. And I also recommend that they check their feet each day. If they can’t see the bottom of their feet, I tell them to use a mirror or ask a friend or family member to check their feet.

What’s the ideal breakfast for a person with diabetes? Lunch? Dinner?
The ideal meal for someone with diabetes is a balanced one with whole grain and high-fiber foods. Depending on the person’s other health conditions, they may need different amounts of nutrients, and a dietitian can help determine what is best. In general, we typically recommend 45 to 60 grams of carbs per meal but, if your blood sugar is high, you’ll want to be more careful with how many carbs you are eating and what types of carbs you are eating. Protein and high-fiber foods can help you feel full and can help maintain your blood sugar at a more even range. But if you have kidney dysfunction, your kidney doctor may limit the amount of protein in your diet.

What’s one unexpected habit you wish your patients would drop?
Drinking soda pop. Regular soda can cause your blood sugar to spike. Data also show that people who drink diet soda end up not feeling quite as full, so they may overeat.

What’s the most common question your patients ask you?
What should my blood sugar be? In general, we aim for a fasting blood sugar less than 130 and for blood sugar levels to be less than 180 later in the day.

What’s the most common myth or misconception that you regularly have to debunk among your patients?
“I am on insulin so I can eat anything I want. The insulin will cover me.”

What do you do to stay healthy?
I watch my diet (and in turn my weight) and I walk for exercise.

How do fit in time for exercise every day?
I try to walk before or after dinner on weekdays and in the mornings on weekends. I don’t have time to exercise every weekday, but I do things throughout the day to get in more steps. I park in the back of the parking lot so that I have to walk farther and I take the five flights of stairs to and from my office floor. If there is a longer way to get from point A to point B, I will always take the longer way.

What’s the biggest mistake you see your patients make?
Not checking their blood sugar levels. If you are not checking your blood sugar, you don’t really know what it is. If you know what your blood sugar is, you may be more inclined to make healthier food choices or to call your doctor when you see your levels are too high.

A Battle with Legionnaires’ and a Legion of Heroes: Laurie Shipley’s Story

(From left to right) MICU nurse Youngmi Fazio, Laurie Shipley and RT Christy Alexander

Few people would ever want to remember a months-long hospital stay and a brush with death. But you’d believe Laurie Shipley when she says her battle with Legionnaires’ Disease was “the best thing that ever happened” to her. And it has forever changed her life.

Not the flu
Laurie came to St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor on a November day in 2013, with what she thought were flu symptoms. When she collapsed in the hospital elevator, it became clear her illness was much more serious and potentially deadly. A chest x-ray showed she had Legionnaires’ Disease. Laurie was admitted immediately to the MICU on 6 North for treatment. She was in a coma and on a ventilator.

Bedside prayers
In the days and nights that followed, Laurie’s room was a revolving door of doctors, respiratory therapists and nurses. Laurie’s daughters, Tammy and Dana, remember two people in particular who provided comfort in all the chaos – a respiratory therapist, Christy Alexander, and a MICU nurse, Youngmi Fazio.

Christy spent 16-hour nights at Laurie’s bedside, checking for the slightest signs of improvement, making it her daily duty to report to family members.

Youngmi provided not only physical but also spiritual care. She prayed and talked to Laurie every time she entered the room, hoping Laurie could hear, even in slumber.

“I felt very close to her,” Youngmi said.

One night, when nurses thought Laurie was taking a turn for the worse, Youngmi repeated over and over, “You don’t do this to your friends, Laurie.” Laurie said she heard those words, and they encouraged her to hang on.

Laurie finally regained consciousness after more than two weeks. By then her family had celebrated Thanksgiving in the hospital, and were eager to have Laurie back home.

Laurie knew her recovery was nothing short of a miracle. Before getting discharged, she got to meet many of the staff who took care of her, but not the woman whose prayers she had heard every day. Though she remembered Youngmi’s voice, she had never seen her face. Every time Laurie came back to St. Joe’s she hoped to meet her. Their paths never crossed, until nearly three years later.

“I heard you every day.”
It took a long-lost friend to help Laurie find that missing puzzle piece.

In early August 2016, Laurie found herself back at St. Joe’s for a procedure. Her daughters Tammy and Dana accompanied her, and they were spotted and instantly recognized by Wendy Wagner, a family friend they hadn’t seen in more than 20 years.

During the impromptu reunion, Laurie’s family learned Wendy was now the manager of respiratory care at St. Joe’s, and Wendy learned about Laurie’s bout with Legionnaires’ and the great care she received in her department.

“Laurie couldn’t say enough wonderful things about Christy and Youngmi and the rest of the staff that cared for her then and now,” Wendy wrote in an email to St. Joe’s patient engagement team. “I’m not sure if Youngmi ever knew just how much her daily prayers, encouragement and singing meant to Laurie, even when she was sedated and on the ventilator,” she added.

A few weeks later, Wendy helped coordinate a reunion for Laurie, Christy and Youngmi on the same floor Laurie had spent weeks fighting for her life.

Laurie Shipley (left) and Youngmi Fazio share an embrace on Sept. 7, 2016, meeting for the first time since Laurie’s hospitalization in 2013.

Hugging and gripping their hands, Laurie thanked her caretakers for their dedication.

“I had the best care ever,” Laurie said. “I heard you every day,” she told Youngmi.

Youngmi said Laurie confirmed what she always knew – that even the unconscious can hear and listen, and that words of encouragement and prayer are sometimes just as effective as medicine.

“There’s a whole person in there. As medical staff, we all need to be careful what we’re saying,” Youngmi said.

Laurie said Youngmi’s words and prayers had a profound impact on her and the way she wants to live the rest of her life.

Beyond physical recovery
Laurie is fully recovered and back at her job as manager at Rainbow Rehabilitation Centers, where for more than 30 years she has served people recovering from brain and spinal cord injuries. She said the compassionate care she received as a patient gave her new empathy for others recovering from injury and disease.

“Time is precious and life is precious,” Laurie said. And she credits the team at St. Joe’s for helping her realize that.

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Q&A about Breast Cancer with Dr. Tara Breslin

tara-breslinWhat can you do today to help lower your risk for breast cancer? What can you do to make those chemotherapy visits less stressful? Is surgery the right option? In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Tara M. Breslin, MD, FACS, director of the Comprehensive Breast Program at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston, addresses important questions about breast health, reducing your risk of breast cancer, and navigating cancer treatment in this helpful Q&A. Her answers were recently featured in a Sharecare article about boosting breast health.

1. What’s one thing readers can do to improve their breast health today?

Readers should become informed about their personal risk for breast cancer by discussing their family history with their primary care provider or at the time of their routine screening mammogram.

2. What do you wish more patients knew before starting chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is an important part of breast cancer treatment for some, but not all, women with breast cancer. The side effects are preventable and treatable in most instances. Patients should take the time to learn about the treatment and be proactive with their providers about managing side effects and symptoms.

3. What are some things people can start doing today to lower their risk of cancer?

After learning about breast cancer risk, they should determine an appropriate screening program with their primary care provider. Women should exercise regularly and eat a healthy, low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This lifestyle promotes heart health and reduces breast cancer risk.

4. What are some things people can do to make chemotherapy infusion days less stressful and intimidating?

  • Bring a friend for the first treatment.
  • Bring something to do such as a book to read, a portable hobby, crossword puzzles.
  • Wear comfortable clothing.
  • Get to know the people in the waiting room. Many people undergo chemotherapy on a regular schedule and can become an important source of social support for each other.

5. What’s one unexpected habit you wish your patients would drop?

Tobacco cessation is an important part of improving outcome after a breast cancer diagnosis. Many doctors and nurses are hesitant to discuss the negative effects of tobacco on overall health and cancer outcomes with patients who already have a diagnosis of breast cancer, but this is an important part of their overall health care and oncology care.

6. What’s the most common question your patients ask you?

“Is this cancer going to kill me?” The truth is, most breast cancer in the United States is diagnosed with screening mammography at an early stage when it is very treatable. Five-year survival is excellent for women who are diagnosed and treated early

7. What’s the most common myth or misconception that you regularly have to debunk among your patients?

Many women think that more aggressive surgery will translate into improved survival.  The truth is that for appropriately selected women, survival after breast conserving surgery is equivalent to survival after mastectomy.

8. What do you do to stay healthy?

Regular exercise, healthy diet, and I spent time with my family and my horse.

9. How do you fit in time for exercise every day?

I exercise on the way home from work or while waiting for my kids to finish their athletic practices.

10. What’s the biggest mistake you see your patients make?

Rushing into treatment can lead to regret about treatment decisions. Most breast cancers grow very slowly, and there is time to learn about treatment options and seek a second opinion, if desired.

Day 2 Recap: A WAMies to Remember

The ride from Big Rapids to Dewitt is long at 109 miles but is much flatter than our first day and we “usually” have a tailwind for much of the ride. The operative word is “usually.”

Instead, we faced a stiff northeast wind and made 109 feel a lot lot longer. Throw in a 30-minute rain that made it extra special and we felt firsthand to the perils of Michigan weather. But, as you might expect, the spirits of Team Joe’s and most WAM riders were not diminished at all. 
 You see, this is a very special group of people helping some very special kids who endure far more than a bike ride. These are kids who endure surgery, chemo and medical conditions we can only hope we never encounter ourselves. So, a good headwind is the least of our worries. Raising enough funds to grant wishes to our kids – that is why we do this.

It is great to see new friendships form among the members of Team Joe’s. Many of us have not met before and this was a great opportunity to bond and take something away from this weekend that will last for years to come. We have some very fast riders who hit it hard every day. We have some mid-speed riders who pick each other up all the time and we have slower riders who are steady and inspiring.

Tonight was the infamous “WAMmy Award” ceremony that is hosted by two of our wish kid alumni and highlights wishes granted, many awards including highest fundraising by teams and individuals. 

Team Joe’s is now the third largest team for fundraising and our number pushed above $112,000 by today. Wow. We also granted a wish at the award ceremony to a young boy named Isaac, who we sent off in a limo as he and his family are traveling tomorrow to New York for a wish that has them attending a baseball game and meeting famous NY Mets players. He is so excited.

But the highlight for all of us was the new record that WAM set for overall fundraising – $2.25 million!! That is incredible and humbling. Thanks to all our donors and supporters.

Sunday is our “short” day at 95 miles. It ends at the MIS Speedway and we will ride in as a team in the mid-afternoon. I couldn’t be more excited. Wish us well and maybe even a tailwind this time!


P.S. Sarah Bahnke got her new bike that her dad, Dave McNeil, brought up last night, so she was back in the saddle!

Neither rain Nor Flats Can Dim Team Joe’s Smiles

By Rob Casalou

There is something about an alarm clock going off at 4:30am, looking outside into the dark and seeing rain coming down… but it can’t be repeated here! 🙂 

That is what Team Joe’s woke up to this morning but you would not have known anything was wrong by the many smiles that arrived at the school this morning as Team Joe’s and all the WAM riders showed up to start Day One. Team Joe’s gathered at 6am for a team picture and then everyone got on the road.

Despite early rain, the weather today was ideal. It was overcast and temps in the mid-70s most of the day. The headwinds kicked up later in the day so the last 20 miles were tough but, overall, no complaint on the weather. Day One is the full of hills and all the riders will tell you that the toughest hill is at mile 90 when, as you approach it, your mind says “Really”?  

Our riders had a clean ride – almost. Kelly Poppaw had four flat tires!
Fortunately, members of Team Joe’s and the Make-a-Wish volunteer bike mechanics got her going again. And Sarah Bahnke had a major failure of her gear hardware that scrapped her bike for the tour. But not to be held back, Sarah’s Dad, Dave McNeil drove all the way down to Novi to pick her up a new bike and brought it all the way back up to Big Rapids tonight!

Dave McNeil continues to be an amazing man and a great Dad.

In this blog you can see many pictures from the road that show our team enjoying each other and making our team proud on the road. 

We were able to meet wish kids and wish families at the lunch stop, break stops and dinner tonight. Just as my legs were starting to feel a little tired, I then met Wish Kid Chad and his entire family. After that conversation, my legs felts just fine!

Tomorrow is our long day with 109.4 miles from Big Rapids to Dewitt. We will thankfully have fewer hills but rain is in the forecast and 109 miles is LONG! 🙂

Tomorrow night is our WAMmmy Awards in Dewitt, which are truly a highlight of the weekend. We will be celebrating our riders, our wish kids and families and handing out recognition awards. 

 Team Joe’s will be standing tall at the awards with an all-time high in fundraising with our team collecting $111,235 that will go to our wish kids. This amount will pay for over 11 wishes for Michigan kids. How awesome. I am so thankful to our team members and all of friends, family and colleagues who supported them.

Okay, signing off because I have to go to bed! But before signing off, I just have to say, on a personal note, how wonderful it is to be riding with my daughter, Julie, on this WAM. She has been a volunteer on WAM the past three years but this year she is on a bike. The farthest she ever road before this weekend was 40 miles! She and I never separated all day and

It was simply a good day.

Talk to you tomorrow.

A Sea of Bicycles Ready for Morning

Team Joe’s and all WAM riders will be well protected by four state troopers over the next three days

Team Joe’s and all the WAM riders are settling in for the night in Traverse City. It was a smooth day of travel from the MIS Speedway to the Courtade Elementary School in Traverse City. This school serves as our home base for the start of our ride tomorrow morning. 

Most of the riders take shuttles to nearby hotels for the evening but there are many, including a few from Team Joe’s, that pitch tents on the school grounds or sleep on air mattresses in the school. As you walk around the school grounds, all you see is a sea of bicycles – all ready for the morning.  

Team Joe’s has grown significantly this year. With 46 riders on the 3-day, 300 mile route and 16 riders on the 1-day, 50 mile event that takes place on Sunday when we all roll into MIS and cross the finish line together. We have many first time riders in the Wish-A-Mile including several from Probility. Some of us met for the first time today and I can already see the new friendships forming.

Tomorrow starts early with breakfast beginning at 4:30a am and with the route opening at 6am. We will try and get a quick team picture in before we hit the road and then it’s all about getting through 100 miles of a lot of hills on the first day. The weather forecast is calling for possible rain in the early morning but the rest of the day is looking great and maybe a slight tailwind! Let’s hope.

I want to thank all of our St. Joe’s colleagues and friends who supported us this year. The St. Joe’s family spirit is alive and well up here and we promise to do you proud as we ride to create wishes for our Michigan wish kids.

Goodnight & God bless,


Celebrate National French Fry Day

By: Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, CSSD

Enjoying delicious potatoes in honor of National French Fry Day does not have to harm your health. In place of traditional fast-food French fries, try one of these delicious substitutes. The typical take-out bag of fries averages over 500 calories, 25-30 grams of fat, with over 5 grams from saturated fat and over 500 mg of salt. Healthier, homemade fries are easier than you think with these techniques.


Baking your fries instead of deep-fat frying is an instant healthy makeover. But instead of coating with oil try using a whisked egg white or vegetable broth instead. This substitution will cut the calories in half.

Watch out for the ketchup! As tasty as ketchup may be, it contains lots of sugar and salt. Look for organic ketchup with no added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or salt.

You can also substitute traditional potatoes for sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips and carrots. They all have a similar texture and a better nutrition profile. Give this awesome recipe a try and enjoy the delicious caramelized flavor from roasting the sweet potatoes. They are also full of beta carotene, B vitamins, fiber, potassium, and phosphorus. You can use the white, orange or purple varieties.


2 large sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise in ½” wide by ¼” thick pieces

2 egg whites or ½ cup of vegetable broth

Celtic sea salt or other favorite seasoning to taste



Preheat oven to 425. Spread sweet potatoes on large baking sheet and drizzle with whisked egg white or vegetable broth. Shake seasonings across potatoes, and follow with a dusting of paprika. Toss by hand until they’re coated. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning halfway through to ensure even cooking. They should be browning when done.