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!

Rob

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.
Rob

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,

Rob

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.

1

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.

Ingredients

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

paprika

Directions

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.

Senior’s Safety Checklist

MaryMargaret Brandt MD smIn the United States each year, trauma injuries account for 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions. Seniors are most vulnerable; every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.

“Safe Steps for Seniors” is the 2016 theme of National Trauma Awareness Month, in May. This project focuses on senior safety, particularly fall prevention. Falls can hinder an older adult’s safety and independence, but they are not inevitable. Seniors can help prevent falls by doing the following:

  1. Participate in regular physical activity. Exercise makes you stronger, increases flexibility and improves balance and coordination.
  1. Remove hazards in your home. Make sure your path is clear and remove items that may cause you to trip such as rugs, cords and wires, books and shoes. Keep stairs clear of clutter and install handrails.
  1. Review your medications regularly. Have your physician or pharmacist look at all of the medications you take, including over-the-counter medicines. Make sure the side effects or interactions with other medications are not increasing your chance of falling. Many medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy.
  1. Have your vision and hearing checked once a year. Poor vision and not being able to hear can increase your chance of falling.
  1. Talk to your family members and enlist their help. Family support is important for a senior’s safety.

 

About Dr. Mary-Margaret Brandt

Mary-Margaret Brandt, MD, MHSA is a surgeon and the Trauma Medical Director at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. She is the vice-chair of the Michigan Committee on Trauma, and is an active member of  the ATLS subcommittee of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. In 2013, Dr. Brandt retired from the United States Army Reserve as a Colonel.

OMG texting may leave u DOA

LilaLazarusI’m sitting in the passenger seat at an intersection. My friend is driving. I look left and right and remark that the drivers on both sides of us are on their cell phones. I make sure I’m buckled up. The light turns green but the driver in front of us doesn’t budge. She’s clearly busy texting and we’re annoyed. In the interest of full disclosure, my friend, we’ll call her Jodie, has her iPhone firmly in her right hand and it dings.

We’ve been told over and over again that it’s not just dangerous to make a call, send a text or check Facebook , it can be deadly. It takes your eyes off the road. In fact, the average text will take your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds. If you drive with your cell phone, you’re four times more likely to get in a crash serious enough to cause injury and land you in the trauma center.   And if you text, you’re 23 times more likely to crash.

Plus it’s illegal. Under Michigan’s anti-texting law, a driver shall not “read, manually type or send a text message on a wireless two-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in a person’s lap while operating a motor vehicle…”   Michigan and 45 other states plus the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving.

But Jodie checks the phone.

It’s a work text and she immediately starts texting back just as traffic starts to move again. Jodie looks up, accelerates and then looks down for just a brief moment to check her spelling. And in that nano-second that she looked down – just that blink of an eye – the woman in front of us hits her brakes. I scream. And Jodie takes out the lady’s back bumper.

I look at her. She looks at me. We don’t say a word. Stunned silence. We’re all belted in. No injuries. She’s embarrassed and we both know it could have been far worse. Every year drivers using cell phones while driving cause 500,000 injuries and 6,000 deaths and that number is growing.

So you’d think we would both have learned our lessons. You’d think we would realize that it’s time to put our phones down. You’d think that would have been a loud enough wake-up call. Or the fact that a dozen teens die every day in accidents involving texting and driving.   But if I’m really honest, we’re still guilty of checking our phones and responding to texts. Not just Jodie. Not just me. According the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment 660,000 drivers are using cellphones while driving. The National Safety Council says it’s worse than that: a third of all drivers admit to texting and driving. But what about those who haven’t admitted it?

Of those who have come clean: 18% say they just can’t resist the urge. It’s an addiction— an impulse they can’t ignore. We’re stressed, we’re busy, we’re eager to connect and we’re distracting ourselves to death. Texting is the worst possible distraction. It takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel and your mind off driving. And still we do it.

This is the era of screen time.   And we prefer the screen to someone’s face.   And our phones are such security blankets, we’re reluctant to turn them off or put them in the back seat.

There are apps you can download to help change the habit, i.e. text-STAR or live2txt. I’m giving one a try. And I’m putting my cell phone down— and if I drive with Jodie, I’m holding her cell phone.

Next time it could be far worse than a fender bender.

I don’t want the last sentence of my obit to read: “Police say the driver was texting.”

Eat Well and Prosper

Amanda Sweetman Close.jpgEating healthy, nutritious food can often seem like a chore, but there are plenty of reasons why it’s well worth the time – maintaining a healthy weight, improving mental health, preventing or managing a chronic health condition, setting an example for your friends and family. Conversely, there are just as many reasons why many of us choose unhealthy meals – convenience, affordability and or simply not knowing how to eat well.

The food industry has convinced us that cooking food is hard and expensive. Often, it’s difficult to know what is healthy. For example, what does 100% natural mean? Is gluten-free better for you? Michael Pollan’s Food Rules simplifies this difficult concept: “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” To learn more, I recommend watching “In Defense of Food” which is currently streaming on PBS. The documentary investigates how the Western diet is harming us and what we can do to save ourselves.

As the project manager of The Farm at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, I am a huge believer in eating a balanced, mainly plant-based diet. In addition, I encourage you to eat “local” as well. Buying local food, from a farmers market or directly from a farmer through a community supported agriculture (CSA) share, does three things:

  1. Give you, the consumer, fresher products that last longer than processed foods. And, you know where it came from and how it was grown.
  2. Helps the environment because the food didn’t have to travel across oceans or continents to arrive on your table.
  3. Puts money back into your local economy which, in turn, is good for you.

So, this may be sounding complicated and expensive, but stay with me! Below I share how I eat a seasonal, healthy diet and resources to get you started.

How I Eat: I eat a lot of vegetables (hey, gotta make sure I’m selling a good product), but I’m busy and on the go. I build my meals from the bottom up: start with a bed of greens, add protein (typically an egg or some type of meat), cheese, maybe some nuts and then a really delicious dressing. I also cook at least one big batch of food at the beginning of the week that I can eat for dinner or lunch throughout the week. I frequently use a crock pot to cook chicken or roast, and a huge pan of vegetables that can be added to salads or used as a side dish. Here’s my take on Bi Bim Bap, one of my all-time favorite dishes.

Eating is one of my favorite activities, which means I want my food to taste good. That’s the most important piece of all of this advice: find what tastes good to you that makes sense with your life.

Resources: To get started on eating healthy, local food, check out the “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day” cookbook by Leanne Brown. You can purchase a copy which will mean that a copy is given to someone in need. You can also access it online and look at the free PDF. This is a great book! It talks about how to stock your pantry, tips for shopping and has great recipes that are straightforward and delicious. Other resources can be found on the In Defense of Food website resources tab. If you’re interested in hands-on learning, check out MSU extension’s Cooking Matters class. For young eaters, The Farm at St. Joe’s is offering two, week-long farm to table summer camps! Learn more at the Washtenaw Rec and Ed website.

To see more recipes and learn more about The Farm, visit our blog or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to stop by our weekly farmers market every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Main Lobby of the hospital.