Get Rid of Your Bucket List

by Lila Lazarus

For years I talked about climbing Machu Picchu. I told people,“It’s on my bucket list.” I dreamed about it. I swore that one day I would find the time, the money, the adventurous travel partner, and live out my dream. But year after year, something else came up, or money was tight, or time was limited and it never happened. Machu Picchu became a symbol for me of not living my dreams. And as years turned into decades, I realized time is eventually going to run out. That’s the problem with bucket lists, they don’t have a time limit.

What’s on your bucket list? If you want to live your dreams in this lifetime, you first have to know what your dreams are. That’s what the bucket list is all about. It’s a blueprint of the life you wish you were living. But I no longer have one. Why? Because  a bucket list is a list of things you want to do someday, one day. It should be called “My Dream List.”  It’s a list of castles in the air, pie in the sky, pipe dreams that never turn into reality. I believe in living that list— not dreaming about it. Continue reading “Get Rid of Your Bucket List”

How Much Ibuprofen is Too Much?

by Karyn Repinski

This article was originally published on Sharecare.

Charan-CheemaNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are some of the most commonly used medications, with more than 30 billion doses taken annually in the US alone. Unfortunately, NSAIDs aren’t just widely used: they’re also widely abused, with nearly one out of seven users going over the daily limit, according to a January 2018 study from the Boston University School of Medicine.

That may not seem like a big deal, but NSAIDs can have serious side effects—even when taken as prescribed, says Charan K. Cheema, DO, a family medicine physician with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in Saline, Michigan. And because side effects are dose-related, overdoing it makes them even more likely, leading to bigger problems than the aches, pain and fever you originally took the meds for.
Continue reading “How Much Ibuprofen is Too Much?”

Seed to Stomach Summer Camps offered at The Farm

camp kids adults hoopANN ARBOR – Come to The Farm at St. Joe’s for a learning and cooking adventure! We’ll explore fresh flavors, harvest delicious produce and create healthy snacks that are easy and fun to make. Each day includes hands-on activities as we discover why nutritious food is good for us, how food is grown and how we can develop our skills in the kitchen.

Session One: June 25-29
Session Two: August 13-17

Children attend with an adult. Please bring a water bottle for each participant.

Instructor: Laura Meisler, Education Coordinator, The Farm at St. Joe’s

The Farm at St. Joe’s
5557 McAuley Drive, Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197

Learn more about The Farm.


Be Active Again

Supermom and journalist, Mona Shand spends a great deal of time and energy running her three kids to and from dance class, cross country and swim practice, while juggling her career as producer and correspondent for the media industry and teaching aerobics. At age 43, she was devastated to learn that she needed a total hip replacement, and was sure that it meant she would be spending the rest of her life as a sideline parent.

Dr. Gibson assured her that it would not be the end of her active lifestyle, but rather the start of a new, pain-free life. He was right.

Less than six weeks after surgery, Mona competed in a one-mile open water swim race with her oldest son, Noah.

Be Blessed

A routine self-exam leads to life-saving treatment for mother of two

Michelle Docherty found a lump in her breast during a self-exam. How could this be? Almost a year ago, Michelle’s mammogram was clear.

Things progressed quickly for the 47-year-old mother of two from Lake Orion.

Michelle called her OB/GYN on a Friday and saw her physician on Monday morning. A mammogram and biopsy occurred within days. On her kids’ first day of school, she got the call – breast cancer.

“My doctor told me it was curable,” Michelle recalled. “She said to remember that, even though I would be going through a lot of scary things. It was jarring to say the least. Right away I thought of both of my kids. I didn’t want to do anything that would distract them from school. I was also thinking of my husband. My life. I wanted to be here.”

“I just had an overall feeling that I was in fantastic hands.”

Michelle_Docherty_01The day after her diagnosis, Michelle and her husband met with Amy Kirby, MD, surgeon.  Michelle was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2.

“As we were going over my plan, it felt like an out-of-body experience,” recalled Michelle. “I remember thinking I know that she’s talking to me, it just didn’t feel like I was there. I remember at one point in the conversation she told me that the plan was to get me to 95 years old. Something else will take me, not this cancer. I said, ‘I like that. I’ll do whatever I have to do.’”

After that day, Michelle felt like she was living in the “land of appointments.” Thankfully, her husband was able to manage them for her. Her care was guided by Sarah Riaz, MD, an oncologist at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland. Michelle had 16 treatments of chemotherapy over a 20-week period, surgery, and finally six weeks of radiation treatments to burn out any remaining cancer cells.

Her new diagnosis: no remaining cancer.

“I just had an overall feeling that I was in fantastic hands,” Michelle said.

“My physicians, Dr. Riaz and Dr. Kirby, were warm and caring. These are very knowledgeable women and I knew I was in capable hands. I knew if I did everything they told me to do, I would be okay. They were very patient with me and answered all of my questions.

“They played such a crucial role in giving me my life back. I could tell I mattered to them.”

On Michelle’s last day of radiation treatment, her radiation therapist gave her a blue rubber bracelet with the encryption, strength.  Her son wears it every day.  He says it’s his most prized possession.

“Thank you doesn’t seem like enough,” Michelle said. “I almost see my breast cancer as an unexpected blessing. So many amazing people became a part of my life. My gratefulness far outweighs the bad experiences. Sometimes the road to getting better isn’t very pretty, but I’m going to be okay. It was important for my kids to see that sometimes life is really hard but you can always face it and get through it.”

Since Michelle’s treatments ended, she has started making more time for herself. She pays closer attention to her health and she believes she has a better outlook on life.

If you would like to learn more about St. Joseph Mercy Oakland’s cancer programs, call 1-877-712-HOPE or visit

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Know Your Options: Direct Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year in the United States, more than 330,000 people have surgery to replace diseased, injured or worn-out hips with new artificial parts. If you are one of these people, ask your orthopedic surgeon if you are a candidate for the anterior-lateral approach (anterior means front) for total hip replacement. This surgical technique offers potential benefits over the standard posterior or lateral approach taken by most surgeons.

Approaching the hip through an incision in the front of the body allows the surgeon to avoid cutting muscle tissues surrounding the hip. By sparing these muscle tissues, a surgeon is able to reduce the patient’s pain and improve their overall mobility immediately following a procedure. As a result, a patient recovers much more quickly and is able to avoid weeks or months of prolonged physical therapy.

St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Orthopedic Surgeon Andrew Ciarlone,DO, who has performed more than 500 anterior-lateral total hip replacements since 2011, refers to the approach as the “rapid-recovery hip replacement.” Dr. Ciarlone says: “When the incision point is made from the back, a surgeon must cut through muscle tissues to reach the hip. By choosing to make an incision from the front, a surgeon can work between the muscles to stabilize the joints and place the artificial components.” Continue reading “Know Your Options: Direct Anterior Approach to Total Hip Replacement”

Be in tune with your body

Tanya McLeod credits God, family and St. Mary Mercy Livonia for courageous fight against colorectal cancer

Listen to your body. If something feels wrong, go to the doctor. These are the words 61-year-old Inkster resident Tanya McLeod lives by.

Tanya was feeling constipated, bloated and had stomach cramps. She felt pain near her tailbone when she walked. It wasn’t until she found blood in her stool that she knew this wasn’t merely the realities of getting older. She knew her body was telling her something so she made an appointment with her primary care physician.

During her exam, Tanya’s physician felt something abnormal and referred her for a colonoscopy. She received her diagnosis on June 24, 2015 – stage two colorectal cancer.

Accompanied by her husband, two children, mother, sister, and sister-in-law, Tanya met with radiation oncologist Samir Narayan, MD and his team at St. Mary Mercy Livonia. At this first meeting, they gained an honorary family member, she said.

“That day, we gained a family friend; more like I gained a brother. The whole staff is like my extended family.”

Tanya_McLeod_03“I was scared and feared the worst,” recalled Tanya. “All of that fear and uncertainty melted away when I met Dr. Narayan. I felt an immediate connection with him. With a smile that is so genuine it reaches his eyes, it’s hard not to feel comfortable with him.”

“That day, we gained a family friend; more like I gained a brother. The whole staff is like my extended family,” she continued.

Tanya underwent six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. It wasn’t easy. On the sixth week, she felt something was off but was so close to being done that she pushed it aside. But she couldn’t fool the radiation oncology staff.

“They knew when I came in that something wasn’t right just by how I was walking,” she said. “The office staff put me in a wheel chair and took me up to the Cancer Center. I was admitted and spent nine days in the hospital. I’m so thankful they were all so in tune with me and cared about my well-being.”

This minor setback didn’t get her down. After being released from the hospital, Tanya finished her treatments.

While in recovery, she faced a few more setbacks. Part of her colon and intestine were removed due to the side effects of the chemo and radiation. Through it all, she stayed positive and credits God, her family and the St. Mary Mercy staff for providing the help and support needed to overcome her diagnosis and become a survivor.

“As of Nov. 30, 2017, I am two years cancer free!” Tanya exclaimed. “I am so thankful I am still here. The Lord gave me a second chance at life.”

In a letter Tanya wrote to Dr. Narayan, she expressed her gratitude for him and his staff. She wrote:

I continue to thank God for each and every one of you. I am a new creature in Christ! I am courage! I am fearless! I am a survivor! I am remarkable!”

For more information about colorectal cancer prevention and treatment programs at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, visit To speak with a representative, please call 1-877-712-HOPE.

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Be Courageous

Kellie finds hope and healing with the breast cancer care team at St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea’s Cancer Center

The diagnosis – stage 3 breast cancer – left Kellie Ulloa in shock and disbelief. The 47-year old mother of four from Grass Lake thought of all the possible outcomes to her health and future. But mainly, she felt terrified.

No one in her family had a history of breast cancer. And only five months before her diagnosis, Kellie’s routine mammogram had come back normal. Yet, she knew something wasn’t right.

Kellie contacted her primary care physician and a few tests later she was diagnosed with a slow-growing cancer not regularly visible on a 2D mammogram but often caught with 3D mammography.

The terror she felt from the diagnosis melted into hope and optimism when she met with Kathleen Beekman, MD and her care team from St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea’s Cancer Center.

“I knew in that moment, I would make it through this storm,” she said.

Kellie’s team went over her treatment plan in detail, and answered every question sincerely and thoroughly. “They really put my mind at ease,” she recalled.

From that first meeting in 2016, Kellie underwent four surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments over a sixteen-month period. Her care team was with her every step of the way.

“I cannot express to you how thankful I am for the courage you have given me along this rocky journey.”

Kellie_Ulloa_06Two years later, Kellie is in remission. She’s an advocate for mammograms – telling all her friends to choose the 3D mammography at St. Joe’s Chelsea so even the tiniest cancer located in a hidden spot can be detected early.

In addition, Kellie participates in a clinical trial that helps cancer survivors following treatment. Each week, a coach works with her to create and maintain a healthy diet and integrate exercise into her daily routine.

Kellie is grateful for Dr. Beekman and the entire St Joe’s Chelsea team for helping her through the biggest challenge of her life.

“I cannot express to you how thankful I am for the courage you have given me along this rocky journey,” Kellie wrote in a letter to Dr. Beekman.

“With your guidance and support, I knew I was never alone. You cared for me, never seeing myself as just another cancer patient, and for that, I am eternally grateful. Your quality and integrity as a doctor, and more importantly, as a person, shine through.

“Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

For more information about breast cancer prevention and treatment programs at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, visit To speak with a representative, please call 1-877-712-HOPE.

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Be Reassured

An unlucky fall led to a surprising diagnosis and life-saving treatment for Manchester resident Mary Kay Bailey

While on a camping trip in Monroe, Mich. in October 2016, Mary Kay tripped down the front steps of her camper, leaving her in excruciating pain. She insisted she didn’t want to go to any hospital except St. Joe’s in Ann Arbor.  She gingerly got into her car and made the hour-drive to her hometown hospital, passing several other facilities along the way.

Once inside St. Joe’s Emergency Room, a CT scan of her chest showed three broken ribs but also a spot on her lung.

“My daughter had been bugging me for a while, even before this happened, to go to the Lung Clinic,” said Bailey, 72, adding that she had smoked off and on throughout her life.

The lung clinic confirmed the initial diagnosis of stage-one lung cancer. Within a month of her accident, thoracic surgeon Kumari Adams, MD, removed the lower right lobe of Mary Kay’s lung using the Da Vinci Robot surgery system.

“I can’t praise St. Joe’s enough, and Dr. Adams is just the greatest. She took me under her wing as soon as I saw her. I was never scared, I knew God would guide her.”

Mary Kay was back home shortly after surgery.

Mary_Kay_Bailey_09“I was in far worse pain from my broken ribs than I was from the lung surgery,” exclaimed Mary Kay. “A few days after surgery, I went refrigerator shopping and washed our kitchen floor. I can still do everything I want.”

All of the post-operative biopsies came back clear. Mary Kay was cancer-free and required no additional treatments. Every six months, she returns to St. Joe’s for a CT scan and checkup with medical oncologist Kathleen Beekman, MD.

Mary Kay gained more than expert care; she found friends who care about her cancer journey.

“I can’t praise St. Joe’s enough, and Dr. Adams is just the greatest. She took me under her wing as soon as I saw her. I was never scared, I knew God would guide her. When I was in the hospital after surgery, she always gave me and my husband a hug. It’s like I have a new friend.

“Dr. Adams is my remarkable.”

For more information about the Lung Clinic at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, call 1-877-712-HOPE or visit

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Be Steadfast

Carolyn Violetta continues her fight against breast cancer with her team at St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center

The fear of cancer didn’t stop Carolyn Violetta from taking her son to the opening day of the Ann Arbor Art Fair. She wanted to enjoy the annual family tradition before returning home to brace for the phone call. And when it came, it confirmed what the 53-year-old Fowlerville mother had suspected for months.

After her cancer diagnosis, an MRI helped to define the extent of her tumor. Having no family history of the disease, Carolyn said the thought of breast cancer was awful and daunting.

“I knew it was coming, it was pretty horrible,” said Carolyn.

But Carolyn said meeting her cancer care team at St. Joseph Mercy Brighton Cancer Center quickly put her mind at ease, and she knew she would be in good hands. A self-admitted worrier, Carolyn met her match in breast surgeon Dr. Tara Breslin.

“Dr. Breslin is right to the point. She doesn’t mess around. I appreciate that.”

Carolyn also praised the rest of her team, including her radiologist, oncologist, PAs and infusion center nurses, for approaching her care in a collaborative manner.

“Since my cancer diagnosis and going to the many appointments that come along with that, I have been amazed at the quality of care I have received. Every time I leave an appointment I comment to my family and my friends that this team of doctors makes me feel safe and cared for.”

“I thank you, my family thanks you, for everything you have done for us.”

Carolyn_Violetta_05Carolyn underwent a double mastectomy. It revealed that the cancer spread to a couple of lymph nodes, supporting a stage 2B diagnosis. Carolyn recently completed chemotherapy, and now faces a six-week round of radiation therapy.

Though the journey to being cancer free isn’t over yet, Carolyn said she tries to rejoice in small victories. Hair-loss was particularly painful for the former hairstylist, so she looks forward to growing out her hair again post-chemo. And normalcy is a gift she no longer takes for granted. Whether it’s lacing up her running shoes and going outside for a jog, talking to her friends or spending time with her husband and two sons, Carolyn said she tries to keep her mind and spirit active.

“I’m still in it. You just have to wake up every day and take a bite out of this,” she said. “You wake up every day, and it’s another day you’re alive.”

She thanked Dr. Breslin and her entire care team for fighting with her in this ongoing battle.

“I thank you, my family thanks you, for everything you have done for us.”

For more information about breast cancer prevention and treatment programs at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, visit To speak with a representative, please call 1-877-712-HOPE.

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