Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ending the Homework War

Do your homework!

Homework, homework, homework, where to start?  For many years homework in my household meant one word, TORTURE.  I use to think that homework was back to school for parents; pure dread.  We have had our share of the ups and downs of getting homework done.  

Our oldest didn't need much help and most of the time I didn't even know if she had homework.  For our youngest, however, homework was a bad word. She was diagnosed with Dyslexia and high anxiety, so homework had us jumping through some hurdles. It took some time to figure out how to conquer homework with her, but after some research and trial and error, we won the battle. We found that being in a calm, organized and stress free environment along with the right tools did the trick. 

The National Center for Learning Disabilities has some great tips for homework and developing organizational skills that can turn homework into a peaceful time of night rather than a time they dread all day. Here are some of my favorites:

Get Involved 
Ask questions about their homework. Many teachers assign all of the homework that is due by Friday, at the beginning of the week.  Help your kids manage the work load out throughout the week so it does not seem overwhelming. Do the amount of work your child is capable of without getting frustrated. Time management for kids is half the battle to be successful with homework. It and teaches them to not procrastinate. 

Quiet Time
Make sure that homework is done in a quiet place. Turning off the television, radio and shutting off any social media on the computer gives them time to concentrate on homework. It's a good idea to set up a "homework nook".  It doesn't matter which room it's in as long as there are no distractions and it's a place where only their homework gets done. I include a few healthy snacks so that they can take a break, if needed.

The Right Tools
What do I mean by right tools? Well, keep plenty of pencils, erasers, rulers, a calculator and scrap paper in the homework nook. I have experienced homework gone bad when we didn't have the right pencil or a calculator.  One time Emily's pencil didn't have a good enough eraser and she went to erase and she ripped her paper. Talk about frustration and anxiety! Her whole paper was ruined and she was afraid she'd be in big trouble with the teacher. Things run a lot more smoothly when you have the right tools available.


organizational skills, time management for kids
Homework solutions to end the homework war
When kids are doing homework motivate them to succeed. Looking over their shoulder and pointing out mistakes will discourage them and they might stop trying.  What worked for me was pointing out the things Emily did correctly and then going over mistakes later. Using a sticker chart as motivation can help for kids in elementary school.  Give your child a reward once the chart is complete. Incentives can be easy things like a special dessert, watch some television or getting ice cream as a special treat.

Do homework at the same time everyday.  Kids usually thrive with schedules, so if you are consistent they will be more positive about homework. Doing homework should not be any different than brushing their teeth or eating breakfast every morning. If it is something they know they have to do everyday, they will do it. I made a Chore Chart at my house and included the following things:
  • Brush your teeth
  • Make your bed
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Make your lunch
  • Do your Homework
  • Take a bath

Homework Resources
There is plenty of help out there if you need it to conquer the homework blues.  If you find that your child is struggling, a trip to the library is a good change of scenery and a great place to find resources that can help. Discovery Education is a website with free resources to help your kids with motivation, different subjects and even free webinars for parents.

Your local library may even have resources for parents as well as elementary and high school age kids. 

Looking for online help? Here are a couple of great resources. 
  • Homework Helper has links for each grade level, quick reference guides and links to more online resources. 
  • Multnomah County library has online help by subject, rather than grade. It's available nationwide, too.

Homework Passes
A homework pass in our house was more valuable than gold. Ask teachers how your child can get a homework pass. Doing some extra chores, extra homework sheets for extra credit or reading some extra pages from one of their books are possible ways to earn passes. Some teachers also give out homework passes for good behavior. If your child comes home with one, praise them and let them know how well they are doing. It will build their self-esteem and provide them a strong platform to succeed in the future.

Being a Good Role Model
Our kids follow what we do. If they see us enjoying a good book, they will want to read. If they see that we set aside quiet time to get work done, they will follow the example.

For me, keeping a positive outlook about homework helped the most. Many parents feel that teachers give too much homework.  Even five year olds get kindergarten homework and parents even get burn out.  I use to feel this way too but now that my children are older I am thankful for all the hard work they have put in.  It has definitely paid off and they are now excelling in high school.

What we need to do is teach our children that homework isn't just a chore but a way to make us smarter.  It reinforces what they have learned at school during the day. Homework is actually a way to practice better skills to make them a better student.  It's no different then playing a sport and having to go to practice to make you better. Practice makes perfect on and off the court.

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer

Monday, October 8, 2012

Think Pink Part II - Ways to Help and Get Help

pain in breast breast cysts

Women have a one in eight chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes, according to the National Cancer Institute. A number of different risk factors contribute to a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society lists the following risk factors:
  • Gender - Women are at greater risk than men, although men can get breast cancer.
  • Age - Risk increases with age. 
  • Dense breast tissue - this type of tissue is at greater risk to develop cancer. Dense tissue also makes it more difficult to feel a lump or see one on a mammogram.
  • Family History - A history of breast cancer in a close blood relative, your mom, sister or daughter.
  • BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 Genes - Having these genes does not automatically mean you will get breast cancer and not having them does not mean you will never get it.
  • Some benign breast conditions - Fibrosis, cysts, some benign tumors.

Additional risk factors include lifestyle choices that we can control:
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Post-menopausal without having used menopause drugs
  • Being physically inactive throughout much of life

Living with Breast Cancer

Facing a cancer diagnosis is never easy, even if you have been diagnosed before. There are many questions and fears that race through your mind. Many women find that keeping a cancer journal is a helpful outlet to voice things you may not want to say out loud.

Telling your kids about your breast cancer diagnosis may be the most challenging thing you will have to do after you’ve been diagnosed. BreastCancer.org advises that it is best to be honest with your children rather than hiding your breast cancer from them.

Talking to Young Children as well as older children and teens can be challenging because each age group has a different awareness of the disease and each reacts differently to emotional stress. BreastCancer.org advises:

  • Be honest about your diagnosis and don't hide information.
  • Be prepared for their fears about their own health as well as anxiety about the future.
  • Scheduling family meetings where kids can talk about their fears about the changes they see happening.

A personalized story or storybook that you can share with your young child or children might be helpful. Telling friends and family, especially children, about a cancer diagnosis is difficult and scary. Beyond The Shock, a free online resource dedicated to helping women and their families deal with breast cancer, has information for dealing with all aspects of breast cancer.

Remember, you are not alone and other women have gone through each stage of breast cancer. There are breast cancer support groups where you can find advice for talking to family members. Caring Bridge is a free online resource that helps families deal with breast cancer. There are links to leave messages of hope for loved ones, a family support planner and many other links to get involved.

A breast cancer diagnosis does not automatically mean your cancer is incurable. Early diagnosis and a wide variety of treatment options are turning women into survivors every year. Don't be afraid to make plans to do the things you love. One of my friends was diagnosed with an aggressive form of inflammatory breast cancer over three years ago. She chose to change a lot of things in her life, such as diet and exercise, in an effort to counteract the affects of her treatment and to minimize the risk a recurrence. I admire her so much for her strength and sheer will, not only to survive but to thrive. We often laugh because, no matter how bad she felt during the week or how down she got, she made time to go out and enjoy hot wings and beer with her husband every Friday night! If laughter is truly the best medicine, she's living proof.

Cancer research
The Cleveland Leader, Breast Cancer Awareness Walk
from http://www.lucilleroberts.com/blog/http:/www.lucilleroberts.com/blog/workout-gear-for-the-cure/susan-g-komen-race-for-the-cure-st-louis/

Staying ahead of the Curve

Even if you have no personal or family history of breast cancer, stay on top of your annual mammograms and monthly self breast exams. If, during your self-breast exams, you notice a breast lump, pain in breast or breast area, or breast cysts, it is vital to call your doctor and schedule an appointment to get it checked out. More often than not, the lumps and bumps we may find may simply be a cyst in breast tissue that forms during your normal menstrual cycle, but it isn’t worth taking the chance to wait and see if it goes away on its own.

Unfortunately, money issues sometimes cause us to put our own health needs on hold. Insurance companies cover yearly mammograms for women age 40 and over, but if you are younger and you need a mammogram, or you are uninsured, you may be eligible for a free mammogram. Search for “free mammograms +” and your state’s abbreviation to find clinics and programs that provide mammograms free of charge or at very low cost. The National Breast Cancer Foundation also works to provide women with free mammograms, as well as support services.

One final thing to keep in mind as we do our part to reduce our risk of breast cancer. Take the time to eat healthy and include exercise in our daily routine. The National Breast Cancer Foundation shares the following healthy habits to reduce our risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Stay physically active
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Get regular screenings

Be sure to speak with your doctor if you think you have a family history or other risk factors to consider, as this might unveil additional practices for you to try in cancer prevention.

Stay tuned for our next article in the breast cancer miniseries, which will focus on pink ribbon products you can buy to support the fight for a cure!

Kathryn M. D'Imperio
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 5, 2012

Walking for a cause: the unaBridged story

Last weekend, the FamilyWize marketing team had the opportunity to travel to the Brooklyn Bridge to participate in United Way of New York City’s LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk & Festival. According to United Way of NYC, every year “the LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk brings together thousands of individuals and teams from all sectors to raise awareness of the need to "bridge" critical gaps in educational achievement, income stability and access to healthy food for low-income New Yorkers.” During the event, thousands of participants walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before settling in Cadman Plaza for outdoor activities and the opportunity to receive valuable information from dozens of nonprofit organizations.

A view of Cadman Plaza during the LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk & Festival
A view of Cadman Plaza during the LIVE UNITED Bridge Walk & Festival

Here’s a fun fact about the bridge: when it was completed and opened for use in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the largest suspension bridge in the world, and the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn! Since then, the Brooklyn Bridge was designated a National Historical Landmark, which makes it a perfect location for events that emphasize cultural and economic diversity and increase awareness for topics such as health, income, and education.

the FamilyWize marketing team speaks to a walker about our card
Nora and Holly speak to a walker about the FamilyWize card
The United Way of New York City volunteers did a great job entertaining walkers of all ages in Cadman Plaza by providing balloons and games for the kids, and informational materials for the adults. At the FamilyWize table in the Health Pavilion, we were happy to be able to give out prescription discount cards that people could use right away. The most common reaction we got after explaining the benefits of the card was disbelief, to which we replied, several times in one conversation, “Yes, really.”

Even dogs got to wear the LIVE UNITED t-shirts
Even four-legged friends enjoyed the LIVE UNITED t-shirts

The Bridge Walk was also a great reminder that nature can be just as engaging as technology, but significantly more fulfilling. We saw people in Cadman Plaza of all different ages walking, running and playing with one another. At more than one point throughout the morning, the plaza was flooded with walkers in LIVE UNITED t-shirts, some of them even four-legged!

Overall, our team gave out hundreds of cards to New Yorkers who struggle to afford their prescription medications, and we are thankful to the United Way of New York City for inviting us to this event. Regardless of walking for a cause, walking to work or walking for fun, this activity greatly contributes to a healthier lifestyle at absolutely no cost – kind of like using the FamilyWize card! And, if you’re ever in New York, the Brooklyn Bridge offers 5,988 feet of pure, unadulterated walking.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Osteoporosis - No Bones About It

Osteoporosis. That's a word that makes many people very anxious. It’s a common health issue in our society that leads to disability for many senior citizens, especially older women. Many of us have an elderly parent or grandparent who has fallen and suffered a fracture or who has trouble with the simple tasks of getting up from a chair and walking a short distance.

In the past, we believed that brittle bones and their resulting fractures were just a normal part of aging.  Now however, we know that these problems can be the result of risk factors, some are lifestyle habits that can be changed, like bad diet, smoking, too much alcohol or lack of exercise.Others are factors over which we have no control, like family history, post-menopause, having a light weight or thin body frame.

What is Osteoporosis?

Since bone is a living tissue, it is constantly being created and replaced in our bodies. Osteoporosis happens when old bone is absorbed faster than new bone can be created.  Osteoporosis weakness bones and makes them prone to breaking. When you have osteoporosis, a simple fall can easily result in a bone fracture.  Just bending over or coughing can cause fracturing when you have osteoporosis.  Most fractures happen in the hip, wrist or spine.

According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases ~ National Resource Center, more than 40 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.  That risk increases if you are female, elderly, small and thin.  Family history can also play a part since osteoporosis tends to run in families. 

Can Osteoporosis by prevented?

There are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.  These include early screening, osteoporosis medications, dietary supplements and weight-bearing exercises to strengthen your bones. 

Get Screened

The National Osteoporosis Foundation lists the following factors for having a bone density test:

calcium vitamin D
Mary Carr, diagnosed with Osteoporosis at age 65.
  • You are a woman age 65 or over
  • You are a man age 70 or over
  • Menopausal age with risk factors
  • Post-menopausal before age 65 with risk factors
  • A man between the ages of 50-69 with risk factors

Consider getting tested for osteopenia – a precursor to osteoporosis.  Osteopenia is a condition in which your bone mineral density is lower than normal.  A bone mineral density test can be used to diagnose osteoporosis.  Having Osteopenia does not mean you will develop osteoporosis, but knowing this gives you the chance to change your diet and lifestyle to reduce your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.  

At this point, you might be wondering if your insurance will cover a bone density test. Well, if you are a woman age 65 and over, it probably is covered. However, if you are younger and feel you are at risk, what can you do?  According to the WebMd, the test will be covered if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  •     A fracture
  •     You are postmenopausal
  •     You are not taking estrogen at menopause
  •     You are taking medications that cause bone thinning

You should check with your insurance provider to be certain that the test will be covered for you. However, even though there may be a cost involved, the information you get from having this valuable test will pay for itself in years to come. You will have the peace of mind of knowing that you have a chance to reverse and prevent bone loss before it is too late.

Using a walker to get around, my mom used to be 5'4", now
she's 5'. Bone shrinkage due to Osteoporosis caused
curvature of the spine and painful compression fractures
in her back.

Weight-bearing Exercises

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Jogging or running  
  • Climbing stairs
  • Lifting weights
  • Playing tennis
  • Dancing 

Calcium and Vitamin D

Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D to reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis.  Get vitamin D by eating foods such as salmon and tuna and foods fortified with vitamin D like orange juice, breads and cereals. Read our FamilyWize article Got Milk? Don’t Worry-Lot’s of Foods Are Calcium Rich!   for a list of foods that are great calcium sources.

Discounted Osteoporosis Medication

You may qualify for significant discounts – up to 75% off – on prescription medication for osteoporosis through the free FamilyWize prescription discount card.  

Some medications taken for common ailments like heartburn can affect osteoporosis, according to WebMd. Corticosteroids, such as Prednisone, could raise fracture risks. If you have osteoporosis or you are at risk to develop it, you should discuss this with your doctor. There may be an alternative medication that does not affect osteoporosis, or other measures you could take, like diet and exercise, that may counteract the affects of the medication.

You can also speak with your doctor to get more information and a better understanding of your risks. 

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Got Milk? Don't Worry - Lots of Foods Are Calcium Rich!

What’s the story with Calcium?

We’re told we need to have calcium, but what is the real deal on how to get it? Are supplements the only way to get enough? What foods are good sources of calcium?

I’m a woman nearing 50; I am told my need for calcium actually increases with age, but I’m not a real fan of dairy products.  Dairy products dislike me, even more than I dislike them, so I definitely had to find other options. Problem number two… I hate taking supplements. I have a, truly, over active gag reflex, so taking supplements is NOT comfortable. In fact, I have often wondered how many cases of “death by choking on a vitamin” there really are in the world! All of these questions, and more, have left me wondering, “Am I at risk for a calcium deficiency?”  So, How much calcium are you getting?

A Case for Calcium

A certain amount of bone loss occurs as we age; this is especially true for postmenopausal women. There are so many factors that cause us to lose calcium, so we need to replenish our bodies daily. Osteoporosis is a serious concern and we want to build strong bodies now, so we will be strong in the future. We can age well, or we can live our later years wishing we’d been better to these wonderful bodies we’ve been given.

Calcium in food, regular exercise and adequate intakes of magnesium and vitamin D are critical to the development and maintenance of healthy bones throughout your life. Weight-bearing exercises (such as walking and running) AND resistance exercises (like lifting weights or calisthenics) support bone health.

There are more options than you think!

The good news is that there’s calcium in foods that you may not even realize are great sources for calcium. I would love to share with you a few of my favorite foods with calcium. Many of these foods make great snacks that you can eat throughout your day. So relieve some of the stress of wondering if you are getting enough calcium to build strong bones and try some of these calcium rich foods.

calcium in foods
This calcium rich salad took less time than a trip to get fast food!
It cost less too!
Some Yummy Calcium Rich Foods
  • Broccoli-Okay, not everyone is in agreement that broccoli is “yummy.”  But no one can deny that it is high in calcium. And let’s not forget it can make an easy snack. Dip it in a little hummus and the combination gives you even more bang for your buck because the tahini that is in that delicious hummus is also incredibly high in calcium! Now that makes a “yummy” snack.
  • Sesame seeds - since I already brought up tahini, made of ground sesame seeds, I thought I would sing the praises of this little wonder seed. They may be small, but they pack a nutritional punch when it comes to calcium. Just a quarter cup of sesame seeds contains about 35 percent of your recommended daily amount.
  • Dark leafy greens are excellent sources of calcium. The next time you are eating that beautiful green salad; don’t forget that you are helping to build strong bones in the process. It is worth remembering that kale contains more calcium per ounce than milk!
  • Almonds contain more calcium than any other nut. A quarter cup has about 91.77mg of calcium. Add them to your salad, carry them for a snack, or spread almond butter on whole grain toast in the morning. No matter how you eat them, they are a truly delicious way to serve yourself up some calcium.
  • Tofu is another way to add calcium to your diet. Four ounces of firm Chinese-style tofu contains about 10% of the daily recommended value of calcium.
  • Sardines any one? I love this little fish. And it doesn’t take a whole lot of them to get a good healthy dose of calcium. There’s about 351 mg of calcium in one 3.75-oz can of sardines. Have them on some sesame crackers and you up the calcium content even more! Yum… delicious.
  • Blackstrap molasses contains the minerals calcium, iron and potassium. I, for one, think we have suffered as a people, by losing a lot of the “old wisdom” that has been handed down through the ages. Using blackstrap molasses as a calcium source is a delicious way to bring the past into the present. It’s also a nice natural energy boost for those in need of a little iron during their day.
  • Goat’s Milk - As a person who doesn’t always have positive reactions to most dairy products, I want to shout the praises of goat’s milk! I just feel better when I drink it. The same goes for goat kefir, yogurt, and cheese… and these are all foods that are high in calcium.
My body feels more energetic and stronger when I eat these products. I prefer finding raw versions of these foods, but if you feel more comfortable with pasteurized, I highly encourage you to give them a try. You may find you really enjoy this great source for calcium!

Calcium Supplements
If you feel you are not eating getting enough calcium, supplements are available. Taking calcium supplements in liquid form may be beneficial because liquid vitamins absorb 5 times better than pills. For those of us who find swallowing tablets difficult, it turns out it’s better to take the liquid anyway. If you are thinking about supplements, check with your doctor to find out what is right for you. WebMd cautions that they could pose a heart health risk, for some people.

One of my favorite recipes is a calcium rich and easy way to make almond or sesame milk at home, in your own blender.

Almond (or Sesame Milk):
1 C soaked Almonds or Sesame Seeds (drained)
3-4 C water (depending on how creamy you like your milk)
6 dates (pre-soak, if you don’t have a high powered blender)

Blend thoroughly. Pour the mixture through a nut milk or sprout bag (you can use cheese cloth if you don’t have any bags) into a bowl... be sure to “milk” the bag until all the liquid is squeezed out. Add ½-1 tsp. vanilla (I use more for Sesame Milk, than Almond), a pinch of sea salt, and enjoy you fabulously homemade nut milk. A small glass before you go to bed helps you sleep like a baby!

Gwendolyn Adams
Contributing Writer

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Brown Baggin' It - Healthy Lunches for Kids

School lunch programs are getting a healthy makeover due to a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and first lady Michelle Obama's initiative to end childhood obesity. 31 million American kids eat school lunches, so this initiative and the legislation, Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, passed last January, will help them get more nutritious choices at the lunch counter. But this legislation that limits fats and sodium and increases fruits and veggies will not be fully implemented for two to five years. So what can parents do in the meantime? Can we pack more nutrition in a brown bag than our kids get in the school lunch room?

If you have kids like mine, they would rather pack brown bag lunches than buy lunch at school.  They loved the school lunch program when they were younger, but now they want to make their own lunches. It’s more work, but easier on my budget.  Eating healthier can be a challenge, but here are my favorite tips!

Brown Baggin' It Tips
  • Let kids pack their own lunch. Give guidelines for a healthy lunch menuHealthy lunch choices that include variety will help them pick healthy lunch options.  
  • Leftovers in ready-to-go containers.  When I cook dinner, I put leftovers in small containers that are easy to pack for lunches.  Pasta, rice and meatballs or tacos are good choices.  
  • Pack fruits and veggies ahead of time. They are a healthy alternative to processed snacks, and a great idea for kids that have Type 1 Diabetes.  
  • Make a fruit and cheese platter with whole wheat crackers. It's fun and adds variety to lunch foods.
    WebMd also has some suggestions to make this easier and more fun.

    Is My Child's Bag Lunch Healthy?

    lunch foods
    Low carb lunches with healthy lunch meat and pitas.

    Typically, kids’ lunches have a sandwich, fruit and a snack. That doesn’t sound bad, but taking a closer look at those things reveals whether or not it’s a healthy lunch.  Are they high or low calorie lunches?
    The kind of bread you use and what you put in between makes the sandwich healthy or very unhealthy.

    •  Use real fruit jam instead of jelly and organic peanut butter in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
    • Use whole wheat tortillas or pitas instead of sliced bread.  
    • Healthy lunch meat like turkey is lower in fat than salami or other sandwich meats.  Leaner meats make more healthy sandwiches.  My kids love salami but it isn't the healthiest choice.  I let them eat that every other week to cut down on the high fat content.  
    • Tuna is a great choice. It can be packed as part of a healthy salad, served with low-calorie crackers instead of bread or served with some celery sticks for a healthy snack. It's ideal for low carb lunches.  
    Kids Eat Great has some pointers to help you.

    Kids are active and their metabolisms are on overdrive all day. Eating foods high in protein, fiber and calcium can give them energy throughout the day.  Plenty of Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables can help them stay healthy and cold free.

    It’s easy to monitor their breakfast and dinner since they are at home with us. Lunch is different because they are on their own and might be tempted to eat fast food or snacks from a vending machine.  Fast food has become a convenient and tasty choice over the past twenty years, and it is a contributing factor to the childhood obesity epidemic. Teaching children to eat healthy even when we aren't able to make food choices for them, helps them to become healthier adults in the future.

    Marci Psalmonds
    Contributing Writer

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Think Pink – Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    breast ultrasound
    Breast Cancer walk (http://www-cancer.us/breast-cancer-walk/)

    Dubbed Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is the time of year for us to stay on top of our health, especially in terms of screening and preventive care.  Cancer statistics from Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, show that 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in 2012. Catching cancer early can improve the prognosis, so it helps to be vigilant about breast cancer screening and prevention.

    While on vacation a couple of years ago, I noticed an unusual breast lump while showering.  Of course, the lump was on my mind until we got home, so I made an appointment right away to have a breast ultrasound as soon as possible.

    Like many women, I am wary of various cancers and like to check with my doctor if I notice anything unusual. But, how do we know if something is serious? Does breast cancer have any symptoms?

    The American Cancer Society tells us that certain unusual changes in the breast can be a symptom:

    • Swelling of all or part of the breast
    • Skin irritation or dimpling
    • Pain in breast
    • Nipple pain or the nipple turning inward
    • Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
    • Nipple discharge other than breast milk
    • Lump in the underarm area

    These changes also can be signs of less serious conditions that are not cancerous, such as an infection or a cyst. If you notice any changes in your breasts, you should contact your doctor and schedule an examination.  The first sign of breast cancer can be a new lump or mass in the breast that you or your doctor can feel. These lumps may be hard, have uneven edges and may be painless. However, cancers can also be soft and rounded, without uneven edges. This is why it is vital to have any unusual changes checked by a doctor.

    The American Cancer Society recommends screening to detect breast cancer early.
    • Doing monthly self breast exams (BSE) can reveal changes before a doctor's appointment. Women know how their breasts normally look and feel, and can notice changes during a BSE.
    • At the age of 40, an annual mammogram is recommended.  Research shows early detection of breast cancer is the key to successful treatment and a better prognosis.
    Check with your local hospital or health professional if you are in need of a free mammogram.  You can also type in your location and the words free mammograms (Ex. Doylestown free mammograms) to find this service in your area.

    Local Pink Ribbon Events

    There are many ways to support breast cancer research and prevention this month. Many companies host “pink days” encouraging employees to wear pink clothing or accessories to work and make a donation to breast cancer research. Donations often benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the National Cancer Institute and other foundations.

    Here are some other suggestions for ways you can THINK PINK and do your part to support breast cancer awareness and the fight for a cure.

    • Run in a 5K race for breast cancer in your area. The Lehigh Valley sponsors the Women’s 5K Classic, which takes place October 12 and 13 of this year.
    • Enter your location and breast cancer events (Ex. Doylestown breast cancer events) in your browser’s search box. This will give you a list of events in your area.
    • Take care of your own health by getting your mammograms and doing breast self exams. Encourage your daughters, friends, moms and nieces to do the same.
    • If you or someone you know has been diagnosed, consider keeping a breast cancer journal to express your emotions and engage in positive self talk to keep your thoughts positive.
    • Host a neighborhood car wash, or rake leaves to raise donations for a local breast cancer charity.

    Shop Pink
    breast cancer mammograms
    Many products support breast cancer research.

    Many products are dedicated for sale so that proceeds go to breast cancer research and support groups. Everything from groceries and gourmet foods to clothing and jewelry can be purchased to support a cure.  Look for the specialty pink packaging. When shopping online, look for the unmistakable pink ribbon.

    Stay tuned for more information about breast cancer awareness and support groups!

    By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
    Contributing Writer