For one prostate cancer survivor, it’s all about conversation, personal connections

Francis Hafler, surrounded by his daughter Tiffany, son Gabriel and granddaughter Chloe, 12

Francis Hafler, surrounded by his daughter Tiffany, son Gabriel and granddaughter Chloe, 12

“I’m a conversationalist. I just walk up to people and start talking to them,” says Francis Hafler of Detroit.

He starts at the beginning. “I was born in the south in 1950.”

Hafler grew up about two blocks from the water in Pensacola, Fla., where the sand is pure white and the water is emerald green. He was No. 8 of 10 kids – seven boys, three girls. His mother did domestic work and his father worked on a fishing boat and as an ice man. Every Tuesday and Wednesday you could see the Blue Angels from the nearby naval base soaring through the sky.

In 1969, Hafler moved to Michigan to live with a friend. He found work at Ford Motor Co. on the ore carrying ships at the Rouge Factory. He got married and had six kids.

And then cancer hit.

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Tailgating and alcohol: Information to take to heart

Why does my heart race after drinking?

Tailgating and alcohol

Before you head out to your next tailgate party, make sure you’re aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

It’s football season, and with it comes the fun of tailgating … and often an increase in alcohol consumption. Dr. Kenneth Tobin, clinical assistant professor for the Department of Internal Medicine and director in the Chest Pain Center at the University of Michigan, says patients often ask questions about alcohol and heart health, including: “Why does my heart race after drinking alcohol?” Dr. Tobin discusses this question and other alcohol/heart health issues here–information about tailgating and alcohol you can take to heart this football season. Continue reading


Gazpacho recipe: A refreshing taste of summer


Gazpacho is a healthy way to enjoy summer-fresh flavors.

It may not be official on the calendar, but Labor Day marks the “end of summer” for many of us. Until then, why not indulge in some of the season’s freshest flavors this weekend by whipping up a delicious — and easy — batch of gazpacho? According to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Sue Ryskamp, the gazpacho recipe below was a big hit at the recent University of Michigan Wellness Resource Center’s “Nutritious Is Delicious” food-tasting event.

Simple summer gazpacho

Serves 4


  • 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4-cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups No Salt Added tomato juice
  • 1/8 tsp pepper


Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. Whirl until just blended. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve, ladle gazpacho into bowls.

Feel free to jazz it up with toppers such as fresh grilled shrimp, a dollop of Greek yogurt, sliced avocado or diced cucumber to add extra color and texture to this fun treat you’ll want to serve again and again!

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.


Football fans: Don’t let hot weather sack you at Saturday’s game

Tips from the U-M doctor in charge of Michigan Stadium First Aid

football EKG smWhen the University of Michigan football team kicks off its season at noon on Saturday, Dr. Mark Lowell won’t be watching from the stands.

He’ll be in the First Aid building inside the Michigan Stadium’s Gate 9, bracing for what he fears will be an onslaught of fans made sick by hot weather.

High temperatures and humidity will combine to make it feel like nearly 90 degrees by the time the game gets going.

That means dehydration, and even heat stroke, may strike many fans – especially if they’ve been drinking alcohol.

Older fans, and those who have certain medical conditions, also face a higher risk of heat-related health problems sitting out in the stadium.

Dr. Lowell’s top tip for everyone attending the game: drink water. Lots of it. Free water will be available at multiple places throughout the stadium concourse.

Mark Lowell“Alcohol’s a diuretic, meaning it makes your body shed water rather than keeping it in when you need it most,” says Lowell, a U-M emergency medicine physician who has headed the stadium’s medical team for more than 18 years.

“It also affects your ability to recognize that you’re experiencing heat-related problems like dizziness. On a day like we’re expecting for this game, everyone who chooses to drink alcohol should make sure to also drink non-alcoholic drinks. Choose ones without caffeine or artificial sweeteners, which also act as diuretics.”

The first aid team at the stadium, which includes American Red Cross volunteers and Huron Valley Ambulance paramedics as well as U-M Health System health professionals, can help fans who suffer heat-related problems. They can even provide intravenous fluids for otherwise healthy fans right at the stadium, and transport sicker fans to the U-M emergency department.

But why miss all or part of the game because you didn’t take a few simple precautions?


UMHS Shared Srvcs PubRel&Mrktg, Christy BarnesHere are more tips from Dr. Lowell that can help you stay healthy at a hot football game – or any outdoor activity in hot, humid weather.

  • Drink the right thing: Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to get water. Don’t be afraid to drink because you worry you’ll have to go to the bathroom more often – - Dr. Lowell often treats elderly people who have done this and end up in the First Aid station. Set a reminder on your smartphone to tell you to get some water. But whatever you do, keep drinking it the whole time.

EXCEPTION: If you take “water pills” (diuretics) for blood pressure, kidney disease or another condition, or your doctor has told you to limit fluids because you have a condition such as heart failure, be careful about water intake. Pay special attention to your doctor’s advice for hot weather, and don’t over-exert yourself.

  • Take the “water cup challenge”: While you’re stopped to get water, pour a cupful over your head, or onto your hat, to help cool your head.
  • Hit the mister: Michigan Stadium has three misting stations where you can cool down in some gentle water mist. Take a break and find the nearest one.
  • Block that sun: Put sunscreen on exposed skin before you go, to let it take effect, and keep applying as you sweat it off. (Maize and blue face paint may block some rays too…) Wear a hat with a broad brim, and cover up as much as you can stand. Take shade breaks in the concourses or other covered areas of the stadium.
  • Don’t let heat exhaustion (or worse) sneak up on you: Patients who wind up in the first aid station and emergency department during games often disregarded the early signs of heat-related issues, such as nausea, headache and dizziness, says Lowell. “It can sneak up on you – you’re having a good time, and then you don’t feel so good.” Take rest breaks in the shade of the concourses – and while you’re there, get more water.
  • Don’t hesitate to seek help: Any member of the stadium event team can get you first aid attention promptly. If you have any inkling you or a member of your group of fans is having heat-related trouble, find someone working at the event and ask for help.
  • Take special care with those who need it: “The ones we worry most about,” says Lowell, “are the very old, the very young, and people with chronic conditions.” Young kids, people with asthma and heart conditions, and people with learning difficulties and mental illness (who may not communicate their distress until it is too late) need special attention to avoid heat-related problems. If you’re with someone who falls into one of these groups, especially if they can’t easily speak up about how they’re feeling, be vigilant and speak up to get help.

Dr. Lowell also recommends this page from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.


University of Michigan Health SystemFor more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.


HPV vaccine and cervical cancer: Is this the new magic bullet?

cervical cancer and HPVOne of the most recommended screenings is for cervical cancer. Most cervical cancers are caused by the sexually transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV immunization could reduce the impact of cervical cancer worldwide by as much as two-thirds, if all adolescent and adult women were to get the vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC), there is no evidence to suggest that HPV vaccine loses the ability to provide protection over time.

Currently there are two vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, that prevent infection from HPV, the most common cause of cervical cancer. Gardasil and Cervarix both are highly effective in preventing infection with the types of HPV they target. Gardasil targets the two HPV types that cause 90% of genital warts and it is used to prevent cancers and precancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, and anus. Cervarix is used for the prevention of cervical cancer and precancers.

The CDC recommends that all women age 26 years and younger receive three doses of the HPV vaccine (Cervarix or Continue reading


Not just a feel-good practice: Benefits of yoga to people with cancer

yoga and cancerOver the past years increased attention has been given to the benefits of yoga during and after cancer treatment. Just this April, the Journal of Clinical Oncology published yet another astounding article about how yoga has not only an emotional impact on people affected by cancer but a physical one as well (Kiecolt-Glaser et al., 2014).

The practice of yoga during cancer treatment has been shown to assist with unwanted physical side effects, in particular fatigue and insomnia. This is of particular value since there is little medical intervention available as yet to assist with Continue reading