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U-M atrial fibrillation patient is back in the spotlight

The University of Michigan CVC team has extensive experience in treating patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib), an abnormal type of heart rhythm, for conditions that range from simple to complex. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, with the goal of helping patients realize an improved quality of life.

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Joann Drayton credits Dr. Hakan Oral with helping her get back to the stage.

Sixty-five-year-old Joann Drayton was accustomed to the spotlight for much of her life. An established opera singer and a choreographer for full-scale productions at Jackson Community College, she was active and involved in the things she loved to do. But when diagnosed with Afib some 15 years ago, Joann’s health began to deteriorate to the point where she felt she just couldn’t function anymore. All that changed when she was introduced to Dr. Hakan Oral, who helped her rediscover the spotlight.

Joann shares her story …

“Dr. Oral is a brilliant doctor who gave me my life back. I suffered from Afib and atrial flutter and also had a history of stroke — conditions that I began experiencing around age 50. Through the years, I was put on as many as eight medications, which eventually left me unable to do the things I loved doing. It was difficult for me to walk up the stairs, let alone perform on stage and manage choreography for the theater group at Jackson Community College. Continue reading

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My name is Jason, and DNA sequencing is helping my family Block Out Cancer

Jason and Amelie StrzalkowskiWhen our youngest daughter, Amelie, was 22 months in the fall of 2012, we noticed that she started to have balance problems. She went from zooming around the house to being less steady, and then one Sunday, she stood up and simply fell over. That set off warning bells for me and my wife, Shelley.

We scheduled an appointment with our pediatrician for that Wednesday. From there, our pediatrician sent us to the ER at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Thursday morning she had an MRI where they discovered a brain tumor. Amelie was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a kind of fast-growing tumor. On Friday, she had a 13-hour surgery to have as much of the tumor removed as possible. The team at Mott took tissue samples from the tumor to study them further.

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Fertility options for men with cancer

fertility optionsWhile the focus of this blog is on fertility for men with cancer, I have not forgotten about women. Female fertility options will be addressed next month, so ladies please stay tuned.

Infertility, or not being able to conceive or bear children, affects about 10% of the population. While that seems like a small percentage, infertility can disproportionally affect both men and women undergoing cancer treatments. Many of our standard therapies for treating cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy can damage the Continue reading

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After heart surgery: Answers to patients’ frequent questions

taste 320x320Many patients come to me with questions about what they should expect in the days and months following heart surgery. Overall, no two heart patient experiences will be the same, but there is general information you should be aware of when recovering from surgery.

“I’ve noticed a loss or change in my sense of taste after heart surgery. Is this normal?”

This is likely due to a combination of factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Length of the bypass procedure
  • Tubing used for the bypass machines
  • Your response to the anesthesia
  • Your response to the cardiac medications, many of which may be new to you

The good news is that if you’ve experienced a loss or change in your sense of taste after heart surgery, it usually resolves itself within several weeks. It is rare for this to occur and be a permanent issue.

Remember, it is important for heart patients to maintain a nutritional food plan following surgery as their body heals. Food should be low in sodium and low to moderate in fat. It’s also important to eat enough protein to heal after surgery. Foods that are high in protein and low in salt, saturated fat and trans fats include fresh skinless chicken (not injected with salt or broth), fresh or frozen fish, lean beef, pork or lamb, skim milk and fat-free yogurt. Cultured foods like yogurt also contain “probiotics,” which help restart your digestive tract after your operation. Continue reading

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My Name is Katie and I’m fighting Ewing’s Sarcoma in my battle to Block Out Cancer

Katie Shaver - Block Out CancerI just started my senior year at Marlette High School, but my teen years have been a pretty different experience than most other girls my age. When I was in eighth grade, I had pain in my hip for a few months. I went to a chiropractor who thought it was arthritis. When the pain did not go away, I had X-rays that showed a grapefruit-sized mass attached to my hip. I was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that is most often found in bones or nearby tissue.

I was referred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for care. Because the tumor was in my hip, my first experiences at Mott were with the oncology clinic and Dr. Biermann, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in orthopedic oncology. With Dr. Biermann, I underwent surgery to remove the tumor and my ilium (the large bone in your pelvis) on November 30th. I also had 13 rounds of chemo stretching from August through April. The chemo was not fun! I lost my hair and felt sick. I missed volleyball season that year.

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Understanding a tumor board

tumor boardWhen I joined the Cancer Center team as editor of Thrive a few years ago, one of my first questions was, ‘What the heck is a tumor board?’ It was a term I had never heard before and one I figured many patients didn’t know either, at least before their diagnosis.

I quickly learned: a tumor board is a room full of specialists talking about challenging patient cases. I attended a liver tumor board meeting and immediately saw the value of everyone sharing information and offering solutions. Continue reading