Thanksgiving: an ideal time to talk about family health history

family health historyThe U.S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving Day as National Family Health History Day since 2004. Over the holiday or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their family.

Family members share genes, environment, lifestyles and behaviors that can determine shared risk for diseases such as various cancers, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. That’s why family gatherings like Thanksgiving are the perfect time to collect your family health history, record it for the future, and encourage family members to share it with their health care providers. These easy steps can help you understand the risk for various diseases and encourage early detection and prevention. Continue reading

Young men and the testicular cancer self-exam

testicular self-examWhile testicular cancer is rare, it is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35, according to the Testicular Cancer Society. Generally men in this age group are robust and healthy, so cancer may be something they think only happens to other people. Educating men on the importance, as well as the technique, of testicular self-exam may help to reduce the incidence of this cancer.

Unlike the recommendations for breast self-exams beginning at age 20, and colon cancer screening beginning at age 50, neither the American Cancer Society nor Continue reading

You can have your Thanksgiving feast and eat it, too

Thanksgiving feastThanksgiving brings to mind tables covered with rich foods, desserts and good company. It may also bring worry about derailing your healthy eating plan but you can have your Thanksgiving feast and eat it too – without guilt – if you follow five basic principles.

It’s a holi-DAY not a holi-SEASON!

  1. Start thinking of the holiday as a day, not a season.

No one can be perfect 100% of the time, so try to eat a healthy diet 90% of the time and Continue reading

Improving your cancer care experience

Laura Galunas, nurse manager, 8A acute care oncology unit

Laura Galunas, nurse manager, 8A acute care oncology unit

The Patient and Family Advisory Board was established in 2012 to ensure the delivery of exemplary care that is centered around each patient and family of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. Patients, family members, health care providers and members of the community meet regularly to discuss their experiences of what it’s like to be treated for cancer in order to improve the cancer care experience at the Center.

PFAB member Laura Galunas is the nurse manager in the 8A acute care oncology unit at University Hospital.

Why she joined: “It helps me as a health care professional to remember who we’re taking care of and who we’re here for. All patient stories, good and bad, are important to know about. We can learn from them and make improvements.”

Jumpstarting the care process

Galunas and the 8A nursing team spearheaded a two-year project to redesign the way nurses hand off patient care through shift exchange reports.

“Our goal was to move the process into the patient room Continue reading

Tips for seeking complementary therapy providers in your hometown

complementary therapy providersYou’re curious about art therapy, but you live too far away from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center to try a session. Or maybe that group session of guided imagery just won’t fit into your schedule. That’s why we’ve put together tips for finding complementary therapy providers in your hometown.

Complementary therapies — such as art therapy or massage therapy — have been shown to be beneficial to people with cancer. The Society of Integrative Oncology published a report several years ago stating that “Mind-body modalities are recommended as part of a multidisciplinary approach to reduce anxiety, mood disturbance, (and) chronic pain and (to) improve quality of life.” And last week, in newly published guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology, researchers at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, together with colleagues from leading institutions across the country, analyzed which integrative treatments appear to be most effective and safe for patients with breast cancer.

“Complementary therapies can be a powerful tool in helping to maintain a sense of wellbeing during cancer treatment,” said Continue reading

Prostate cancer doesn’t stop couple from enjoying retirement

Woods Brown driviing a boat

Woods Brown pilots his boat around the lake at his northern Michigan home

Woods Brown has stage 4 prostate cancer, which may account for why he gets tired sooner than he used to. Maybe.

“I do wear out faster, but heck I’m 73 years old,” he says. “I can do pretty much what I want. We have a wood burning stove and I have a load of wood I can burn so we keep warm in the winter. I had some trees down from the latest storm so I moved that. We live on a lake and I go fishing.” Continue reading