Dr. Catherine Pesce, Breast Cancer Surgeon: Motivated by Her Mother, Inspired by Her Patients

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 3:13 PM comments (0)

dr pesce

Catherine Pesce, MD, Surgical Oncology, discovered her passion for surgery as a pre-med major in college. It was during her second year as a surgical resident, sadly after her mother died of colon cancer, that she knew where her heart would take her: surgical oncology.

Here, she tells us why she was drawn to specializing in breast cancer and describes the personal impact her patients have on her:

(Click on Dr. Pesce's image to listen to her interview on NorthShore Health & Wellness.)

When did your interest in medicine develop? 
In school, math and science always came easiest to me. So, as a student at Duke University, I took a chance and enrolled in pre-med. My sophomore year, Duke offered a program for pre-med students that gave them the opportunity to shadow any kind of physician, so, randomly, I chose cardiothoracic surgery. What an opportunity to watch heart surgery every Friday!

After ten minutes in the operating room, I was hooked. That was in that moment that I absolutely fell in love with surgery. I just couldn’t get over the fact that surgeries like that happen every day, and I knew that my passion for surgery would only grow over time.

What led you to surgical oncology, specifically breast cancer?
During my general surgery residency, I was exposed to every surgical specialty in order to figure out what felt “right” for me as a future surgeon. But it was during my second year in residency that my mother died of colon cancer; and I knew from that point on, my heart was in oncology.

As I was exposed to the many different operations we completed for various types of cancer, I was naturally drawn to breast cancer patients. As a woman, I felt an innate ability to relate to other women. More than anything, however, I felt so rewarded by the huge impact I could have on a breast cancer patient’s life. When breast cancer is caught early, it’s easily treatable and regularly curable. There is nothing more rewarding than being involved in that process. Having a patient beat the disease and move on with her life, which, unfortunately, is not always the case with other types of cancers, is truly what brings me the most joy as a physician.

What is the biggest challenge of working in surgical oncology?
Unfortunately, in my line of work I have to share bad news nearly every day. While no woman wants to hear she has breast cancer, I make it my priority to comfort, encourage and clearly communicate our plan to fight the disease so we can work together. 

What do you find most inspiring about your patients?
I have been blown away by the grace and humility patients exude during their cancer treatment. More than once, I’ve actually had a patient say, “I’m glad this happened. It has made me re-evaluate my life; realize what’s important, how loved I am and how important it is to take care of myself.” It brings me to tears witnessing such strength and dignity.

What’s new now that many women might not know as far as treatment and surgery for breast cancer?
I am most excited about a new surgical procedure we have recently adopted at NorthShore to remove breast tumors. When a cancer is discovered from a patient’s mammogram and cannot be felt with the human hand, traditionally, a wire is placed into the breast by a radiologist and then, in the operating room, the wire is used by the surgeon to guide where the tumor to be excised is located in the breast. The wire method has many disadvantages, including patient satisfaction; the possibility of wire displacement; long procedure times on the day of surgery; as well as wire inaccuracy that sometimes requires a surgeon perform multiple surgeries in order to properly remove the tumor.

Recently, we have begun using radioactive seeds to locate cancers instead of wires. The seeds are implanted into the breast cancer with no radioactivity risk to the patient. The seeds can be inserted by the radiologist up to five days before surgery, which eliminates the logistical challenges between the radiology department and operating room schedules.

In the operating room, the surgeon uses a handheld gamma probe to guide excision of the tumor and seed in an easier, more precise manner. Already, prospective clinical trials have shown a decrease in the need for multiple operations compared to the wire localization method. In addition, no other hospital in the state of Illinois currently offers the use of radioactive seeds. NorthShore is a pioneer and standout in the use of this advanced technological surgical technique.

What makes the NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center unique?
The treatment of breast cancer requires a multidisciplinary approach, and the Kellogg Cancer Center has a system in place to accomplish exactly that. We can collaboratively walk each patient step-by-step through the process. From a patient’s first abnormal mammogram and biopsy to surgery, consultations with medical oncology, radiation oncology and survivorship, the Kellogg Cancer Center has an experienced, collaborative team of specialists who provides a comprehensive and compassionate approach to breast cancer treatment for every patient.

What advice would you give women newly diagnosed with breast cancer?
I want newly diagnosed women to know that they are not alone. While this journey will have its ups and downs, they have a team of doctors who are there for them every step of the way.

Comment

What's the Deal with Vitamin D?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 1:00 PM comments (0)

fall sunshine

Vitamin D is a hot topic, both in the news and often in the examination room.  So what’s the deal with vitamin D? Vitamin D is not truly a vitamin but a hormone that’s created by cells when skin is exposed to sunlight. It can help lower one’s risk of heart disease and cancer and promotes healthy bone growth. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of Americans are not only running low on this important vitamin but might even be deficient. 

As the days get shorter and we march ever closer to another Chicago-area winter, Curtis Mann, MD, Family Medicine, shares four good reasons to check your vitamin D levels and four ways to improve them: 

(Click on the image to listen to Dr. Mann discusss the importance of vitamin D on NorthShore Health & Wellness.)

Why Is It Important? 

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. If there is a deficiency of vitamin D and thus also a deficiency of calcium, the body will take calcium from its bones, weakening them and leaving them vulnerable to fractures. For kids and teens, it’s vital to bone growth and strength. In adults, vitamin D can help prevent osteomalacia, osteoporosis, bone pain and muscle weakness. 

Vitamin D improves energy level and mood. Vitamin D is a key component in brain development. Deficiencies have been linked to low energy and depressive symptoms. It can also help combat the symptoms of seasonal affect disorder (S.A.D.). 

Vitamin D could improve your health now and later. In studies, vitamin D has been shown to boost the immune system, leaving it in better shape to fight off infections. Studies have also found a positive correlation between sufficient vitamin D levels and lower incidences of cancer—colon, breast, prostate—and heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and potentially more.

Vitamin D may improve athletic performance. A recent study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal concluded that low levels of vitamin D compromise fitness and energy levels. Athletes with higher levels of vitamin D were shown to perform at a higher level. 

How to Improve Levels:

  1. Sunlight is the best source. Don’t break out aluminum foil tri-fold and start tanning but it doesn’t hurt to get a little bit of sunshine each day. This is especially important for those in climates like ours, where there isn’t a lot of yearlong sunshine. 
  2. Take a supplement. A supplement can help restore levels that might be low due to limited exposure to sunshine. 
  3. Amend your diet. Fatty fish, including tuna, salmon, trout and mackerel, are high in vitamin D, as are egg yolks and cheeses. Some breakfast cereals are even fortified with vitamin D, so check labels.  
  4. Buy fortified dairy. Milk and even orange juice now come in fortified vitamin D varieties. Consider making the switch, especially in winter. 

Have you had your vitamin D levels checked?

 

Comment

NorthShore Preparing to Handle Potential Ebola Cases

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 10:09 AM comments (0)

UPDATE 10/21/2014: The CDC issues new guidelines concerning safety protocols and personal safety equipment for U.S. healthcare workers treating patients with Ebola. New guidelines can be read in full on the CDC website here

UPDATE 10/17/2014: The Illinois Department of Public Health has set up a 24-hour hotline to answer questions about Ebola. The number is 800-889-3931. 

UPDATE 10/15/2014: After two recent secondary infections of healthcare workers in Dallas, NorthShore is taking further action to ensure the safety of our valued hospital staff, patients and visitors, including:

  1. Creating training programs for educating healthcare workers on the safe management of patients with suspected/confirmed Ebola. The training courses will include intensive education and testing to ensure hospital staff is appropriately trained on donning and removing personal protective equipment. 
  2. All triage emergency department staff, as well as Medical Group office staff and call center staff, will be trained on the appropriate questions and screening criteria for patients presenting with Ebola-like symptoms. 

NorthShore-PhysicianThere have been no cases of Ebola in Illinois. For the latest information on Ebola in the US and West Africa, please visit the CDC website here

Becky Smith, MD, Chief Hospital Epidemiologist and attending in Infectious Diseases at NorthShore, explains how we have prepared for high risk infections like Ebola in our hospital emergency departments and medical group offices in order to minimize the risk of the spread of the disease to our patients and staff:

After recording the patient’s name and date of birth, there are two important questions that must be asked prior to suspecting Ebola:

  1. In the last 24 hours, have you had a fever of 101.5 or above?
  2. Have you traveled to/from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria or Sierra Leone within the last 21 days?

If you can answer “no” to either question, there is no reason to believe you have Ebola. You can be evaluated by your doctor in the usual manner because you do not have Ebola.

In the unlikely event that a patient in the Chicago area answers “yes” to both questions, NorthShore already has plans in place to handle this high-risk infection:

  • NorthShore Evanston Hospital is our preferred hospital for evaluation and management of suspected Ebola patients.
  • This patient will be immediately placed in an isolation room. This placement is intended to minimize the number of people who will come in contact with the patient. However, the disease is not airborne. 
  • All medical professionals—nurses, physicians, assistants—who come in contact with the patient will be wearing full-coverage, impermeable gowns, gloves and a face mask with shield. 
  • Infection Control will be notified immediately and involved at every point of the patient’s care.
  • Infection Control will notify Public Health. 
  • All equipment used during the patient’s care will be kept in the isolation room.
  • A log of all medical professionals who come into contact with the patient will be kept updated at every point during the patient’s care. 

With the help of NorthShore’s Infection Control department, our community is working diligently to prepare for any suspected case of Ebola or other high-risk infectious disease, and prevent its spread. 

Comment

Pediatric Orthopaedics: Dr. David Roberts on the Rewards of His Unique Specialty

Friday, October 17, 2014 7:00 AM comments (0)

dr. robertsFor David Roberts, MD, Pediatric Orthopaedics at NorthShore, helping people was always the goal on the horizon, which is what ultimately brought him to medicine. Once there, it was the challenge and the enjoyment of treating children that brought him to pediatric orthopaedics.

Here, he explains the ins and outs of his unique specialty and how his experience as a father has informed the way he treats his patients and their parents:

What first attracted to you medicine? Was there something that inspired you to go into the field?
I chose a career in medicine because I wanted to help people. There wasn’t one specific moment of realization; it was always what I wanted to do with my life.  

Why did you decide to pursue pediatric orthopaedics as a specialty?

I decided to become a pediatric orthopaedist during the middle of my orthopaedic surgery residency.  During my training, I enjoyed all different areas of orthopaedics so it was hard to pick just one area! Pediatric orthopaedics is unique in that you take care of a variety of conditions affecting all areas of the body, from fractures and congenital anomalies, to scoliosis and spine conditions. It also covers a wide age range, from newborns to young adults.  The diverse nature of pediatric orthopaedics is challenging but that’s also what I enjoy most about it.  And, of course, kids are fun.

What do you like most about your job?
Seeing my patients get better.  Often my patients are in pain or recovering from an injury when we first meet. Seeing them recover and get back to normal, being a part of that, is what I like best about my practice. 

What do you find most challenging?
Encountering overuse injuries in young athletes is difficult.  Young kids are increasingly involved in sports at "elite" levels, playing harder and longer than ever before. Overuse inevitably can lead to chronic and recurrent injuries of various types.  Generally, the cure is simple—rest—but these are some of the hardest conditions to treat given the pressure from coaches, teammates, parents and even the children themselves.  Fortunately with time, rest and realistic expectations, these conditions typically resolve and permit the child to fully return to activities.

What do you think is an essential skill of a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon?
You have to really enjoy working with children.  Treating children is very different from treating adults. Children of different ages require different approaches at interview and examination, which represents the "art" of medicine.  To be truly good at it this, you really have to like working with kids, and this is what I like most about my job.

How is treating orthopaedic cases in children different from adults?
Kids are not just little adults.  From an orthopaedic perspective, treatment of children's conditions can be drastically different than in adults, and not just because we have more cast colors to choose from.

Unlike adults, children's bones are still growing, which means they require special respect and consideration during treatment for orthopaedic conditions.  For example, fractures that typically require surgery for an adult may be treated without surgery in a child because of the ability to correct bone alignment over time with growth.  Other injuries can potentially affect growth and require close monitoring over time for years after injury.  Very young children also may require different treatment for the same type of injury in an adult because a child may be too young to follow treatment instructions.

Within pediatric orthopaedics, you specialize in scoliosis. What inspired this interest?
I specialized in scoliosis because of the positive impact surgery for this condition has on a patient's life.  For many patients with severe scoliosis, the condition is more than just a curvature of the spine.  Severe curves negatively affects self-esteem and body image, which are already vulnerable during the teenage years even for those without scoliosis.  After surgery for scoliosis, these patients literally and figuratively stand taller and straighter. It can make a difference to the rest of their lives.

What are some of the biggest influences on the way you treat your patients?
My own experience as a parent has really informed my practice.  Having a child gives you practical experience working with children but also the perspective of a parent.  I believe it is my duty to care for your child as I would my own.

Comment

Veg Out! The Best Protein Sources & Benefits of the Vegetarian Diet [Infographic]

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 4:00 PM comments (0)

There are many health benefits of a vegetarian diet, from lowering one’s risk of heart disease and some cancers to weight loss and weight maintenance. Whether you're already a full-time vegetarian or thinking about making a switch on a part-time or permanent basis, it’s important to focus on whole, unprocessed foods and ensure you are getting your recommended daily intake of protein.

In our latest infographic, we highlight the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and assemble a list of the best vegetarian-friendly protein options. Click the image below for our full vegetarian infographic

 veggie infographic

Comment

After the Finish Line: Recovering from a Race

Friday, October 10, 2014 3:45 PM comments (0)

The months of training have not been in vain because you’ve crossed the finish line. Now what?

Carrie Jaworksi, MD, Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine at NorthShore, offers her insight on what to expect after the race and how to recover adequately to ensure that you are ready to race again another day:

Immediately After the Race: Once you cross that finish line there are a handful of things that you'll need to do to help your body recover. Eat something! It’s important to replenish the energy stores you depleted during the race. Initially, it’s best to start with a sports drink and food that is easy to digest. If you can’t tolerate sports drinks, then take  bananas, yogurt and pretzels to the finish line instead. Gradually work up to a high-carbohydrate post-race dinner to further assist you in replenishing your energy stores.

Taking a cold bath and icing your muscles is recommended to help prevent muscle soreness but don’t do that immediately. It is more important to keep moving in that first 30 to 60 minutes. You'll be tired but try to resist the urge to sit; instead, take a long walk back to your hotel or car. Your body will thank you for it later.

The Next Day: You ran for a long time and chances are you are you'll wake up sore the next day. To help ease your muscle pain, plan ahead and schedule a massage for the days following the race. It will certainly help to alleviate your soreness and speed your recovery. Plan on being sore for a few days. Take it easy while you are recovering.

Post-Event Emotions: You may feel down after the race. Think about it: You’ve been training for this event, both physically and mentally for months, and now it’s over. The early recovery period will likely be the most difficult transition because you won’t be running and will have more time to reflect on your experience. There are several ways you can combat this: 1) Plan to meet up with your running friends the Saturday after the race to discusses personal experiences with the race. 2) Combit to a new goal whether it's another race or even just to keep up with a regular running routine once you recover. 3) Splurge on a treat for yourself, from a new pair of running shoes to that racing watch you’ve been eyeing. Whatever you do, enjoy your downtime and get some much-needed rest.  

Preparing for the Next Race: How long should you rest before training for the next race? While your break time depends on your own level of experience with distance running, it’s recommended that you give your body at least one day off per mile before running your next distance race. This means the earliest you should race again after a marathon is almost a month. Everyone should plan on a reverse taper over the first three to four weeks post-marathon. The first week post-marathon should be mainly rest for three days, with some gentle jogging and cross training to round out the end of the week. By the weekend, most of your muscle soreness should be gone, so a longer distance may be reasonable. Remember to go slow and keep it to an hour at most. 

After the first week post-marathon, you can begin to build more mileage based on your level of experience. Be sure to keep some cross-training days on your schedule to keep your body strong and injury-free. Any persisting soreness or undue fatigue may be your body’s way of telling you it needs more time to recover. Be sure to listen to your body and adjust your training, or see your physician as needed.

How did you feel after the race? What tips would offer to others?

Comment

Childhood Asthma: Risk, Triggers and Symptoms

Friday, October 10, 2014 10:58 AM comments (0)

asthmaAsthma is one of the most common chronic disorders in children, and, for unknown reasons, is on the rise.  Asthma is a reversible lung disease that inflames and narrows airways, causing chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. While there is no cure for asthma, with modern knowledge and proper treatment, you and your child can take an active role in managing this disease. If diagnosed, your child can live an active life and sleep through the night without ever experiencing asthma symptoms.

Leslie Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, discusses risk factors for and signs of pediatric asthma:

What are the risk factors for developing childhood asthma?

  • Family history. If there is a family history of allergies, eczema or asthma, there is an increased risk for developing asthma in childhood. 
  • Personal history of allergies. This includes both food allergies and seasonal/environmental allergies
  • Personal history of eczema.
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke. Whether during pregnancy or after birth, exposure to cigarette smoke or any tobacco product can significantly increase risk. 
  • Higher exposure to pollution. Children living in urban settings have increased exposure to air pollution, which can increase their risk. 
  • Respiratory infections and sinus issues. Children with frequent respiratory tract infections, pneumonia, chronic runny/stuffy noses and other sinus issues have been shown to have a higher risk for childhood asthma. 
  • Being male. Boys have a higher incidence of pediatric asthma than girls. 
  • Possibly low birth weight. 

What are common triggers that can cause a child with asthma to have “flare-ups” or asthma “attacks”?

  • Exposure to substances that the child is allergic to. The most common of which are: mold, pollen, dust mites, animal dander and cockroaches.
  • Respiratory infections. Examples of such respiratory infections are: viral infections of the nose and throat (i.e., “colds”), pneumonia, sinus infections.
  • Irritants in the air that the child breathes. Depending on the child’s particular sensitivities, these can include: tobacco and other smoke, air pollution, cold/dry air, perfumes, fumes from cleaning products.
  • Exercise.
  • Stress.

How can you tell if your child has asthma? Symptoms are not the same for every child and symptoms may even vary from one attack to another in the same child, so diagnosis can be difficult. Here are common symptoms to watch out for and discuss with your child’s pediatrician:

  • Frequent coughing spells that occur most commonly at night or early in the morning.
  • Coughing that occurs during physical activity, play or laughter.
  • Less energy during play, feelings of weakness or tiredness.
  • Rapid breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing.
  • Chest pain, chest congestion and tightness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Breathing issues that may prevent play.

If your child has prolonged experience with any of these symptoms, take them to their doctor immediately for evaluation. 

Have questions about pediatric asthma or any other pediatric concern? Join NorthShore's new online community, The Parent 'Hood, to connect with other new and expecting parents, as well as our expert physicians. Find support, ask questions and share your stories. Click The Parent 'Hood to start now! 

Comment

Fueled by Love: Kayla Redig Finds a Way to Celebrate During Treatment for Breast Cancer

Wednesday, October 08, 2014 1:08 PM comments (0)

kaylaCancer runs in her family but at only 24, Kayla Redig’s family and doctors weren’t ready to believe that cancer could be responsible for her sleepless nights, exhaustion and days of just “feeling off.” Kayla, however, knew there was something wrong. After finding a lump in her breast, she pushed for further testing. When the diagnosis came back as breast cancer, she was upset but not surprised.

From the beginning, Kayla told her family that she didn’t want to hate the chemo treatments that would be responsible for saving her life, so she decided to celebrate them instead. For Kayla and her friends and family, chemo became Theme-o, themed parties and celebrations surrounding each treatment. Fittingly, superheroes came first, followed by a prom-themed chemo session and even a Blackhawks-themed parade on the way to her final treatment. Everyone dressed up and everyone celebrated.

Here, Kayla tells us why she found it so important to celebrate during breast cancer treatment and how the love she felt during treatment gave her the strength to fight cancer and embrace a new direction in life:

Where did your journey to diagnosis begin?
Cancer runs in my family. A year before I was diagnosed, I had genetic testing done and found out I had the BRCA 2 gene. So I knew I had a genetic disposition and a family history of it but I never gave it much thought. A few weeks before my diagnosis, I was always complaining about how tired I felt. My friends noticed how “off” I was and thought I was depressed. I wasn’t sleeping through the night because I had intense night sweats; I figured that my lack of sleep was to blame for my tiredness. About two weeks after that, I found a lump in my left breast. 

You were only 24 when you sought out a doctor’s advice. What were you being told by family, friends and doctors before you received your diagnosis?
When I found the lump I called my mom and two of my friends but no one was worried. One even called me dramatic and told me to go to sleep. The more friends I told the more I heard, “Get it checked out but I’m sure it’s nothing.” 

When I first saw my gynecologist she was hesitant to prescribe further testing because of my age but decided to move forward because of my family history. When I had the ultrasound done, they were able to rule out a cyst but, again, they hesitated before doing a mammogram because of my age. About a minute into my mammogram the tech said, “You need to see one of our breast surgeons immediately.” First thing the next morning, I was with Dr. Katherine Yao having a biopsy. She was the first person who didn’t shuffle me along. Instead, she said, “I’ll be honest with you—this looks and feels a lot like cancer to me.”

kayla
 and her momWhat went through your head when you were told it was breast cancer after all?
If you’re in touch with your body, I think you just know when something is wrong. So that combined with how off I’d been feeling … I can’t really say I was surprised. Tears fell immediately but I wasn’t surprised. I remember being driven to where my parents were and talking to Dr.Yao on the phone, hearing more information and what to expect. When I finally got to my parents, I burst into tears all over again. It wasn’t until I heard my mom say that they were going to move back to Illinois right away that the reality of the situation really hit me. You have to move across the country for me? Whoa. And seeing my father break down in tears … I started seeing the impact my health was having on others and all I could think about was the damage this disease was causing. 

But you wanted to try to keep positive, so where did the idea for Theme-o come from?
After I reached the halfway point with chemo, my health really started to deteriorate. My body was worn out. I was an emotional mess and my spirit was in a bad place. From day one, I had said that I never wanted to hate chemo because chemo was my partner in the fight. But suddenly I was dreading each treatment and I wanted to stop going. I wanted to stop fighting. With what little energy I had left, I realized I had two choices: Give up or make a drastic change. 

Up until then, all of my treatments had involved at least six friends or family members spending time with me but that was just talking. I decided I needed to make my treatments into parties and, like all good parties, they had to have themes. Chemo became Theme-o. It was during the darkest time in my life that Theme-o was born. 

How did you decide on themes?
I shared the idea with my friends and family and told them to start throwing themes at me. We formed a solid list from that. My father insisted that “Superheroes” be the first theme because he had seen a Superman costume with built-in muscles and wanted to wear it. Before each treatment, we would have the next theme decided. 

What were the reactions from people at your appointments?
When we showed up at the hospital dressed as superheroes everyone was amused but also quite confused. There were many “okay … why?” looks thrown our way before we explained the situation. A lot of people poked their heads in my room because they had to see for themselves. We took pictures with other patients; it was fun to see them light up when they saw us. Once people heard what we were doing, the next question was always: “What are you wearing next week?” 

It was amazing to see the community that formed around Theme-o. My whole school participated, many folks at the hospital and friends and family from all over the world dressed up to show their support. I don’t think many people look forward to chemo but I sure grew to. We had a lot of fun with it!

blackhawksWhat surprised you most about the entire journey, from diagnosis and now to recovery?
The whole experience was a lesson of the power of love. It’s amazing what people can accomplish when we all work together and are fueled by love. From my family to complete strangers, I had everyone rallying alongside me. This has been the most challenging path I’ve ever found myself on but I was able to see it through because of all of the love I was given. I never felt like I was doing it alone. The beautiful thing about the strength of love is it shows no sign of running out. I am still fueled by love every day.

What did you find most challenging about the experience?
The most challenging thing for me was how my family and others I love were/are still affected by this. I hated seeing them suffer because of my suffering.  I hate thinking of all the tears that were shed on my behalf. A lot of lives were changed because of this. 

What advice would you give to other women facing a breast cancer diagnosis?
Find ways to celebrate yourself. Your body is being dragged through the gutter and will undergo a ton of changes in a very short period of time. I created a “Pretty Committee” that was in charge of making sure I still felt beautiful and feminine throughout. Get a makeover, take a Look Good, Feel Better class, buy something sparkly—you’re still beautiful and you’re still you. Little earrings and cute pajama bottoms can go a long way. 

Along with celebrating you, celebrate everything else too. Every little benchmark you hit or appointment you get through is worth celebrating. We had a Christmas in July party to celebrate finishing my first round of chemo and a big dinner at the halfway point. I had a pre-op party and a post-radiation blow out. No matter how small or silly it may seem, celebrate it! Make a big deal out of every moment you get through. People will be happy to join you. If you can’t find joy, create it.

What’s next? What’s happening now? What do you hope to achieve?
I just had my final reconstruction surgery at the end of September and it feels amazing knowing I don’t have more surgeries looming. Before surgery I took a new job with a company based in Los Angeles called Reimagine and am so excited to resume work with them once I have recovered. Reimagine offers an evidence-based, online live class that helps patients and caregivers take their lives back from cancer. They have built an entire community of support to help people thrive in the face of adversity. I knew early on that I wanted to surround myself with other patients and survivors and change the experience of cancer for every life it touches. It’s incredible to have found others who wake up every morning wanting to do the same. I’m very blessed to have a career that is fueled not only by life experience but also love. Every bit of love I’m given I try to pour back into the community of survivors, fighters and caregivers.

For more information on Reimagine, click here

Comment

Think Pink: Breast Cancer History, Risk Factors and Prevention [Infographic]

Monday, October 06, 2014 2:28 PM comments (0)

This October during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, help us spread the word about the importance of early detection and prevention.  Yearly mammograms can help identify breast cancer in its early, treatable stages and various lifestyle changes may help reduce your risk of developing the disease. 

NorthShore University HealthSystem has created a breast cancer infographic that includes a brief history of the disease, risk factors and preventative measures. Click on the image below to view our full breast cancer infographic and find out what you can do now to reduce your risk. 

breast cancer infographic

Comment

Meet Your Protein Needs Without Meat

Monday, September 29, 2014 11:33 AM comments (0)

Protein is an essential element of a healthy, well-balanced diet. In fact, protein makes up a large part of all your body’s cells, which is why it is so important that you get enough each day. And that’s especially true for those following a vegetarian, nearly vegetarian or vegan diet who don’t get their daily requirement from protein-rich sources like meat. The good news is that reaching your daily protein needs doesn’t mean having to include more meat or even any meat all.Vegetarian-Protein

Just how much protein do you need on a daily basis? Women need approximately 46 grams and men 56 grams of protein each day. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need to add additional protein to their diets. On average, it is recommended that they get 70 grams each day. Athletes and active individuals also require more protein based on the length, frequency and intensity of their workouts, which could mean increasing their protein intake by 50% more than a non-active man or woman.

Nearly every food contains some amount of protein but there are plenty of protein-rich, vegetarian-friendly options out there too. It might surprise you just how much protein there is in some of these healthy, meatless foods.

Jennifer Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, shares some of the best veggie-friendly options to maximize daily protein intake:

  • Lentils. These pack a serious protein punch with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup. 
  • Greek yogurt. All dairy products are good sources of protein but Greek yogurt kicks it up a notch with approximately 20 grams per 6-ounce serving.
  • Chickpeas. There are 8 grams of protein per serving of chickpeas. Chickpeas also happen to be the main ingredient in hummus. Put it on crackers or veggies for a high-protein snack.
  • Beans. This one won’t surprise you. Most beans—black, pinto, soy—are heavy hitters when it comes to protein, with approximately 7 to 10 grams per serving. They’re also lower in calories than meat-based proteins and have lots of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Fruits and vegetables. That’s right! They are great sources of protein as well. Avocados have about 5 grams of protein per serving and a cup of spinach has 5 grams too.
  • Eggs. Many vegetarians won’t eat eggs but for lacto-ovo vegetarians (consume dairy and eggs), they are a great source with 6 grams per egg.
  • Tempeh and Tofu. These whole soy alternatives are great sources of protein with 8-12 grams per 3-ounce serving.
  • Quinoa. This grain is a complete protein, meaning it has the same protein content and quality of an egg! This super grain packs 8 grams of protein in 1 cooked cup.

What are some of your favorite vegetarian protein sources?

Comment
× Alternate Text