Request For Prayers

Today I’m writing not to bring you a lot of wisdom or words of advice, but because I need your help.  This has been a really tough time for my family and I’d like to tell you why, and to ask for your prayers.

Many of you know that my husband Russ was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in February 2011.  This is a rare blood cancer, only about 14,000 Americans are diagnosed every year (over 1.6 million new cases of cancer are expected in 2015).  At 41 he was very young for that type of cancer;  most patients are men over the age of 65.

We found a wonderful oncologist and treatment team at Seidman Cancer Center.  Dr. Gregory Warren has been such a blessing.  Russ was treated with chemotherapy which rapidly got him into remission.  He then underwent a stem cell transplant at Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Main Campus, then was treated with more chemotherapy until the summer of 2014.  For just over a year he has been in remission with no evidence of disease, off treatment and doing fine.

Earlier this summer Russ’s bloodwork came back funny.  Instead of periodic scans which is how most cancer patients are monitored for recurrence, Russ’s cancer is monitored with bloodwork.  His tumor is a cancer of plasma cells, the cells that make antibodies.  His cancer cells secrete a junk antibody, and when the levels of junk antibodies (called M protein or monoclonal protein) start to rise it means his cancer is probably recurring.

This summer his bloodwork began showing M protein.

We believe he may be starting into a relapse.  After talking over possible strategies, we all agree that the best approach is to watch and wait.  Treatment has its own risks, and as of now his cancer levels are very low, just at the edge of detection.

After getting adjusted to the idea that Russ and I and our boys may have to dance the “cancer dance” again, we found out about a month ago that my mother has developed an aggressive form of breast cancer.  Her oncologist is very optimistic and believes her cancer is quite curable, but obviously none of us wants to see her have to undergo treatment, surgery, and more treatment.

I don’t tell you any of this to make excuses or ask anyone to cut me any slack.  If you see me in the office, I fully intend to have on my “game face” and address your concerns as completely as possible.  In fact, going to work and getting out of my own head, focusing on helping people both in the office and with my Shaklee business, fulfilling the calling that is on my life HELPS.  My work is honestly my number one coping strategy right now.

I tell you this to ask for your prayers.  Please be in prayer for me and my family.  Pray that Russ’s cancer remains at low and harmless levels for as long as is God’s will.  Pray that if and when he needs treatment again it is free of side effects and effective at ridding him of cancer.  And that he has peace through it all.

Pray for our sons, that they feel God’s blessing and lean into Him for strength.

Pray for my mother and father, that they feel God’s presence and grace.  That my Mom doesn’t lose her wonderful sense of humor.  That she is able to accept others’ offers of help freely given just as others have accepted her help in the loving spirit that it’s meant.

And I could use a few prayers for myself.  I’m generally handling things OK but I have my moments when I get overwhelmed.  A little peace would be a blessing for me too.

Thanks so much for reading this, and for reading all my posts.  My readers are a great blessing for me and give me an extra reason to keep thinking, keep reading, keep researching and keep writing.  Thank you, and God bless you.

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Are Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back?

Have you ever been to Kentucky?  Around Lexington are beautiful green rolling hills, with clean white fences outlining paddocks full of horses.

Have you ever seen a jump competition?  Horses can jump fences while carrying 200-lb humans on their backs.  Those fences around the horse paddocks are no obstacle at all.

Why don’t they jump out?  When a horse is just a foal, they’re tiny, and those fences are enormous.  They learn as babies that those fences are insurmountable.  They KNOW they can’t jump over them.  Then as they grow, they continue to KNOW they can’t jump those fences.

I see a lot of people that are like those horses.  They live inside fences that they have accepted as insurmountable obstacles. They’re not really happy with the way their life is going, but they just believe that nothing could ever change.

I work with a company started almost 60 years ago by a man who believed natural nutrition was the key to health.  He developed the first multivitamin preparation in the United States 100 years ago this year.  Nobody had ever done such a thing before.  100 years later, over 50% of adults in the United States takes a multivitamin.  That was a man who believed in NO boundaries.

Thomas Edison was a man who found 10,000 ways to make a light bulb that DIDN’T work.  He KNEW it could be done, he KNEW he was the man to do it, and he didn’t give up until he invented the electric light bulb.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man with a dream.  He believed it was possible for black people to be treated as equals to white people.  We haven’t succeeded in realizing his dream, but we are a lot closer to it than we would have been without his vision and leadership.

Steve Jobs was forced out of the company he started.  Years later he returned and took a dying company and turned it into the most powerful computer company in the world.

What about you?  What secret dream hides inside your heart?  What dream is so big and glorious it scares the pants off you when you daydream about it?

What’s holding you back?  Do you dream of starting a business but aren’t sure how to start?  Do you dream of training for a different career but feel stuck because of current commitments?  Do you want to change your diet but feel you can’t because you have to cook what your family wants to eat?  Do you dream of traveling but can’t because of your job or financial commitments?

Please do something for me.  Sit down in a quiet place and write down in words what you dream about doing.  Put your big, glorious, terrifying dream down in black and white.  Read it over and visualize it.  Dream the dream in all its glory, feel the joy and gratitude it will bring you.

Then, on the same piece of paper, write down all the reasons it CAN’T happen.  Every reason you can think of, from “not enough money” to “not enough training” to “I’m too old” to “my spouse won’t support me.”  Get them all down on paper.

Then really LOOK at each reason.  Is it a real reason or is it like those fences around the horse paddocks?  Have you made decisions not to pursue your big, scary, wonderful dream because of past experiences or things you were told in childhood?  Things that might not be true anymore, or maybe things that were NEVER true in the first place?

Guess what?  I believe in you.  I believe that there is a dream inside of you that will change other people’s lives for the better (not just YOUR life).  I believe that dream was put there by God for a reason, and that the Enemy is helping make those fences in your mind bigger and scarier than they really are.

I want you to live your dream.  I want you to live out God’s purpose for your life, not to succumb to the Enemy’s lies.  That big dream that is sleeping in your heart, waiting for you to grab it with both hands and run with it, may have the power to change the world.

Are you then next Gandhi, the next Steve Jobs, the next President of the USA?  I don’t know.  Are you?

QUESTION: I won’t ask you to tell me your dream here, that’s way too private (although I would be honored if you would email me and tell me).  But can you tell me one limiting belief that might be holding you back?  For example, “I can’t pursue my dream because I have to stay employed to keep my health insurance.”

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Live Healthier Longer

Hi, everybody!

I’m sitting here between sessions at the Shaklee annual convention in Cleveland, Ohio, and my head is spinning. There has been so much good information thrown at us over the last 3 days I hardly know where to start to digest it all!

For those of you who are members of my Shaklee family, I’m going to take a day or two to ponder the new-product and new-business information and send out an email for you.  Watch for it!

One of our speakers was Dan Buettner who is a researcher and author for National Geographic.  He researched the longest-lived people in the world, to figure out what made them different from people who didn’t live as long.  His findings are detailed in his wonderful book The Blue Zones which is available on Amazon.  He actually figured out how to live healthier longer.

I wanted to bring you the Cliffs Notes version of some of Dan’s findings that make the Blue Zones different from the rest of the world.

People in the Blue Zones live to age 100 years MUCH more frequently than those in America do.  For instance, men in the mountains of Sardinia, Italy, live to age 100 ELEVEN TIMES more often than men in the USA.  Not only do they live long, they stay healthy and active much longer too. The big question is WHY?

There are 2 major categories of differences between those in the Blue Zones and those elsewhere.  They boil down to diet and exercise, mental attitude, and social connection.

DIET AND EXERCISE

People in the Blue Zones eat almost entirely a plant-based diet.  They tend to eat food that’s grown close to home (either in their own gardens or in their own community).  They do eat meat but just a few times per month and usually on special occasions.  They drink alcohol in moderation.

In the Blue Zones, people are active every day for their whole lives.   They walk daily where they need to go, and incorporate other exercise into their lives every day.

MENTAL HEALTH & SOCIAL CONNECTION

Here in America we are so stressed.  We are so lonely.  We hurry from place to place without feeding our passions regularly.

In the Blue Zones, people slow down.  They set aside time to relax.  They may not make a lot of money but they generally cultivate a happy attitude.  (There’s a great TED talk by another speaker at the Shaklee Conference, about how to be happy.  Check it out!)

Did you know that having 3 close friends is associated with longer life?  Do you have 3 people that you could call if you were having a terrible day, who would REALLY care?  Estimates are that in America each person has less than 2 true, close friends.

In the Blue Zones people are deeply connected with others in their community.  They participate in their faith communities, volunteer to serve others, and live in multi-generational homes.  Children grow up with their grandparents in their home.  The elderly are honored and cherished for their experience and wisdom.

One last thing that distinguishes people in the Blue Zones is that their lives have purpose.  They are valuable to their communities in many ways, they tend to cultivate their passions, and live in ways that are deeply meaningful to them.

In short, people who live in the Blue Zones live lives that are pretty much the opposite of how we live in the United States.  If we want to live long, healthy, productive lives we’re doing it all wrong.

I highly recommend that everyone read Dan Buettner’s book The Blue Zones.  It is a quick and very worthwhile read with actionable goals for living longer and better.

  1. Eat mostly plants
  2. Move every day
  3. Practice your faith, whatever it is
  4. Get and stay connected with others
  5. Relax and slow down
  6. Cultivate your passion – otherwise why would you WANT to live to be 100?!
  7. Be happy (and seriously, you’ve got to watch that TED talk)

QUESTION:  Which of these action steps are you doing?  Which would be the hardest?

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Sitting Is The New Smoking

Have you heard this phrase?  “Sitting is the new smoking” speaks to the new understanding that a sedentary lifestyle is as big a risk factor for heart disease as smoking.

It’s not all about body fat.  It is more or less true that the more you sit, the fatter you are.  The more you move, the more calories you burn, the less fat you are.  But that’s not the whole story.  Physical activity influences WHERE you carry your body fat.  Physical activity is shown to decrease the dangerous abdominal fat that increases your risk of a heart attack.

In addition to influencing body composition, sitting still is associated with increased inflammatory markers in the bloodstream.  Studies have shown that inflammatory markers in your bloodstream are higher the more time you spend sitting still.  This is even found in children (a great reason to turn off the TV and get your kids outside running around).

What does this mean?  You need to move more.  If your job requires you to sit for long periods, you need to find a way to do more of your job standing up.  A research study published last week showed that replacing 2 hours per day of sitting down with standing up lowered triglycerides by 11% and lowered average blood sugar by 2%.

If you can find a way to replace sitting with walking that’s even better.  This same study showed that replacing 2 hours of sitting per day with walking resulted in weight loss, lower triglycerides and lower blood sugar.  There are cool “treadmill desks” if you absolutely mustn’t leave your desk from time to time to walk around the office.

In practical terms, what does this mean?  It means we need to move more.  I’m a big fan of pedometers (step counters).  They give us a tangible way to measure how much we’re STEPPING.  I have a lot of people who say they get a lot of exercise at work.  My response is to challenge them to get a pedometer and actually measure how much they’re walking.  Standing isn’t the same thing.

I was shocked at how much my activity level (i.e. step count) went down when I moved from the big office at State Road Family Practice to my little bitty office at Wellpointe.  (If you’ve seen me at both offices you know what I mean!)  I’ve had to be very intentional about going out and getting the steps I need.

Sitting still is not good for you.  It alters where your body stores fat.  It makes your inflammatory markers go up, which makes your joints hurt and increases your risk of a heart attack.  It makes you fat.  it makes your triglycerides and blood sugar go up.

Sitting is the new smoking.  It’s bad.  Don’t do it any more than you have to.

QUESTION:  Do you spend more time sitting still than you should?

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Back To School Health Concerns

It’s that time of year again!  Have you got kids going to school this fall?  Me too!  We’re shopping for school supplies and clothes and shoes just like everybody else.

Are your kids ready to go back?  There are a couple of back to school health concerns I want to discuss this week.

1.  Sleep

Did your kids get off their school sleep schedule this summer?  Don’t worry, if they did you should have plenty of time to get them back on-track before school starts.

Elementary school children need about 10 hours of sleep per night.  For instance, our kids’ bus came at 7:30 AM last year.  Since they got up between 6:30 and 7:00, that made our bedtime about 8:30 so that they were asleep by 9.

You will want to give plenty of time to adjust a child’s sleep schedule.  Move bedtime by no more than a half-hour per night, every few nights, to let your child adjust.  If they’ve become accustomed to sleeping in, start instituting a set wake-up time.  In the adjustment period if they need a nap let them take a nap

There are plenty of things to adjust to in the first few weeks of school.  Fatigue and sleepiness and battles over going to bed and waking up are things you just don’t need to deal with.

2.  Doctor’s visits

Are your kids playing sports this school year?  Summertime is a good time to get their sports physicals out of the way.  Don’t worry, the physical is good for a year and is covered by health insurance.  Make sure to bring along any medication administration forms (for asthma or other meds your child will need to take at school).

If your child will be heading into kindergarten or 7th grade, they will need vaccines prior to starting school.  You should have gotten paperwork from the school already if your child is affected.  Remember that although your rising 7th grader is required to have the DTaP, the meningitis and HPV vaccines are also recommended at this age.

I get a lot of questions about the HPV vaccine and should probably devote a whole blog post to that topic.  Please discuss the vaccine recommendations with your child’s doctor in detail.

After the 7th grade shots, your child will be done with tetanus shots until after college (unless she hurts herself, gets bit by a dog, etc) but she will need a meningitis shot booster at age 16.  Other than annual flu shots those are all the shots your child will need.

3.  Nutrition

My kids participated in a summer day program this year that did not provide lunch.  We were a little concerned that packing lunches would be a big hassle (since we hadn’t done it before except for field trips).  To our pleased surprise, it was a very positive experience for our boys.

Our lunch planning guidelines for the boys were that they needed to make a sandwich (with deli meat and cheese) and choose a fruit, a vegetable, and a starch for their lunch.  We read labels and used a food scale to explore portions for the starch (often pretzels, corn chips or a granola bar).  Here’s a website with interesting school lunch ideas.

Now at the end of the summer both boys are making their own lunches like pros.  Even better, when we go to the market and they want to try a different snack food for their starch (like barbecue potato chips) we can look at ingredients and talk about what’s in there, portion sizes and how they’re manipulated, price versus value, and other good topics.  We’ve even gotten them to try some new vegetables!

Nick says he wants to continue packing his lunch (unless they’re serving something he REALLY likes).  Chris is more noncommittal.  I have decided I like having them pack their lunch.  That way we have control over making sure they’re not eating junk food and that they’re getting enough to eat.  With the new school lunch regulations there were times our boys reported the lunches were awful AND too small for the bigger kids.

From a health standpoint, heading back to school can be stressful from a health standpoint.  With a little planning your youngsters can transition into the school year happy and healthy.

QUESTION:  What back to school health concerns do you have that I didn’t discuss?  I can always talk about them next week, LOL!

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