They’re all the rage. You’ve undoubtedly heard whispering about them. You even might have stumbled upon long lines of people at your local bakery and wondered what all the commotions was about. Not to worry. We have the answer. People near and far are clamoring for pint-sized bundles of oven-free energy balls that are not only scrumptious delights but are also packed with so many nutrients. You, too, will find yourself standing in long lines to get your Pink Power Energy Balls.
These sweet and good-for-you energy balls are filled with protein, healthy fats, and iron from the delicious outer core to the inner well. They’re low in sugar and easy as pie to pop in your mouth for an on-the-go pick-me-up. But that’s not all the good news we have to share with you!
These delicious delicacies endurance-enhancing beet beauties can be made at home! How great is that? Grab a pencil and a pad of paper and get ready to make a batch of Pink Power Energy Balls today!
5 Tbsp. buckwheat flour
4 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups almond meal
9 Tbsp. shredded coconut (dried and unsweetened)
1 Tbsp. beetroot powder
3 Tbsp. hemp protein
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
14 pitted dates
4 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. coconut or maple syrup
01 In a food processor, pulse coconut oil, pitted dates, water, and syrup (coconut or maple) until smooth. Next, add the dry ingredients and mix well until blended.
02 Roll into 2-inch balls. Makes 13 balls. Enjoy!
Why should we eat beets? Because of the many health benefits, of course!
For starters, they have an impressive nutritional profile. They’re low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. They also contain inorganic nitrates and pigments that have a number of additional benefits.
Because of their high concentration of nitrates, beets can help control blood pressure by converting dietary nitrites into nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates the blood vessels.
They can also help improve athletic performance, as nitrates improve the efficiency of mitochondria, which are responsible for producing our cells’ energy.
The natural anti-inflammatory properties of betalains found in beets fight inflammation in the body.
They have a high fiber content, which works to improve digestive health.
Nitrates in beets may improve mental and cognitive function by promoting dilation of blood vessels, which will, in turn, increase blood flow to the brain.
Beets are powerful cancer fighters. They’ve been known to reduce the division and growth of tumor cells in animals. Scientists are performing clinical trials in hopes that they’ll see the same results in humans.
Their high-volume of water may help with weight loss, so consuming them will keep you satisfied longer and may help you avoid overeating.
Why do we need to consume fiber?
The reason is that fiber has a multitude of health benefits. The more fiber one consumes directly correlates with lower risks of chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, allergies, diabetes, and many gastrointestinal problems. Many fresh fruits and vegetables contain large amounts of fiber as well as important carbohydrates, vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, minerals, and anti-inflammatory agents.
So, what is fiber?
Fiber, also known as roughage, is the indigestible part of a plant. Unlike digestible foods, it doesn’t undergo the normal digestion process, resulting in various health benefits for the body. Fiber is both soluble, which means it dissolves in water, and insoluble, which means it doesn’t dissolve in water. That being said, not all fiber is considered equal. Many scientific studies indicate that resistant starch, a fiber that resists normal digestion and slowly ferments in the large intestine, helps prevent health problems and chronic diseases.
Resistant starch defined
It is called resistant starch because it resists normal digestion that occurs with most of the carbohydrates, made in the stomach and small intestine, and it reaches the large intestine intact.
Because it isn’t digested normally, this starch is slowly fermented throughout the large intestine. It serves as food to the good bacteria, which is in charge of digesting food and, in turn, providing benefits to us with bioproducts of this process. This natural prebiotic selectively stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in our flora and inhibits the development of pathogenic bacteria. As a consequence, it also strengthens our immune system.
The benefits of resistant starch
Improves gut health by reducing the symptoms of constipation, gas, diarrhea, etc.
Improves mineral absorption
Increases feeling of satiety and keeps you feeling satisfied longer
Prevents allergies and asthma
Helps prevent metabolic syndrome (cardiovascular problems; diabetes and obesity)
Decreases glucose levels in the blood
Production of fatty acids
Where to find resistant starch
It can be found in foods like boiled potatoes, lentils, beans, and rice. It can also be found in some underripe fruits such as bananas, papayas, and mangoes. When these fruits are green, they are rich in this starch. They have low amounts of sugar and a higher concentration of minerals and vitamins than when they are ripe.
A great way to get the proper amount of resistant starch is to include green banana biomass. Our recommendation is not to eat the green banana outright because it’s not appetizing in that state; however, it can be broken down and included in recipes to make it more palatable.
You can start including resistant starch by introducing it to your diet slowly. Doing so will help you avoid unwanted or troublesome symptoms like gas and bloating, or perhaps, pain. Keep in mind that a change in diet will also include changes in gut microbiota. Expect gas and bloating until your flora adapts. It’s ideal to vary and rotate two or three resistant starch foods. Follow the daily recommended dose of between and 15 and 30 grams a day.
The practice of yoga has taken the world by storm. With the increasing numbers of people joining the movement and signing up for sessions all around the world, competition amongst certified yogis has grown to meet the high demands. The desire to create their own techniques and approaches to this popular discipline has increased as well. Yogis have had to use their creativity and stretch their knowledge to meet the demands. They’ve incorporated techniques like twisting, stretching, and turning their bodies in unique and healthier ways.
Most yogis are familiar with the usual poses and styles. They’re familiar with Vinyasa, Kundalini, and Bikram Yoga, the most well-known styles. But for those looking to offer something more or different, they’ve found their ways to Water Yoga and the ancient Egyptian practice of Kemetic Yoga or Ellen Patrick’s innovative practice of Salt Room Yoga, using pink Himalayan salt in her New York City studio.
You might wonder why pink salt. To understand why, you must first become familiar with what pink salt is. Pink salt contains more minerals than simple table salt or sea salt. It’s mined in the mountains of Punjab, located in Northwest India. It contains over eighty-four minerals and good-for-you trace elements including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and potassium. The infused properties of these elements produce the iconic pink color.
Most people understand that salt is an effective bacterial cleanser. In fact, if you were to add one teaspoon of pink salt to your bottle of water every day, it would effectively eliminate your body’s bad bacteria and dissolve inflammatory issues. It’s not a far stretch to believe that by the mere absorption of salt contained in the foods we eat could translate to comparable results for those who inhale salt through respirations during yoga class. It would naturally cleanse the respiratory system with each deep inhalation.
During a Pink Salt Yoga session, the salt may also ease any sinus pressure, discomfort, open your lungs, and provide benefits for your brain. Pink salt is an excellent source of electrolytes proven to prevent muscle cramps when exercising.
Imagine walking into a yoga studio with salt-covered walls designed to maximize the breathing experience of all who enter the space. The floors are covered with pink salt grains designed to exfoliate the feet while you bend, twist, stretch, and breathe. These factors will electrify your body’s frequency; ions will be charged; and moods will be enhanced. Because it is considered to be a dry salt air, studies have shown it to be more effective and powerful than moist air treatments.
Inhaling dry salt particles reduces inflammation and mucus in the lungs and improves respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, sinus congestion, environmental allergies, and even a condition as significant as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).
In this new Age of Aquarius, the natural urge to return to more holistic and sustainable lifestyles that promote longevity and the ability to trod on Earth stronger and wiser than ever before is strong. The Most Honorable King of Ethiopia, Crowned King of All Kings of the world, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I states, “If health fails, teaching, knowledge, life itself, all comes to naught. It is indispensable, so have nothing to do with alcohol and avoid all things against which conscience speaks.” The saying “You only live once” is defined through many perceptions, yet the commonality is to open your mind to various experiences. In this case, it results in healthy and beneficial experiences.
In the Spring of 2015, experiments conducted on mice produced an unintended surprise. Originally engineered to produce plaques of the peptide amyloid-B in the brain (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease) surprised researcher Li-Huei Tsai in the lab after setting up a minuscule disco complete with a box lit only by a flickering strobe light. The mice began to crawl about. Later, when Tsai dissected them, she found that those that had been exposed to the rodent dance party had significantly lower levels of plaque than those that had remained in the dark with no exposure to the strobe light effect.
The MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) neuroscientist checked and rechecked the results to ensure she’d obtain the same results. In each case, the conclusions were similar. After moments of disbelief and countless attempts to test the findings, Tsai called upon her team to conduct further testing. They, too, were able to clear amyloid from part of the brain as a result of flickering lights.
The forty-hertz strobe lights were designed to manipulate the rodents’ brainwaves. That triggered a host of curious biological effects that, in turn, eliminated the plaque-forming proteins. A repeat of the same findings proved to be promising, however, findings in mouse models in the study are often incredibly difficult to duplicate in humans. Although they knew the chips were stacked against them, the team forged ahead, determined to make the mind-boggling results true for humans as well.
Numerous studies have linked brainwaves to memory consolidation while a subject sleeps; however, not everyone is convinced that brainwaves truly matter as much as we’d like to think they do.
Recently, growing evidence has suggested there may be a meaningful connection to neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. Tsai’s work offers the possibility of reversing the damage caused by the conditions without the use of drugs. Upwards of two dozen clinical trials are aiming to modulate brainwaves in some way—some with flickering lights or rhythmic sounds, and more important, through the direct application of electrical currents to the brain or scalp. They hope to treat everything from insomnia to premenstrual dysphoric disorder to mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
It’s believed that Tsai’s study is only the beginning of what might be possible for a cellular response to brainwave manipulation. German psychiatrist Hans Berger was the first to recognize brainwaves. In 1929, he published a paper describing the repeating waves of current he observed when he placed electrodes on people’s scalps. This was the world’s first EEG (electroencephalogram) recording; however, no one at the time thought much of it. For them, it was a blip on the radar for the controversial figure, who spent much of his career trying to identify the physiological basis of psychic phenomena. Not until his colleagues were able to confirm the results years later did Berger’s invention become notable. It was finally recognized as a window into brain activity.
Almost a century later, scientists and researchers continue to try to find a connection and insight into how to reverse the effects of neurological conditions. Tsai’s study shed new light, no pun intended, into what may be possible and how the team’s findings could significantly improve the lives of countless people, as the downstream biological effects of their findings and cognitive therapies could better target the hippocampus with noninvasive technologies and vastly improve lives.
For Tsai, these important studies and findings are personal—her grandmother was affected by dementia. Anything she can do to help fight, cure, or reverse this horrible disease is worth the extra effort and is more meaningful to her than anything she’s ever done in her professional career. It’s her mission to create significant change for those suffering.
Though not as prevalent as in females, men can get breast cancer too.
When children are born, both males and females possess similar breast tissue. Over time, however, breast growth in males slows and the breasts don’t develop at the same rate or with the same complexity as in females.
High testosterone and low estrogen levels at puberty slow and ultimately stop breast development in males, although some milk ducts continue to exist. They remain undeveloped and contain no lobules. Despite the obvious differences, breast problems can occur in men and, although quite rare, breast cancer can develop.
In the U.S., less than one percent of all breast cancers have been diagnosed in men, with the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer being about 1 in 1000. In women, however, the numbers are 1 in 8 in the U.S.
2018 estimates are that some 2,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed. Four hundred and eighty of those cases will result in death, with mortality rates that are much lower for men than for women.
Survival rates for men are on par with what they are for women with the same stage of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis. However, men are often diagnosed at a much later stage. That could be because men are less likely to report unusual symptoms and may be more reluctant to seek a doctor’s advice, which leads to delays in treatment.
How Race and Ethnicity Play Roles in Breast Cancer
Breast cancer incidence in men varies by race and ethnicity in the U.S. Black men have the highest breast cancer incidence overall, while Asian/Pacific Islander men have the lowest rate of incidence. The median age of diagnosis is around sixty-eight.
Warning Signs of Breast Cancer in Men
The most common sign of breast cancer in men is a painless lump or thickening in the breast/chest area. In fact, any change in the breast, including discharge on or around the nipple area, may be a warning sign of breast cancer.
Hard knots, lumps, or thickening in the chest or underarm are other warning signs, along with a change in the size or shape of the breast. Any dimpling, redness, or puckering of the skin could be cause for concern. Inverted nipples may be another important symptom to consult your doctor about. Some of these signs can be easier to detect in men than in women because men have much less breast tissue than women do.
Types of Breast Cancer Found in Men
Invasive ductal carcinomas: cancers that begin in the milk ducts
Invasive lobular carcinomas: cancers that begin in the lobules of the breast
Rare Breast Cancers in Men
In rare cases, men are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (a non-invasive breast cancer), inflammatory breast cancer, or Paget’s disease of the breast or of the nipple.
There are also several benign breast conditions that can be found in men but are most common in women. They include gynecomastia, an enlargement of the breast tissue. This results from a hormone imbalance in the body.
Breast cancer awareness is so crucial! And the more people who know how they can help means the more people who will be helped. You can help any way you choose to like making a donation, participating in a Susan G. Koleman walk, or sporting pink in October. But a fun and easy way to do your part is to purchase one (or more!) of these eight products that give a percentage of their proceeds to breast cancer research. Not only are all they beautifully designed and functional, but they help thousands of cancer patients in need.
Bobbi Brown Pink Peony Illuminating Bronzing Powder Set
This set is perfect for the woman on the go. The blush is a perfect shade of pink, perfect for that gorgeous rosy glow that women aim to achieve in a minute or less and a cute little travel brush with a gleaming pink handle. Bobbi Brown donates $11 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation with every purchase of this set.
Spiral Sun ALEX AND ANI® Bracelet
This gorgeous bracelet comes both in dazzling gold and stunning silver. It features the sparkling charm of a spiral sun in pink, perfect for supporting the cause! It’s the ideal gift for a survivor or a supporter of the cause because it’s unique in that it boasts a bold message in a minimalist bangle. ALEX AND ANI donates 20% of the proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Bloomingdale’s Exclusive “Karma in Bloom” S’well Bottle with Original Art by Donald Robertson
This water bottle is just right for any situation imaginable. It’s insulated so that it keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12. Not only that, but it sports such beautiful artwork, making it perfect for carrying to work and business meetings to a fun trip to the beach. S’well donates $19 from each purchase to breast cancer research.
NakedCashmere Love Scarf
This scarf is exactly what you need for keeping cozy while staying fashionable. It’s elegantly designed, endlessly in style, and will become a staple in your closet that pairs with all of your favorite winter outfits. Not only that, but a whopping $50 of your purchase will be donated to breast cancer research.
Modern Citizen 14k Rose Gold Going Places Pendant Necklace
This gorgeous rose gold necklace is perfect for anybody and every outfit. Not only is it elegant and chic, but it’s so minimal yet beautiful that it’s great for layering or wearing alone (basically the ideal piece of jewelry). Modern Citizen donates $10 of every purchase to breast cancer research.
Dogeared Breast Cancer Awareness, Pink Nylon Bracelet 9″
This ten-dollar bracelet is the simplest yet perfect way to show your support for breast cancer patients and survivors. It’s a beautiful pink nylon bracelet that is unintrusive for the minimalist who wants to wear her support. Forty percent of the proceeds go to breast cancer research.
Jane Iredale Lemongrass and Rose Hydration Sprays
These hydration sprays are perfect for use on the go, as setting spray, and as a refreshing fixture in your skincare routine. They are priced at $30 and come in both lemongrass and rose. Most astounding about this product is that 100% of the proceeds are donated to breast cancer research, making this an incredibly special and generous purchase.
BFFLco Breast BFFL Bag Surgery Recovery Kit
This product is obviously a more personal purchase, one you surely won’t regret. This gift is ideal for the fighter in your life to have during recovery, long hospital stays, or chemotherapy. With a beautiful duffel bag and various smaller gift items, such as two comfort pillows and a skin care set, the cancer patient in your life will surely enjoy this gift to the fullest, especially since 15% of the proceeds go to breast cancer foundations.
NAD+ is nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, an essential molecule found in every cell of your body. In most basic terms, it is a coenzyme of vitamin B3 (niacin) that binds to a protein molecule in order to activate an enzyme. The body’s enzymes are responsible for over five thousand biochemical reactions throughout the body and NAD+ participates in more reactions than any other vitamin-derived molecule.
At NAD Treatment Center, an individualized protocol is created for every patient who walks through the door. Treatment lengths vary from four to twelve days under the supervision of Dr. Milgram and qualified nurses. Patients are given a high-dose IV therapy in a calm, holistic outpatient setting. The schedule allows patients flexibility with their treatments and gives out-of-towners the opportunity to explore the sites in San Diego.
NAD+ therapy anecdotally has a synergistic effect when combined with other innovative therapies offered at NAD Treatment Center. They include extensive testing and diagnostics, alternative therapies, transformational counseling, nutritional and supplement counseling, cutting-edge technology, and other high-dose vitamin therapies.
NAD+ helps cells convert food into energy by acting as an electron transporter during cell metabolism. Sirtuins, a class of enzymes that help regulate certain metabolic pathways and genetic expressions, are NAD-dependent and the more sirtuin activity, the better for health and longevity. Increased sirtuin activity can help increase metabolism, decrease inflammation, extend cell life, and prevent neurodegeneration. Also, NAD+ and NADH are used in processes such as metabolizing alcohol and converting lactate to pyruvate in the body.
Released from the intercellular space to the extracellular space for communication, research has revealed that NAD and ATP (responsible for intracellular energy transport) may alert the immune response when the cell is under stress or when there is inflammation in the body. Also, a constant supply of NAD+ is needed for the activation of PARPs, which detect and repair damaged DNA.
Benefits of NAD+ Therapy
When NAD+ levels are increased, your cells produce more energy, your good genes come alive, DNA is repaired, and many other functions are optimized. Since NAD+ is such a powerful molecule, high dose IV therapy can be extremely helpful for many conditions like anxiety, substance abuse, chronic fatigue, PTSD, alcoholism, addiction, brain injury, chronic pain, and many more conditions.
Following treatment, patients have reported increased energy, focus, and concentration; decreased pain and withdrawal symptoms; improved mood, eyesight, mental clarity, and hearing; and an enhanced sense of purpose.
Falls are the leading cause of injuries for people 65 and older. Once a person experiences a fall, it can limit mobility and independence, which can decrease the ability to perform everyday tasks.
With falls being the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults, it’s important to not only understand the common reasons for falls, but also to know the typical injuries resulting from falls and how rehabilitation services can help.
Common causes of falls may include:
A decline in physical fitness
Environmental hazards – A majority of falls in the elderly population occur in or around the home and are attributed to poor lighting, clutter, loose carpets, slick floors and lack of safety equipment.
Injuries such as joint sprains, dislocations of the shoulder and hip, and fractured bones are typical injuries caused by falls. Back, spinal cord, and head injuries can also be caused by falls.
Even if a fall doesn’t result in an injury, it can still cause fear in an individual and hinder the individual’s independence can be beneficial for someone who has experienced a fall. Rehabilitation services can help a person regain strength, alleviate pain, and recover other abilities that are essential to overall well-being and independence. In addition, physical therapy plays a key role in helping to prevent future falls by improving movement, balance, and agility. At Weslaco Rehabilitation Hospital, LiteGait® technology helps patients safely improve balance, gait and functional independence without the risk of falling.
To help prevent falls at home, consider the following home modification tips:
Keep rooms free from clutter
Install handrails, raised toilet seats, grab bars and shower mats
Light up dark areas of the home
Remove or tape down any loose carpets or electrical wires
Ensure telephones can be easily reached from the floor
Replace chairs that are too low to the ground or difficult to get out of
Install night lights throughout the home, especially in bathrooms and stairwells
In addition to home modifications, a change in wardrobe also can help in preventing falls. Wear sensible, non-slip footwear and avoid wearing loose clothing. Make sure to also talk with your family and care providers about your falling risks.
Rashmi Chandran is the Director of Therapy at Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. The hospital provides specialized rehabilitative care to patients recovering from disabilities caused by injuries, illnesses, or chronic medical conditions. For more information, visit WRRH.ernesthealth.com, call 956-969-2222 or visit the hospital at 906 S. James St., Weslaco, Texas.
A cancer diagnosis can be a life-altering event for patients and their families, but it also often puts a very personal matter front and center in a professional setting – the workplace. Cancer treatment advancements and access to high quality care in local communities means that some patients can continue to work during treatment. Others may need a modified schedule or need to take a break from work completely. Conscientious, caring co-workers can help, but knowing what to say and do can be tricky. Effective support in the workplace can improve a patient’s cancer experience and outlook.
What to Expect
Cancer patients often experience emotional and physical changes – these commonly include increased anxiety, fear, depression, and fatigue. Supervisors and co-workers should expect these changes and make arrangements to support the patient and each other during the treatment process.
Remember that just as each member of your work team has unique skills and personalities, your cancer patient colleagues will have different reactions and needs. Learn and respect your
What to Say (and Not Say)
It’s always a challenge to know what to say to someone going through a difficult situation. The standard “Let me know if I can do anything” might be heartfelt, but it places the onus on the patient to follow up. Instead, it’s usually more helpful to offer specific support to your colleague. You might offer to update the co-worker on office happenings, assist on a special work project, take over a routine task, or even research resources to assist the patient. During brief conversations, focus on topics the patient enjoys discussing. Discussing work activities or other normal issues helps ensure that cancer isn’t the main topic of every discussion.
There are also some things co-workers should avoid telling a cancer patient:
Don’t offer unsolicited advice. It is best to simply respect the patient and their choices.
Don’t tell the patient about other people you know who were affected by cancer, especially if the outcome was negative.
Don’t say “I know how you feel” unless you specifically had the same cancer treatment. It’s better to listen to the patient.
Don’t tell the patient to “cheer up” or to “stay positive.” It might come across as insensitive or insulting.
It could also add more pressure to an already stressed patient.
Don’t engage in long phone calls or conversations. Cancer patients usually need rest, but the patient might be too polite to say so.
How to Help
Providing consistent, ongoing, and practical support to co-workers can be an important source of encouragement to a colleague throughout cancer treatment. If a patient is open to sharing their cancer journey, following are a few practical tips to show you care:
Send notes. Short, personalized cards reminding patients that they are missed and that “work isn’t the same without them” can lift spirits far more than an expensive gift.
Prepare gift baskets. A customized collection of work-related trinkets or comforting items will help the patient stay connected to the office.
Deliver food. If you know the patient’s favorite food, offer to bring it over during lunch or dinner at a time convenient to the patient.
Make time. Brief visits (always call or text ahead of time), sharing music, or watching a favorite TV show with the patient demonstrates genuine concern.
Returning to “normal” for your cancer patient colleagues likely includes resuming their pre-cancer work routine. But during treatment, adjusting work responsibilities and encouraging patients through appropriate words and actions, can have a positive impact on your colleague’s cancer experience and recovery.
Joseph P. Litam, M.D., is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology—McAllen, 1901 South 2nd Street in McAllen, Texas. To learn more about exciting advancements in cancer treatment, visit www.TexasOncology.com or call 1-888-864-I CAN (4226).
Breast cancer treatment advances have resulted in nearly 100 percent survival rates for stage 1 breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Even so, newly diagnosed women face understandable concerns and uncertainty. What weighs on each patient’s mind is the question, “Am I going to be ok?” Thankfully, the answer is often a resounding, “Yes!” Although breast cancer is expected to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in 2018, it’s one of the most treatable and survivable when discovered early.
Steady declines in breast cancer mortality since 1990 are attributed to a combination of early detection and treatment improvements. Still, fears of chemotherapy and potentially losing their breasts with mastectomy are the top immediate concerns voiced by my patients. To help them discuss those concerns among peers, we collaborate with Pink Positive, a nonprofit that provides support groups for patients and caregivers.
Improvements in Cancer Care Lead to More Options for Patients
All forms of breast cancer treatment – chemotherapy, surgical techniques, and radiation – continue to improve as experience and research reveal new breakthroughs and innovations. That progress gives patients more options and often less invasive treatment options to take into consideration during and especially after treatment. For chemotherapy patients, Texas Oncology–McAllen collaborates with local nonprofit Infinite Love to provide free lunch to patients receiving this treatment – a much-appreciated act of kindness that our patients enjoy.
It’s important to remember that a breast cancer diagnosis does not automatically result in a mastectomy. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer will need some form of surgery as part of their treatment, but it will vary with each case. Some women need removal of a small piece of breast tissue (lumpectomy), while others will need one or both breasts removed, and possibly lymph nodes. The type and stage of the cancer will impact the need for a mastectomy. Your breast surgeon and you will determine what type of surgery is best for you.
Physical and Emotional Considerations
Ridding our patients of cancer is priority one. Obviously. But it’s not the only priority. With breast cancer, physical scars intersect with emotional and psychological wounds. Surgery to remove cancer is more straightforward. Clinical considerations lead the way, but we also consider breast preservation and physical appearance. Advanced techniques like hidden scar or nipple sparing surgery are possible options for some patients. Ultimately, whether a patient undergoes a mastectomy, lumpectomy, or lymph node surgery, and whether in combination with chemotherapy and/or radiation, our priority is making the patient cancer free.
Reconstructive Surgery Options
Decisions about reconstructive surgery blend medical with deeply personal concerns. For some women, the desire to look and feel as “normal” as possible post-cancer is vitally important. Their range of options includes saline and silicone implants or some form of flap surgery. Those procedures use back, buttock, or abdomen tissue to reconstruct breasts, with nipple reconstruction and/or tattooing available to complete the process in some cases.
Some women opt for proactive surgery on the opposite, non-cancerous breast for symmetry. Breast reconstruction surgery has become increasingly refined and can be successfully accomplished in almost all women treated with mastectomy. The goal of breast reconstruction surgery is to create a breast that matches the opposite breast. This can be accomplished by using a breast implant alone, by actually reconstructing the breast with the patient’s own tissue, or by utilizing a combination of these two techniques.
Timing of Reconstructive Surgery
Breast reconstructive surgery can be performed immediately after mastectomy, or it can be delayed for some time. We recommend that patients include a plastic surgeon in their team of physicians as early in their treatment as possible so that their chosen method of breast reconstruction can be incorporated into the overall treatment plan.
Declining Further Surgeries
Other women decline reconstructive surgery altogether to avoid more medical procedures following cancer treatment. Some women choose to “go flat” in order to prioritize exercise, an active lifestyle, or to spend more time with their families.
Every Patient is Unique
For every breast cancer patient confronting these decisions, it is important to get complete information from your medical teams about all options. While you should trust your oncology team, you should also be comfortable with your treatment plan every step of the way.
Life After Cancer
Celebrating cancer survival is one of the reasons I helped start the Texas Oncology–McAllen Cancer Awareness Ride, Walk, and Run fundraising event 11 years ago. The event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support personal and family living expenses for local cancer survivors in need. This year’s event on Saturday morning, Oct. 6, includes a 20-, 40-, or 60-mile bicycle ride, a 2.5- or 4.5-mile walk, and a 5K run. To register or obtain more information, visit https://endurancesplits.webconnex.com/11th-Annual-Breast-Cancer-Awareness-Walk/Run/Ride-. If attending, remember to thank local law enforcement and firefighters from Guns and Hoses for volunteering their services at this event.
While survivorship is the ultimate goal, some patients require hospice care. That is why we partner with local hospice care provider, Comfort House, which provides support for individuals needing hospice.
Our Pledge to Patients
The swirl of clinical, emotional, and lifestyle circumstances comprises a unique and personal decision for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Our pledge is to fully inform our patients about the risks and benefits, and to support them in whatever choice they make.
Alvaro Restrepo, M.D., is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology–McAllen, 1901 South 2nd Street in McAllen, Texas. For more information, visit TexasOncology.com or call 956-687-5150.