CaringBridge: Charitable Technology

A critical illness of a friend or loved one is difficult. I experienced my parents journey through their health crisis many years ago.

Keeping family and friends connected is an important healing component. As a caregiver for my parents, I knew how difficult it was  to keep everyone updated. I also knew how important it was for my parents to know that people were thinking of them through a difficult time.

CaringBridge.org is a charitable nonprofit organization which provides free and user-friendly websites to persons challenged with a critical illness, treatment or recovery. The author creates a website which includes a Patient Care Journal to write entries to update family and friends, a guestbook for visitors to post words of support and a photo gallery to upload pictures.

You can also print a copy of an entry or the entire journal.

CaringBridge.org provides a technological tool for the ill, family and friends to share the experience with simplicity and accessibility.

Check it out. You can see works it works here.


Eat Be Fat. Drink Be Skinny. The Health Odyssey

“Sharon, you look great, have you lost weight?”
“Thanks, I’ve lost 10 pounds.”
“Really? How did you do it?”
“I drink a glass of merlot for lunch and dinner.”
“What do you eat with the wine?”
“Oh no, I don’t eat anymore; I just drink my meals!”

Tara Parker-Pope, who writes the NYT’s Well blog (one of my faves) reported research findings chronicled in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggest that women who regularly enjoy a tasty alcoholic beverage gain less weight than female teetotalers.

Before you trade in your carrot sticks for the corkscrew read the article. The study found that the women don’t really eat when they drink; they drink instead of eating. Furthermore, once you’re overweight your metabolism behaves more efficiently. This is a nice way of saying your flab will not work with you but against you. If you are overweight and drink a glass of wine you are likely to gain more weight and you are probably packing the extra calories from high calorie edibles.

So, pick up the carrots… and the corkscrew.

African-Americans and Cancer by Genetic Design

Did you know that prostate cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. Did you know that the Prostate Specific Antigen test, commonly referred to as the PSA test was invented in Buffalo by a team of researchers led by Dr. T. Ming Chu at Roswell Park Cancer Institute?

African-American males are more likely to get prostate cancer earlier than White males and are twice as likely to die from the disease. There are different schools of thought when it comes to types of treatment. The Buffalo News reported a story about a therapy debate which revolves around cost, referring physician, treatment type and treatment facility.

The uncertainty surrounding the African-American male and morbidity of prostate cancer, perplexity about treatment options and the possibility of a fatal prognosis can weigh heavy on a brother.

The scientific research of Dr. Georgia Dunston and Dr. Chiledum Ahaghotou has provided some clarity as to why Black men succumb to the disease at a greater rate. The doctors are leaders for the National Cooperative Study of Hereditary Prostate Cancer in African Americans.

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The study has provided incremental and valuable insight regarding a genetic inclination to prostate cancer in African-American men.

The racial disparity of affordable and accessible health care is further complicated by genetic tendencies toward certain cancers for minority men and women.

African-American women tend to have a more aggressive diagnosis although White women have increased incidences.

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Minority men and women must unite and encourage each other to utilize health education resources including prevention and early detection tools for diseases we are more susceptible to by design. Our design doesn’t have to be deadly. We must educate ourselves and advocate for health care reform.

Let us help us.

The “Talk” Must Be Fortified

DaughterMy mother was a nurse but she never had the “talk” with me. My father was definitely not going to have the “talk”; that was my mother’s job. I did not grow up in a broken home but there were some roles and responsibilities that were gender exclusive.

I learned about the birds and the bees one sunny spring afternoon with my classmates. I attended Martin Luther Christian School, a now defunct small Lutheran school in the suburbs of Buffalo, NY.

The school nurse corralled the 8th graders into a classroom, showed us an unsophisticated film on the anatomy of males and females, gave a rudimentary explanation about the the hormonal and physical changes that will occur, for girls this included the why, how and when we should begin menstruation.

There was minimal discussion on birth control methods. Basically the message was “Don’t do ‘it’!”

That was 1981.

Before Music Videos

Before Reality TV Shows

Before Amber Alerts

Before Sex-ting (Texting sexual messages)

Before The Burning Bed

Before To Catch A Predator

That was before citizens and lawmakers discoursed about the plight and pervasion of sexual, mental abuse and domestic violence in this country.

That was before Rihanna and Chris Brown.

This morning I watched the web clips of Diane Sawyer’s interview with pop star Rihanna. She talked about the physical abuse she suffered at the hands of Chris Brown. She talked about the physical abuse she witnessed between her parents. Chris Brown has spoken of being exposed to similar circumstances with his parents, a charge his father denies.

You can watch the Sawyer interview here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I have been a victim of physical abuse by a boyfriend. I was a little older than Rihanna; I was in my mid-twenties. I watched her. I listened to her. I was empathetic. I even cried a little.

Take away the celebrity status and they are any girl and any boy. He is your son. She is your daughter. She is the girlfriend. He is the boyfriend.

Teen couple

I don’t have any children but that doesn’t mean that I do not I care deeply about the physical,mental and social health of young women AND men.

As I watched, all I could think about was how times have changed and how much they haven’t.

Tween and teen boys and girls need to to be educated, by women AND men.

The “talk” use to be comprised of an anatomy film, a rubber replica of a vagina and uterus, a box of pads or tampons, a packet of condoms and a prescription for birth control if you were lucky enough to have a cool mom or an older sister to go with you to Planned Parenthood.

Now the “talk” must be fortified with a discussion about intimate partner violencephysical and mental abuse in teen romantic relationships. Now we have to educate boys and girls about aggressive behavior, how to recognize the signs of intimate partner mental and physical abuse, and equip them problem-solving skills for a romantic relationship.

We have to teach them how to have a healthy relationship. Prevention and education should have no boundaries of gender or sexual orientation. Fathers and mothers must share the responsibility.

Sexual, physical and mental abuse is not a man’s or woman’s issue.  It’s not just an adult issue.  Now it’s become a children and teen issue.

Mothers, talk to your son. Fathers, talk to your daughter. Parents talk to your children, together.

Mom with Child
Daughter

I’ll be thinking of you.

Call Higgins Office For Health Care Reform Bill

URGENT!!! We need to flood Higgins office with calls ASAP. We need to show strength.

When you call say 2 things:

1) Thank you for supporting the Health Care Reform Bill

2) Mr. Higgins please vote NO on the Stupak anti-abortion amendment.

We need to fill his mailbox.

CALL NOW! Start with the local office. Give the DC office about an hour to clear their VM.

Higgins in Buffalo: 716-852-3501. In DC: 202-225-3306.

Men, Stand By Your Woman for Health Reform

images-3A litany of news stories about women and children being denied health insurance due to preexistent conditions has emerged in the wake of health care reform.
Perhaps you are familiar with the story of 4 month old Alex Lange who was denied health coverage for being too fat. The insurance company which denied baby Alex coverage has since changed its underwriting policy and granted the infant health insurance. Peggy Robertson was denied coverage because she was still child-bearing age and would not submit to involuntary sterilization after undergoing a C-section. The name of the her insurance company is Golden Rule. The company should be renamed. Christina Turner was denied health insurance after a doctor prescribed precautionary anti-AIDS medicine as a result of a rape. She suffered a dual violation.

Women pay more for health insurance coverage and it is becoming increasingly difficult for women to get and keep health insurance coverage. Many insurance companies and employers justify higher costs based on gender ranking and utilization. According to this logic, by design, women need and use more health services, especially as we get older, so we pay more.

Are child-bearing age men being denied coverage because they have a vasectomy? Are they being denied health insurance coverage because they have a preexistent condition such as erectile dysfunction and take prescribed medication like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra? Are men being denied health coverage because of preexistent sports injury for which a doctor prescribed Celebrex or DayPro to manage pain? I wonder if Rush Limbaugh was denied coverage because of his painkiller addiction? I doubt any of my examples have resulted in denial of coverage.

Now I am not expressing with certainty that men are or are not being denied health insurance coverage. Nor do I hate men. I love you guys! I am just making an observation about the sexism that permeates our health care system. images-6

If you guys really love us the way you say you do and the “little blue pill” allows some of you to love us too, then take heed of Lenny Kravitz and shout I’m gonna “Stand by my woman now!”

Muah!

Women of Color Speakout for Health Care Reform

On October 20th, The Women of Color United For Health Reform hosted a free conference call to address the issues and concerns facing WOC’s (Women Of Color) in debate about health care.

This was a unique opportunity to have a discussion with and ask questions of Senior White House officials about Health Care Reform.

Many women, men and children are casualties of the war fought between the insurance companies for their financial special interests and company profit margins versus the Congress men and women who are battling for affordable, accessible, and quality health care for the victims.

There is a great disparity of affordable and accessible health care insurance for women of color.

This is a personal interest for me. I am a victim in the sisterhood. I am a casualty of a domestic war that puts profit over people. I am a woman of color. I am uninsured.

On October 27, The Women of Color United For Health Reform is hosting a National Call-In Day. Join the battle and voice your support for health care reform.

Tell your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend.