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Welcome to the sisterhood of the shrinking bathing suits!
It's that time of the year when I get out my box of bathing suits. I am pretty sure that I accidentally washed them in boiling hot water and dried them on extra high heat before I folded them neatly in this box............as they all seem to have shrunk! Especially in the tush!
How am I going to keep my tush inside these bathing suits this season? Staples and tape anyone????
So what's a gal to do???
•Thanks to the internet, I can shop for a new bathing suit from the comfort of my own home. You can find a swimsuit that's flattering and fashionable. You also can camouflage a lot with a stylish cover-up. Check out these sites: Swimsuitsforall and Miraclesuit.com.
•Maintain good posture. Holding your head high, tummy in, and shoulders back, projects an image of self-assurance... and makes you look taller and slimmer, too. Instead of flats, wear sandals with a bit of a heel to give you a longer, leaner look.
•If you're not already eating healthy, you can start now! Check out my Menopause Infographic – Weight Gain for some helpful tips!
•Give your exercise program a boost! Weight-bearing exercises are not only important for toning those muscles, but it is very important for your bone health as we age. Walking with a friend is always fun. You get to keep up on the latest scoops and shed some of those extra winter pounds.
•Drink lots of water. If you're spending time outdoors, don't wait until you're thirsty. Take a filled water bottle with you wherever you go. Sipping throughout the day is easier than chugging your daily intake all at once. Keeping hydrated will result in healthier skin and hair... and a more beautiful you. Ice-cold water will also cool you from the inside out when you're experiencing a hot flash. Stay away from carbonated beverages, as they can cause bloating.
•Stay polished. Treat yourself to a pedicure. There are so many fun, happy colors to play with this season. My new blush color is OPI - Tiramisu for Two – I promise it is not fattening!
•Accessorize. Wear a big, floppy hat. After all, you should be protecting your skin from the sun, right? Pair the hat with oversized sunglasses and — voilà! — you look fabulous!
•Let go of that negative chatter in your brain. Unfortunately, while many of us have outgrown our teeny-weeny-bikinis of yesteryear, we haven't outgrown our negative self-image. Positive thoughts are the first step to projecting a positive image. Leave the mental baggage at home.
•Put on your smile. If you're having fun, no one is going to give your swimsuit-clad body a second thought.
•Grab your sunscreen! Take good care of the skin you are in.
Don't deprive yourself of the joys of summer. This summer, realize your self-truth and know you are beautiful, inside and out.
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
If you or someone you love is post-menopausal and diagnosed with stage one breast cancer, I suggest you speak the doctor about the Oncotype DX test. This test can help you and your doctor choose the best treatment for you. It can be one of the deciding factors on whether or not you need to have chemotherapy. However, always remember, that the final choice lies with you and you want to be proactive.
According to WebMD, this test doesn't require any additional procedures as it uses tissue taken during the initial biopsy or surgery. It measures 21 different breast cancer genes in the tumor sample.
The Oncotype DX helps to determine if you need chemotherapy treatment and is recommended for people who have Stage I or II invasive cancer and ER+ (estrogen-receptor positive) cancer. The test looks for patterns that would suggest a more aggressive cancer, and that is likely to come back after treatment. The scores range from 0 – 100. The higher the score, the higher the risk.
You also may be a candidate for the Oncotype DX if you've recently been diagnosed with DCIS and you're having a lumpectomy to remove the DCIS. If you have been diagnosed with DCIS, they use a different scoring which is called, a DCIS score. Your doctor will look at your Oncotype DX score, your tumor size and grade, the number of hormone receptors in your cancer, and your age before recommending a treatment plan.
Information is power, the more you know about your tumor, the more individualized the treatment can become.
Margret agreed to share her story with us:
"My original biopsy, after my positive mammogram results, showed stage one breast cancer in my right breast. Later during surgery, another tumor was found in the centennial node of my lymph glands. In all, 21nodes were removed during the surgery. My oncologist ordered the Oncotype DX Test to help me determine the course of cancer treatment to choose afterward. After surgery, the hospital sent the pathology (tumors) from the surgery the Genomic Health laboratory.
Normally, when cancer is found in the lymph, the first treatment is 6 months of chemo. Chemo has always terrified me because I saw what my mother went through during two courses of chemo. She developed nausea and neuropathy to such an extent she could barely walk more a few steps because she couldn't feel her feet on the floor. She lost her sense of taste, sex drive, weight, her skin tone changed, after the humiliating and debilitating symptoms, her hair falling out seemed like the least of the horror.
After my breast surgery it took three weeks for the Oncotype DX report to come in, and when it did, the news that I wouldn’t have to undergo chemotherapy for six months was the most exciting news I could imagine! I literally leaped for joy!
The Onco DX test showed that mine was tubular cancer, which is rare to about 1% of women with breast cancer. It sounded to me that I won the cancer lottery—because chemo is not recommended with tubular cancer. My reoccurrence score was calculated from the gene expression results and the range is from 0 - 100. My Oncotype DX Recurrence Score was 13 out of 100.
Onco DX recommended the best course of treatment to prevent recurrence was to begin an anti-estrogen therapy. My oncologist prescribed Exemestane 25 mg (also called Aromasin). My doctor said that I might suffer some pretty severe reactions and if I couldn't stay with it, we'd move onto something else, like Tamoxifen. Symptoms include osteoporosis/bone pain, hot flashes, high blood pressure, hair thinning, insomnia, nausea, fatigue, abdominal pain, depression, and pain. I was pretty optimistic and sure with my current health and daily physical regime that I wouldn't experience those symptoms.
My regime: exercise regularly, walk our dog, have a healthy diet that is wheat and almost sugar-free. Interestingly enough, I gave up sugar right after I was initially diagnosed 13 months ago. I've been taking the medication for 8 months now and have not experienced any side effects.
Oncotype DX saved me from Chemo, which is the greatest gift I can imagine. I am so blessed to live in times when cancer seems tamable. It was so empowering to have choices and be able to live with my choice. I had cancer, but cancer didn't have me!"
Margret's protocol would most likely have been much different had her oncologist not ordered the Oncotype DX test to analyze the activity of those 21 genes to help determine how her cancer would likely behave and respond to treatment.
The results of this new test can help you and your physician make a more informed decision about the course of your therapy.
I love science!
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
Download my free eBook MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Perimenopause and Menopause.
I strive to keep you up to date on the latest information and science.
I have been reading a lot about liquid biopsies quite possibly changing the way we analyze tumors!
According to the NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), "Certain fragments of DNA shed by tumors into the bloodstream can potentially be used to non-invasively screen for early-stage cancers, monitor responses to treatment and help explain why some cancers are resistant to therapies."
Did you know that a liquid biopsy offers a real-time view to track and monitor response to therapy and tumor burden in a timely manner so physicians can rapidly respond and adapt to changes in a tumor during the course of therapy?
I reached out to Dr. Veena Singh who is the Senior VP and Sr. Medical Director of Biocept to learn more about this cutting-edge technology.
I asked Dr. Singh, to explain what a liquid biopsy is in layperson speak. "A liquid biopsy for cancer patients is a blood test that analyzes tumor products shed into the blood by all regions of a tumor, including the original (primary tumor) and metastatic sites. The analysis is done through circulating tumor cells (CTCs) and/or fragments of DNA from the tumor cells (cfDNA)."
Dr. Singh went on to explain that today, liquid biopsy tests are used to identify genetic mutations and to determine if patients are a match for targeted therapy options and to monitor tumors for a reception to treatments. This is done by comparing the tumor DNA with the DNA from normal cells (white blood cells) to detect and monitor genetic alterations.
At this early stage in the test, I was curious as to what types of cancer this test would be most reliable for. Dr. Singh, responded, "Biocept currently offers commercial tests targeting lung, breast, gastric, colorectal and prostate cancers as well as melanoma. To date, most of our clinical and validation data have been generated in patients with lung and breast cancer. In lung cancer, it is often hard to obtain tissue for detailed genetic analysis, and with the rapidly evolving mutational landscape, multiple biopsies are not practical. The liquid biopsy offers a minimally invasive method of monitoring as well identifying genetic and protein biomarkers in a contemporaneous manner to tailor therapy options. In breast cancer, predictive biomarkers can change throughout the course of the disease and a liquid biopsy offers an alternate way to track these changes."
Information is powerful. So, I asked if the liquid biopsy was able to give the oncologist more information about a tumor. Dr. Singh responded, "Tissue-based testing to establish a diagnosis of cancer is still the gold standard. However, due to issues of intertumoral heterogeneity and sampling actionable biomarker information could potentially be missed in a patient. Since tumor material is shed from all areas of the tumor (primary and metastatic) into the blood, a liquid biopsy offers an added benefit when tissue is sub-optimal (few tumor cells) or biomarker analysis is negative (possible false negative). Another area where liquid biopsies can have an important role is monitoring how tumors are responding to treatment."
My immediate thought was that this test should be recommended as a yearly screening protocol for cancer survivors. I learned that additional large population-based studies would be required before that kind of protocol would be recommended.
So many women email me to share their stories. As we know, even with all the science that comes into play with modern medicine, applications and interpretations are frequently not black and white. Often women are faced with the daunting task of deciding, along with their specialists, what course of treatment they should sign up for. This is not an easy task. As you can imagine, once you hear the "C" word, it is a seriously important decision.
I asked Dr. Singh if this blood test could help an oncologist determine which treatment plan is going to be productive for their patients, thereby helping women avoid unnecessary chemo or surgeries? She did confirm that this test could potentially change clinical decisions. Dr. Singh is confident that the Biocept tests can identify actionable biomarkers that are commonly receptive to targeted therapy options. I have been known to get pretty excited about a new pair of shoes, but frankly, in my head I heard a full on chorus singing, "Amen" when I heard this!
Many women have been diagnosed with DCIS (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ). I get email after email from women having so many biopsies on their breasts that they can hardly recognize their breasts anymore. It is very difficult for women to know what course of action is going to give them the best screening. I asked if this test could be an option for women diagnosed with DCIS to replace all of the biopsies that often disfigure a women's breast? Sadly, this test has only been validated for patients with an established diagnosis of invasive cancer. I am not a doctor or scientist, but if I had a diagnosis of DCIS, I would ask for the test!
I was curious if there was a specific scenario where this less invasive biopsy had given a patient a faster, more accurate diagnosis? Dr. Singh was excited to report, "We have had anecdotal patient cases where we have identified a genetic alteration that resulted in a change of therapy with patients responding in a matter of weeks to the therapy change. For example, patients with HER2 amplification responding to anti-HER2 treatment or patients with lung cancer wherein we identified an actionable mutation responding to treatment. Due to the ability to monitor the tumor through a liquid biopsy, we have seen the mutation or gene alteration disappear after treatment."
Many of us our Grandmas and are thrilled that there is now DNA testing for birth defects. Although my pregnant daughter was a few months shy of 35, I made sure that she had those tests. I was curious how this technology was similar or different than that DNA test? Apparently it is similar in concept but different in application. The liquid biopsy is focused on oncology and actionable biomarkers.
I wanted to understand how confident Biocept was that the tests results could be relied upon.
Dr. Singh replied "We have a number of publications on our website that compares our results to standard tissue results. Most recently, during a presentation at the UCSD Moore's Cancer Center Translational Oncology Symposium Biocept’s liquid biopsy test demonstrated greater than 93% concordance in detecting EGFR mutation with tissue biopsy in 74 patients diagnosed with lung cancer. In addition, we run routine daily quality controls for all steps of our process."
I was curious as to how Biocept's test was different than other companies. There are other companies who do liquid biopsies, so, I had to ask if all liquid biopsies are created equal? Dr. Singh was pretty clear on this, "No, because performance characteristics (sensitivity, specificity) vary. Our assays are the first and only in the industry that interrogates both CTCs and cfDNA in a highly sensitive manner. The advantage of this is that we use material that yields the most information e.g. protein status on CTCs, which requires an intact cell and using DNA fragments for gene mutations".
My layperson's brain was working overtime. I kept thinking that someday this test should be given as part of one's yearly health screening. But we all know that we would need large, controlled studies for this to happen. Patience is a virtue, but I must admit, not one I possess. There are so many women out there who will be able to benefit from this great science.
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
Download my free eBook MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriends Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Perimenopause and Menopause.
Wait? Aren't those the symptoms of menopause? Nope. When most women think of the meaning of menopause, they really aren't thinking of menopause at all. They are thinking about perimenopause, a time that can begin in your late 30s or early 40s and reach into your 50s. Perimenopause comes with a host of hormonal changes and lasts anywhere from 6 to 10 years—until you haven't had your period for a full 12 months in a row. Then you have graduated to menopause! (Sorry, no cap and gown for this one.)
The first step to finding hormone happiness is to ID and track your symptoms. Download my free Menopause Symptoms Chart and start tracking. Each day, chart the frequency, duration, and severity of your perimenopause symptoms. Talk them over with your perimenopause and menopause specialist to learn how to not just mask the symptoms, but treat their underlying cause. Don't have a perimenopause and menopause specialist? Here are some simple tips to help you find the perfect one near you!
Want to proactive about your perimenopausal journey? Here are some perimenopausal symptoms to be on the alert for along with some solutions:
Hot flashes, probably the most infamous of perimenopausal symptoms, strike about two-thirds of women during "the change." During perimenopause and menopause, the levels and balance of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone begin to fluctuate. When your estrogen levels begin to decrease, they can trigger your body's thermostat to send a signal that you are overheated. This causes your body to send out an all hands on deck alert: your heart pumps faster, the blood vessels in your skin dilate to circulate more blood to radiate heat, and your sweat glands release sweat to cool you even more. Your body cools down when it otherwise wouldn't, and you are left feeling miserable: soaking wet in the middle of a board meeting like me or in the middle of a good night's sleep.
The Fix: Regular exercise, healthy eating, acupuncture, herbal remedies, antidepressant medications, and hormone therapy (HT) are some of the most common options to reduce and even rid your life of hot flashes. Which treatment (or a combination of treatments) works for each woman varies. Talk with your specialist about these perimenopause coolers.
If you can't see through the fog to find your thoughts, you're not alone. Forgetfulness and other memory difficulties plague between one- and two-thirds of women during perimenopause. Many women even have trouble focusing and manipulating times, prices, and other information in their head.
The Fix: Your brain is the center of your health. Treat it right by first consulting your specialist to test your hormone levels and see if they need tweaking. Then, support the formation of new, healthy brain cells by eating omega-3 fatty acids and exercising regularly. Plus, simple meditation practices and even brain games like Cranium Crunches can help you tap your brain's potential. Check out the best natural ways to break through brain fog.
Fluctuating estrogen and progesterone levels impact neurotransmitters (aka mood regulators) in the brain. While these highs and lows can take most women's moods for a wild ride, some women—especially those who had severe PMS when they were younger—may be particularly susceptible to unpredictable and ever-changing dispositions during perimenopause.
The Fix: Ditching refined sugar and upping your exercise routine can improve your blood sugar and insulin response to prevent the high-lows that send your family running for cover. If you find yourself in a constant low, hormone therapy (HT) or antidepressants, particularly SSRIs and SNRIs, are incredibly effective at easing depression in perimenopausal women. Learn more ways to keep perimenopause's mitts off of your mood.
Don't remember the last time you woke up feeling rested? During perimenopause, levels of progesterone, nature's Valium, can take a nosedive. Mix in sweat-soaked sheets and soaring stress levels, and what woman would wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed?
The Fix: While natural progesterone treatments can help restore your body's sleep-well chemicals to the right levels, good sleep habits—establishing a routine, keeping regular hours, only using your bed for sleep...and sex—can also help. Following a Mediterranean diet rich in produce, whole grains, and wine (yay!) has been linked to fewer night sweats while yoga reduces symptoms of insomnia. Check out more advice for scoring better sleep.
Sure, perimenopause is all about hormones. Problem is, so are most migraines. The silver lining: Two-thirds of female migraine sufferers either reduce or completely ditch their migraines when they have their last period, enter menopause, and their hormones finally stop fluctuating.
The Fix: Talk to your specialist about your symptoms, triggers, and explore your hormone therapy options. When it comes to a migraine and headache prevention, estradiol transdermal patches are generally your best bet. Learn more about how you can win the war on migraines.
Between hot flashes, mood swings, and flat-out life as you know it, how could you not suffer perimenopausal stress? But as if stress weren't bad enough all on its own, it turns out it can also exacerbate hot flashes, sleeplessness, migraines, and even weight gain.
The Fix: While your staple stress-busting tactics (think: bubble baths, exercise, and meditating) can work miracles, you might also need to start saying "no" every now and again. You can't take care of anyone else if you don't put yourself on the top of your to-do list! Here are more secrets to slashing stress during perimenopause.
Estrogen is a major player in maintaining the structure of the vaginal wall, the elasticity of the tissues around the vagina, and production of vaginal fluid. So when your estrogen dries up, so can your nether region. I like to refer to it as the other ED! Vaginal discomfort can have a negative impact on your relationship with your partner, your sexuality, quality of life, and self-image.
The Fix: When it comes to the vagina, thin is out—and silence is not golden! Vaginal atrophy is a chronic condition and requires ongoing treatment to remedy the underlying cause. Don't wait! Call your specialist now! Get more tips to save your vagina!
When it comes to women's health, misinformation abounds. Unfortunately, it's women who are paying the price. So learn the truth about perimenopause so that you can get the help you need and deserve to lead a happy, healthy life!
My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
Click here to download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend's Guide To Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.
This Mother's Day, I want to honor my daughter.
On August 8, 2014, Sarah became a mother to Aviva or as she is now calling herself, "V"! I became Grandma EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
Never in my wildest dreams did I understand the explosion of love and joy that watching Sarah mother Aviva would bring to my life.
Today's parents do have the Internet and even apps to help them prepare for and cope with the responsibilities of parenthood. But no website or app can teach you how to love your child. That simply comes from within. The flood of love and tenderness that is unleashed with the birth of a baby is beautiful to watch.
Sarah is a SAHM. This was a new term to me. It stands for, Stay at Home Mom. It is a choice and one that was discussed in great detail together with her husband, Sol.
I too chose to be a SAHM. In 1980 smack in the middle of the women's movement, I chose to resign from my job as Deputy Treasurer of the Carter Re-Election Campaign. David and I chose to leave a very successful life in politics in Washington, DC. and move to Tucson, Arizona where my family lived. I had no idea that in doing so, I had "betrayed" the women's movement. Women were furious with me. I had successfully achieved a very high-level job in a man's world – how could I give up my career to stay home with my first born? Apparently, it was a cardinal sin! Who knew???
My definition of the women's movement can really be summed up in two words; freedom and equality. I want to be free to choose the best course of action for me and I want to have the same human rights as my male counterparts. I never allow myself to be confined by any pre or existing notions of restrictions that society may have placed on women. I unbuckled those shackles as a young girl in college. I decide what is best for me. This is how I chose to live my life.
Sarah had quite the career. She always marched to her own drummer. Not a follower, but more of a trailblazer. While attending a performing arts high school, Sarah decided she wanted to model. As a young girl, she would design clothes. She had a seasonal collection which was tacked proudly on our kitchen walls. This love for fashion along with her love for dance morphed into her desire to model. She was signed by the Ford Agency in Scottsdale and then quite quickly was signed by Elite Modeling in NYC and abroad, leaving a conventional high school setting in her junior year to model in NYC and Europe. Living with family friends of friends of ours, she learned French and traveled Europe all while finishing her junior and senior year in one year!
It seems hard to remember a time when everyone didn't have access to a portable phone, but twenty years ago, they were few and far between. I insisted that Elite provide me with a cell phone number so that I could check on Sarah when she was on a location shoot outside of Paris. When I called, invariably, she would be found studying between photo shoots. The modeling agency always seemed puzzled by her commitment to her studies.
Sarah moved back to New York to go to NYU. She started working for Saturday Night Live while waiting for the college year to begin. She continued her job at SNL when her classes at NYU began. I marveled at how she balanced work and a full load at school.
After school, she did some work for a very well established PR/Event production company, while also donating her time for NYC charity work. I remember proudly flying into NYC to attend an Operation Smile Event that she chaired at the Whitney Museum.
Then moving back to the southwest, Sarah was instrumental in helping me kick off the PR for my first book. That first book was a family affair.
Push forward, eventually, Sarah decided she wanted to be a licensed endermologist and open her own studio,[Link Removed] where she shares tips on pregnancy, recovering from a C-section, healthy eating tips for Mom and baby, the real life of a SAHM (stay at home Mom), and much more all delivered with as she puts it, "No BS".
I marvel at the no-holds-barred words in her blogs! She delivers every time!
Sarah has always followed her heart looking for the joy and happiness in each day. She loves being a SAHM. She works 24/7 at this wonderful job. As Sarah said in one of her blogs, "We must rise above what we've been programmed to be or what society tells us we should care about and just care about happiness."
I believe that Sarah will pass down these wise words to Aviva and watch her daughter create her very own best life. I look forward to watching the baton being passed from one generation to another and hope that with each generation freedom to follow your own heart endures.
During menopause, more and more of us are gaining membership to the aptly named "Sandwich Generation," a group marked by its responsibility to simultaneously care for both its children and parents. So if it seems like everybody wants (scratch that, needs) something from you these days, you're not alone.
Here are 4 ways to care for yourself while balancing the responsibilities of work, parenting and caring for parents.
If you don't take care of your health, you can't truly take care of anyone else. After all, you and your family deserve the happiest, healthiest you!
My motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!