Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Helping A Smoker Quit

Do's and Don'ts when helping a smoker quit.

Do respect that the quitter is in charge. This is their lifestyle change and their challenge, not yours.

Do ask the person whether he or she wants you to ask regularly how he or she is doing. Let the person know that it's OK to talk to you whenever he or she needs to hear encouraging words.

Do help the quitter get what she or he needs, such as hard candy to suck on, straws to chew on, and fresh veggies cut up and kept in the refrigerator.

Do spend time doing things with the quitter to keep his or her mind off smoking -- go to the movies, take a walk to get past a craving (what many call a "nicotine fit"), or take a bike ride together.

Do try to see it from the smoker's point of view -- a smoker's habit may feel like an old friend that has always been there when times were tough. It's hard to give that up.

Do make your home smoke free, meaning that no one can smoke in any part of the house. Remove lighters and ash trays from your home.

Do help the quitter with a few chores, some child care, cooking -- whatever will help lighten the stress of quitting.

Do celebrate along the way. Quitting smoking is a BIG DEAL!

Don't doubt the smoker's ability to quit. Your faith in them reminds them they can do it.

Don't judge, nag, preach, tease, or scold. This may make the smoker feel worse about him or herself. You don't want your loved one to turn to a cigarette to soothe hurt feelings.

Don't take the quitter's grumpiness personally during his or her nicotine withdrawal. The symptoms usually pass in about 2 weeks.

Don't offer advice. Just ask how you can help with the plan or program they are using.

If your ex-smoker "slips"

Don't assume that he or she will start back smoking like before. A "slip" (taking a puff or smoking a cigarette or two) is pretty common when a person is quitting.

Do remind the quitter how long he or she went without a cigarette before the slip.

Do help the quitter remember all the reasons he or she wanted to quit, and forget about the slip as soon as possible.

Don't scold, tease, nag, or make the quitter feel guilty. Be sure the quitter knows that you care about him or her whether or not he or she smokes.

If your quitter relapses

Research shows that most people try to quit smoking several times before they succeed. (It's called a relapse when smokers go back to smoking like they were before they tried to quit.) If a relapse happens, think of it as practice for the time he or she will succeed. Don't give up your efforts to encourage and support your loved one. If the person you care about fails to quit or starts smoking again:

Do praise him or her for trying to quit, and for whatever length of time (days, weeks, or months) of not smoking.

Do encourage him or her to try again. Don't say, "If you try again..." Say, "When you try again..." Studies show that most people who don't succeed in quitting are ready to try again in the near future.

Do encourage him or her to learn from the attempt. Things a person learns from a failed attempt to quit may help him or her quit for good next time. It takes time and skills to learn to be a non-smoker.

Do say, "It's normal to not succeed the first few times you try to quit. Most people understand this, and know that they have to try to quit again. You didn't smoke for (length of time) this time. Now you know you can do that much. You can get even further next time."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Breast Cancer Treatment and Excercise

If you're going through breast cancer treatment, exercise may be one of the last things on your mind, but studies show that staying active during treatment can help ward off some common side effects of treatment, such as fatigue. Working out regularly also has profound benefits in quality-of-life post-treatment. A collaboration between the American Cancer Society in New England and Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, is looking at just how much of a difference exercise can make.

Called Moving Forward Together 2, the study pairs American Cancer Society Reach To Recovery volunteers with current breast cancer patients in a 12-week telephone-based counseling program that promotes exercise. Reach To Recovery volunteers are breast cancer survivors who are specially-trained to provide emotional support and guidance to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. This program adds exercise motivation to the equation.

The study has two arms: one group will be offered educational information about the benefits of exercise in addition to traditional Reach To Recovery services; the other will engage in moderate-intensity physical activity as well. Survivors reach out to patients by phone.

Reach To Recovery volunteer, Sally Scanlon, is among the women taking part. Scanlon, a 10-year stage II breast cancer survivor, says she saw a "huge benefit" from upping her physical activity after her own diagnosis. She's seen other women find similar benefits through exercise.

"The woman I was counseling was going through some difficult family situations on top of going through treatment. While she was waiting for her mother at the nursing home, she would get on the treadmill. You could just see what a stress release exercising had become for her," Scanlon says.

Participating in the program has also helped Scanlon keep her own exercise program on track.

"I thought, 'She's exercising, and she's going through chemo!'", Scanlon says.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cancer Survivor Serves Community

Dorothea Amey of Moorpark leads an active life. Married and having raised two sons, she was a public school teacher and later an educator with the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a missionary in Zimbabwe and Zambia. In retirement, she is still active with the Camarillo Adventist church and works in “the Pantry,” the church’s outreach arm to those who need food and household items when times are tough.

Amey also was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She’s an eight-year survivor.

“I was working at Pacific Union College in Napa Valley and one day I became jaundiced and kind of itchy,” said Amey, now 66. “I went to the hospital and they thought it was hepatitis,” she said. Further tests revealed the cancer.

“We knew that most people don’t survive more than six months,” Amey said. “But I believe that good medicine and my faith in the Lord, has sustained me,” she said. “I’m a happy person and truly I don’t think about cancer every day. I garden and I do my own housework. I live my life.”

Amey underwent a complex and life-altering surgery called a “Whipple” and went through chemotherapy. The Whipple procedure is the most common surgery for pancreatic cancer and involves removal of the head of the pancreas, a portion of the bile duct, the gallbladder, and the duodenum.

Amey’s life is filled with opportunities to serve and she says that’s what drives her. “I’ve been all over the world and I’ve seen so many things,” she said. “That has given me a lot of peace.”

As of three years ago, her doctor has found no cancer in Amey’s body. “Dr. (William) Isacoff at UCLA is a leader in this field, in pancreatic cancer. He gives people hope when many don’t have it,” said Amey.

In January, Isacoff told Amey she no longer needed chemotherapy, though she’ll continue to have blood tests and scans because pancreatic cancer is always in the blood stream. It can show up at any time.

“Chemo is no walk in the park,” said Amey’s husband, Gene. “It wears her down, but she does OK.”

Amey also talks to patients at UCLA’s hospital and takes phone calls from around the nation from cancer patients, offering words of encouragement. “I’m certainly focused on my faith walk, but I don’t push that on people. They’re so fearful, they just need someone to relate to and I do that,” Amey said.

It is her work with the pantry that Amey loves most.

“I consider myself a cheerleader for the group,” Amey said. “We have between 300 and 400 people that are fed each week. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done,” she said. “With the economy as it is, it’s been very busy, but we have our successes, too.”

Amey teared up as she described one woman who was living in her car and came to the pantry.

“She came in one day to tell us she didn’t need us anymore, that she had an apartment and a job and she left some money with us as a donation,” said Amey. “It was incredible.”

“When (Amey) comes in, she does whatever needs to be done,” said Milly Johnson, director of the pantry. “As a missionary, she learned to dig in and do the hard work. It’s in her personality. It’s part of her makeup.”

“She’s been on an amazing journey,” said Pastor Dennis Stirewalt of Camarillo Seventh-day Adventist Church. “She’s a fighter and a lady of real grace.