Making Hope Long-Lasting

Don’t EVER give up!

Today’s post is dedicated to a couple that is near and dear to me. Both parties have undergone several medical issues over the years. Now the male of the couple is dealing with especially difficult heart issues. All the best to you both.

Making hope long-lasting is an ongoing challenge for many of us. Sometimes, it can be fleeting (ephemeral), depending on how we feel — physically and emotionally. For those of us with major illnesses, it may be difficult to always be hopeful. But it is imperative that we try to be hopeful even if our situation is dire. And even if we have physical limitations.

According to Kirsten Weir, in a report for the American Psychology Association:

“Hope is associated with many positive outcomes, including greater happiness, better achievement, and even lowered risk of death. It’s a necessary ingredient for getting through tough times, of course, but also for meeting everyday goals. Everyone benefits from having hope — and psychologists’ research suggests almost anyone can be taught to be more hopeful.”

“‘Hope doesn’t relate to IQ or to income,’ says psychologist Shane Lopez, Ph.D., a senior scientist at Gallup and author of the book Making Hope Happen. ‘Hope is an equal opportunity resource.'”

“What precisely is hope? Most psychologists who study the feeling favor the definition developed by the late Charles R. Snyder, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Kansas and a pioneer of hope research. His model of hope has three components: goals, agency, and pathways. Put simply, agency is our ability to shape our lives — the belief that we can make things happen, and the motivation to reach a desired outcome. The pathways are how we get there — the routes and plans that allow us to achieve the goal, whether that’s adopting a child, finding a better job, surviving a hurricane or just losing a few pounds.”

lona Boniwell notes the following for Positive Psychology:

Hope is a construct which closely relates to optimism, although the two are not identical. Rick Snyder, one of the leading specialists in hope, represents it as an ability to conceptualize goals, find pathways to these goals despite obstacles, and have the motivation to use those pathways. To put it more simply, we feel hope if we: a) know what we want, b) can think of a range of ways to get there, and c) start and keep on going.”

“It’s not hard to guess that being hopeful brings about many benefits. For example, we know that hope buffers against interfering, self-deprecatory thoughts and negative emotions, and is critical for psychological health. In the domain of physical health, we know that people who are hopeful focus more on the prevention of diseases (e.g., through exercising).”

Back to the Wisdom of Jim Valvano Regarding Hope

Last summer, we referred to the wisdom of Jim Valvano. In 1993, he presented a truly inspirational speech shortly before he passed away from pancreatic cancer. That speech is available at YouTube.

His most well-known quote that relates to hope is this: “Don’t Give Up . . . Don’t Ever Give Up!”®

The full text of Valvano’s speech is available at the V Foundation’s Web site. Here are some parts of the speech that especially resonate with me. And HOPEfully with you as well [the emphasis below is added by me]:

Time is very precious to me. I don’t know how much I have left, and I have some things that I would like to say. Hopefully, at the end, I will have said something that will be important to other people, too. But, I can’t help it. Now I’m fighting cancer, everybody knows that. People ask me all the time about how you go through your life and how’s your day, and nothing is changed for me.

I’m a very emotional and passionate man. I can’t help it. That’s being the son of Rocco and Angelina Valvano. It comes with the territory. We hug, we kiss, we love.

When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.

I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great could be accomplished without enthusiasm,” to keep your dreams alive in spite of problems whatever you have. The ability to be able to work hard for your dreams to come true, to become a reality.

We need your help. I need your help. We need money for research. It may not save my life. It may save my children’s lives. It may save someone you love. And it’s very important. And ESPN has been so kind to support me in this endeavor and allow me to announce tonight, that with ESPN’s support, which means what? Their money and their dollars and they’re helping me—we are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. And its motto is, “Don’t give up . . . don’t ever give up.”

I got one last thing, and I said it before. And I’m gonna say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you, and God bless you all.

Making Hope Long-Lasting

 

AI and Medical Diagnosis

Improving the accuracy of medical diagnosis

As we reported late last year, artificial intelligence (AI) is aiding drug operations. Today, we take a look at medical diagnosis.

AI and Medical Diagnosis

As Cade Metz reports for the NY Times:

“Each year, millions of Americans walk out of a doctor’s office with a misdiagnosis. Physicians try to be systematic when identifying illness and disease, but bias creeps in. Alternatives are overlooked. Now a group of researchers in the United States and China has tested a potential remedy for all-too-human frailties: artificial intelligence.

“In a paper published in Nature Medicine, the scientists reported that they had built a system that automatically diagnoses common childhood conditions — from influenza to meningitis — after processing the patient’s symptoms, history, lab results, and other clinical data.”

Click the image to read a lot more.

AI and Medical Diagnosis
Doctors competed against A.I. computers to recognize illnesses on magnetic resonance images of a human brain during a competition in Beijing last year. The human doctors lost. Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

 

Insights on Health Literacy

It’s essential to become more health literate.

In the United States, how much do people know and understand about various health issues? For many, the answer is unfortunately not much.

Consider a few of the highlights from the report “America’s Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information.” Click the image to access the full report.

Insights on Health Literacy

In general:

“Health literacy — the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions — is essential to promote healthy people and communities. Health care institutions and public health systems play a critical role in health literacy, because they can make it easier or more difficult for people to find and use health information and services. For the first time, there are national data that demonstrate currently available health information is too difficult for average Americans to use to make health decisions.”

“Limited health literacy isn’t a disease that makes itself easily visible. In fact, you can’t tell by looking. Health literacy depends on the context. Even people with strong literacy skills can face health literacy challenges, such as when: They are not familiar with medical terms or how their bodies work. People have to interpret numbers or risks to make a health care decision. They are diagnosed with a serious illness and are scared or confused. They have complex conditions that require complicated self-care.”

Key findings and policy implications of the first-ever National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) findings include:

Only 12 percent of U.S. adults had proficient health literacy“Over a third of U.S. adults — 77 million people — have difficulty with common health tasks, such as following directions on a prescription drug label or adhering to a childhood immunization schedule using a standard chart.”

“Limited health literacy affects adults in all racial and ethnic groups. The proportion of adults with basic or below basic health literacy ranges from 28 percent of white adults to 65 percent of Hispanic adults.”

“Although half of adults without a high school education had below basic health literacy skills, even high school and college graduates can have limited health literacy.

Compared to privately insured adults, both publicly insured and uninsured adults had lower health literacy skills.”

All adults, regardless of their health literacy skills, were more likely to get health information from radio/television, friends/family, and health professionals than from print media.”

Sometimes Overlooked Cancer Causes

Be more aware of the causes of cancer.

It is imperative that we understand as much as possible about cancer. That is why we published these earlier posts: Being Smart About Your Health. Interesting Cancer Facts. And Where Cancer Rates Are Highest. Today, we look at sometimes overlooked cancer causes.

Click on the image below to see a slide show from Sharecare that focuses on nine sometimes overlooked causes of cancer:

“Symptoms may not be so obvious. Some can be dangerously deceptive even. Seemingly minor changes, like a nagging cough or persistent backache, can sometimes signal cancer. Too often, these are not taken seriously until the disease has progressed.”

“So, how can you distinguish between an innocent ache and a pain you should report to your doctor? ‘I tell patients that if there are symptoms that are out of the ordinary or persistent or frequent in nature or extreme in intensity, they should seek attention from their primary provider,” says oncologist Elwyn Cabebe, MD, of Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, California.”

“Signs and symptoms vary widely, so don’t hesitate to talk to your health-care provider about anything that seems out of the ordinary—especially if you notice one of these nine cancer indicators.”

Sometimes Overlooked Cancer Causes

 

Cancer Research Institute Conference Video

In June, the Cancer Research Institute held its annual cancer awareness conference. Complete with an excellent video, which is shown below.

As it notes at YouTube:

“Our panel of immunotherapy experts discusses the latest cancer immunotherapy advances featured at the world’s largest oncology conference—the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)—with topics including combination immunotherapy, biomarker development, CAR T cell therapies, and new approaches to immune-based cancer treatment.”

“Panelists include Charles G. Drake, M.D., Ph.D., of New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, and Catherine Diefenbach, M.D., and Jeffrey S. Weber, M.D., of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health. Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, Ph.D., of the Cancer Research Institute, moderates.”

“We present this video as part of the Answer to Cancer patient and caregiver education program of the Cancer Research Institute, and feature it as part of our sixth annual global awareness campaign, Cancer Immunotherapy Month, in June.”

 


 

New Cancer Drug Approved

Those of us battling with cancer often feel research is not moving fast enough.

Yet, researchers are working quite hard. And billions of dollars are being spent.

Quite recently, the FDA approved a new and VERY expensive cancer drug. As CNN reports:

“Vitrakvi is the first medication developed specifically to target tumors based on gene mutations, not their location in the body.”

 

Apple and Stanford Partner on Smart Watch Study

For the past year, Apple and Stanford have partnered on a health research study using the Apple Watch.

This important study is huge.

As Nicky Lineaweaver reports for Business Insider:

“Apple and Stanford Medicine enrolled more than 400,000 participants in the Apple Heart Study since its launch in November of 2017 — making it the largest study on atrial fibrillation (AFib) ever conducted. The study will help Apple explore how its Watch can be used to identify AFib, a common type of irregular heartbeat that heightens the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.”

“AFib costs the U.S. around $6 billion annually, and is responsible for about 130,000 deaths and 750,000 hospitalizations in the US every year, the CDC reports. And AFib detection has been one of Apple’s strategic focuses in healthcare thus far — the tech giant released the Watch Series 4 with an FDA-cleared AFib detection feature in September, for example.”

The Stanford Medicine site notes:

“The Apple Heart Study app uses data from Apple Watch to identify irregular heart rhythms, including those from potentially serious heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation. Apple is conducting this research study in collaboration with Stanford Medicine to improve the technology used to detect and analyze irregular heart rhythms, like atrial fibrillation – a leading cause of stroke.”

Click the image to learn more about the study.

Apple and Stanford Partner on Smart Watch Study