Volunteering and LOVING It

Be inspired by giving back. 🙂

If you aren’t already doing so, consider volunteering. It’s a true win-win, for those you are helping as well as for YOU. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 It is so rewarding!!


As I mentioned at the beginning of this year, I am now retired and interested in giving back. And I really want to volunteer as part of my giving back approach. But, it has been an unexpectedly difficult journey to volunteering. For different reasons, I was not able to hook up with various cancer organizations and other social services groups.

Rather than give up, I broadened my volunteering search. And it must have been my destiny all along to be a volunteer with United Cerebral Palsy of Long IslandSince last month, I have been a volunteer with the day programs at the Hauppauge, NY facility. I am working with disabled individuals who are the sweetest people. They have treated me like a long-lost friend. In addition, the staff is phenomenal and really caring.

I am involved with self-advocacy, socialization, human rights, job skills, and more. They keep thanking me. Yet, it is really I who am thankful because I get to give back in such a meaningful way. I am fulfilling my mission related my to fortunate survival from pancreatic cancer. To me, this is so inspirational and motivational.

As its Web site notes:

“UCP of Long Island is committed to advancing the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people with disabilities. Our mission is to provide life skills training, education, advocacy, meaningful employment, and a place to call home for Long Islanders with a wide range of disabilities. UCP of Long Island proudly upholds the values of excellence, integrity, dignity, empowerment, responsibility, accountability, vision and innovation.”

“Over 65 percent of the individuals we serve today have disabilities other than cerebral palsy. These include acquired disabilities, epilepsy, sensory impairments, autism, learning disabilities, traumatic brain injury, chronic physical/medical conditions, Prader-Willi syndrome, Tourette syndrome, Down syndrome, mental health disorders, and Spina bifida.”

Giving Back Quotes

Consider the following.

Volunteering and LOVING It

Volunteering and LOVING ItVolunteering and LOVING ItVolunteering and LOVING It
 

How Old Do YOU feel?

To answer, think about the new age 65.

For me, this is really a two-part question. At age 70, I feel great both psychologically and mentally. I perceive myself as much younger than I am. On the other, how I feel physically is another story. The key for me is not to let my physical ailments overpower my psychological wellbeing. So, how old do YOU feel?

With the above in mind, consider the highlights of a very interesting article by Robert Roy Britt for Medium:

“By 2050, the percentage of the elderly is expected to double globally compared to today. As people live longer and an ever-higher percentage of the population is beyond their retirement years. This according to the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, conventional measures of longevity don’t reflect the quality of extended time on this Earth.”

“A new study looked at aging, health, and mortality by analyzing at what age people in a country actually feel like 65-year-olds, as defined by experiencing the health problems of the average 65-year old globally. The study considered 92 diseases and conditions in 195 countries and territories. The results are a window into both longevity and health status, revealing how well people age, or how poorly, the researchers report  in the journal Lancet Public Health.”

“The findings ‘show that increased life expectancy at older ages can either be an opportunity or a threat to the overall welfare of populations, depending on the aging-related health problems the population experiences regardless of chronological age.’ said Dr. Angela Y. Chang, lead author of the study from the Center for Health Trends and Forecasts at the University of Washington.”

In this study, the United States did not fare so well. For the top 10 countries cited in the chart below, people were all in their mid-70s before feeling 65. The U.S. ranked 54 at 68.5. Certainly, that is food for thought.

How Old Do YOU feel?
 

Happy Father’s Day — Be Well!

We love you dads!

Father’s Day is a special time for many of us. I lost my father Joseph and father-in-law Murray quite a while ago. But this is when I think of them the most. It is also special for me because I always get to celebrate with my wife Linda and daughters Jennifer and Stacey, and their spouses Phil and Adam. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

My wish on this day is for all of us, including you dear readers, to be as well as you can for as long you can.

And remember …..

Happy Father's Day -- Be Well!
from https://i1.wp.com/momydady.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/love-u-dad-quotes.png

 

Happy Father’s Day — Be Well!

Did you know that this past week was National Men’s Health Week? As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes:

“National Men’s Health Week is observed each year leading up to Father’s Day. This week is a reminder for men to take steps to be healthier. But they don’t have to do it alone! Whether it’s your husband, partner, dad, brother, son, or friend you can help support the health and safety of the men in your life.”

Here’s how:

“You can support the men in your life by having healthy habits yourself and by making healthy choices. Eat healthy and include a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can help control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve your mental health and mood. Find fun ways to be active together. Set an example by choosing not to smoke and encourage the men in your life to quit smoking.  Help the men in your life recognize and reduce stress. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.”

“Encourage men to see a doctor or health professional for regular checkups and to learn about their family health history. Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a heart attack. Know the signs of a heart attack and if you think you or someone you know is having a heart attack call 911 immediately.”

Depression is one of the leading causes of disease or injury worldwide for both men and women. Learn to recognize the signs and how to help the men in your life. Signs of depression include persistent sadness, grumpiness, feelings of hopelessness, tiredness and decreased energy, and thoughts of suicide.”

Happy Father's Day -- Be Well!

 

Preparing for the First Day of Chemotherapy

Advice for getting ready for chemo.

From personal experience, I know how scary the anticipation of the first day of chemo can be. In my case, there was a month interval between my Whipple surgery and chemotherapy. That was to let me be strong enough to endure the rigors of chemo. And rigorous it was. With numerous side effects. BUT, I’d do it all over again because it has improved the overall quality of my life. Thank you Team Vacirca and all the folks at New York Cancer and Blood Specialists.

So, when I came across an infographic on preparing for the first day of chemotherapy, I knew it had to be shared.

As reported by Healthline:

The best advice comes from the person who’s been there herself. We polled our community of women living with breast cancer for their tips on what to bring, and what to wear, on your first day of chemotherapy. Read on for their advice.”

Preparing for the First Day of Chemotherapy
 

Stevie Wisz — Role Model as a Courageous Young Athlete

Read about this amazing 21-year-old. In a word, WOW!

Yesterday and today, we highlight two truly inspirational role models. One is 55 years old and battling lung cancer. The other is 21 years old with long-term heart issues. Neither has let their health problems slow them down. Bravo!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Stevie Wisz — Role Model as a Courageous Young Athlete

Stevie Wisz is a 21-year-old who plays on the UCLA women’s softball team. And she has had to battle heart issues virtually her entire life. Nonetheless, this is one highly motivated young woman. Quit or give up is not in her vocabulary.

Stevie’s story is an uplifting one that will also draw a tear from readers. Anyone who does a blanket job criticizing today’s young adults through stereotypes such as lazy and unmotivated, needs to rethink their view.

Here are the highlights of Stevie Wisz’s story, as reported by Wayne Drehs for ESPN:

Early Diagnosis and Surgery

At one year old, “In San Luis Obispo, doctors diagnosed Stevie Wisz with aortic stenosis, the severe narrowing of the aorta as it branches out from the heart. Stevie’s aortic valve was one-sixteenth the size it should have been. With such a narrow passageway, much of the blood her heart was pumping was leaking back into the heart chamber, meaning her heart had to work that much harder to pump blood throughout her body.”

“Wisz would eventually need open-heart surgery to save her life. But the doctors suggested postponing the surgery as long as possible to allow the heart to grow closer to its full size. They would keep an eye on Wisz through regular checkups. Over the next several years, she lived like many other little girls, competing in soccer, basketball and track. In a fourth-grade track meet, she remembers running as hard as she could but finishing a distant last. ‘That was the first time I remember thinking I was different,’ she said.”

“Over time, the blood leaking back into her heart went from a mild problem to moderate to severe. By the summer of 2006, after fourth grade, doctors said it was time for surgery.”

Stevie in 2019

“Now 21, Stevie Wisz has reached a point where her heart is 100 percent reliant on her pacemaker. If the pacemaker stops, she collapses. The leakage in her aorta is again severe. And yet she’s a Division I athlete who every day tries to push her body to its own unique limits. In last year’s Women’s College World Series, she leapt at the fence to rob Florida’s Janell Wheaton of a go-ahead home run. In April, she made a face-first, diving catch on a sinking liner against Cal, preserving a 1-0 UCLA victory. ‘You have to understand,’ Kylee Perez said. ‘Stevie isn’t someone who is just going to give up.’

“Each day that passes this spring, each victory that draws the Bruins one step closer to the Women’s College World Series, brings Wisz’s college playing career closer to an end — and closer to yet another open-heart surgery. She had circled the dates for months now. June 3-5 is the championship series, a destination UCLA has not reached since winning its most recent national championship, in 2010. June 13 is the day Wisz will walk across the Pauley Pavilion stage and receive a bachelor’s degree in biology from UCLA. And then June 21, one week later, she will head into another operating room for another attempt to solve the problem she has fought since that first checkup when she was 1.”

 

STEVIE, WE’RE ROOTING HARD FOR YOU THROUGH YOUR SURGERY AND LONG-TERM HEALTH.

 
Click the image to read more about this INCREDIBLE young woman. She is the epitome of the human spirit — and what we can accomplish if we push ourselves.

Stevie Wisz -- Role Model as a Courageous YoungAthlete
Stevie Wisz’s parents have supported their daughter after her risky decision to play this season. COURTESY WISZ FAMILY. [Stevie’s on the left.]

 

Isabella de la Houssaye — Lung Cancer Role Model

Stage-four lung cancer patient goes full throttle with children.

Today and tomorrow, we highlight two truly inspirational role modelss. One is 55 years old and battling lung cancer. The other is 21 years old with long-term heart issues. Neither has let their health problems slow them down. Bravo!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Isabella de la Houssaye — Lung Cancer Role Model

Isabella de la Houssaye is a stage-four lung cancer survivor who chooses to live life every day. And then some!! She makes the rest of us look like slackers for not doing what we set out to achieve. LOL.

Here are the highlights of her story, as reported by Rebecca Byerly for the New York Times:

“Isabella de la Houssaye raised her five children on adventure. Then came a brutal diagnosis, and a burning desire for a final journey with each one. For two decades, Isabella, 55, an outdoors enthusiast, longtime mountain climber, veteran marathoner, and triathlete, and her husband, David Crane, a top financier in the energy industry, have raised their five children, who all use the surname Crane, on adventure. These excursions, like riding horses from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, often with no one but their mother, led them to extraordinary athletic feats.”

“When Isabella’s lung cancer was diagnosed, in January 2018, she was not sure if she had months or even weeks to live. Bedridden and in excruciating pain with tumors in her pelvis, spine and brain, she qualified for a trial treatment and was prescribed two anticancer drugs that alleviated the pain and blocked the spread of cancer cells. The treatment is usually effective for 18 months, then the patient often deteriorates.”

“As her strength returned last year, she made plans to go on adventures — maybe the final ones — with each of her children, ages 16 to 25. There were lessons she wanted to share with her children about grit, persistence and mindfulness. In April 2018, she hiked more than 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, a medieval pilgrimage route in Spain, with Oliver. Then, last June, she ran a marathon in Alaska with Cason. In September, she, her husband and three of their children finished an 80-mile ultramarathon in Kazakhstan. A week later, she and her son David completed a full Ironman — a triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run — in South Korea.”

In January, she and Bella, her third child and only daughter, traveled to Argentina to conquer Aconcagua. Technically, Aconcagua is a relatively easy mountain because it doesn’t require ropes, ice axes, or climbing skills. But it is a two-week climb that requires sleeping in freezing tents while withstanding subzero temperatures and brutal winds. Isabella, significantly weakened by chemotherapy and weighing less than 100 pounds, knew this mountain was going to inflict its pain and push her and her daughter to the edge. That was the point. This trek was an attempt to deliver a few essential lessons to her daughter while she still could, including the acceptance not only of life’s triumphs, but its woes — ‘joy and suffering alike,’ she said.”

Click the image to read more about this AMAZING woman. She is the epitome of the human spirit — and what we can accomplish if we push ourselves.

Isabella de la Houssaye -- Lung Cancer Role Model
Photograph by Max Whittaker

 

New Hope for Those with Pancreatic Cancer

Mayo Clinic providing new options.

For those who follow this blog, you know that I am a VERY fortunate pancreatic cancer survivor. Since my cancer was diagnosed early, I was able to have a successful Whipple surgery. For most, the outlook is not as positive.

But, new research presents greater hope for the future. As Erika Edwards reports for NBC News:

“Historically, doctors have given pancreatic cancer patients chemotherapy or radiation hoping it would cause the tumor to shrink or pull away from the artery or vein it’s ensnared. Dr. Mark Truty, a surgical oncologist at Mayo Clinic, believes that’s the wrong approach. ‘You’re going to be sorely disappointed if that’s what you’re expecting’, Truty told NBC News.”

“About a third of pancreatic cancer cases are found at stage 3. Truty estimates about half of his pancreatic cancer patients diagnosed at this stage seek his care after other physicians said their tumors could not be surgically removed. His team’s approach to treating stage 3 pancreatic cancer is different from most other oncology practices”

“The Mayo Clinic approach works like this. Patients are given extended, personalized chemotherapy until levels of a tumor marker in the blood called CA 19-9 fall to a normal range. Then if a PET scan shows the tumor is destroyed, doctors move forward with radiation and surgery.”

“Among 194 pancreatic cancer treated this way at the Mayo Clinic, 89 percent lived longer than the expected 12 to 18 months. The approach has pushed average survival to five years after diagnosis, according to a study by the Mayo Clinic.

To learn more, watch the following video. Note: The beginning of the video may be a downer. But the overall video is hopeful.