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3 days ago · Millennials and Generation Z: How to Stay Active in a Growing Age of Technology in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_187400009Article contributed by Erin Haefner

I was recently reading an article on the American Cancer Society’s website titled, “Obesity-Related Cancers Rising in Young Adults in the U.S., Millennials have about double the risk of some cancers compared to Baby Boomers at same age.” And I was shocked at what I was reading. Something that stuck out to me was this: “The increasing risk of obesity-related cancers in younger generations has the potential to halt or reverse the progress we’ve achieved in reducing the death rate from cancer in the last 20 to 30 years.”

What this boils down to is that more and more people under the age of 50 (millennials and younger generations) are at greater risk to get an obesity-related cancer, and something needs to change. The world of technology is constantly evolving, taking our motivation, energy, and healthy lifestyle away. As a member of Generation Z myself, I feel compelled to share some tips on how to stay active in a world that is changing around us.

  1. Give yourself a step goal for the day. I own a Fitbit and it has really helped motivate me to get 10,000 steps a day. Owning one, I have also found that I am more motivated to be active for at least 30 minutes every day, as the Fitbit tracks your activity level through your heart rate throughout the day. Walking is a simple, yet very beneficial form of exercise.
  2. Take the stairs. I just finished up my junior year of college and I lived on the 8th floor of my dormitory. On the ground floor there are practice rooms that the music majors of the building (me) could practice late at night without having to walk across campus when it was dark outside. Every day after classes, rehearsals, and lessons, I walked up the stairs to my 8th floor room. I also took the 8 flights of stairs whenever I would use the practice rooms, which was quite often. Of course, this was hard at first, but it just got easier and easier every day. I never had to wait for an elevator, and my legs have never felt better.
  3. Clean your house – often! I don’t know about you, but whenever I have ever dusted, vacuumed, swept, or likewise, I have always been a little winded after those tasks. Maybe it was the constant moving of my arms, or the weight of the cleaning supplies I was carrying, but it felt like a small workout. I was able to jam to some music, get exercise, AND have a nice, clean, and organized house in the end. It’s a win-win-win!
  4. Dance. When I was in high school, I used to be a dancer. I was on a dance team for two years and I loved every minute of it. We competed in tournaments and we put on recitals often. Now that I am in college, and have a full-time summer job, I don’t have time to participate in extracurriculars like that. But, whenever I have a free moment, even if it’s just for an hour or less, I dance. I find dancing to be a way to escape the world. I don’t care if I am bad, or if there is no organization to the dance I am doing, as long as I am having fun, I am dancing my little heart out. This is the time to dance when nobody is watching, because there IS nobody watching!
  5. Make an exercise challenge out of your favorite TV show or movie. I’ll be honest. Despite my busy schedule, I still somehow find the time to watch a lot of TV. One of my favorite shows, and a favorite of a lot of people’s, is Friends. I have been challenging myself to do an exercise whenever a character does one of their signature things. For example, if you are familiar with the show, here are some of the things I do for each of the characters:
    1. Monica: Do 25 jumping jacks whenever Monica says “I know!”
    2. Rachel: Do 30 sit-ups whenever Rachel talks about anything related to shopping or fashion.
    3. Chandler: Do a plank for one minute whenever Chandler is sarcastic.
    4. Phoebe: Run in place for the duration of one of Phoebe’s songs.
    5. Ross: Do 15 burpees whenever Ross says “We were on a break!” or talks about dinosaurs.
    6. Joey: Do 20 squats whenever Joey is eating something or talking about food.
  6. Do arm stretches at your desk. I am working here at Mayo Clinic this summer and I am doing a lot of sitting at a desk for hours. As much as I can, I am doing arm stretches while I sit. I also try to get up and move every chance I get, even if I am just walking to the bathroom. Check out some of Mayo Clinic’s tips on this!

I would love to hear how you stay active! Feel free to leave a comment down below.

Here are 7 additional links about Healthy Living:

Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce your risk

Exercise: When to check with your doctor first

Healthy habits that boost happiness

Office exercise: Add more activity to your workday

Desk stretches: Video collection

Sitting at your desk doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck

Standing workstation

Wed, Jul 24 4:24pm · Sunscreen Season in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_392637715The older I get, the more I think about the impact of sun exposure on my skin. When I was growing up sunscreen wasn’t really a “thing.” The only protection we had was zinc oxide and it was applied to very little surface area – mainly just the nose and cheeks. My father has had to endure multiple rounds of Mohs procedures. I picked him up after one of his appointments and it was very sobering to see all the bandaged areas on his face. It has motivated me to be more diligent about protecting my skin and my children’s. My kids complain about my insistence with their sunscreen application and the constant reminders (they may refer to that as nagging!) and I still help my youngest son in getting those hard to reach places. While I’m applying, he’s protesting and my response is always “You’ll thank me when you’re 40!” After my dad’s most recent Mohs procedure, he got a black eye based on the proximity of the area they were working on. I begged him to take a selfie and send it to all of the older grandkids. My dad is not big on selfies, nor sharing a less than photogenic moment. But, after a couple of days, he did honor my request and sent the pic to them with a funny caption of “you should see the other guy!” All of this leads me to sharing more tips on sunscreen use. Summer is in full swing and we are spending more time outdoors. Also, our days are longer and we are seeing more hours of sunlight. We all know that we are recommended to protect our skin with sunscreen.

Here are some interesting and informative things to think about.

Most people only apply 25-50% of the recommended amount of sunscreen. So how much should a person apply? Most adults need one ounce. A good visual to think of is how much you would need to fill a shot glass – that roughly equals an ounce.

You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

Make sure you get those areas that receive a lot of rays – shoulders, the back of your neck, the tops of your ears, your nose and your head, especially if you don’t have much hair. A wide-brimmed hat can also give extra protection.

Skin cancer also can form on the lips. To protect your lips, apply a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Remember, people of all skin colors are at-risk for sunburn and other harmful effects of UV radiation, so always protect yourself. Be especially careful if you have:

  • pale skin
  • blond, red, or light brown hair
  • been treated for skin cancer
  • a family member who has had skin cancer

Listen to this Mayo Clinic Radio Health Minute on melanoma risk factors.

Wed, Jul 17 1:10pm · Forefront: The Latest Edition of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center Magazine in Cancer Education Center

bnr-forefront1Volume 8, Issue 2, June 2019

The Summer 2019 issue of the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center magazine, Forefront, has arrived. Features include brief news articles about Mayo Clinic Cancer Center research, video commentary from researchers, and investigator profiles. Click here to subscribe, read this newsletter edition or view archived publications.

Director’s Message: Prioritizing Cancer Research

Federal cancer research funding is vital to meet growing challenges as the population ages.

Predicting Pancreatic Cancer in Patients with Diabetes

The UCP-1 gene may serve as a potential biomarker even before symptoms develop in high-risk groups.

Study Helps Clarify Role of T Cells in Follicular Lymphoma

The researchers’ findings could lead to new treatments for this type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Cervical Cancer Screening Low, Marked by Racial Disparity

Mayo Clinic urges health professionals to find new ways to boost compliance with national guidelines.

Study Backs Oxybutynin for Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors

Researchers say the drug improves quality of life in women who can’t take hormone-based therapy.

Oral Blood Clot Drug Safe, Effective in Patients with Cancer

Apixaban is easier to use than traditional blood thinners and has fewer side effects, research shows.

Meet the Investigator: Kabir Mody, M.D.

In this Cancer Center video, Dr. Mody discusses research on pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.


Mon, Jun 17 11:21am · Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Can Affect Cancer Survivors in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_232886320Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental health condition that is triggered by a shocking, terrifying, or scary event.   We often associate PTSD with war, sexual or physical assault, or a serious accident. Research has shown that post-traumatic stress disorder can also occur with cancer survivors — especially since you’re dealing with a life-threatening medical diagnosis.

This is particularly true of childhood cancer survivors, survivors of aggressive cancers and cancers that require intense treatments.

Some of the symptoms and emotions of PTSD include:

  • Problems sleeping because of intrusive dreams or flashbacks of trauma
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Irritability and anger
  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as drinking too much or taking unusual risks
  • Uncontrolled sadness and crying spells
  • Hearing or seeing things that are not there

It’s normal to have some of these symptoms as a cancer survivor. However, if you’re having disturbing thoughts and feelings for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your health care professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.

Some types of therapy used in PTSD treatment include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy — this helps you recognize the thought patters triggering anxiety and symptoms. Recommendations for strategies to help modify these thoughts are part of this therapy.
  • Psychotherapy — this may include group discussions or individual counseling to work through symptoms and emotions. It can also be helpful to talk to others who are going through similar experiences.
  • Medications — (anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety) — this is usually a short-term strategy to deal with extreme depression or anxiety.
  • Support groups — can help with emotional aspects of cancer.  Sharing in a safe place with other people who have similar experiences can help alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety.

Treatment for PTSD can help you regain a sense of control over your life. With successful treatment, you can also feel better about yourself and learn ways to cope if symptoms return. These strategies can help provide skills to cope better with the traumatic event — and move beyond it.

What’s been your experience? Share your thoughts here or head over to this discussion on the topic.

Tue, Jun 11 1:00pm · Self-Compassion…When You Need It Most in Cancer Education Center


While I was growing up my parents would frequently tell me it was “important to treat other people the way you would want to be treated.” Many of us know that wise advice as the “Golden Rule.” Years later, while teaching stress management classes, I began sharing my “Silver Rule.”  This is a slight variation on the earlier well-known phrase. The modification of the guiding principle encourages us to be as kind and gentle to ourselves as we would be to someone we love who’s in a similar situation. Show kindness to ourselves when we are less than perfect? Who knew that would be such a challenge! Many of us have pretty harsh inner critics that raise voices loud and clear when we say, do or think something that we regret, such as:

“What a stupid thing to say?”

“How insensitive!”

“Why can’t I be more…”

Those thoughts can also accompany our feelings about being a caregiver or a patient with cancer. Has your inner voice ever said anything similar to “why are you feeling sorry for yourself when so many people have it so much worse?” or “I shouldn’t have complained about my cancer.  No one really wants to hear about it anyway.”  I’m using those examples because I have heard both of them, but there are so many other situations that we could just as easily name.

The silver rule, or showing self-compassion, would have us respond to ourselves in a kinder, more supportive way.  For example, think of someone you love dearly.  Now imagine they just did or said the same thing you are berating yourself for saying or doing.  How would you respond to them?  Would you use the same words and tone that your inner critic just used on yourself?  Probably not. Take a moment and think about how you feel when you are harshly chastised versus when you are accepted as someone who is human, but may have made a mistake.  Which one of those responses leads to a better outcome?

This week one of the chaplains at Mayo Clinic spoke to us about this topic.  She encouraged us to take a self-compassion break when we are experiencing stressful situations and directed us to a website of Dr. Kristin Neff: https://self-compassion.org/. When we are experiencing challenging problems, the following three steps are helpful to give ourselves a self-compassion break:

  1. Recognize this is truly a painful situation. Many times we do not acknowledge that we are hurting and this is a stressful time.
  2. Recognize that suffering is a part of life. No one escapes difficult situations.
  3. Treat yourself as kindly and compassionately as you would someone else you love.

Old habits are hard to break, but it is possible.  The first step is recognizing that change can happen and it will lead to a healthier, kinder future.  As with all change, it takes awareness and practice.  Are there ways you have started being more self-compassionate?  We’d love to hear your experiences.

Wed, May 29 9:35am · Who Is My Friend? in Cancer Education Center

Thank you, Taka, for your kind words! And I'm happy to hear you are approaching your 20th anniversary – that is great news! Suggestions of what to do in a person's time of need are always helpful. It seems like we should know how to be a good friend, but reminders and kind gestures are very helpful and hopefully will prompt us to take action:)

Thu, May 16 10:35am · Who Is My Friend? in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_1206609022When working with cancer patients and their families, a common thing I hear is “I’m surprised by my friend.”  People say they are surprised by a friend they didn’t imagine would be present or are hurt by someone, once supportive, who has now “ditched” them.  While it is comforting when unsuspecting individuals “step up,” it can be equally challenging when close friends do not.  It’ s hard to understand why people step away when we are going through a challenging time.  Perhaps they are too busy and stressed themselves to be supportive.  Maybe they have experienced someone else in their life who has, or had, cancer and it brings back painful memories.  The possibilities are endless and are, for the most part, out of our control. One thing we can take charge of is being a good friend to someone when they have cancer. Below are some ideas.

  • Send a card or text to say you are thinking about them.  We don’t receive “snail mail” often and a handwritten note carries a lot of meaning.
  • If they call you…. return their message and do it quickly!
  • When you talk to them or text them, say you’ll be in touch soon and follow through with that promise!
  • Check in with their caregiver to find out what the patient’s (and caregiver’s) needs are.
  • Ask them how they are doing today, this morning, this afternoon.  It is an easier question to answer because it is specific and may allow for more honesty and transparency.

Give patients room and permission to feel whatever they are feeling – sad, happy, hopeful, frustrated.  In our classes, patients have shared it’s difficult to be told they are brave or strong, when it doesn’t match with where they are at emotionally. Asking questions and listening without judgement is invaluable. Sometimes, sitting together in silence might even be what’s needed most.

What has a friend done for you that you found helpful?  Please share so we can all sharpen our friendship skills!

Connect with others or start a discussion in the Caregiver group or the Cancer group.


Wed, Apr 17 1:08pm · Testicular Cancer Awareness in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_687296710April is Testicular Cancer Awareness month.  This isn’t a cancer we hear about as much, likely because it doesn’t effect as many people as many other cancers do. Or, perhaps because the highest prevalence is among teens and men aged 15-35 and they likely don’t want to share about the cancer they have THERE.

Testicular cancer is a very treatable and curable cancer, especially when detected early and typically affects only one testicle.  Just under 10,000 males will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year while one in 250 males will be diagnosed in a lifetime.

Here are signs and symptoms to be aware of:

  • a painless lump in a testicle.  An early stage lump would be the size of a pea or marble.  If unnoticed, the lump could potentially grow bigger.
  • swelling or an enlarged testicle
  • a feeling of heaviness in the scrotum
  • a dull ache in the groin or abdomen
  • a sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum
  • pain or discomfort in a testicle or scrotum
  • enlarged or tender breasts

If you notice any of these signs, or have symptoms lasting longer than 2 weeks, it is recommended to see your doctor for further evaluation.