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Thu, Nov 29 10:38am · Learn about E-cigarettes in Cancer Education Center


What are e-cigarettes?  They are battery powered electronic cigarettes.  The device heats a liquid into a vapor to be inhaled.  Because it’s a vapor, it is often referred to as “vaping.”  The liquid typically contains vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol, flavorings, other additives, as well as nicotine.  There is a misconception that they are safe because they aren’t as harmful as cigarettes.  It may be true that e-cigarettes aren’t as harmful, but that does not equate to harmless.  They have been for sale in the U.S. for 12 years, not long enough for conclusive, longitudinal research to say how vaping is harmful to your lungs.  However, inhaling anything into your lungs, besides oxygen, carries a risk — even if it is an unknown risk.  One thing research is showing is e-cigarette users are at an increased risk for a heart attack.  If the person vapes and smokes, it further increases the risk.

You probably have seen someone using an e-cigarette or know someone who vapes.  An issue with vaping is it re-normalizing smoking behavior.  The population most affected by witnessing e-cigarette vapers are teenagers and young adults.  Studies show that e-cigarette usage among high school students increased by 900% from 2011 to 2015.  Another survey reported 24% of high school students had used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days.  Nicotine is highly addictive.  Human brain development continues to the age of 25.  Using nicotine while the brain is still developing has negative effects with one being it may lead the individual to other addictive behaviors.

E-cigarettes were originally marketed as a smoking cessation tool, but in 2015 more that half of vapers also smoked regular cigarettes.  There are successful, evidence-based and recommended smoking cessation options.  To learn more click here.


Thu, Oct 11 1:58pm · Ladies - Get Your Mammogram! in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_607144922October is breast cancer awareness month.  Maybe you have seen a little extra pink this month promoting support and awareness.  Preventive screening in the form of a mammogram is important!  Many women cite the discomfort of a mammogram as a reason they put the test off.  Here are some suggestions to help you.

  • Go to a facility that does many mammograms a day.  It is best to go to the same facility year after year so they can compare images to previous mammograms if needed.
  • Schedule your appointment when your breasts won’t be tender.  Breast tenderness can come just before and during your period.  It would be better to avoid those days.
  • Take an over the counter pain reliever 45 minutes before your appointment.  This can help you feel less discomfort during the procedure.
  • Being tense can worsen pain.  If you find yourself tensing up because you think it will be painful or you are nervous about results, take a couple of deep breaths and exhale slowly to reduce tension.  Also remember, most mammograms don’t lead to a cancer diagnosis.  Just like most dentist visits don’t lead to a cavity!
  • It’s brief!  Remind yourself of that.  The time your breast is actually compressed is seconds.
  • Newer machines make imaging more comfortable than ones used in the past.  That being said, newer doesn’t mean perfect – it means better!
  • Some discomfort is to be expected.  If you are experiencing pain, tell your technologist.  They may be able to improve your comfort for the next image.

Hopefully you find these tips helpful!  If you have more tips to share or have found one of the suggestions above to be helpful to you, please let us know!

Mon, Oct 1 9:25am · Caring for the Caregiver in Cancer Education Center

shutterstock_770843521Article contributed by Jeri Lensing and Angela Young, American Cancer Society patient navigators

Being a caregiver can mean seeing to the daily needs of a friend or loved one, but also may include taking on additional roles, including managing finances, home maintenance, child care, laundry, grocery shopping and meal preparation. The joy of caregiving can quickly become overwhelming.  A caregiver may feel stress or become exhausted, which could also lead to potential health concerns. It is important that caregivers make time for themselves. Here are a few simple suggestions that are easy to implement and can be done on a daily basis.

  • Eating schedules can be challenging. When thinking about meals, rather than trying to find time to sit down for “three square meals” a day, it may help to redefine meals. Use energy-boosting snacks such as juice drinks, cheese and crackers, raisins, fruit and vegetables, peanuts or granola bars that are easy to bring with you when schedules are uncertain. If a friend asks what they can do to help, ask for prepared meals to put in the refrigerator or freezer, allowing you to heat them as time allows.
  • Exercise can be beneficial even in small doses, and does not require a gym or health club. If possible, consider taking a short brisk walk near the medical facility or in a park nearby while the patient is receiving a treatment or test. Walking a set of stairs can provide a good cardio workout. Seek out information or instruction on appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises that can be done in a small area, while sitting in a chair, or incorporated into daily tasks. As always, remember to consult with your health care team before beginning any strenuous activity.
  • Sleep will improve if you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Try relaxation techniques, listen to your favorite music or visualize your favorite scenery as a way to relax. For some, a fifteen minute nap can be a better refresher than napping for an hour or two.

It is important to remind yourself that you are part of a team in caring for your friend or loved one. It is not just your responsibility. It is acceptable to let other members take the lead and to rely on their help and guidance. And remember that by taking care of yourself you are also taking care of your friend or loved one.

For information relating to caregiving for the caregiver, caregiver support groups, relaxation, nutrition, or exercise classes, please contact your American Cancer Society patient navigator or visit http://www.cancer.org and click on treatment and support.

Connect with other caregivers online on Mayo Clinic Connect in the Caregivers Group.

Wed, Sep 19 11:23am · Healing Harp Music with Chizuko Ikeda in Cancer Education Center

Chizuko Ikeda

Chizuko Ikeda is a harpist from Kyoto, Japan.  Ms. Ikeda is interested in music therapy and has studied in Japan, Ireland, Europe, and the United States.  She has performed concerts throughout the world including many in hospitals, hospices, and rehabilitation centers.  Two examples include a Rehabilitation Center for Disabled Children in Vietnam and at the 1st anniversary requiem concert for the 911 victims in New York.

Ms. Ikeda promotes a feeling of serenity through her music.  She plays a variety of music including simple classical, Irish folk, easy listening, healing and Japanese historical music.

You can hear her play in-person on Tuesday, September 25 and Wednesday, September 26th from noon-1:00 p.m. in the Cancer Education Center, Gonda Building, Lobby Level, Rochester, MN.  She will perform again Thursday, September 27th from 5:30-6:15 p.m. in Judd Hall, Mayo Clinic Building, subway level, Rochester, MN.

Mon, Aug 20 9:47am · The Sandwich Generation in Cancer Education Center

mangskauArticle contributed by Cancer Education Center staff member, Toni Kay Mangskau

I am a member of the “Sandwich Generation”. Like so many people, I provide care to an aging parent and my children.

The future is unpredictable, yet looking back, at age 16 I had a glimpse of what was to possibly come. My mom received a call one night to tell her my grandmother had been flown by air ambulance to a large hospital in Nebraska and was experiencing heart and kidney failure. My two brothers and I accompanied our mom on the 5 hour car ride. We didn’t talk much during the trip; when we did it was only to reassure our mom we would get her to the hospital with time to say “goodbye”. I am blessed to share we arrived in time.

In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with the same type of cancer her mom had died from all those years ago. Medical advancements had changed for the better, but the feelings of having a loved one diagnosed with a serious disease were the same.

There are so many things I have learned from my mom and grandmother’s cancer experience. The first is how important it is to have those “difficult conversations.” Having the courage to talk with your loved one about their healthcare wishes and desires can be difficult, yet can help to relieve some of the stress many caregivers experience. I have had these conversations with my own children. I have a “Living Will” and Advance Care Directives in place.

At work, I am surrounded, “sandwiched-in,” by pictures of my kids and grandkids. The pictures remind me of the role we all play in caring for each other. For all of us in the “Sandwich Generation”, let’s continue to have deep conversations with our family and loved ones allowing them to be active participants in their care and express their wishes. While challenging, these moments help provide clarity and comfort to all.

Please share your experiences with initiating difficult conversations with those you hold dear.

Wed, Aug 15 2:38pm · LIVESTRONG at the YMCA: Support for Survivors in the Community in Cancer Education Center

livestrong picture 5Article contributed by Cancer Education Staff member, Tammy Adams

Cancer is a life-changing condition that may take a toll on physical and emotional health. The LIVESTRONG Foundation has partnered with many local YMCAs to provide a structured, supportive, research-based physical activity and well-being program to help survivors move beyond cancer in mind, body and spirit.
The program includes:
• Free 12-week YMCA membership for survivor and primary caregiver
• Two 75-minute classes per week
• Individual instruction and group activities
• Workouts include cardiovascular exercise, strength training, stretching and balance work

The goals are:
• Improve energy levels
• Reduce the severity of treatment side effects
• Reduce stress levels
• Support positive self esteem
• Incorporate physical activity that is safe for each survivor
• Help build muscle strength
• Increase flexibility and endurance
• Restore balance
In addition to the benefits of physical activity, the program offers a sense of connection to fellow survivors.
Fitness instructors receive specialty training in the elements of cancer, post rehabilitation exercises and supportive cancer care. To learn more or find a program near you, visit the LIVESTRONG website, http://www.livestrong.org/What-We-Do/Our-Actions/Programs-Partnerships/LIVESTRONG-at-the-YMCA.
If you are looking for a program in Minnesota visit http://www.livestrong@ymcamn.org.
The program in Rochester, Minnesota is recruiting patients now for its program starting September 18th, 2018. Please call 507-287-2260 or visit ymcamn.org/rochester.
2019 Rochester, MN Sessions
Jan 15- April 4, Tuesdays and Thursdays 6-7:15 pm
February 26- May 16, Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30-2:45 pm

Adapted from Partners in Recovery LiveStrong at the YMCA

Tue, Aug 14 3:57pm · Tips for Cancer Survivors on Dating & New Relationships in Cancer Education Center

@IndianaScott You bring up a very good point! I also like your wording "when cancer joins the relationship." The section in the article on challenges would apply to new and also existing relationships. People should feel free to comment whether they are looking to start a relationship or navigating a current one and how cancer has impacted them.