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Identical Twins Face Breast Cancer Together

Posted on Nov 28, 2014 by No Comments

Identical twins share a special relationship. They start with everything in common, but 34 year old identical twins, Kelly McCarthy and Kristen Mauer, have shared in an unique way.

When Kelly learned she had breast cancer she urged her sister to get checked out. They were diagnosed with breast cancer just months apart around the beginning of last year. Kristen said, “Kelly was more upset than I was during my diagnosis, and likewise, when she was diagnosed I was a mess.”

Identical twins make the perfect donor for each other because their skin, tissue and organs are a perfect match genetically. Each twin underwent surgery.

Breast reconstruction usually involves implants and/or the woman’s own tissue. In Kelly McCarthy’s case she didn’t have enough tissue because radiation treatment had damaged the tissue near her breasts. Her sister stepped up and offered to be a donor. Kelly said that her sister’s sacrifice “is humbling.”

The twins surgeon says it isn’t unusual for identical twins to both get breast cancer because they have the same genetic makeup. He said, “With twins, there’s also often a “mirroring effect,” with breast cancer developing in the opposite breast. That’s what happened with McCarthy and Maurer.”

Breast reconstruction between identical twins is still rare. It’s only been done a few times, and Kristen and Kelly,who is a nurse, are among the youngest patients to undergo the procedure.

Kristen underwent a double mastectomy, which was recommended due to the aggressive nature of her sister’s cancer. She had reconstruction with implants after the birth of her second child last March.

Kelly underwent a second mastectomy more recently along with the reconstruction of both breasts. However her reconstruction used some of her own tissue to fashion one breast, and her sister’s tissue to reconstruct the second breast.

The twins have always been very close, and this experience has brought them even closer. Kelly admits, “I feel closer. Her tissue is over my heart.”

Photo credits: pfala

Dancing With the Stars Season 19 Winner

Posted on Nov 27, 2014 by No Comments

Another season of Dancing With the Stars is history, and I think it was one of the best seasons ever. I mean that in the sense that all four of the final couples were good enough to win.

It wasn’t a slam dunk and I was actually rooting for either Sadie Robertson and partner Mark Ballas or Alfonzo Ribeiro and his dancing partner Witney Carson. It’s like I couldn’t decide which I hoped would win because they had both worked hard enough and done well enough to earn it.

Alfonzo had struggled with a groin injury since he performed the “Carlton” dance, and then in subsequent weeks he suffered back problems because he was compensating for his groin. They talked about it, but when he performed, it’s like he mentally ignored the pain and let the adrenaline take over.

Just watching him dance I would never have known he was hurt. He became a true underdog with rumors circulating that he may have to drop out of the contest because of his injuries.

Then there was Sadie Robertson. She had little dancing background, but you’d never know it when you watched her perform.

For her, there was the issue of her parents having a say in costuming and dance moves that overshadowed things at the beginning, but that bit of controversy dissipated as she proved herself a worthy competitor.

The season 19 finale brought it all to a head. It was narrowed down to two couples. Alfonzo and Witney, and Sadie and Mark.

Tom Bergeron announced, “The wait is over! The Season 19 Champions are…Alfonzo and Witney!” Confetti rained from overhead, and everyone applauded including Sadie and Mark. Alfonzo had tears in his eyes, and the whole ballroom exploded in celebration.

It was a season finale that will be hard to beat. And Alfonzo is not stopping. He announced he’s joining the DWTS Tour, a 90 minute live performance. Dance on Alfonzo and congratulations!

Photo credits: Dancing With the Stars

Laundry Pods Send One Kid a Day to Hospital

Posted on Nov 26, 2014 by No Comments

Over a year ago I read about a 7-month-old baby dying after ingesting some laundry pods. It was a sad story, and I wondered at the time why the baby would continue munching on soap once he tasted it. If you’ve ever gotten soap in your mouth you know it tastes nasty, and you certainly wouldn’t want seconds!

But it seems, according to a report published in Pediatrics, that when it comes to these laundry packets that they sent an average of one child a day to the hospital in 2012 and 2013.

To my surprise, it turns out that these convenient laundry soap packets are all over the news because a in a report published in Pediatrics it reveals that in the first couple years they were widely available (2012 and 2013), these packets were responsible for sending a child a day to the hospital on average.

During that same time period, poison control centers took about one call an hour related to kids under 6 being “exposed” to these laundry soap packets.

I’m astonished that eating soap could be so attractive. Perhaps that’s the problem. The colorful pods “look” good to young children.

And when I looked into it further, it turns out the kids aren’t actually eating these pods like they are candy. However, when they bite into them, they get a squirt of concentrated laundry soap shot down their throat or in their eyes.

Turns out this makes the children sicker that when exposed to traditional laundry detergent, probably because they are getting a more concentrated dose. It results in symptoms like vomiting and coughing and in some rare cases it cane even lead to breathing problems, seizures, or coma.

Since these numbers have surfaced, manufacturers have added clear warnings to their labels and have made the packaging harder to open.

While I appreciate the manufacturer’s making these kinds of changes, I remind parents everywhere that we need to take steps to keep hazardous products out of reach from our children.

At this time, there aren’t any laundry pods manufactured to be child resistant. So it is up to us. If we choose to use this laundry product, we need to keep it out of reach.

Photo credits: US CPSC

Chris Hemsworth Named World’s Sexiest Man

Posted on Nov 25, 2014 by No Comments

I’m not one who usually follows things like who People magazine decides is the world’s sexiest man. Often when I hear their choice, I scratch my head and wonder how they came up with their pick.

However, this year it is Chris Hemsworth. If you don’t know who that is, think Thor, that muscular, hammer-wielding super hero who doesn’t need to wear a muscle suit to look like he has muscles.

In real life, Hemsworth is good looking with long hair, short hair, a beard, clean shaven, and with or without his accent. But you know what’s really attractive about this Australian? It’s his personality. At least that’s the way I saw it when Jimmy Kimmel made the big reveal.

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth as shirtless Thor.

Hemsworth joined Kimmel via Skype with the bag over his head to hide his identity, while Jimmy Kimmel cracked jokes about how he didn’t make the cover again this year.

Before he revealed Hemsworth’s identity, the studio audience had a chance to ask questions and guess who it might be. They used one of those gadgets which change a person’s voice to protect their identity.

Even though his face was hidden, the white tee he wore didn’t hide his muscular build. That was about the only visual clue the audience had before a few people were allowed to ask some yes and no questions.

The first question was whether or not he was in a band. Since Adam Levine was in the running, perhaps she thought it was him, but really the lack of tattoos would have ruled him out.

The next question was whether he felt like “just driving a Lincoln” which would have pointed to actor Matthew McConaughey who does the Lincoln commercials. Another woman asked if he and been the world’s sexiest man before. The first question with a yes answer was to whether or not he was an actor.

When asked if he was single, and he said no there was an audible sound of disappointment from the audience. Once they found out he was not born in the USA, the next question was whether or not he had ever played a super hero in a movie.

The next question was whether or not he had a famous sibling…which he does. His brother Liam is also an actor. This was followed by, “Does that hero use a hammer.”

I started to wonder if they were asking more questions because they didn’t know his real name. I mean, I’m terrible about actor names until they’ve been around a long time. Even as I watched and knew it was “the guy who plays Thor” I confess, I didn’t know his name, but a woman from Alabama did.

He slipped off the sack hiding his identity, and the audience cheered. He accepted his trophy and approached it all with a sense of humor. When asked if there was anyone he wanted to thank for this honor he said, “My parents I guess, for putting this together.” What a great line!

Hemsworth said the award gave him bragging rights around the house for a couple weeks with his model wife, Elsa Pataky (38). Together they have three children, daughter India 2, and 8-month-old twin sons Sasha and Tristan.

Photo credits: Amazon, AllAboutStrengthTube

Avoid Being the Parent of the Crying Child on the Plane

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by No Comments

Flying with kids can be a challenge. One time I had a friend whose son decided he had to go to the bathroom as the plane was taxing for takeoff. The four-year-old started to throw a tantrum and the mother threatened the flight crew with a nasty-smelling mess if they didn’t accommodate her son’s “need.”

I’ll never forget her telling me the story after the fact. She thought it was funny. I can tell you right now that the rest of the passengers didn’t think it was funny. It’s probably one of those nightmare screaming-child-on-the-plane stories still shared today.

Recently when the Khalfin family was traveling with their two-year-old, he started to have a meltdown when the Frontier attendant required his parents to secure him in his own seat, a requirement for kids two and older.

According to the father, when he buckled his son in, the boy started “screaming and yelling.” The father held the boy in place by force and the noise escalated. The attendant came over and warned that the boy was too loud and told him, “If you’re not going to keep him calm in the next three minutes, you guys are going to have to leave the plane.”

The parents were relieved when their son calmed down, but it didn’t last. When the plane hit turbulence later in the four-hour trip, it scared him and he started up again. Can you imagine the stress on that plane!

The parents had to be sweating bullets, and the stress among the passengers would be understandable, and of course that would affect the airline staff. Turns out that the tension between the family and the cabin crew intensified to the point that the police were called.

The flight staff told them the family had been abusive toward them. When the plane landed, the family, including the toddler were ushered off the plane and met by police “like criminals.”

Flying with kids can be tricky business. What’s a parent to do? Of course the answer to that question depends on your child. It helps to start working with your kids long before the flight so they know what to expect. Things like the fact that they will have to sit in their own seat might help.

If this is something your child doesn’t like, you can even practice sitting in the seat before it is ever brought on the plane. Books like Airplane Flight can also help prepare kids with things to expect when flying.

Lastly, I would recommend trying to schedule flights that might accommodate nap time. A sleeping child, after all, is a quiet child.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Is Oil Cleansing the Answer for Your Skin?

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by No Comments

When I visited my dentist last month, we chatted just a little after I was out of the chair and to my surprise, she asked me what I used on my skin. I blinked. “What?”

“I’ve been looking for what to use and have been asking my patients with good skin. Do you use something special, or is it just good genes?”

The fact is I have been doing something differently, and my skin looks better than it has in a long time.

I can’t begin to tell you how many half-used skin care products I have tucked under the sink in my bathroom. With how much they cost, there’s part of me that just can’t bear to throw them into the trash when they don’t live up to their hype.

I think I’ve finally broke that wasteful cycle, and would you believe the product I found is all natural and isn’t even in the skincare aisle? It’s olive oil.

Using olive oil to clean your face is called oil cleansing, and it works well for my combination skin. I’m not expecting to look 20 years younger, but I do want my skin to be free of blackheads, whiteheads, and other imperfections, and oil cleansing is doing the trick.

I admit, I figured it would work well on the dry part of my fact, but wondered about the oily part. It works! Gradually the blackheads have gone. Too bad I didn’t learn about this when I was a teen.

All I have to do is massage the oil into my skin and it removes my makeup and dissolves the gunk in my pores. It’s also safe to use on the delicate tissue around my eyes. Then I wash my face with a really warm (but not hot) wash cloth. The steam helps open my pores and makes the oil easy to wipe away. It leaves my face feeling clean without that tight or irritated feel.

When I told my dentist what I was doing, her eyes narrowed for a moment. But she said, “I might just try that. Your skin looks great.”

Some people also use coconut oil or sweet almond oil, but I had the olive oil on hand. For me it works, so for now that’s my oil of choice.

Photo credits: chelseamorganbeauty

Finding a Diet that Works

Posted on Nov 21, 2014 by No Comments

In my quest to eat healthy and lose weight, one thing I’ve come to learn is that balance and moderation is the key.

In the past, I’ve given up meat, given up flour, given up sugar, detoxed, fasted, juiced, ate raw, counted calories, counted carbs. I lost weight and felt great on all of them, but eventually I gained back the weight and landed back at “start.”

I was not equipped to keep it off – no matter how many of the diets call themselves “lifestyles” for me, they did not overcome my default behavior. Again, I have weight to lose so where do I turn?

The one good thing about trying so many ways to eat healthy and keep my weight within the normal range, I’ve learned things about myself.

For instance, I can do without sweets if I have to, but if I don’t indulge every once in a while my sweet tooth gets the better of me and the next thing you know I’m binging. And it’s not just sweets.

Diets that totally restrict a whole category, or categories, of food, eventually don’t work for me.

Woman measuring waist
Counting calories really works well, but I have to be careful. It’s not just about how many calories I eat. It’s finding the balance and moderation of eating right.

For instance, one time a friend of mine started eating dips and chips as we were preparing for a party later in the day. He ate all of his calories for the whole day by breakfast time, so he ate pickles for the rest of the day because they were “free” on his diet.

Instead, approaching calories with what I learned from low-carb dieting has helped me avoid feeling hungry by making choices that are lower carb, too. However, most days I do allow myself a sweet treat of some kind. Right now it is a serving of ice cream.

And by the way, that doesn’t mean a bowl of ice cream. It’s a moderate amount, but enough to keep me happy. I actually weigh it out on a food scale so I don’t “cheat” and sabotage myself. Eating ice cream is not good or bad, but eating too much ice cream often is bad for me.

And I’m not alone. A recent study says that sugar should be about 5 percent of our daily calories. According to the latest guidelines, for someone on a 2000 calorie diet that means about 100 calories come from sugar. That translates to 6 teaspoons.

I admit; I’m not there, but not sure I ever will be. For now I’ll settle for balanced and moderate.

Photo credits: Post Memes, wikimedia

Easy Christmas Nail Art

Posted on Nov 20, 2014 by No Comments

It can be fun to celebrate the holidays right down to our fingertips. For the Fourth of July I got together with a bunch of girlfriends and their daughters and we did pedicures with red, white, and blue.

Now I’ve started to gather some easy Christmas nail art for a party in December. We break into twos and do each other’s nails after we pick the nail art we want. I learned it’s best to keep it less complicated since the kids take part in the effort.

Here are a few ideas I think are winners:

Santa Hats

This Santa hat pattern is very easy.

  1. Just cross two pieces of clear tape over your finger nails, leaving a space the shape of a triangle.
  2. Paint a protective clear coat over the exposed triangle.
  3. When it’s dry paint with red. Wait 30 seconds and peel the tape off carefully. This creates a red triangle with even edges.
  4. With a large dotting tool, create a white pom-pom at the point of the triangle. With a smaller dotting tool, create a row of connected white dots at the bottom of the hat. Add a second row above it. When dry, apply a fast drying clear top coat.

Christmas Tree Nails

You can use the same triangle art to create Christmas tree nail art. Start by painting the nail with a background color like gold. When it is dry, tape off the fingernail and paint a green triangle.

You can use glitter polish, or a matte green and then decorate with white, red and gold dots for ornaments using the dotting tool. Top the tree with a star nail decal or just add a red large red dot with the large dotting tool. When dry add a fast drying clear top coat.

Christmas Nail Art

For something even easier, you can just paint your nails in Christmas colors and then add nail art from snowflakes to Christmas trees or Santa. This is a really quick way to get that festive look.

Photo credits: Amazon

JetBlue Presents Program that Helps Autistic Kids Fly

Posted on Nov 19, 2014 by No Comments

Flying with kids can be a little stressful. Everyone is out of their routine, strange surroundings, and lots of strangers who expect everyone to behave.

When something like a delay adds to the mix and a fussy child starts to make a commotion, stress levels can really skyrocket. Poor parents find themselves caught between the stares of other passengers, and the child they are trying to quiet.

Just writing about it is stressful.

For parents of an autistic child it can be even more of a challenge, but JetBlue Airways is offering help to families of autistic children to help prepare them for the experience of flying.

They have partnered with Blue Horizons For Autism with a program that simulates air travel to help autistic kids experience it in a “realistic, relaxed environment” before they actually fly.

A recent event at John F. Kennedy International Airport drew more than 250 people. Two separate sessions allowed visitors to walk through the entire travel process, including check-in at the airport ticket counter, security screening, waiting at the gate for the plane, boarding, and taxiing on the tarmac.

Once they were on the plane, JetBlue crew members were on hand to guide families through pre-takeoff procedures and flight simulation, along with 15 behavior analysts from Nassau Suffolk Services for Autism who volunteered their time and support for participating families throughout the day.

Both sessions ended with a festive reception marking the accomplishment for participants.

This program actually helps meet needs of the autism community in even more ways, because along with helping autistic children adjust to flying, it also helps educate airline employees about autism and how to meet needs of these special children and their families.

JetBlue and Autism Speaks received such positive feedback that they hope to offer the program to as many cities as possible.

Photo credits: JetBlueCorpComm