Yoga helps cancer survivors

SIDE NOTE:  This article is provided compliments of the Mayo Clinic “Living with Cancer” Blog.  We find their advice to be highly credible.

Yoga helps cancer survivors with overall well-being

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.


Every day researchers are learning more about the health benefits of mind-body techniques. Yoga has been in the spotlight showing positive benefits for cancer survivors.

Yoga is an ancient Hindu practice combining meditation, breathing and body postures to relax the mind and body together.

There are many different types of yoga. The most common form used for health conditions is Hatha yoga because it has easier movements and a more relaxed pace.

One of the major concerns that cancer survivors may experience long after treatment is over is lack of energy and fatigue. When studied with a group of breast cancer survivors, those who used yoga had a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, improved energy levels and mood.

Along with decreasing stress levels, other benefits include an increase in muscle strength and flexibility, and improved balance.

Next time you see your health care provider, ask if yoga is a safe option for you. If you have never tried yoga, begin by exploring classes offered in your health care center or community center.

Many times health care centers will offer classes on seated yoga for those people with limited physical mobility. Start slow and find an instructor who will work with your individual needs at first to get you comfortable with the techniques. At the end of a yoga session, you should feel energized, yet calm and relaxed.

At North Star Lodge we offer the “Sound Sleep – Sound Rest” program which follows the primary practices of yoga.  If you think this kind of strategy to reduce anxiety and improve sleep is mumbo jumbo we challenge to attend the introductory session offered each Thursday at Noon-12:30 pm.  Visit us in the Stepping Stones Library at North Star Lodge for books on this topic and other stress reduction techniques.  Any words of wisdom from our regular participants?

Child Safety Tips in the home

Brightly colored little packets that combine laundry detergent/cleaning agents are a new convenience for consumers and a new danger for kids

Nearly 250 people have called poison centers in a past couple of months after small children swallowed or bit into the packets.

Look around your home and put away items that could be hazardous to your children. In case of an emergency call 1-800-222-1222.

Tips For Summer: Enjoy the Sun While Staying in Shape!

Summer Navigation Guide –
Enjoy the Sun While Staying in Shape!
By Lindsey Woodkey

It’s that time again! Fire up the barbeques, plan those summer vacations, and (gasp!) … purchase the swim attire you will don this year. Whether you’ve made and kept your New Year’s resolution, or you still have some work to do, here are my summer survival strategies. Family gatherings, vacations, and pool parties need not be recipes for disaster.

At Barbeques: Eat before you go. This will keep you from being ravenous and making unhealthy choices. Protein is best, so opt for a tuna cup, hardboiled egg, or whey protein shake.

Look at the spread BEFORE making your choices. Choose items you really enjoy and leave the other ones. Often we think we must have baked beans, or cheese on our burger just because it’s there.

Watch out for dressings and sauces. Not only are they breeding grounds for food-borne illnesses, they are calorie bombs. Trust me, you’ll hardly miss the mayonnaise on that hot dog. Instead, make safer choices such as mustard, hot sauce, and low calorie salad dressings.

When filling your plate, think “islands”, not “mountains. We often take more than we truly need to feel satisfied, then are distracted by conversations and consume it all. Instead, think of each serving as an “island” instead of piling food onto your plate.

Fill up on fruits and veggies first. These foods are voluminous, meaning they take up a lot of space with few calories. By choosing to eat these items first you will quiet those hunger pains without consuming too many unnecessary calories.

Focus on the company, not the food. Why are bratwurst and potato salad the focus of our gatherings? Station yourself away from the appetizer table and converse with your family and friends. It’s hard to get a word in while you’re stuffing your face.

Drink WATER. As good as an ice-cold beer sounds, it can wreak havoc on your dedication to eating healthfully. Not only are there unnecessary calories in alcohol, it lowers your inhibitions and promotes you to indulge more than usual. Stick with water, not calorie-laden lemonades or sweetened ice teas. If you must have a beer, keep it light, and don’t drink on an empty stomach.

Be Active. It’s a BARBEQUE! Set up a net and play volleyball or badminton; join the kids in a game of tag; if you’re at the park get a game of dodge ball going. You may even forget about the cherry pie!

If you’re the chef, you have even more you can do to “healthify” your gathering. Now more than ever people are becoming conscious of their health and what goes in their bodies. Most will appreciate your efforts to offer a lower calorie spread!

Swap High Calorie Condiments. Fat free mayo, mustard, low sugar ketchup, unsweetened relish; the options are endless and can save you hundreds of calories.

Choose lean meats. This means 93/7 grass fed beef, chicken breasts (without sugar-filled barbeque sauces) and flank or sirloin steaks. Since leaner cuts tend to be less tender, marinate your meats before grilling.

Stick to One or Two Carbohydrates. Do we really need beans AND potato salad AND corn? Not to mention the high calorie buns. I’m not saying deprive yourself or your guests, but limit your spread to two carbohydrate-filled items. Feeling adventurous? Try skipping the bun and instead wrap your burger in lettuce or use portabella mushroom caps.

Include lots of healthy options. No one will miss the store bought chips and dip if you have an array of fresh veggies, healthful salads, and fruit platters. Make your own Greek yogurt dips and dress your salads with vinegar to save on calories.

Opt for Sugar Free Beverages – What’s a barbeque without ice cold lemonade? Choose a sugar free version. Many have 10 calories or less per serving. Your guests won’t even know the difference!

Say no to heavy desserts – You’ve worked hard to keep your meal healthy, why blow it with cherry pies or ice cream cakes? Fruit with low sugar whipped cream or angel food cake with fresh strawberries will leave you satisfied and ready for that game of flag football, not on the sidelines in a carb coma.

There’s no need to stay away from social gatherings or deprive yourself this summer. Make simple, healthy swaps and your body will thank you. Whether you’re at your goal weight or far from it, wear your summer clothing with pride. Most importantly, take time to have an enjoyable summer with your treasured family and friends!

Lindsey Woodkey of Ellensburg is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with bachelors’ degrees in exercise science and nutrition from Central Washington University.

Yakima Asthma Treatment: Bronchial thermoplasty

Memorial Helps Severe Asthma Patients Breathe Easier with New Treatment

Memorial first hospital east of the Cascades to offer procedure



Yakima – More than 20 million Americans live with asthma every day.  In Yakima County, one in 11 adults have this respiratory disease that causes the lungs to narrow making it difficult to breathe.  There is no cure for asthma; however, it can be managed with proper education and treatment.   And now, there’s a cutting edge treatment for people with moderate to severe forms of the disease whose symptoms are not well managed with standard medications.

Memorial is the first hospital in Central and Eastern Washington to offer bronchial thermoplasty. This is the first non-pharmaceutical procedure approved by the FDA for the treatment of severe persistent asthma in patients 18 years and older.


Bronchial thermoplasty uses a small catheter to deliver controlled energy to the airways of the lung to reduce the amount of excessive airway smooth muscle.  This reduction decreases the muscle’s ability to constrict the airways, resulting in a decreased frequency of asthma attacks.  The minimally invasive procedure is performed via bronchoscopy in three outpatient visits


The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) estimates asthma accounts for approximately 13 million asthma attacks, 2 million emergency room visits, 500,000 hospitalizations and 4,000 deaths each year.

“This has the potential to be a life-changing procedure,” said Ismael Matus, MD, a pulmonologist from the Lung and Asthma Center of Central Washington with medical privileges at Memorial.  “People who have this done should see their symptoms ease so they will use their rescue inhalers less, make fewer trips to the ER and they will improve their quality of life,”


There are few risks with this procedure, but include a temporary increase and worsening of respiratory-related symptoms immediately after the procedure that rarely, but could require hospitalization.  Patients are encouraged to talk to their physician to determine if they are a candidate for bronchial thermoplasty.


Please visit our website at to learn more about bronchial thermoplasty.  To learn more about asthma, please go to








Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers

Hepatitis C and Baby Boomers

Date:  5/29/12


Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control called for all baby boomers to get a one-time blood test for Hepatitis C.  The current recommendation is to only test people with known risk factors.


If detected and treated, this course of action could lead 800,000 more baby boomers to get treatment and could save more than 120,000 lives.


What is Hepatitis C?

  • Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus that attacks the liver.  It causes scarring and leads to cirrhosis or liver cancer.


  • The virus can also damage other parts of the body.


  • 15,000 Americans die each year from Hepatitis C-related illnesses.


  • Baby boomers born between 1945-1965 account for nearly 75% of the 3.2 Americans infected with the virus.


Why the concern?

  • It can take years for the disease to be detected.  Many people who are infected may not know it.


What are the risk factors?

  • Intravenous drug use.  The virus can pass from person to person through shared needles
  • People infected with HIV
  • Pepole with signs of liver disease
  • Recipients of blood transfusions or solid organ transplants before July 1992, when better testing of blood donors became available


Should baby boomers be the only ones tested?

  • Talk to your health care provider if you feel you might be at risk for the disease.
  • People who did not engage in drug use, but may have done other things that could involve blood –sharing razor blades, getting tattoos or piercings, even manicures – might have put them at risk to contract the virus.


What treatment options are available?

  • Approximately 15-25% of people clear the virus from their bodies without treatment, but still have lingering antibodies.  That’s how a positive initial test is made.  Follow up confirmation tests are needed in these cases.
  • Two new medications hit the market last year that promise to cure many more people than was previously possible.  If you do have Hepatitis C, talk to your health care provider about the best course of treatment for you.


Tips for coping with a cancer diagnosis

This from the Mayo Clinic

Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, knowing what to expect and making plans for how to proceed can help make this stressful time easier.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Learning that you have cancer is a difficult experience. After your cancer diagnosis, you may feel anxious, afraid or overwhelmed and wonder how you can cope during the days ahead. Here are 11 suggestions for coping with a cancer diagnosis.

Get the facts about your cancer diagnosis

Try to obtain as much basic, useful information as possible about your cancer diagnosis. Consider bringing a family member or friend with you to your first few doctor appointments. Write down your questions and concerns beforehand and bring them with you. Consider asking:

  • What kind of cancer do I have?
  • Where is the cancer?
  • Has it spread?
  • Can my cancer be treated?
  • What is the chance that my cancer can be cured?
  • What other tests or procedures do I need?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • How will the treatment benefit me?
  • What can I expect during treatment?
  • What are the side effects of the treatment?
  • When should I call the doctor?
  • What can I do to prevent my cancer from recurring?
  • How likely are my children or other family members to get cancer?

Keep the lines of communication open

Maintain honest, two-way communication with your loved ones, doctors and others after your cancer diagnosis. You may feel particularly isolated if people try to protect you from bad news or if you try to put up a strong front. If you and others express your emotions honestly, you can all gain strength from each other.

Anticipate possible physical changes

Now — after your cancer diagnosis and before you begin treatment — is the best time to plan for changes. Prepare yourself now so that you’ll be better able to cope later. Ask your doctor what changes you should anticipate. If drugs cause hair loss, advice from image experts about clothing, makeup, wigs and hairpieces may help you feel more comfortable and attractive. Insurance often helps pay for wigs, prostheses and other adaptive devices. Members of cancer support groups may be particularly helpful in this area and can provide tips that have helped them and others.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

This can improve your energy level. Eating a healthy diet consisting of a variety of foods and getting adequate rest may help you manage the stress and fatigue of the cancer and its treatment. Exercise and participating in enjoyable activities also may help. Recent data suggest that people who maintain some physical exercise during treatment not only cope better, but may also live longer.

Let friends and family help you

Often friends and family can run errands, provide transportation, prepare meals and help you with household chores. Learn to accept their help. Accepting help gives those who care about you a sense of making a contribution at a difficult time. Also encourage your family to accept help if it’s needed. A cancer diagnosis affects the entire family and adds stress, especially to the primary caregivers. Accepting help with meals or chores from neighbors or friends can go a long way in preventing caregiver burnout.

Cancer diagnosis: 11 tips for coping

Review your goals and priorities

Determine what’s really important in your life. Find time for the activities that are most important to you and give you the most meaning. If needed, try to find a new openness with loved ones. Share your thoughts and feelings with them. Cancer affects all of your relationships. Communication can help reduce the anxiety and fear that cancer can cause.

Try to maintain your normal lifestyle

Maintain your normal lifestyle, but be open to modifying it as necessary. Take one day at a time. It’s easy to overlook this simple strategy during stressful times. When the future is uncertain, organizing and planning may suddenly seem overwhelming.

Talk to other people with cancer

Sometimes it will feel as if people who haven’t experienced a cancer diagnosis can’t fully understand how you’re feeling. It may help to talk to people who have been in your situation. Other cancer survivors can share their experiences and give you insight into what you can expect during treatment.

You may have a friend or family member who has had cancer. Or you can connect with other cancer survivors through support groups. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area or contact your local chapter of the American Cancer Society. Online message boards also bring cancer survivors together. Start with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivors Network.

Fight stigmas

Some old stigmas associated with cancer still exist. Your friends may wonder if your cancer is contagious. Co-workers may doubt you’re healthy enough to do your job, and some may withdraw for fear of saying the wrong thing. Many people will have questions and concerns. Determine how you’ll deal with others’ behaviors toward you. By and large, others will take their cues from you. Remind friends that even if cancer has been a frightening part of your life, it shouldn’t make them afraid to be around you.

Look into insurance options

If you’re employed, you may feel trapped, unable to change jobs for fear of not qualifying for new insurance. If you’re retired, you may have difficulty purchasing new supplemental insurance. Find out whether your state provides health insurance assistance for people who are difficult to insure. Look into group insurance options through professional or fraternal organizations. The Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act may be of help during this time.

Develop your own coping strategy

Just as each person’s cancer treatment is individualized, so is the coping strategy you use. Ideas to try:

  • Practice relaxation techniques.
  • Share your feelings honestly with family, friends, a spiritual adviser or a counselor.
  • Keep a journal to help organize your thoughts.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, list the pros and cons for each choice.
  • Find a source of spiritual support.
  • Set aside time to be alone.
  • Remain involved with work and leisure activities as much as you can.

What comforted you through rough times before your cancer was diagnosed is likely to help ease your worries now, whether that’s a close friend, religious leader or a favorite activity that recharges you. Turn to these comforts now, but also be open to trying new coping strategies.