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Being There: Supporting a Loved One During Cancer Treatment

If a person you love is diagnosed with cancer, make an effort to treat your loved one as normal as possible without disregarding the fact that they were stricken with the disease. In other words, adopt a business-as-usual approach and let your loved one determine whether they feel well enough for activities. In terms of ways to be supportive, don’t wait for your friend or family member to come to you—it’s likely they don’t want to feel like a burden. Instead, perform specific actions that can show your love and support without being invasive or overbearing. The Vascular Institute shares a few ways you can help that will go a long way physically and emotionally. 

 

Pitching In

Declutter

Stress, nausea, headaches, and fatigue are all common side effects of cancer treatment. One way to help relieve these feelings is by decluttering the home. It’s likely that your loved one isn’t up for the task—or shouldn’t be doing anything overly arduous—so step in and do the physical aspect while he or she instructs you on what to keep and what to toss. Next, you can create a serene spot within the home conducive to relaxation. Think candles, cozy blankets and pillows, and plants. Along with serving as natural air purifiers, copious studies indicate that exposure to leafy foliage can boost mood and reduce stress. 

 

Meal Prep 

Whether you schedule a meal delivery service, grocery delivery, or prepare some home-cooked meals, keep chemo in mind. Foods that help negate the side effects include: carrots, gravy, rice, bananas, whole grains, ginger candy, custard, orange juice, onions, garlic, and lean proteins.

 

Kids and Pets

Offer to help babysit or take the kids to and from school and activities. Walk the dog, take pets to the vet, and make sure they have enough food and supplies. 

 

Be the Voice

Offer to handle returning phone calls or responding to emails and/or get-well cards. Coordinate visits on your loved one’s behalf.

 

Follow Their Lead

Any sort of diagnosis leads to a search for treatment methods, and a cancer diagnosis is no different. Help your loved one look into or research certain complementary therapies they are interested in. It could be a traditional method such as yoga or massage, or something a little more unique like Reiki and healing touch. 

 

Being There

Act Mindfully

  • Base your actions and words on the information you’re receiving from your loved one. Some people use humor; others are more introverted. Respect any direction and adapt if need be. 
  • Be there on good days and bad. There will be several mental and physical challenges along the way. 
  • Respect any decisions they make regarding their treatment even though you may not agree. 

 

What Not to Do

  • Don’t be judgmental or give advice when it wasn’t requested.
  • Don’t be afraid to step away if mood swings or a violent temper become too destructive on your own psyche. You need to make sure your own mental health is in check if you’re going to help someone else, so don’t don’t forget about self-care
  • Don’t assume that your loved one can no longer complete a specific task or participate in a usual activity.
  • Don’t let your stress be contagious. Whether it’s stress related to your loved one’s diagnosis, your work, your home life or anything else, take steps to mitigate your stress so that it doesn’t affect them.
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about their illness if they want to discuss it with you.
  • Don’t use a patronizing tone and/or phrases like, “I can imagine how you feel,” when you truly can’t.  

Everyone handles cancer treatment differently, so you may have to reinvent yourself in order to offer effective support for your loved one. It can be difficult to remember exactly what you should and shouldn’t say, so don’t beat yourself up if you fumble. The physical and emotional support you give your loved one just may be the best medicine they receive. 

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Prevent High Blood Pressure with Little Changes

Little changes can make a BIG difference.

High blood pressure is a constant abnormal elevation of the pressure within the arteries which deliver blood to the entire body. Those suffering from high blood pressure need to be treated as it can lead to kidney failure, heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, and blindness.
 
To help prevent high blood pressure, it is important to limit the amount of salt or sodium in your diet.
 
Here are a few ways to help prevent high sodium intake from St. Joseph’s Healthcare:
1. Take the salt shaker off of the table. Try seasoning foods with herbs, spices and
lemon juice instead.
2. Do not use salt in cooking.
3. Replace onion, garlic, and celery salt with the fresh product or powder.
4. Eat at fast food restaurants less often.
5. Eat less cured and processed meats:
  • Ham
  • Sausage
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Bologna
  • Salami
  • Pepperoni
6. Eat less processed or convenience foods that are high in salt or sodium:
  • Canned soups
  • Spaghetti or tomato sauce
  • Processed cheese
  • Soy sauce
  • Pickles 
Reducing your sodium intake is key for not only to control your blood pressure, but for overall vascular health.

Men’s Health Matters

June is Men’s Health Month.

This month is a reminder for men to take steps to be healthier, but they don’t have to do it alone! Whether it’s your partner, dad, brother, son, uncle, or friend, you can help support the health and safety of the men in your life.
 

Here are a few facts:

  • Men are at a greater risk of death in every age group
  • Men have a higher rate of suicide than women
  • Men have a higher rate of workplace injuries than women
  • Men do not get physical exams from physicians as often as women
  • Men are more likely to be uninsured than women
The Centers for Disease Control has a few tips to 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. They have many vitamins and minerals that may help protect from chronic disease. Limit foods and drinks high in calories, sugar, salt, fat, and alcohol.
  • Regular physical activity has many benefits. It can control your weight, reduce risk of heart disease and some cancers, and can improve mental health and mood. Find fun ways to be active together. Adults need 2 ½ hours of physical activity a week.
  • 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. Physical and emotional tension are often signs of stress. They can be reactions to a situation that causes you to feel threatened or anxious. Learn ways to manage stress including finding support, eating healthy, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Is Exercise Worth the Effort?

Physical Activity and Vascular Health

It is widely accepted that regular physical activity is beneficial for vascular health. People who enjoy regular physical activity have lower death rates than people who have no risk factors but who aren’t physically active.
The lack of regular physical activity results in 250,000 deaths annually, according to the American Heart Association. As blood flows better through the veins and arteries through exercise, it keeps the body healthier and decreases the amount of bad cholesterol.
Here are a few tips to add physical activity into your daily schedule:
  • Select enjoyable activities
  • Work out with a friend
  • Encourage family members to participate
  • Measure progress through a daily exercise journal
Twice-weekly muscle-strengthening activities are encouraged to keep vascular health strong. These activities may include:
  • Sit-ups, push-ups
  • Weight lifting
  • Heavy gardening such as digging or shoveling
  • Yoga
Before starting an exercise regime, patients should always consult with a physician to determine the best plan of action.

How Important Is Your Mental Health?

Depression and Vascular Disease

Quarantine has caused many cases of mental health issues among our friends and family.  Isolation can lead to loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
 
For some, mental health issues can lead to more health issues. People with depression or anxiety are more prone to develop heart and vascular disease, according to a recent study by Harvard Medical School.
 
The study concluded those who reported high or very high levels of depression and anxiety were more likely to have had a heart attack or stroke than people without those symptoms.
 
Here is a list of 10 questions used to identify people who need further assessment for anxiety or depression. People can select answers ranging from 1 to 5: 1 (none of the time); 2 (a little of the time); 3 (some of the time); 4 (most of the time); 5 (all of the time).
 
During the past four weeks, about how often did you feel
___ depressed?
___ nervous?
___ so nervous that nothing could calm you down?
___ restless or fidgety?
___ so restless that you could not sit still?
___ tired out for no good reason?
___ that everything was an effort?
___ so sad that nothing could cheer you up?
___ hopeless?
___ worthless?
 
Scoring: 15 or lower = low; 16–21= moderate; 22–29 = high; 30–50 = very high
 
The findings from the study don’t necessarily mean that mental distress causes heart and vascular issues, but it does raise awareness to the issue.
 
If you score high on the distress level test – or just feel depressed or anxious – don’t be afraid to seek help. Reach out to friends and family. Also ask your primary care provider to recommend potential treatments to battle your challenges.
 
Always remember – you aren’t alone!
 

Expanding Services in Cleveland

VIC Cleveland

Vascular Institute will soon open a new 7,700-square-foot clinic designed to introduce outpatient surgical vascular care in Cleveland and the Ocoee Region. It will also enhance clinical and ultrasound capabilities for patients.
The Cleveland operations expansion, located in the Bradley Heritage Medical Park at 4312 Holiday Inn Express Parkway NW, will more than double the size of its current office on N. Lee Highway. That office will close as operations are ready at the new location in June 2020.
The exciting new feature to the facility are the two surgical procedure suites, providing the Ocoee region’s first of its kind outpatient vascular facility that is owned and operated by a private medical provider. Vascular Institute providers will continue to provide services and operate at Tennova Hospital in Cleveland.
Additional clinical exam rooms will allow VIC’s nurse practitioners to treat patients with less wait time for scheduling appointments from the initial referral or patient contact. Patients will meet with a clinician to determine specialized treatment plans, which may include surgery if needed, and follow up care once procedures are completed.