Thursday, 28 September 2017 14:49

Helping Hands for Breast Cancer


By Amy Meadows


You get a phone call. You see a message posted on Facebook. You hear the news from a friend. And it's devastating. Someone you know has breast cancer. All you want to do is help, but you're not quite sure how. Can you bring them something? Is it OK to visit? What should you ask—or not ask? It's tough to know where to start. That's why we've talked to breast cancer survivors and their spouses to find out exactly what to do. Here, these brave and caring individuals provide practical tips and specific advice that will allow you to figure out how to be as supportive as possible without overstepping your bounds. From surgery and treatment to everyday life, these recommendations will give you the understanding you need to help your friend or loved one navigate the challenging road ahead.


PHOTO 1Surgery and Treatment

For many breast cancer patients, surgery and treatment begin almost immediately after diagnosis. They face a whirlwind of information and to-do lists that seem to multiply by the minute as they fight for their lives. When it comes to offering support surrounding surgery (from mastectomies to reconstructive surgery) and treatment (both chemotherapy and radiation), there are certain things you should—and should not—do during this delicate time.

Avoid Giving Unsolicited Advice

Whether talking about certain doctors to see or specific treatments to consider, sometimes it's best to keep your advice to yourself when talking to someone who has just received a breast cancer diagnosis. While your intentions may be nothing but good, the suggestions can be overwhelming for the patient.

"When someone is trying to help, and if they've been through cancer, they want to tell you everything to do. But every breast cancer is different," explains Mickala Hawkins, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at 40 and was treated at Piedmont Newton Women's Diagnostic Center. Chris Spires concurs. His wife, Heather, was diagnosed with Stage 0 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) in November 2016 at 43. "Everyone means well, but every case is so personal and so different. Stop before you say something even in passing. I wanted to tell people, 'We have qualified people who know my wife's situation. We have a team and a plan that is best for us,'" says Spires, a Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta supporter.

PHOTO 2"Everybody has a friend or relative who has had cancer, and they wanted me to talk to them," recalls Donna Wentz, who, in September 2014, discovered she had breast cancer at 39 and was treated at WellStar Douglas Hospital and WellStar Paulding Radiation. "I'm a talker, but I didn't want to talk to anyone. I didn't want to hear everyone else's story. I had my own story that I was living, and I wanted to do just that."

What's more, as a patient is facing surgery and treatment, be sure to avoid talking about what may have "caused" the cancer. "People that get breast cancer did not cause their breast cancer," notes Heidi Floyd, a Model of Courage for Ford Warriors in Pink, who was only 36 and pregnant with her fourth child when she was diagnosed more than a decade ago with an aggressive form of breast cancer. "Don't ask, 'Did you smoke? Did you drink? Did you not eat organic?' The list goes on and on. [People are] looking for answers, and they think there has to be a reason because, otherwise, [they're] vulnerable too."

In any case, let the patient guide you as you figure out how to talk about the cancer. "Don't be afraid to talk about it, but if the person doesn't want to talk about it, then don't," Hawkins states.

Be a Second Set of Ears

Doctor appointments immediately become an integral part of a breast cancer patient's life, and they often need someone to be there to help them sort through the experience. "There were times when I was overwhelmed. My wife would come to the appointments. She would listen and write down what the doctors had said," says Leslie Mullins, who was treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, and as a 51-year-old man, never expected to receive a breast cancer diagnosis.

"You need someone there who can ask questions," says Hawkins, whose mother attended many of her first appointments. Together, they also sought the help of a cancer navigator. The navigator was able to explain terminology and clarify what the doctors were saying.

PHOTO 3Prepare for Post-Op Days

Particularly for spouses, Spires recommends preparing yourself for what the patient will endure during and after a single or double mastectomy. "You need some sort of a road map for what to expect. So my single biggest advice for any partner is to Google images and look at pictures of mastectomy healing," he explains. "It sounds crude, but this isn't your run-of-the-mill boob job," he continues. "It's easier to look at for the first time when it's a faceless, two-dimensional picture."

In addition to the scars associated with the surgery, patients have to deal with drain tubes and more during those first few post-op days—and it's best to understand what lies ahead and what the patient will need. According to Maria Bedoya, a former patient of Dr. Speed's Global Breast Health & Wellness Center who was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in October 2015, there are resources available to help those recovering with their comfort level, including finding the proper clothes. From loose-fitting shirts that you can step into (instead of lifting your arms) to clothing that can accommodate the drain tubes, there are numerous options available for purchase.

What's more, while they have their drain tubes in, breast cancer patients can't take a shower. Spires recommends doing something to help the patient feel a bit normal if possible. "I took my wife to the salon so she could get her hair washed and dried. It made her feel good again."

Everyday Life

Breast cancer stops even the most organized and together patient in their tracks. That person's everyday existence becomes filled with doctor appointments, treatment days and countless hours feeling sick because of the many medications being administered. Fortunately, this is the area where people really can make a huge difference for their loved one.

Meals and More

One of the first things people do when someone in their community is facing breast cancer is to start a meal tree. Delivering food can help you feel proactive, and the gesture is always welcomed. Yet, there are some steps you can take to make the process even easier for the patient and the family.

"I have a friend at the courthouse who I've known for 20 years. Jennifer—I called her my manager," says Wentz, who is the chief clerk of the juvenile court in Douglas County. "She took control of the meal calendars and arranged them for when I was out of surgery. People flocked to set up their night to bring food. She had four weeks covered and taken care of until my husband was ready to start cooking again."

PHOTO 4Although the food is greatly appreciated, oftentimes having visitors can place additional stress on the patient, who may not be up to talking or discussing the situation. In this case, Spires recommends placing a cooler on the porch for the family, so meals can be left with care but the patient can continue to rest and focus on healing. And for those people who may not be able to deliver food, Wentz notes, you can always have pizza delivered directly to the patient's house. And there is another option as well.

"Gift cards are the bomb," says Lynn Wyatt, who was treated at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital and received her first breast cancer diagnosis nine years ago at 40, and her second four years later, as metastatic cancer spread to her liver, spine and brain. "You can use them anytime. You can't go out when you're sick, but you have them for when you're feeling better. And they're great for anything—from restaurants to Target."

PHOTO 5It's important to remember that eating is not always possible for patients, who often experience nausea and worse from chemotherapy. In many cases, delivered meals benefit the patient's spouse and children—which is equally important. However, to ensure that the patient also is taken care of, consider delivering food that she or he can eat. "When you're in treatment, you can't eat. Your mouth is full of sores and gets dry like sandpaper. I was just sick," Hawkins says. "I mixed berries, kale, spinach, carrots, flax seeds, bananas, and coconut water or aloe vera juice. I had no energy, but I could drink that and get my energy back."

Household Chores

For patients and their families, regular household work gets pushed by the wayside in the wake of a breast cancer diagnosis. Assistance with routine tasks could be the most helpful thing you can do—even if the offer initially is met with resistance.

"For someone who wants to help a loved one, don't ask what you can do to help or say, 'Call me if you need anything.' I would never call," Bedoya asserts. "So just be firm and tell the person when you're coming over. Ask what day will be a good day to come do the laundry."

"You want to think you can do it yourself, but you need help. You can't do it alone," says Hawkins, who notes that spouses—including her husband—often are preoccupied with caring for not only the patient, but also their children and their own work schedules, making housework all but impossible. Throughout her treatment, she was able to receive help from national organization Cleaning for a Reason, which provided housecleaning services for her every four weeks.

PHOTO 6Take Care of the Caregiver

"Caregivers have a unique set of challenges that set them apart," says Heidi Floyd's husband, Stuart. "As a spouse, you love the person, you try to care for the person, you try to do everything you can to help them and to give them a good life, but when cancer strikes, they're going through things that you're not going through. You start feeling guilty about the physical things they're going through, and you can't alleviate that. That's why the emotional, mental and spiritual support that you get are just phenomenal to help caregivers in our own unique circumstances."

"It's important to have a contact person who is close but not a spouse," says Wentz, who depended on her friend, Jennifer, to be that person. "My husband, Scott, was just as overwhelmed as I was. He was a wreck. So she answered his phone at the hospital. She updated Facebook. And if anyone asked, I would just say, 'Call Jennifer. She'll tell you what needs to be done.' Having that one person as a contact was one of the best things we did."

Furthermore, whenever possible, it's important to give caregivers a day—or even just a few hours away—to regroup and refresh. "Once a month, the guys in the neighborhood would do a poker night, and my husband was always included," Wyatt recalls. "It got him out of the house and away from doing the minutia that has to be done to keep the family afloat. It really helps everyone."

PHOTO 7As the husband of a breast cancer patient and survivor, Spires notes the importance of being around a group of people who can listen. "As men, we don't like to ask for directions. And we don't like to be vulnerable with other men. But if you're a husband [or partner], you need to find a friend or friends who you can be authentic with," he says. "You need to be able to say, 'I'm stressed, and this sucks.' This is real life. It's not golf or fishing or sports. It's life and death."

The same is true for the children of breast cancer patients, who also feel the pressure associated with such a serious family situation. In addition to helping shuttle them to school when necessary, offer to take kids on
playdates to the park or anywhere that will take their minds off their parent's illness. It will help them retain a sense of normalcy. "Get them gift cards to activities or a gift card so Dad can take them out to dinner. All of the attention is on Mom, and there is no attention on them. Doing something like that is a thoughtful gift for the family," Wyatt says.


PHOTO 8No one likes to think about or discuss the financial burden that a breast cancer diagnosis can cause a family. "The No. 1 stress—then and now—with every cancer patient I know is financial," Heidi Floyd asserts. "One of the ways you become quickly overwhelmed is by the amount of medical bills that pile up."

In many instances, there are organizations and resources that can help patients negotiate financial services with hospitals and doctors, but the bills—both medical and everyday expenses—will continue to skyrocket. A common option is to set up a GoFundMe page for the patient and family. Yet some family members and friends will go a step further and try to raise money personally.

Hawkins' friends held multiple fundraisers in Covington for her medical care, raising a total of $24,000. Wentz's friend Jennifer arranged a walk on a local golf course, which included a raffle. "They gave all of the proceeds that they had made to us so we would have extra funds to help with bills and things," she recalls. "And people at my job anonymously donated their leave time—since I had exhausted all of my leave for my surgery—so I did not miss a paycheck. It was such a gift."

The key is to realize that every little bit counts. You don't have to donate large sums of money to make a huge impact. Wentz recalls receiving a card with $20 in the mail from a high school friend. "It was a surprise $20. She said, 'I know every little bit helps.' And it did."

Moral Support

Sometimes the most important effort you can make is just to let the patient know that you are there. And that can come in many different forms. You can do a variety of things for the patient such as putting a funny card in the mail, letting them know that your prayer group is praying for them, and being a positive source of support while fighting right alongside them. Bedoya recalls, "When I told my son that I had breast cancer, he said, 'Think positive. We're going to win. We're going to fight this cancer as a family.'"

And fight, we will. "Cancer is not a death sentence," says Mildred Schmelz, a two-time breast cancer survivor who was treated at Piedmont Henry Hospital. "Life can and will go on. You just need to make the decision to fight as hard as you can to live."


Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southeastern Regional Medical Center,
Dr. Speed's Global Breast Health & Wellness Center,
Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital,
Ford Warriors in Pink,
Piedmont Healthcare,
Susan G. Komen Greater Atlanta,
WellStar Health System,



Thursday, 28 September 2017 14:12

Y Plastic Surgery


By Amy Meadows



About a year ago, Asaf Yalif, MD, founder of Y Plastic Surgery, became one of the first members to join WellStar North Fulton Hospital's Breast Cancer STAT (Specialty Teams and Treatment) Clinic, a clinic that brings together all the medical specialists a patient may need to see when diagnosed with breast cancer.

"To be part of a breast cancer team is a wonderful opportunity," he says. "It's an excellent approach to cancer care because patients get to see all of their doctors together at one time. In this way we can explain how we can help them through the entire process. We want these patients to have the best possible experience from the very beginning, especially through such a frightening time."

Photo1That patient-centered focus has been at the heart of Dr. Yalif's practice since he opened the doors to Y Plastic Surgery in 2008 after years of intensive training in locations like New York City, Buffalo, and Memphis. Today, with offices in Alpharetta, Roswell, and Woodstock, Dr. Yalif and his team offer a wide range of cosmetic and aesthetic services for the entire body, as well as specialized service in breast surgery, including cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. "The amazing thing about plastic surgery is that we have the opportunity to replace form," he observes. "In a situation like breast cancer, we can help patients cope with some of the loss required with a cancer operation. When a mastectomy is done, the entire breast is removed and patients may feel like they have lost a part of themselves, and we can help recreate it for them. Plastic surgery is the only discipline where I can help in this way."

Offering comprehensive counsel and support throughout the surgical process—regardless of the type of procedure being done—is of the utmost importance to Dr. Yalif and his staff, who make themselves fully available to patients to answer questions and address concerns. "We really care about our patients, and we want them to be in an environment that makes them as comfortable as possible as we help them through their journey."

Being a supportive team member extends beyond the office for Dr. Yalif, who has been inspired by his work with breast cancer patients to help raise funds for research toward a cure. In November, he will run the New York City Marathon for the second time with The Pink Agenda team. The Pink Agenda is an organization that focuses on raising money for breast cancer research and care, with a focus among young professionals. To prepare, Dr. Yalif rises at 4 a.m. six days a week for morning runs, some more than 20 miles. And every step of the way, he thinks about his patients.

"It's an honor to be able to help breast cancer patients," Dr. Yalif says. "We want to provide the best level of care—with compassion—to all of our patients. Whether it's cosmetic or reconstructive, we want the process to be an excellent one."


PHOTO23 Differences You'll Notice About Y Plastic Surgery

1 A "Family" Affair
According to Dr. Asaf Yalif, the staff is a tight-knit group. "Our team is like a small family," he says. "You will see the same faces and hear the same voices throughout your care here. We're always here for patients, to help them spiritually, emotionally and physically."

2 Best Results
Dr. Yalif uses the some of the most advanced techniques and technology to create the patients desired look—whether surgical or minimally invasive. "There are so many options available these days, and a new one pops up every week! We have to stay abreast of what is 'best practice' and master it," he reveals. "When we have discussions with patients, we want them to know that we will make choices based on their anatomy and their desires to create their best aesthetic."

3 Giving Back
Dr. Yalif and his team are active in the community. In addition to their commitment to breast cancer research, they also volunteer with numerous local and national charities. "Giving back to the community is very important to the heart and soul of Y Plastic," explains Dr. Yalif. "We always want to educate, enrich, and help the best that we can. Through running, raising funds, and engaging the community, we can bring about great change." Rebecka Stenberg, the front office coordinator, adds, "You can always check us out on our social media to see who we are raising funds for next!"


Thursday, 28 September 2017 13:49

Breakdancing Comes of Age

There aren't many dance instructors who are the same age as their form of expression, but for Honey Rockwell, that's precisely the case. She and hip-hop dancing have evolved alongside each other over the past four decades, and now she's helping choreograph its future.

QUOTE 1Breaking the Mold

Rockwell, 45, is dedicated to sharing her love of hip-hop through her school, Rockwell Dance Academy, which she opened four years ago in Acworth with her husband, Orko, a fellow dancer. What started off as a small community dance-off, ended up being something way bigger. "I recruited my daughter's friends and some kids from the neighborhood. We had a blast! We would put on performances for the neighborhood. As more kids started joining, our basement was getting too small to fit everyone. So then we moved it to the garage, then I rented space at a recreation center, and finally, our studio."

The type of dancing she specializes in is breakin' (also referred to in popular culture as breakdancing). Her mission is to preserve the original dance styles of hip-hop. "My passion is teaching dance, my experiences, and what I can share with the next generation," she says.

PHOTO 1In addition to the array of classes for kids offered at the academy, there are classes for adults who want to move in ways they may not have ever tried before.

Adults can take classes in breakin', locking (freezing and holding certain positions), popping (quick, precisely timed muscle movements), salsa, and new school hip-hop choreography. "Dance can be a kind of Fountain of Youth. I've actually seen it reverse certain diseases like diabetes for the better. Bodies in motion stay in motion," Rockwell says.

SB 1Because hip-hop and breakin' are still such relatively young styles of dance in the history of the art form, Rockwell says she has had to forge her own ways of sharing them with her students of all ages.

"There's no template for what we're doing now," she says. "I'm always challenging myself to make my students believers of this dance style. It's about just going for it and having fun with it at any age. I love showing my students that this is me and this is what I turned out to be!"

Making Moves

Rockwell got her start dancing as a young girl growing up in the South Bronx, where hip-hop itself was born. She was studying gymnastics and dance by the time she was 7. As a teenager, she competed with the gymnastics team at John F. Kennedy High School and competed for the United States Gymnastics Federation (now known as USA Gymnastics).

The transition between the gymnastics mat and the dance floor was a natural one. While most high school students were busy keeping tabs on their crushes, Rockwell was connecting with many of the key pioneers of breakin' in New York, including Louie New Wave (who has since passed), Ghettoriginal Dance Production, the Rock Steady Crew, and VII Grandmasters. By the time Rockwell was 23, they had recognized and nurtured her skills, claiming her as one of their own: a true "B-Girl."

It was during this time that Rockwell says she learned some of life's toughest lessons, all of which she says went into making her the disciplined, balanced and focused woman, business person, and mother she is now. As a very young mom, she had to rely on the help of her grandmother to keep things together as she worked as a gymnastics coach and made a name for herself in the competitive dance culture.

In 1994, Rockwell began performing and touring with the Off-Broadway hip-hop musical, "Jam on the Groove," which went on to tour nationally and internationally. It was in that show that she met her future husband, "B-Boy" Orko. (The two remained in each other's circles over the years, eventually marrying when Rockwell was 40. They moved to the Atlanta area in 2010 with Orko's job at a utility company.)

After her tour with the show, Rockwell danced in the Vegas theater production, "Madhattan," and was cast in the movie "Mannequin 2." She also performed on MTV's New Year's Eve 2000, and at the VH1 Fashion Awards with Cuba Gooding Jr., and Kid Rock. She still remembers the experience vividly to this day. "It was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Plus, it was awesome to dance with Cuba Gooding Jr., who happens to be a B-Boy as well by the way—insider scoop!"

PHOTO 2In the early 2000s, with the Seven Gems Crew, she took part in a U.S. government-sponsored tour teaching hip-hop dance and performing in Brazil. She also produced Honey Rockwell's B-Girl Video, the first B-Girl dance video, which can still be purchased today, and in 2008, she was a dancer and actress in the Grand Theft Auto IV video game.

Dancing Through Life

As she reflects on life in her mid-40s, the youngest of her three children now a teenager, and life as an empty nester on the horizon, she is looking forward to finding new ways to enjoy dancing.

"I'm in this beautiful place in my life and I want to be an example for others. If you stay on a good path and learn discipline within yourself, you can have a better life," she says.

Her gaze is also focused on the future and expanding her dance school and continuing to spread the breakin' and hip-hop dance style. "Dance is an opportunity to release stress; it's therapeutic. It allows me to step into a world of fantasy. I love breakin' because I love the feeling of accomplishing challenging moves. It's a total body strength-training workout."


Wednesday, 27 September 2017 18:00

My Best Self: Caroline Jeffords

Before Caroline Jeffords ever stepped foot onto a stage, she already exuded beauty, grace, and confidence. Her experience serving as Miss Georgia USA and representing the Southern state at Miss USA in 2004 in Los Angeles only enhanced those qualities. Today, the 39-year-old uses the skills the pageant world helped her develop to give back to the Atlanta community through her work as a board and committee member for nonprofits and as an active stay-at-home mom.


By Alex McCray


What is your definition of beauty? I feel that a woman's beauty comes from her inner character, dignity, and values. When the confidence and strength that comes from knowing our value is expressed through kindness and compassion, that is when we exude true beauty.

How can people find their true beauty? The first step to finding your true beauty is to identify the unique gifts and talents that you have been blessed with and then to find ways to use those gifts to benefit those around you.

How and why did you get started in pageants? I chose to enter Miss Georgia USA after being encouraged by several friends who were familiar with the Miss USA system. After some research, I decided that participating would be a fun way to challenge myself and serve as a unique opportunity to meet new people and enjoy new experiences.

What have you learned from participating in these competitions? To compete successfully, Miss USA requires a significant amount of preparation, discipline, and organization. For me, the experience helped to reinforce these life skills that are vital to the realization of your goals, whether it be success in athletics, accomplishment in the business world, or raising a family.

What do you like to do in your spare time? I enjoy being actively involved with my daughter's school. Wesleyan School has been a tremendous blessing to our family and provides so many wonderful opportunities to engage with my daughter during and after school. At Wesleyan, community service is a priority, and I have enjoyed participating in their annual Capture the Warmth coat drive and the Serving Others after-school enrichment class with my daughter. The annual Artist Market is also a favorite family tradition. It's a phenomenal opportunity to shop for amazing art and for students and local artists to work together and engage with our community.

Why is volunteering important to you? What organizations are you currently working with? There are so many worthy charities here in Atlanta that you can't possibly support them all. You have to find organizations whose mission touches your heart. I have chosen to be involved with Mercy Care, Atlanta Ballet, and Open Hand.

Who helps you be your "best self?" My faith and family are my foundation. They are the bedrock for my loyalty, trust, and cooperation. It is where I truly begin to learn to love, bear one another's burdens, find meaning and purpose in my life, and feel the value of being part of something greater than myself.

Tell us more about your faith and family being your foundation. As a Christian, my faith is the most important aspect of my life, with my love for my family being second. We attend Perimeter Church in Johns Creek and have been members there since 2010. My ultimate purpose is to try to reflect the love that God has shown us by working to make life better for others.



Wednesday, 27 September 2017 17:38

Paleo Home Cooking





By Laura Janelle Downey


Peter Servold used the art of cooking to woo Sarah Menkes seven years ago. "We did a Paleo challenge together," he says. "I went to the store and got every vegetable and different proteins." From there, he'd go to Sarah's place to prepare the meal. And when he arrived, Sarah would be plugging away on her computer while sipping a glass of wine. "I would be in the kitchen cooking and I thought, 'This would be a good life, this would be a good thing.'" It ended up being a great thing. The two got married in 2011 and the following year, opened Pete's Paleo, an online meal delivery service with commercial kitchens in Atlanta and San Diego.

QUOTE 1PHOTO 1"People take everything so literally with the Paleo diet and they say, 'Paleolithic? Do you cut with a rock and cook over an open fire?'" He sees the diet in a different light. "It's better described as the 'Great Grandmother' diet," he says. "If your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food then it is probably not food."

The basic tenets include nonprocessed meats, fruits, fish, vegetables, nuts and seeds. "We eat beef, fish and chicken. It's about variety," he says. "Paleo is just about getting outside of your comfort zone. If you know how to cook a sweet potato, you can cook every root vegetable that exists like rutabaga, beets, turnips, and all kinds of squash," Peter says. "They all kind of cook the same. You just toss them in olive oil and put them in the oven for a little while. It's about not being intimidated by it."

With demanding schedules, Peter and Sarah make time to catch up on their day over dinner.
As for whipping up something in the kitchen, Peter says, "Be bold and try new things." He also notes that the abundance of fresh ingredients available year-round makes experimenting in the kitchen easier than ever. "It's amazing what is available now to everybody. I prefer to shop at Whole Foods but there are really great produce and products at Publix and Kroger," he says.

At home, Peter continues to prepare Sarah's favorite meals whenever he gets the chance. "Sarah really loves cast-iron chicken thighs. Each time, I'll just use different seasonings like curry or adobo." He'll pair the dish with roasted purple sweet potatoes and broccoli. "In 35 minutes, you've made an unbelievable nutrient-dense meal."










PHOTO 3Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

• 1 pound ground pork
• 4 teaspoons table salt
• 3-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade
• 1½ teaspoons finely minced garlic
• 1½ teaspoons seeded, minced Thai chiles
• 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

• Preheat oven to 375 F.
• Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
• Form the sausage mixture into 2-ounce patties.
• Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
• Sear the sausages for 1 minute on each side, for a total of 3 minutes.
• Place the pan in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.
• Serve immediately.




Cook time: 6 minutes

Serves: 2-3

• 1 pound white fish fillet, cut into strips


• 1 large egg
• 3 tablespoons water
• 1 teaspoon table salt


• 2 cups fine almond flour
• 1 teaspoon table salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup olive oil
• Several butter lettuce leaves for serving
• Several lime wedges for serving

• Pat the fish completely dry with paper towels.
• Slowly heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy sauté pan, until it reaches 300 F.
• In a shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the egg wash.
• In another shallow bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the almond flour coating.
• Place the fish strips into the egg wash, then into the flour coating. Repeat on opposite side.
• Place fish in pan for 3 minutes, or until flour coating turns golden brown. Flip the fish and cook opposite side for 2 to 3 minutes.
• Serve in a butter lettuce leaf with a wedge of lime.




Thursday, 27 July 2017 18:43

August / September 2017 Digital Issue

June / July 2017 Digital Issue


Thursday, 27 July 2017 17:59

Braces Braces


Ambre A. Kragor, DDS, MS

Farah Kar, DDS, MSc, MS, FRCD



By Alex McCray


It’s not every day you meet dental experts like Ambre A. Kragor, DDS, MS, and Farah Kar, DDS, MSc, MS, FRCD. Growing up in Seattle, and Toronto, respectively, unconventional experiences led the two to orthodontics.

A poor childhood left Ambre without access to dental care. She was finally able to get her severely damaged teeth repaired at age 17, when she could pay for it herself. In 2004, local orthodontist Dr. Alan Carr decided to take on her case for free. When she asked how she could repay him, he offered her a part-time job at his office. Ambre recalls, “That was what developed my love for orthodontics.”

3-QFor Farah, it was putting to use her bachelor’s degree in fine arts, and architecture-focused master’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology that sparked an interest in orthodontics. “I helped my brother and others design their practice and realized the field of orthodontics is awesome. I decided to change careers and go into a profession where I could be around people and use my artistic skills,” Farah says.

Today, at BB Braces Braces, the two are excited to represent a changing approach to orthodontics and growing number of women in the dental profession. According to the American Dental Association, 30 percent of dentists are female but an even smaller percentage are orthodontists. “I feel like the change is not only gender-based but also generational,” Farah explains. She adds, “Every smile is unique and should suit your face. It’s a very different approach to how people were trained 30 to 40 years ago.”

2-PThey utilize the latest technology such as X-ray machines with the least amount of radiation emission as well as a premier bracket system by American Orthodontics to provide unparalleled care. Patients love this because the compassionate staff at each of the eight BB Braces Braces metro-Atlanta locations help them achieve the smile of their dreams at an affordable price.

The team also strives to create an environment that’s relaxing and downright fun— when is the last time you heard “Everybody Dance Now” playing at your orthodontist’s office? Ambre notes, “Almost every orthodontist you go to is well trained, but not every orthodontist has that fun factor.” Watch your favorite show on a flat-screen TV above your head while the doctors go to work on your smile. And thanks to a special connection with the Atlanta Braves, you can snap a picture of your little one in the mini Braves-themed Volkswagen car. All BB Braces Braces offices are proud orthodontic sponsors of the team.  

When Ambre and Farah aren’t dressing up to celebrate Halloween at the office or posing for selfies with patients, the doctors enjoy time with their families and pursuing hobbies. Farah can be found painting, sculpting or traveling. Ambre loves being behind the lens of a camera or spending time hiking and fishing.


Say Cheese!

3 ways BB Braces Braces makes us smile is by going above and beyond for its patients and the community.

  1. 1-POrthodontists Ambre A. Kragor and Farah Kar are passionate about leadership mentoring, especially in young women. “I would have never become an orthodontist if it wasn’t for a female faculty member at the University of Minnesota. She was the only faculty member in my school’s entire orthodontics department that answered my emails and invited me to do research with her. She believed in me,” Farah says. Now, she and Ambre pay it forward by regularly inviting high school and college students to shadow them.

  2. They understand and respect that oral care is deeply personal. Farah reveals, “A lot of patients who come here tell us that we are undoing damage from horrible previous experiences.”

  3. Customizable treatment plans can be designed to improve aesthetics and function. Farah has advanced training to handle difficult cases such as failed Invisalign, craniofacial anomalies, impacted canine recovery and more.


Thursday, 27 July 2017 13:55

My Best Self - Erika Preval

By Alex McCray


Atlanta’s very own queen of etiquette puts a modern spin on author Emily Post’s rule book and shares why those traditions are still relevant today.

Erika Preval is proof that good manners never go out of style. Just ask the servers whose continuous compliments of her 16- and 18-year-old daughters’ manners led her to launch Charm Etiquette, a modern-day finishing school for adults and children in 2012. Today, she partners with restaurants and businesses to make the art of etiquette approachable. For Preval, it’s about more than soothing the internal qualm of using the wrong fork. Her focus is to help everyone who sits at one of her tables depart with the skills to present the best version of themselves.


How does Charm Etiquette’s “Social Studies: Finishing School for Adults” help women and men be their best selves?

Every event is built around social scenarios where I’ve witnessed people being uncomfortable or confused. Your “best self” is the one that is fully confident and so poised that you’re not distracted by forks or dress codes and are fully engaged with the people in your company. That might look one way if you’re with friends and another when entertaining a client. Whether in the boardroom or at a barbecue, Social Studies guests are prepared to experience it all with ease.
Why is it important to keep classic traditions for social graces alive? When a MARTA train arrives and you step in front of the doors to enter, how will people exit? Etiquette is sometimes perceived as being elitist, but it’s really about being considerate and creating an environment or flow for things we do daily.

What are three common etiquette mistakes you see people make?

1. Cellphones, while making us closer than ever, can also be divisive. In the company of others, give your attention to whomever your feet are facing and get their OK before taking a photo of your food, etc.

2. Roundtable events can be confusing, but remember BMW (bread, meal, water) to know the order of your place setting; bread plate on the left, meal in the center, and water on your right.

3. Name tags should be worn high on the right shoulder. This makes them easier to view when networking.

You’re involved with Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc., and serve as a Women of Cole Cabinet member with United Way of Greater Atlanta. Why are these organizations important to you?

Muhammad Ali once said, “Service is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” It cost $25 to participate in Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. Realizing that it takes more than that to maintain and strengthen the organization that supports the leadership skills of over 41,000 girls compels me to continue serving on the Board of Directors’ Fund Development Committee.

The Junior League of Atlanta, Inc. does such important work in Atlanta. I’ll serve two presidential appointments next year to help ensure members have a great experience. United Way of Greater Atlanta is ready to tackle any issue with its own initiatives and community partners.

Who helps you be your “best self?”

My family. Being a role model for my girls and creating a strong legacy is a huge driver for me. My husband is always there to push me to the next level and support me when I need to step back and pour into myself. They keep me balanced and I’m ever so grateful for them.


Thursday, 27 July 2017 13:33

Live Strong, Live Long

By Alex McCray

When it comes to the longevity of men’s health, there’s no getting around it, the numbers are bleak. According to Harvard Health Publications, women live an average of five years longer than men in the U.S. While there isn’t much that can be done about that Y chromosome, advancements in modern medicine and a slew of health information can empower you to take your lifespan into your own hands as much as possible. Here, we’ve listed the top 10 causes of death among men according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plus, we provide tips to live longer and we break down symptoms you should never ignore. 

Heart Disease 

When it comes to heart disease, the most important thing Tara Hrobowski, MD, of Piedmont Heart Institute advises is being an engaged patient and knowing your numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight. Aim for blood pressure less than 140/90, get 30 to 40 minutes of exercise four to five days a week, and limit sweet treats and saturated fats.


Lung, prostate, and colorectal cancer are the leading causes of cancer death in men, according to the CDC. Smokers are the most likely to die from lung cancer, but those who have never smoked are still at risk. Because lung cancer often doesn’t show symptoms until it is advanced, it is of the utmost importance to see a doctor if you begin to cough up blood or experience chest pain that is more intense when breathing, coughing or laughing. Also beware of a new onset of wheezing, hoarseness, or bronchitis or pneumonia that doesn’t go away or recurs.

The American Cancer Society recommends people with average colorectal cancer risk begin screening at age 50. Screenings are the most important way to prevent colon and rectal cancer. You can lower your risk by sustaining a healthy weight, exercising often, understanding your family history, and paying attention to symptoms. Beware of changes in stool, cramping or abdominal pain, and weakness and fatigue, advises Richard C. Wender, MD, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society.

Unintentional Injuries

Risky behavior is just that, risky—and men are often more likely to die because of it. “Men 35 to 44 are nearly three times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than women,” says Andrea Stevenson, senior vice president and chief clinical officer of Visiting Nurse Health System/Hospice Atlanta. Men 45 to 64 face a new threat that is on the rise: drug overdose. For older men, declining health and a loss of mobility, flexibility, and independence can lead to serious falls. Make responsible behavior a lifelong habit. Wear your seat belt. Don’t eat, drink, or text while driving. Ask questions about prescription drugs and understand how they work. Pay attention to your surroundings and remove hazards that can cause falls, if possible.

Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases

Because the lungs work with so many other organs in the body, deciphering their symptoms can be tricky. Common ones to keep an eye on include shortness of breath that is out of proportion to the level of exertion, coughing, wheezing, chest pain, light-headedness, and leg swelling, says Juan Israel Gaitan, MD, pulmonologist and intensivist with Piedmont Fayette Hospital. Keep your lungs healthy by avoiding cigarette smoke, air pollution, chemicals, maintaining the health of your teeth, and getting recommended vaccines and regular checkups.


Issues that creep up over time and can lead to strokes include hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and a history of smoking. Immediate signs of a stroke are facial drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty, explains Gwinnett Medical Center neurologist Rizwan Bashir, MD, and Susan M. Gaunt, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, ANVP, CCRN, CNRN
stroke clinical nurse specialist at Gwinnett Medical Center.


“Research has shown that men are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes than women due to differences in insulin sensitivity and regional fat deposition,” says Tasneem Bhatia, MD, of CentreSpringMD. Cut back on high-fat dairy products and fried foods. Take note of unexplained weight loss—it isn’t always a good thing. Susan Chapman, licensed dietitian and clinical nutrition manager at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital reveals that unexplained weight loss, increased thirst, and frequent urination could be ways the body is trying to normalize blood sugar levels due to diabetes. A combination of these symptoms with blurred vision are signals it’s time to make an appointment with a doctor. Chapman also notes, “The vast majority of people will experience no symptoms at all. That is what is so scary and why there are so many people walking around undiagnosed with the more common form of diabetes, Type 2. For the rarer Type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM), those patients always experience the classic signs.”


According to Andro Giorgadze, MD, of Institute for Behavioral Medicine, “Women attempt [suicide] more often, but men complete suicide more often.” In addition, feeling low, loss of interest in something you once loved, fatigue, insomnia, and a general decrease in activities for more than two weeks are hallmark signs of depression, he says. If you notice these signs, take action and let someone know—don’t suffer in silence.

Alzheimer’s Disease

“Scientists are beginning to identify links to issues that can potentially increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, such as conditions that damage the heart and blood vessels like high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and high cholesterol,” explains Bhatia. She goes on to note, “Autopsy studies show that as many as 80 percent of Alzheimer’s patients also had cardiovascular disease.” On the upside, there is evidence that exercise and a Mediterranean diet can decrease risk.

Influenza & Pneumonia

While influenza might make you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, it can usually be resolved on its own or with antiviral medication, says Peter R. Jungblut, MD, MBA of WellStar Medical Group. Take everyday precautions like washing your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and throat to diminish contact with germs.

Chronic Liver Disease

An estimated three million people in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C, one of the main causes of chronic liver disease, otherwise known as cirrhosis. Because of its role in chronic liver disease, the CDC recommends that baby boomers born between 1945 and 1965 talk with their doctors about screening for hepatitis C. It’s the ongoing fibrosis (creation of scar tissue) of the liver that eventually affects the liver’s ability to function normally. In the early stages, there may be no symptoms at all. Certain lab abnormalities might be apparent on routine testing, or at least suggestive of the need for further investigation, explains Jungblut. 


American Cancer Society,
Cancer Treatment Centers of America,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Leading Causes of Death (LCOD)
by Race/Ethnicity, All Males-United States, 2014,
Georgia Urology,
Gwinnett Medical Center,
Institute for Behavioral Medicine,
Piedmont Healthcare,
Visiting Nurse Health System/Hospice Atlanta,
WellStar Medical Group,


Thursday, 27 July 2017 13:23

Body by Design

By Ruksana Hussain


In 2016, interior designer Kerry Howard’s career was on a high note. He had previously restructured his business to allow him to become more involved in the day-to-day aspects of design he loved most. His health however, could not have been worse. At 351 pounds, Howard’s lifelong detrimental eating habits were taking a serious mental, physical and emotional toll on him. And now with a happier work life, he was ready for a personal transformation. Howard realized it was time to tackle the heavy load he’d been carrying his whole life and embarked on a 110-pound weight loss endeavor.


Finding Professional Success

For over a decade, Howard made countless waves in the interior design world.

After establishing KMH Interiors in Atlanta in 2003, he wound up on the small screen. Appearances on shows such as Bravo’s “Top Design” and HGTV’s “Design Wars” helped propel his talent into the spotlight. Not to mention, professional photographs of his Cumming, Ga. home with an open floor plan and his signature pops of color landed him local and national notoriety.

1-PThe growth of his business meant more clients, more employees, more management duties and even less time to try and make conscious lifestyle changes. “The business grew really fast ... but self-awareness kicked in and I went back to the grassroots. I scaled down to a small staff. We were all in the same room again, so everyone communicated with each other, and it worked! It helped me focus—not just on my work—but also on changes in myself. And so began my weight loss journey.”

Pursuing Personal Goals

Howard’s personal mission has been one of designing a healthier lifestyle for himself. “I was always overweight, I don’t remember a time I wasn’t,” he says. “I was raised in South Carolina and have an amazing family. But my family feeds you to love you. At breakfast, we’d already be planning what we’d have for lunch. Food became an addiction for me.” Growing up, it was normal for his family to chow down on biscuits made from lard shortening and use pork fat to season just about everything, from beans to creamed corn.

With his 50th birthday drawing near, Howard’s list of health concerns only continued to pile on—back pain, hurting knees, out of control blood pressure, and sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine every night. “I took anxiety pain medication when traveling because I couldn’t stand the thought of making somebody uncomfortable beside me on the plane. I was a big guy!”

3-SBWith diets and trainers not bringing any great results, Howard realized he needed to do something drastic. He needed to make a big change and make it fast. When medical issues persisted, this time affecting his kidneys, his primary care doctor recommended bariatric surgery. Howard didn’t tell anyone about the surgery, not even his mother, until the night before, for fear of discouragement. “I had made this decision myself and wanted to follow through.”

On October 26, 2016 he made his way to Beltline Bariatric and Surgical Group, LLC for gastric sleeve surgery with Charles Procter Jr., MD, FACS, FASMBS. Within six months, Howard went from a size 54 to a 40. Since having the procedure, he has lost 110 pounds.

“I used to hate going shopping, it was disappointing to not find anything that fit. Now I can go to a normal store to buy normal clothes and look good.” During his weight loss over the last few months, he was thrilled to shop at Target and find pants and shirts that buttoned all the way up for a great fit.

2-QUsually the first to avoid mirrors, Howard’s aha moment finally played out in real life. “In my mind, I didn’t think of myself as overweight until I walked past a mirror and saw the person in that mirror,” he says. “But that day, the person standing in front of me in the mirror was the person that I have always envisioned in my head. It felt so great, I didn’t cry, I was so happy that I started laughing!”

Maintaining Lifestyle Balance

Howard is still losing weight and is ecstatic to have newfound energy and control in his life. “I don’t know if I have ever had energy like I have now. I feel like I have a whole new reason to live.” On a recent weekend spent with family, Howard enjoyed riding bicycles with his nieces. “With being overweight for so long, little things like that made me realize that I missed out on a lot. But I don’t want to miss out on anything else anymore—whether it is family or work or to be able to fly without anxiety.”

Howard’s changes to his personal lifestyle have impacted his professional life positively. “I can get up for work without my body hurting and stay focused during the day.” Being obese, he was consumed by the thought that clients were judging him by his appearance. “But I was my own worst enemy, letting all these things take control of my life. Now, when I walk into a room, I have the confidence and I can own the room.”

As for his newfound happiness with his health, Howard’s mincing no words. “You have to have the will to want to change something in your life. Somebody can listen to me talk all day long about my journey but people have to listen to what their body is telling them to be able to change and become what they want to be in an effort to be their best selves.”


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