Saturday, 24 September 2016 01:41

Beyond the Pink

All too often, the opening lines of a breast cancer story echo similarities—"I felt a weird lump" or "I finally went in for my mammogram" or "They saw something on the scan and asked me to come back in" or "It's in my family, so I knew I should get checked." And yet each journey through treatment remains completely unique to the patient. For years, medical experts have advocated breast self-exams and regular mammograms, reporting the benefits of early detection. And genetic testing advancements continue to increase rapidly.

There are volumes of clinical studies and research and an incredibly active, devoted network of foundations and fundraisers determined to speed the efforts to find a cure. But until that cure is found, the comprehensive care available in Atlanta honors the person beyond the patient, strengthening life in the present tense.

breast cancer awarenessAt First Blush

Hearing that diagnosis, watching the physician's lips move as they pronounce the C-word, lingers as a surreal moment, with time standing still. There's no way to accurately anticipate the reaction to such news. Will the words be heard? Will the brain even process the information? When it's time to get the test results from the doctor, don't go at it alone.

breast cancer awareness"The impact is big from day one," acknowledges Anita Johnson, MD, FACS, Breast Surgical Oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Newnan, and she addresses that impact at her initial meeting with the patient after their diagnosis. "The first thing I ask is: Who helps take care of you? Immediately I address that. We go through the entire breast cancer talk and then we talk about real life. If they have somebody in the room with them, I tell that person that it's time to step up. Now!" Johnson says.

breast cancer awareness"Bringing a trusted family member or friend to appointments when patients are first diagnosed is very helpful," says Mylin Torres, MD, director of the Glenn Family Breast Center at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute. "Understandably, this is a time that can be unsettling and overwhelming. Having a strong, calm individual in your corner is invaluable. This person can help record and recall conversations with providers."

Maybe someone in the support network could assume a designated administrative role, managing notes, reports and schedules. "Staying organized seems to help patients cope," comments Sara Owens, BSN, RN, OCN, breast health nurse navigator with WellStar Kennestone Hospital. "They tend to feel more in control, can better communicate with their treatment team and are better able to advocate for themselves." Owens explains that when patients are first diagnosed, they are in the acute phase of their treatment and her team acts as a guide. "During this phase, they learn about their disease and treatment options—physical components such as surgery, medical procedures, radiation."

Concurring, Kathleen Gamblin, RN, BSN, OCN, coordinator of oncology patient navigation at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, also advises designating a spokesperson for the patient.

"They can be the one to disseminate information, field phone calls and be the point person for meals and other services." Delegating as many tasks as possible gives the patient the space needed to adjust to a new reality.

A Hint of Tint

Allow time to absorb information. Don't hesitate to get a second opinion or third—whatever necessary to fully understand what's happening in the body and what the road to recovery might look like. Trust that the best decisions will be made by evaluating all the different opinions. Go ahead and shop it around. This is hard. Talk about it. Ask questions.

"Build clear and consistent communication with your healthcare team," Gamblin says. "Know who you can call and when ... the healthcare team is there for you; you are not a bother!"

Developing a partnership is a crucial part of the approach, as Torres describes. "Having honest conversations about prognosis, the potential benefits and risks of treatment, helps patients make informed decisions about their care. It also helps patients to align their priorities so that they and their families are prepared for any outcome."

breast cancer awareness"Cancer research continues to progress on a day-to-day basis," says Shefali Shah, MD, chief of medical oncology and hematology at Kaiser Permanente Georgia. "Therapy is becoming increasingly individualized."

Part of that individualization begins with the team assembled for each case. "Developing a personalized plan always involves a multidisciplinary approach," confirms April L. Speed, MD, oncological breast surgeon and member of the Komen Atlanta Board of Directors, requiring an entire care team to collaborate and form a plan. For some patients, this can mean combining a traditional medical approach with a variety of alternative therapies, and their treatment teams will have resources for all the options. At CTCA, each patient receives a plan that includes a variety of modalities with oncologists, radiologists and surgeons, joined by specialists in physical therapy, mind/body therapy, naturopathy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and nutrition.

Asaf Yalif, MD, FACS, of Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, agrees, "By having open communication and transparency, we can make sure that we put the patient's personal journey at the forefront. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is the opportunity to be in the initial meeting where a hard diagnosis is delivered and be able to offer hope with regard to reconstruction and a focus on recovery right from the beginning."

Such focus benefits both patient and provider, as Johnson mentions when talking about the Breast Center at CTCA approach. "All of our providers are dedicated to breast care. All are located in one area [of the hospital] and stay on top of the latest advancements. Every case is completely different. Even within the same family."

Saturation Point

Be realistic about lifestyle and expectations during treatment, accepting that there are vast unknowns. The primary focus for the patient should be striking back against cancer cells.

Torres reiterates the need to seek assistance to deter additional stress: "A network of family, friends and neighbors who will help with childcare, eldercare and other home responsibilities is key. Being able to turn to different individuals from your network for advice, help at home or emotional support is important, as each one will have a unique perspective on your journey and will help provide you with the energy and encouragement needed to successfully complete treatment."

breast cancer awarenessFrom keeping health notes and nutrition guides, to running errands and scheduling meals, or even gardening and pet care—help is needed in a myriad of ways. Perhaps a friend that's a born leader or an organizing genius could serve as the patient's personal volunteer coordinator, using computer apps to keep everyone updated on the tasks at hand.

Puzzled Pale

When thoughts and feelings get too overwhelming, writing them down can help cope with confusion. In addition to taking notes on medical information, consider having a diary of the entire experience.

"We have found that journaling is a good strategy for [patients], because it helps them keep track of what they are going through physically and emotionally," advises Owens. "A small company called CanPlan has created an organizer and journal that has calendars, an address book, and a detailed daily chart that the patient can fill out about how she is doing on any particular day. Similar organizers can also be obtained from the LiveStrong foundation as well as the American Cancer Society®. Also, there are amazing computer applications specifically geared toward keeping track of medical information and cancer treatments, many of which are free. Chemo Brain Doc Notes is one that can help patients keep track of information, appointments and side effects related to their chemo treatments."

breast cancer awarenessWhen it comes to emotional support, some feel that's harder to quantify. Owens sees this as a pivotal role, influencing the patient's ability to cope emotionally. "Having a support person who can act as a 'safe place' for the patient to express their worries and as a sounding board for decisions is important to their outcomes."

Shah suggests that patients and caregivers consider reaching beyond immediate friends and family, "Some find that joining a support group where they can talk to others going through a similar experience is very comforting. If the idea of speaking to strangers does not appeal to you, social media and other online forums are also a great way to build a network of support and connect with others."

A Rose by Any Other Name

The doctors, nurses, technicians, therapists and experts that are part of the treatment team have dedicated their lives to this battle. But they also count on patients to teach them new things along the way. Knowledge about the disease is constantly developing. Communicate with your team every step of the way.

Torres looks to her patients for cues on how she can enhance their care. She says, "My research on quality of life and side effects of breast cancer treatment has been largely driven by conversations with my patients. I like being asked, 'Why?' by my patients because, if I don't know the answer, I view it as an opportunity to conduct research to figure it out."

For Johnson, constant learning fuels her passion for patient care. "For me, through my training, breast was the specialty that was always evolving," she remarks. "I love the science behind it, and I love taking care of other women." Which is why Johnson focuses heavily on reconstruction, asserting, "I want to help all my patients as they get over the thought that they had breast cancer. I'm a woman, too. It makes me feel good when you are looking good!"

breast cancer awarenessIn Bloom

Mindset plays a crucial part in the cancer battle. Mind and body work in tandem. If there's ever a time where the axiom "attitude is everything" holds true, it's when that attitude guards the arsenal of a cancer warrior.

breast cancer awarenessTorres says, "I try to get a sense of how enthused a patient is to pursue traditional treatments, how aggressive they want to be in their treatment plan, what are their competing responsibilities and how much they value their quality of life." Allowing for every decision to be intensely personal gives a patient an active role in this ongoing cancer drama and also gives them hope to achieve the life they want in recovery.

"One particular lady that I've been working with," reports Owens, "has every barrier you can think of when it comes to getting care—no family support, dangerous living situation, language barrier, cultural differences, inconsistent employment. I was able to work with my team, including the doctor's office, a social worker and a case manager with the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, to get her into a safe environment and started with treatment. She's been amazingly strong and resilient!"

breast cancer awarenessGlowing Forward

Many patients find the transition from oncology to general medical care with a primary care physician (PCP) confusing—especially if no prior relationship with a PCP had been established prior to their cancer journey. Kim Randolph, MSN, FNP-BC, spearheads the survivorship program at CTCA and recognizes the need to help patients find a new routine for regular medical care. "Our goal for survivorship is to be that bridge between active treatment and surveillance," Randolph explains. "We help with any side effects or residual problems patients may have, but we also examine the new things someone may be dealing with. There can be some emotional and psychological issues at that time."

A huge part of Randolph's mission is monitoring patients' overall health. "Some become so focused on the breast cancer that they ignore comorbidities," she reveals. "I strongly encourage them to find someone in their community for follow-ups." Once patients establish a relationship with that PCP, Randolph and her team send over their survivorship care plan, called Journey Forward, documenting all their providers and a brief summary of treatment.

breast cancer awareness"I am big on primary care," Randolph says. "I want everyone to have that PCP; someone who knows them when they are sick and when they are well!"

The Ribbon of Truth

Yalif greatly values the inspiration he's received from his patients. "I think the most profound thing I have learned is the importance of remaining positive in times of great duress. Sometimes, even if you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, you must believe it's there."

breast cancer awareness"Each patient's journey is unique and their own," says Gamblin. "There is no right or wrong way to be a cancer patient. Take care of yourself, allow others to help you and know that you are not a statistic. You are you."

And remember that this is only one chapter of an incredible life story.

 

sources:

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® at Southeastern Regional Medical Center, cancercenter.com/southeastern

Ford Warriors in Pink, warriorsinpink.ford.com

Glenn Family Breast Center at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, winshipcancer.emory.edu

Kaiser Permanente Georgia, kp.org

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, northside.com

Rebecca Walden Wig Studio, wigspertofatlanta.com

Susan G. Komen® Greater Atlanta, komenatlanta.org

The Dana Barrett Show, biz1190.com/danabarrett

The IWSC Group, iwscgroup.com

TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, myturningpoint.org

WellStar Kennestone Hospital, wellstar.org

Wigwam Wellness Festival, wigwamfest.com

Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, yplasticsurgery.com

 

Friday, 23 September 2016 20:35

October 2016 Digital Issue

 

Acne, irregular periods and excessive hair growth—these are not only symptoms of puberty, they're also signs of a problem that affects 10-15% of reproductive age women. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic condition that can be a precursor for more serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.

PCOS can be diagnosed by checking for signs of ovary abnormalities such as cysts, irregular menstrual cycles, and elevated male hormones in blood tests. "If you have two of those symptoms you probably have PCOS," says Mark Perloe, MD, Georgia Reproductive Specialists (GRS) medical director.

Treatment options often depend on what goals the patient has in mind. Are they trying to get pregnant and understand the role PCOS can play in infertility? Are they trying to prevent diabetes later in life by managing insulin resistance, which is a major factor in PCOS? Or, do they just want to lose weight to ease symptoms?
GRS helps patients of all ages work closely with a dietician who is well-versed in PCOS, provides assistance with proper supplement and medicine dosage, and explains exercise strategies for PCOS management to help patients get back on track to health and happiness.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Awareness MonthTo hear Dr. Perloe speak more about PCOS save the date for the PCOS Awareness Symposium September 24 - 25. Hosted by PCOS Challenge, Inc., the symposium is the largest event in the country dedicated to polycystic ovary syndrome and related conditions. To learn more about PCOS Awareness weekend, visit pcoschallenge.org/symposium/Atlanta.

Mark Perloe, MD

Dr. Perloe earned his medical degree from Pennsylvania State University, Hershey Medical Center, and served his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Perloe completed his fellowship in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Minnesota and is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

As Medical Director of GRS, Dr. Perloe has more than twenty years' experience in in vitro fertilization, the use of donor eggs, donor sperm, gestational surrogacy, PCOS, fibroids and endometriosis. As the creator of the PCOS Awareness YouTube Channel, Dr. Perloe is passionate about PCOS awareness, diagnosis and treatment.

Sponsored by: Georgia Reproductive Specialists
Atlanta/Northside | Decatur | Alpharetta | Buckhead/Piedmont | Phone: (404) 843-BABY | www.IVF.com

 

Thursday, 25 August 2016 19:50

The Truth About The Flu

As summer winds down, we begin to see an uptick in patients with influenza, a virus that infects the respiratory system, often causing a sudden onset of fever, cough, sore throat, and body aches. Fall is the best time of year to get vaccinated against the virus, which typically peaks during the winter months. Although the flu virus infects millions of Americans each year, resulting in nearly 200,000 hospitalizations and thousands of deaths, less than half of adults get a flu shot. Perhaps busy schedules and forgetfulness are partly to blame. But there is also a lot of misinformation circulating about the flu vaccine, leading some people to opt out of a valuable form of preventive care. As an infectious diseases specialist, I'll help you separate flu facts from fiction.

Q: What is the best way to protect yourself from the flu?

The flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself from getting the flu, and it's recommended for anyone six months of age or older. Even if you are healthy and rarely get sick, getting the flu shot can protect others around you who may be at greater risk of becoming very sick from the flu, such as those with chronic illnesses, cancer, weakened immune systems and infants.

Q: If I get a flu shot, can I still get the flu?

Yes. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to build up your body's immunity to the virus, so getting a flu shot early in the fall—when the virus is not circulating at peak levels—gives you the best protection against the flu.

Each year, the vaccine is developed to protect against specific strains of influenza. If a different strain begins to circulate, the vaccine may not be as effective. Still, a flu shot can help reduce the severity of flu symptoms if you contract the virus.

Q: Can the flu vaccine cause you to get the flu?

No. The flu vaccine contains a killed virus, so it cannot give you the flu.

Q: Is there anyone who should not get a flu shot?

If you have severe allergies, especially to the ingredients in the flu shot, or a history of Guillain Barre Syndrome, talk to your doctor before getting vaccinated. There may be other options for vaccination.
With any vaccine, there can be side effects, such as soreness at the injection site or a mild skin reaction.

flu-shot-signQ: If I get the flu virus, what should I do?

If you are experiencing severe symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor. We often prescribe antiviral medications, which can shorten the duration of your symptoms. It's most effective when started within 48 hours of symptom onset.

Stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides. While you're at home, isolate yourself from others and wash your hands often to avoid spreading the virus. It's possible to transmit the flu virus for up to eight days, starting from the day before you actually experience symptoms.

Q: Where can I find more information about flu prevention?

Just log on to kp.org and type "flu" in the search bar.

 

Scott Cutro, MD
Chief, Infectious Diseases

Dr. Scott Cutro practices at the Kaiser Permanente Cumberland Medical Center in Atlanta. He is dual board certified in internal medicine and infectious diseases. He completed internal medicine residency at Emory University and an infectious diseases fellowship at New York University. To learn more about his approach to care, visit kp.org.

 

Sponsored by: Scott Cutro, MD, Chief, Infectious Diseases | Kaiser Permanente of Georgia | www.kp.org

Thursday, 25 August 2016 19:42

Prostate Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, about one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Staying aware of risk factors and symptoms and maintaining a regular checkup schedule with a primary care doctor are key to staying healthy.

Risk Factors

  • Age: Prostate cancer risk rises rapidly after the age of 50, and is most often diagnosed in men older than 65.
  • Race/Ethnicity: Prostate cancer is more common among men with an African heritage.
  • Family History: Men with a family history of prostate cancer are urged to begin screenings by the age of 45.

What are some of the symptoms?

Early prostate cancer: Usually causes no symptoms, but can be identified by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man's blood or through a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Advanced cancer symptoms: Problems urinating, blood in urine or semen, trouble getting an erection, pain in hips, back, spine, chest, or other areas if the cancer has spread.

men-doctor-prostateWhat are some of the latest treatment options for prostate cancer?

Patients with moderate prostate cancer are treated with two temporary radiation implants. Also known as HDR or temporary implants, each procedure is done over the course of one morning/early afternoon. The patient leaves the clinic following the implant without any radiation remaining in their prostate (unlike permanent implants), so they recover more quickly and there is no radiation exposure to their families.

For more advanced disease, patients can be treated with external daily radiation and HDR/temporary implants in combination.

What services does Atlanta Oncology Associates provide for men with prostate cancer?

Atlanta Oncology Associates, a division of American Professional Associates, has been treating and curing men with prostate cancer for more than 40 years. We are a recognized leader in the Atlanta metro region in prostate cancer technology and expertise. This commitment to quality care benefits our patients through a range of innovative treatment options, not a "one size fits all" approach.

 

 

MARK W. MCCORD, MD
Founding Partner

Dr. McCord is a member of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, the American College of Radiology, the American Medical Association, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Gilbert Fletcher Society. Dr. McCord has been named as one of Atlanta Magazine Top Doctors for 2016. Physician selection to this honor is peer review.

He resides in Alpharetta with his wife, Rachel and sons, Jacob and Noah. He enjoys hiking and camping with his sons and retrievers, Sophie and Ariel. He is a fan of Vanderbilt (his college), sports. His wife is a children's librarian now active in support of the local library system, and they both are avid readers.

 

Sponsored by: Atlanta Oncology Associates | (770) 255-7500 | www.atlantaoncology.com
Alpharetta | Atlanta | Eastpoint | Greensboro | Hawkinsville | Macon | Over 15 Hospitals and Centers

 

Thursday, 25 August 2016 19:12

Lashing Out

By Taylor Arnold

The flicker and flutter of long lashes can accentuate the eyes, making them seem wider and more vibrant, drawing the focus into the iris and away from lines or wrinkles. Keeping that lashline healthy, however, is crucial for your eyes; lashes help keep out damaging particles in the air.

Makeup artist Nyssa Green reminds us: "Eyelashes aren't just for batting and winking, of course. They actually serve a real purpose. They are key in the protection and safety of our eyes. Think of how quickly you react when something gets near your eyes. Eyelashes cause that eye-saving reflex."

LASH-2BATTING STRONG

So how do you protect your eyes' first line of defense? "The lash root is delicate and lashes can break with aggressive handling," says Dr. Weston Waxweiler of North Atlanta Dermatology. "In terms of cleaning, be gentle. Remove all traces of eye makeup from the eye area, especially your lashes. Any good eye makeup remover, or even cold cream, will do the trick." Green warns, "Pulling, wiping and tugging can cause lashes to weaken and even fall out. Conditioning lashes is a must." Counteract any damage done with a natural conditioner, like castor oil, or a cosmetic serum. Green points out that there are products available in a variety of price points—from the all-natural, wheat-based, luxury brand Lashfood® Eyelash Enhancer to the drugstore bargain of Rimmel's Lash Accelerator.

FULL FRAME

For promoting growth in lashes, many people have great luck with prescription formulas. Dr. Elizabeth Whitaker of Atlanta Face & Body Center notes that Latisse® is one of the most popular products in her practice. "Did you know that our lashes decrease in length, fullness and darkness as we age? After only 16 weeks of applying Latisse to the base of your upper lashes, they can double in fullness. It is available by prescription, so you will need to discuss it with your cosmetic doctor." The team at Dermatology Consultants reports noticeable results using Alphaeon® Beauty Lash Serum. Applied once daily along the upper lids in a technique similar to liquid eyeliner, this product increases both the length and the volume of the lashes to a measurable degree.

NOURISHED

Daily supplements like vitamins B, D and E are also good for promoting lash growth, and they keep the hair strong enough to withstand the wear and tear that comes with the daily use of mascara, lash curlers and makeup. It's important to be careful with certain makeup products, as they can harm your lashes. "Waterproof mascara has ingredients that dry out the lashes, making them brittle and prone to breaking," says esthetician Melody Kuck of the International SalonSpa Business Network. "Once in awhile isn't an issue, but daily use will cause damage." For a healthier option, Beautycounter™ Lengthening Mascara is free of toxins and hormone-disrupting preservatives and delivers amazing length and definition via a precision brush and conditioning formula of organic oils and shea butter.

LASH-1LONG VIEW

If your lashes still need an extra boost—and are at least three millimeters long—you may be a good candidate for extensions by a skilled lash expert. Seek out a pro with the training required to master these techniques and protect the delicate eye area. According to Tamara Townsend, certified lash professsional at Steve Hightower Hair Salon & Day Spa, the cost ranges from approximately $150-$600 depending on the stylist and the type of set. "Classic eyelash extensions are applied one lash extension to one eyelash. Volume [sets] are microfine eyelash extensions applied two to eight per natural-growing eyelash," Townsend explains. "As natural eyelashes grow and shed (which is a cycle of about 30-90 days) the extension sheds with the natural lash." With extensions on, avoid any oil-based eye products or lash curlers and clean daily with a special lash shampoo.

FAKE IT

When you want thicker, blacker lashes for a special evening or occasion, try the convenience of false lashes. Some sets sit perfectly on top of your own lashes, sticking with gentle adhesive. To make the most of them, pair them with a black kohl pencil and a smoky shade of eyeshadow. And if you love the look of falsies but don't want the hassle of a full set, try a set of partial false lashes that are applied with adhesive and a small applicator. And the best part? They can come off at the end of the night with a gentle eye-makeup remover.
Don't bat an eye at the chance to try one of these eye-catching options for defining and developing healthy, strong, beautiful lashes!

Editorial Resources
Atlanta Face & Body Center — atlantafaceandbody.com
Beautycounter — beautycounter.com
Dermatology Consultants — dermatologyconsultants.org
International SalonSpa Business Network — salonspanetwork.com
North Atlanta Dermatology — naderm.com
Steve Hightower Salon Hair Salon & Day Spa — stevehightower.com
The Green Room Agency — thegreenroomagency.com

 

 

Thursday, 25 August 2016 18:56

Going Back to The Farm

By India Powell

Cultivating an appreciation for farming doesn't necessarily mean you have to love getting dirty. That's something Mary Blackmon learned early in life on her family's land. However, growing up on the family farm in Arkansas gave her a deep and lasting passion for the place and the way of life.

In 2008, after her mother passed away, Blackmon and her younger brother, Douglas, were faced with the decision of what to do with the family farm. "The idea of letting the farm go was just too much. It felt like I was letting my family go, and I just couldn't do that."

So she switched from a life in Los Angeles and New York City running her successful internet-based business—the multi-million dollar national spa and wellness industry website Spa-Addicts.com—to running that family farm in Arkansas.

"I was immersed in whipping my farm back into shape and, as a result, I saw farming through a whole new perspective as a participating adult. I soon had a newfound appreciation and heightened respect for farmers and farming overall. Trust me, it's not for the faint of heart."

FARM-1Going All In

The spark of Blackmon's love for farm life was instantly rekindled and the seeds of inspiration were planted for her current project, a new kind of digital venture based in Atlanta: Farm Star Living.

This sudden immersion was a 180-degree change from the life she had established. Now, eight years later, she says her life is "a complete integration" of her two worlds. Through Farm Star Living's online resource and directory, Blackmon inspires people across the country to bring farming into their lives in perpetually exciting and perspective-expanding ways.

"I think that where our food comes from has been taken for granted by so many of us," Blackmon says. "The joke is that when you ask children where a type of food comes from, they say 'the grocery store'! But we all have to eat, and we all need farmers to make that happen. There actually could be a shortage of farmers in the near future, as the median age of a farmer is just shy of 60. So there are legitimate concerns about needing more people to go into farming. I think with better appreciation by the public there will be more and more support for going into farming as a career."

Putting the Star in Farm Star

Blackmon thought about the way Americans have elevated many chefs to exalted, rock-star status, and she felt it was time to put farmers in the spotlight. "I felt that it was now the farmer's time," she says. Through Farm Star Living, people can find farms to visit for agri-tourism stays, meet real farmers, locate farm-to-table restaurants, discover new recipes using fresh food and learn more about the journey taken by food before it ends up on the table.

FARM-2"I have always thought that farming has been a noble profession that is too often thankless and misunderstood," Blackmon says. "Farming and farmers have been the backbone of our country. So few of us have actually been out of the city and visited a farm, let alone seen exactly where our food comes from. I felt that people were yearning for a connection to the countryside—to the earth—and while they may not want to farm on their own, per se, they still want to feel a connection to it."

A Deep Connection

That desire to connect people to farming, even (and especially) if they don't want to live the life of a farmer, is rooted in Blackmon's own youth spent enjoying the farming experience in her own unique way.

"My grandfather, Big Daddy (Garrard Mountjoy), and grandmother, Mary Mary (Mary Kimball Mountjoy), owned the farm, [as did] Mary Mary's parents before her. It was initially a tree farm, which my grandfather converted into a rice farm in the late 1950s," Blackmon explains. "While I wasn't one for getting all dirty, the passion for the farm from my parents to my grandparents wasn't missed by me."

Making a commitment to take over that farm brought a deeper level of understanding for Blackmon. Realizing that keeping the farmland meant figuring out things like how to repair broken-down wells gave Blackmon a "freak-out moment," after which she dove in and began the process of learning by doing. "I was being 'schooled' and making some rookie mistakes while trying to just do the best I could. I was completely in over my head as a 'country gal' who had been living in New York City and Los Angeles for 20 years—almost my entire adult life," Blackmon recalls. "I was overwhelmed because there was so much to learn, and it was not easy and a very different way of life. Farmers use their street smarts, their farming experience and their education, whether from college or from a family of farmers before them."

Now, she and her brother retain ownership of the family farm in Arkansas and have established a relationship with some dedicated people who operate it while they both reside in Atlanta. "Luckily, my brother supported whatever I wanted to do, and he was a great sounding board during the process. My brother and his wife live here, and this whole process made me want to be closer to him, be a part of his children's lives, and put down my own roots here." She moved to Atlanta to make that happen.

FARM-3What It Takes

Blackmon says she was impressed with not only their depth of knowledge about the environment and business savvy of the local community of farmers, but also with the courage, optimism and perseverance she saw within each of them. "They were optimistic environmental warriors and huge risk-takers. One farmer told me that [most people go] to sleep with their money safely in a bank. Not farmers—their money is getting rained on or beaten down from the sun every day until harvest. An iron stomach is needed to weather a year of farming, because you don't know what the outcome will be until the very last field has been reaped, if that is even possible.

"People need to know the breadth of knowledge needed to be a successful farmer," Blackmon says. "Biology, finance, business, agriculture, as well as an optimism that can outlast any drought or bad crop year. One year, not too long ago, we had a great crop until a few weeks before harvest, when a hurricane blew our crops down so badly you couldn't salvage much. But the attitude is, and has always been, 'Next year will be better.'"

Seeing the Long View

In the years to come, Blackmon sees food labeling as a defining issue in the industry. She says the topic will heat up as people "start understanding what the ingredients in food actually are and what they mean to them."

Blackmon says she hopes once people start learning more about the things that can go into many processed foods, such as syrups, preservatives and additives, they will be encouraged and motivated to add into their diets even more whole, farm-fresh foods.

As Farm Star Living continues to expand, Blackmon aims to help people live more farm-centric in ways that fit their lifestyles. "I intend to continue educating and, hopefully, inspiring more people to bring a bit of the farm into their lives," she says. "I hope by offering a one-stop destination that has farm-to-everything, we can educate and empower people to lead a more farm-conscious and healthy life."

Details: farmstarliving.com

 

Thursday, 25 August 2016 18:04

Scattered

Understanding ADHDIn 1994,the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) reclassified Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADD) as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), listing it in the "Neurodevelopmental Disorders" section instead of the ones dealing with disruptive behavior disorders. The changes were significant because they reflected the complex nature of the brain disorder, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), affects approximately 11 percent of children ages 4 to 17 and four percent of adults. And while so many people are impacted by ADHD, there are still many questions surrounding the condition.

So what exactly is ADHD?

"In general, ADHD is a regulation disorder. [People] with ADHD have difficulty regulating their behavior," explains Julie Pace, PhD, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor with the Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Those behaviors include inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Based on these specific behaviors, three subtypes (or presentations) of the brain disorder have been identified in recent years: inattentive, hyperactivity-impulsivity and combined (displaying both inattentiveness and hyperactivity-impulsivity). Children, as well as adults, will fall into one of the three subtypes based on the symptoms they exhibit.

ADHD-1Childhood symptoms

"For a child with a predominantly inattentive type of ADHD, you will see careless mistakes, a lack of organization, poor listening, getting easily sidetracked, losing things often and forgetfulness. Their minds wander, so they may have trouble keeping track of a conversation," says Toral Fadia, MD, medical director of Northside Hospital's Behavioral Health Services. "For a predominantly hyperactive and impulsive child, you will notice constant squirming, an inability to stay still or seated when it's expected, running or climbing when inappropriate, excessive talking, interrupting or blurting out answers and trouble waiting for his or her turn." Those children with combined ADHD exhibit symptoms from both of the other categories. Muneer Ali, MD, of Amen Clinics Atlanta cautions: "The behavior problems associated with ADHD can often create a negative stigma for children ... [as they experience] feelings of guilt or shame related to the problems their symptoms cause. All the more reason to seek help early."

Adult symptoms

Generally, adults who are diagnosed with ADHD have symptoms similar to those exhibited by children. However, there is a difference in the degree to which those symptoms are present, as well as which subtype is more prevalent. Over time people impacted by symptoms "often develop coping skills and methods to adjust to living life with ADHD," explains Lateefah Watford, MD, chief of behavioral health of Kaiser Permanente of Georgia. "As a person matures, they tend to have less hyperactivity and impulsivity," reveals Darvin Hege, MD, PC, an Atlanta-based psychiatrist who specializes in treating adult ADHD. "Most people who come to me as adults do so because of inattention—sustaining concentration is their major problem. It can be a problem in their work life or their home life."

What causes ADHD?

A great deal of research has been done over the years to try and determine what causes ADHD. Ali reports, "The current prevailing wisdom is that [the cause] involves complex interactions between genetic, developmental, neurochemical and psychosocial factors. There is no single identified cause, though ongoing research is helping shed light on how and why someone may be impaired in the function of their prefrontal cortex." Watford goes on to say, "Research has consistently shown that ADHD is largely a genetic disorder, passed from parent to child. Studies have shown that a child with ADHD is four times as likely to have a relative with ADHD."

What's more, a study released by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) reveals that while a young brain with ADHD matures in a normal pattern, it can experience delays in some regions, including the cortex, which controls thinking, attention and planning.

While genetics influence the development of the areas of the brain, there are additional factors that can be attributed to the presence of ADHD. Environmental factors—such as sleep deprivation and poor nutrition—also can impact a brain that is already managing ADHD, making it more apparent.

How is someone diagnosed with ADHD?

Getting the right diagnosis is key to helping someone with ADHD. Unfortunately, there is no specific test that provides a definitive diagnosis. "The diagnosis is made by a clinical assessment for signs and symptoms of impairment [that cause]a problem in at least two different settings," says Ali.

ADHD-3To help diagnose a child, parents, teachers and other caretakers are asked to fill out questionnaires regarding behavior patterns. This information, coupled with an interview by a psychologist or psychiatrist, can lead to a proper diagnosis. The challenge, though, is ensuring that the right disorder has been identified. "There are often comorbidities involved, such as ADHD and a learning disability or anxiety. You can have someone who has a learning disability that looks like ADHD. There can be overlap in symptoms, making it harder to diagnose," Pace notes. "So it's important to be thoughtful in the assessment. You have to figure out the root cause of the symptoms."

An adult who is seeking a diagnosis is usually asked to self-report symptoms, while a spouse or someone who knows the individual well may be interviewed. As Hege asserts, many adults who seek a diagnosis may have been grappling with symptoms for longer than they realized. "It appears that most people who are diagnosed as adults had ADHD as children, but they were not clearly aware that they had it," he says.

How is ADHD treated?

Behavior therapy (or behavior modification) actually is the first recommended treatment by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). This approach involves addressing specific behavioral issues by structuring time at home, establishing predictable routines and increasing positive reinforcement of good behaviors. Pace also recommends that schools become involved in the process, supporting and accommodating students as they learn to deal with their symptoms. Medication can also be quite effective when used appropriately.

"Medication is often used and is very effective in both children and adults," Fadia remarks. "The benefits of meds are improved academic or work performance with subsequent improvement in self esteem. Social skills may also improve as the patient interrupts less and acts more mature and age appropriate."

It's important to understand that, as Hege says, there is no medication that can "cure" ADHD. In fact, many people are concerned about the use of psychostimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine and Vyvanse to treat ADHD. That is why close monitoring has to be part of the equation. Adolescents and adults also should be monitored to ensure that any prescribed stimulant is not being abused.

Ali also considers other interventions as part of treatment. "Alternative methods of treatment have also included natural supplements with proven efficacy in improving attention and focus," he says, "as well as methods such as neurofeedback, which works to retrain the brain's patterns of activity to promote better function of the prefrontal cortex."

Of course, each case needs to be reviewed individually to find the right treatment option.

What now?

An ADHD diagnosis can either be a welcome relief or a worrisome reality, depending on the people and situations involved. Find the right balance for managing the symptoms of the disorder and a support system to help move forward productively, whether it's individual or group therapy or an online community of people who are experiencing similar situations.

ADHD-4And although controversy has swirled about the authenticity of the disorder, medical professionals attest to its existence. "ADHD is real. It is a very well researched disorder," Pace says. And, according to Fadia, the number of cases in both children and adults seems to have increased over the years for a simple reason. She observes, "The increase in cases of ADHD is due to much greater awareness of the condition." Ali agrees, "some say it has always been this prevalent and just undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as 'bad behavior' or 'just being lazy,' and now with more awareness and acceptance we are seeing a natural increase [in reports]." Watford goes on to say, "In the increasingly connected world that we currently live in, the sharing of information, access to care, working treatment modalities and lessening of the stigma of mental health have all added to the perception of increased prevalence."

That awareness has lead to ongoing research that focuses on everything from the cause of ADHD to its treatment. In the end, though, those dealing with it must live in the moment and strive to understand their unique set of circumstances.

Resources:
Amen Clinics, amenclinics.com
American Academy of Pediatrics, app.org
American Psychiatric Association, psychiatry.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cdc.gov
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, chadd.org
Darvin Hege, MD, PC, eveningpsychiatrist.org
Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, psychiatry.emory.edu
Institute for Advanced Medical Research, iamresearch.org
Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, thrive.kaiserpermanente.org.org
National Institute of Mental Health, nihm.nih.gov
Northside Hospital Behavioral Health Services, northside.com

Wednesday, 24 August 2016 20:26

September 2016 Digital Issue

16,000 + Runners/Walkers and Over 400 Companies Enjoy Fun, Fitness & Company Friendship
Thursday, September 22, 6:30 p.m.

 

Event Information

Calling all runners, walkers and joggers and everybody who likes to move in a fun atmosphere. If you're looking for a great way to improve your fitness, bond with your fellow co-workers or meet new friends, join the largest organized corporate fitness event in the Southeast: Atlanta's 2016 Kaiser Permanente Corporate Run/Walk & Fitness Program.

Under the leadership of U.S. Olympian and America's running coach Jeff Galloway, this workplace-organized fitness program has become a beloved annual tradition in the Atlanta business community since its start in 1983.

The 2016 event will continue to be among the most talked-about events of the year. This year's 5K Corporate Run/Walk & Company Party takes place Thursday, September 22, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in Downtown Atlanta at Turner Field.

What's included?

A unique eight-week training program, starting July 25, 2016, for registered participants features:

 

  • Walking and running training schedules from Jeff Galloway for beginners and seasoned walkers and runners.
  • Ongoing weekday walks and runs with pace groups at Phidippides stores, Atlanta's premier running/walking specialty stores (Wednesdays at 6:15 p.m. in Sandy Springs, Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Ansley Mall and Saturdays at 8:00 a.m. at Ansley Mall).
  • Kaiser Permanente Boot Camp starting on Saturday, August 6, 2016.

 

2016 KPCRW Boot Camp Dates

Boot camp* is held on the oval in the center of Piedmont Park on these dates:

Saturday, August 6
Saturday, August 13
Saturday, August 20
Saturday, August 27 (skip Saturday, September 3 – Labor Day weekend)
Saturday, September 10
Saturday, September 17

*The program is limited to 500 participants.

The boot camp will run from 7 to 8 a.m. at the Piedmont Park Athletic Field and will be led by celebrity fitness instructor Tammie Leady. Paid parking is in the SAGE parking deck— participants are encouraged to carpool, use MARTA, walk or bike to the activity if possible. Other program highlights include:

  • LA Fitness complimentary 3-week pass
  • Fitness and nutrition tips emailed weekly
  • Discount coupons on fitness items and services

P1The Main Event—September 22, 2016

Here's what to expect on race day:

  • 5K (3.1 miles) run/walk winding through the streets of Downtown Atlanta, with thousands of participants and spectators celebrating the day
  • Personalized bibs and electronic race timing
  • Access to the popular Best Self Atlanta Health & Fitness
  • Expo,where numerous companies exhibit their products and services
  • Interactive Zone with games, nutrition tips, entertainment
  • and more
  • A Finish Line Celebration, commemorative 2016 race T-shirt, photo option to pose for team and candid photos, live music by The Rupert's Orchestra and a spectacular awards ceremony
  • The "World's Largest Office Party" with company teams consisting of employees, family and friends gathering under illuminated tents for hundreds of picnics and a good time
  • (Individuals who may not have a company team are encouraged to register and will have the option of purchasing a boxed dinner from Jason's Deli at registration.)
  • Corporate Can Contest benefiting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Back on My Feet and the Atlanta Braves Foundation (Greystone Funding Corporation is the reigning champion and challenger—donating 20,000 pounds of food!)

P2Run/Walk Details

Separate, monitored start areas will be available for elite runners, CEOs, runners/joggers and walkers.

Seeded runners must include a qualifying event on the registration form, and elite-category runners must submit official 2015–2016 documentation for qualifying times.

  • Open Men –6 minutes/mile
  • Open Women –7 minutes/mile
  • Masters Men (40+) –6:15 minutes/mile
  • Masters Women (40+) –7:15 minutes/mile

Awards will be given to the top Overall and Masters Men and Women, fastest team times, highest overall participation and the winner of the T-shirt design contest. CEO Cups will be presented to the fastest male and female CEOs. The Kaiser Permanente Corporate Cup is presented to Atlanta's "Most Fit" companies in four categories, based on the number of full-time employees. Participation awards are also given to companies in each of 38 industry categories.

Celebrate with KAISER PERMANENTE another successful year and be part of the 2016 KPCRW.

 

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