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."


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 —
Beautycounter —
Dermatology Consultants —
International SalonSpa Business Network —
North Atlanta Dermatology —
Steve Hightower Salon Hair Salon & Day Spa —
The Green Room Agency —



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—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."



Thursday, 25 August 2016 18:04


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.

Amen Clinics,
American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Psychiatric Association,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,
Darvin Hege, MD, PC,
Emory University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences,
Institute for Advanced Medical Research,
Kaiser Permanente of Georgia,
National Institute of Mental Health,
Northside Hospital Behavioral Health Services,

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.


Between selfie sticks and smart phones, capturing life's memorable moments has never been easier. In a split second an everyday occurrence can become the perfect photo-op, including special time with beloved pets. For our annual "Best Pet Selfie" contest, we asked readers to submit selfies with their pets as part of an effort to raise funds for local pet-related charities. Through votes from friends, family and the Best Self community, the top three contest winners were able to win cash prizes donated to Puglanta Dog Rescue, Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption and Good Mews Animal Foundation.


P1First Place Winner
Kelley Pierce and Miss Lola
Awarded $250 for Puglanta Dog Rescue, Inc.

From the very second Kelley Pierce laid eyes on Miss Lola, she knew that precious, irresistibly cute, wiggly little creature, with a cinnamon bun tail and eyes on opposite sides of her head had captured a piece of her heart. She says she is thankful every day for "this sweet and gentle pug who's responsible for so much joy and laughter and whose unconditional love inspires, encourages and lifts me, and so many others, up each day!" At 13 years young, Miss Lola just might be one of the most stylish pugs you'll meet. She recently won a pug "Dress & Impress" contest at a Pug & Mug event in Virginia-Highland—and that's just the start. Miss Lola looks forward to getting into modeling, creating her first pug-calendar and being featured in her very own book. Her latest escapade was trying her "paw" at riding skateboards. But Miss Lola isn't all about looks and adventure, says Pierce. She is also American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen-certified and enjoys serving the community as a therapy dog with Happy Tails Pet Therapy. Although Miss Lola herself wasn't an adopted rescue, since bringing her into her home Pierce has become a staunch adoption supporter, which is why she chose Puglanta Dog Rescue to receive the first place prize money. "I feel adoption provides a pet with a chance to experience love that they otherwise may never have the opportunity to know." Fans of Miss Lola can follow her Facebook page "Miss Lola The Pug" to see what she'll be up to next.



P2Second Place Winner
Sheila Jordan and Nash
Awarded $150 for Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption

Sheila Jordan often jokes that her Yorkie/Poodle mix, Nash, "has no clue he is a dog." When the two of them aren't exploring the city, Nash can be found squeezing in quality time with his neighborhood best friend, who just so happens to be a cat, or chasing the ever-elusive "dot." The two recently celebrated the second anniversary of Nash's adoption from Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption (APRA). Jordan reminisces on how helpful APRA was during the process of bringing Nash home. "It was great! APRA ensures that their rescues are going to loving homes that are dedicated to the well-being of the pets. They also act as a resource to help with any needs that might arise once you take your furbaby home." Thankful for the joy Nash has brought into her life through adoption, donating prize money to APRA to assist with finding homes for other pets was a no-brainer to Jordan. She says, "Animals may be voiceless, but their souls speak volumes. Being able to do my part in making a difference in the life of such a sweet angel was my motivation [to adopt]."



P3Third Place
Barb Murphy and Cora
Awarded $100 for Good Mews Animal Foundation

Every birthday is special, but the year Barb Murphy received Cora as a surprise gift from her husband and stepson was extra special. Not only is Barb a longtime pet lover, she's also a huge adoption supporter. So when her husband and stepson decided to surprise her with a pet, they knew adoption was the way to go. "There are too many animals out there that need to find their forever home and too many animal shelters that need help," says Murphy. They brought Cora home from a Planned Pethood event at PetSmart and her spunky personality quickly made her a favorite of the whole family. "Cora is a nut! She drinks running water out of the faucet, talks all the time, is constantly underfoot and loves to hang around her mom," says Murphy. "Cora was the best birthday present ever! The gift that keeps on giving!"















Monday, 01 August 2016 15:51

Hearts of Gold

P1By David Purdum

On an early spring morning in May 2013, approximately 300 swimmers of all ages showed up at Lake Spivey, near Jonesboro, Georgia, for the inaugural Swim Across America Atlanta Open Water Swim, a just-for-fun jaunt out into the lake to raise money for cancer.

Conditions were not ideal.

Temperatures may have reached 60 that day, barely, and the lake water wasn't much warmer. While setting up the weekend event, organizers were pummeled by heavy rain and wind. Buoys flew all over the place as the course was being marked, and rain seeped through tent roofs onto volunteers below.

By the day of the swim, the volunteers were covered in mud up to their knees. They pulled the event off, though, even managing to decorate the grounds with reminders of why everyone was there. Yard signs, each with a picture of the face of a child battling cancer, were everywhere.

SB1Current Olympic superstar Amanda Weir and two gold-medal winners of the past, Steve Lundquist and Doug Gjertsen, were among the volunteers. Weir, a product of Brookwood High School in Lawrenceville, started the summer in a position to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the third time. Lundquist won a pair of gold medals in the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and Gjertsen won two gold medals at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. The trio of Olympians had never met before getting involved in the Atlanta chapter of Swim Across America. Lundquist and Gjertsen even lived in the same area near Lake Spivey, but didn't know each other.

"We all kind of met through Swim Across America," Lundquist explains. "And that's cool. Swim Across America has brought a lot of Olympians into my life that I would never have had a chance to meet. It's fun to get to know them and do some good charity work as well."

Lundquist, who now works on the commercial side of the insurance firm Stewart Title, lost his grandmother to stomach cancer, and his father underwent chemotherapy in the spring for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. "Look to your right and to your left, you're going to find one person you know who has or has dealt with cancer in the past," he says.

For Gjertsen, Swim Across America provided an avenue for him to honor an elementary-school classmate who passed away from kidney cancer during the middle of sixth grade. He attended Austin Elementary School in Dunwoody and remembers learning of his classmate's diagnosis of kidney cancer around Christmas. By Valentine's Day, his friend's hair was gone. In April, he passed away. It was the first time Gjertsen had lost a friend to cancer. It stuck with him.

"It was my first experience with anything like that, so it had a profound impact on me," explains Gjertsen, who has been a coach for SwimAtlanta since 1993. "I have always remembered that. It frustrated me terribly that there was nothing that could be done to improve his situation."

"I think everyone involved in the race will remember that blustery day for a long time," Weir chuckles. With their teeth chattering, Weir, Gjertsen and Lundquist swam alongside participants to help them finish the race and make sure everyone got back to land and some warmth.

Organizers who were trying to jump-start an Atlanta chapter of Swim Across America feared not everyone's memory of the first event would be positive. "We were told that it would be hard to grow the swim given that first year's experience," recalls Sheri Hart, the Atlanta chapter's director.

But it has grown, and three years after that memorable day at Lake Spivey, Swim Across America will accomplish a fundraising milestone with this September's event. (In a strategic decision after inaugural fiasco, the open swim was moved to late summer for the sake of warmth.) Last year, 325 swimmers participated in the swim and 200 attended an Olympic Clinic at Georgia Tech. The Atlanta branch of Swim Across America has raised more than $800,000 for cancer research and expects to cross the million-dollar mark in 2016. Nationally, the nonprofit organization has raised more than $65 million. It also has created a bond between three local Olympic swimmers.

SB2Now in its fourth year, the Atlanta open swim has outgrown Lake Spivey and, for the first time, will be held at Lake Lanier on September 17. The 2016 Olympic Summer Games, which kick off in August in Brazil, always produce a boost in the public's interest in swimming, so the event has a chance to grow even more this year.

Weir, a sprinter who prefers to follow the black line across the bottom of the pool rather than swim in open water, is committed to September's swim. She is heavily involved in growing swimming throughout the metro area and says she's around high-school swimmers every day.

SB3"Swimming has grown like crazy in the past several years," Weir said. "[In] the Atlanta area especially, with huge numbers in the summer neighborhood swim leagues, there's a tremendous pool of young swimmers who might decide they love it enough to continue on into year-round club swimming and/or high-school swimming, which is awesome."

Swim Across America attracts a network of Olympians with Atlanta ties. Weir, Lundquist and Gjersten have looked forward to the event for months. They see each other often these days and were having fun together at a photo shoot this spring, talking about what Olympic athletes talk about with each other.

"You always ask about training," notes Lundquist, "and what they're doing—especially the younger athletes—how they have no respect for us old people, because they keep getting faster and faster."

Monday, 01 August 2016 15:32

Testing, testing, 1-2-3

By Katie Lambert

All mistakes are not equal. The famous leaning Tower of Pisa wasn't meant to lean, but its construction on soft soil hasn't resulted in much other than a charmingly tilted structure. The series of mistakes that led to the sinking of the Titanic, however, resulted in catastrophe.

Gene mutations are like that, too. A cell can replicate and slightly scramble the genetic recipe, swapping out one nucleotide for another. Perhaps the results produce nothing more than another "charming tilt" as the cells make do with what's there. Or, that change in code may dictate devastating effects on the human body.

Genetic testing is a broad term covering a variety of purposes. The forensics testing used in criminal investigations identifies DNA in blood at the scene of a crime. Similar testing methods might also predict how well a woman with breast cancer will respond to certain medication. A few types of genetic testing even allow a little glimpse of the future, such as the predictive testing and the genetic tests done before the conception and birth of a child.

Mapping It Out

Each of our 50 trillion or so cells contains the DNA often called our blueprint. Encoded in DNA are the instructions for life—such as directions that tell cells whether they belong to the eye or the kidney, and whether their job is to pump blood or fight bacteria. DNA molecules are tightly wound and packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. These chromosomes are made up of thousands of genes, each with a specific function or the potential to activate new characteristics.

Occasionally gene mutations occur. Some of these are hereditary and known as the germline mutations from parents. The other kind, acquired or somatic mutations, crop up during our lifetime —UV rays from the sun, for example, can damage some genes, as can the chemicals in cigarettes. Sometimes cells simply damage themselves when they replicate.

Looking for Signs

The genetic testing process doesn't really target those harmless mutations. It's meant to search for indicators of ovarian cancer, sickle cell anemia, Huntington's disease or other causes of human suffering.

Kimberly King-Spohn, a certified genetic counselor and manager of the genetics program with WellStar Health System, describes genetic testing to her patients this way: "When we do genetic testing, it's like we're proofreading a book. We're looking for typos, extra letters and larger errors that change the meaning of the whole sentence."

Dr. Mark Perloe, medical director at Georgia Reproductive Specialists, says, "We talk about genetic screening with every patient who's thinking about getting pregnant. Each year, half a dozen couples come in after their first pregnancy was a disaster—either the child was lost or had mental insufficiency or another condition. An equal number come in having no idea that there is a 1-in-4 chance of their child having a genetic condition because they are a carrier couple."

Carrier couples each have one copy of a mutated gene that, in them, causes no problems. But combine the two through reproduction and there is a 25 percent chance they will have a child with a condition like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell anemia, and a 50 percent chance that the child will be a carrier as well.

Pondering Direction

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends specific tests to certain groups (couples with Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, for example, should be offered a screening for Tay-Sachs disease), but there are additional options available. There are also prenatal tests administered to pregnant women to help identify conditions like Down syndrome. "We present the spectrum of what's available and allow patients to self-identify with what meets their needs," says King-Spohn.

As a genetic counselor, it's her job to discuss the possible psychological effects of results before testing ever takes place. She must consider: "Would this information be valuable to the patient? Would it be useful to them to help direct their treatment or allow them to prepare for the future? Or would it just cause them anxiety? Would the knowledge hang over their head or make them unable to sleep? Then it's not helpful." For example, if knowing that testing positive for the risk of Down syndrome would not change the course of the pregnancy, the patient may not want to know at all.

SB1Finding Clues

Predictive testing carries its own weighty decisions. It allows a doctor/scientist to scan the genome for genes known to be related to certain cancers. The best-known of these is probably the blood test for BRCA1 and BRCA2, genes known to harbor harmful, inherited mutations that sharply increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

The medical options for women who test positive for BRCA can be tough, both psychologically and physically. Often, these results start a series of frequent mammograms and MRIs, possibly adding chemopreventive drugs or even risk-reduction surgeries such as the removal of both breasts and ovaries.

"Removing your ovaries is what saves your life if you're BRCA-positive. The outcomes for ovarian cancer are dismal because we can't find it early," says Katie Lang, certified genetic counselor and Hereditary Cancer Program Coordinator at Northside Hospital. "But that's a huge decision. It puts you in menopause. If you're a woman who hasn't had children or isn't in a relationship, you have to start thinking about things like whether you want to do an egg harvest and freeze your eggs, or whether you want to adopt. You are suddenly under pressure to make life choices you thought you had more time to make."

A Family Affair

The big difference between carrier testing and predictive testing is that when there are two prospective parents present, they inherently have all the information needed. When testing for gene mutations like BRCA, it's necessary to check in with the whole family.

Lang says that genetic counselors always joke about their nosiness. If your mother died of breast cancer, they're not just going to ask you about her—they're going to ask you about her mother, your sisters, and where your aunt lives so they can recommend a testing center. If your mom's sister tests negative, then you don't need to be tested for BRCA. She was the missing piece.

Genetic counselors are very careful to explain what test results can mean. A positive result for BRCA, for example, does not mean that you have cancer, or that you will get cancer. On the flip side, testing negative for BRCA doesn't mean that you won't get breast or ovarian cancer—most women with breast cancer do not have the BRCA mutation.

Both Lang and King-Spohn urge patients to talk to their relatives about their family's medical history. "We can't do genetics with just one person," says Lang. "We solve the puzzle with everybody. That can be hard. Maybe your relatives have passed away, maybe they don't want to be tested. Maybe you don't have access to your family history or have a very small family. Risk is a spectrum, and we don't know where you fall on the spectrum."

There are researchers who, every day, spend hours in a lab looking for genetic clues to conditions like autism, diabetes and Alzheimer's. They've already found puzzle pieces for breast and ovarian cancer, colon cancer and sudden cardiac death. The field will keep advancing, and it will save lives. While those facts don't make the choices easy, the knowledge does empower patients with greater understanding.


American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology—
FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered—
Georgia Reproductive Specialists—
National Cancer Institute—
National Library of Medicine—
National Society of Genetic Counselors—
Northside Hospital—
WellStar Health System—

Friday, 29 July 2016 14:15

August 2016 Digital Issue

Thursday, 23 June 2016 20:04

Men’s Skincare in 3 Simple Steps

Men's skin is resilient and tough, but it still requires a regimen to ensure it's ready for life's everyday events and ages gracefully. Three main products every man should have are cleanser, sunscreen, and a night treatment.

Cleansers: Gentle cleansers allow removal of dirt without the removal of all the natural oils, leaving skin hydrated yet cleaned. When suffering from acne prone or oily skin, there are different types of cleansers that may contain ingredients to combat those concerns.

Sunscreens: Sunscreens are the answer for slowing the formation of aging lines and allowing dark spots to fade. Sun is everywhere--even on overcast, cloudy, rainy, and snowy days. Wearing an SPF30+ daily can be the difference between "looking your age" and "looking beyond your years."

Night Treatment: Any cream that targets a concern, whether it's acne, dark spots, skin texture, ingrown beard hairs/bumps, or anti-aging should be applied to the skin at night--when hands are away from the face, sweating is diminished, and sun isn't around. This allows the topical treatment the most uninterrupted contact time with the skin.

Creating a personal men's skin care regimen can be an overwhelming task. Dr. Nikki Hill at the SOCAH Center can assist with creating simple yet effective regimens that are specific to skin type and skin goals. This month we are celebrating men's skin care with a free chemical peel (can be gifted to a friend or loved one) after a skin assessment! Call our office today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Hill and learn how to maintain healthy skin everyday.


Dr. Nikki D. Hill, MD, FAAD
Concierge Dermatologist and Hair Loss Specialist

Dr. Nikki Hill is a board-certified dermatologist, hair loss specialist and founder of Atlanta's first and only concierge dermatology practice, the SOCAH Center, which brings quality care to you—conveniently.

Men’s Skincare in 3 Simple Steps






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