Wednesday, 22 July 2015 20:07

2015 Best Pet Selfie Contest Winners

In the last few years, the age of technology has brought with it an era of selfies. We snap them everywhere and with everyone: with friends at dinner, during fun events, and – you guessed it – with our pets. For our annual photo contest, our readers submitted their Best Pet Selfies with the goal of raising money for local pet charities. Through votes from their friends, family and the Best Self community, the top three contest winners were able to win cash prizes for Friends of DeKalb Animals, Atlanta Humane Society and Kindness Matters Ferret Rescue. Get ready to meet these selfie stars!

In the last few years, the age of technology has brought with it an era of selfies. We snap them everywhere and with everyone: with friends at dinner, during fun events, and – you guessed it – with our pets. For our annual photo contest, our readers submitted their Best Pet Selfies with the goal of raising money for local pet charities. Through votes from their friends, family and the Best Self community, the top three contest winners were able to win cash prizes for Friends of DeKalb Animals, Atlanta Humane Society and Kindness Matters Ferret Rescue. Get ready to meet these selfie stars!


01First Place

Anna Bettina and Glaukos the Gargoyle
Friends of DeKalb Animals

We've all seen pets with fitting names, like a fur ball named Fluffy or a Chihuahua named Tiny, but no name paints a picture quite as vivid as "Glaukos the Gargoyle." This 170-pound guy – who's still growing! – is a gray, wrinkly Neopolitan Mastiff. And even though the name describes his physical appearance well, his owner Anna Bettina has made sure there's no hint of "gargoyle" in his personality. Bettina is a certified dog trainer with Atlanta's Happy Healthy Pup and holds a Masters of Animal Science, so she trained Glaukos well from day one. "With a lot of training, they can be really fun, easy-going companions," Bettina says of large breed dogs like Glaukos. Because he's so well behaved, he accompanies Bettina on plenty of outings around town, including lots of pet-friendly restaurant patios. "Our favorite is Saltyard on Peachtree. Chef Nick always cooks Glaukos' steaks perfectly!" Bettina says. The only drawbacks to a pup this big? "They eat a lot," Bettina says. "They also snore and are horrible bed hogs," she jokes. But who could resist that wrinkly face?
Bettina and Glaukos' first-place prize money will go to Friends of DeKalb Animals to help other pets feel that same love in their forever homes. "They've saved everything from special needs dogs to moms with litters," Bettina explains. To keep up with Glaukos and his adventures, follow his Facebook page at Glaukos the Gargoyle.


02Second Place

Al Longman and Jolie Petite
Atlanta Humane Society

For Al and Su Longman, the process of bringing home Jolie Petite was not a short one. They went through a thorough six-month process with her breeder to make sure they were fit pup parents. Not only that, but during the process, the Longmans were checking out the breeder as well. Su says, "Always check with other clients to make sure the pets are bred without any harm," if you're going to go the breeder route. Ultimately, the Longmans were deemed a great match for Jolie, and they brought her home in 2007. She has made herself at home, zooming around the house every afternoon and always settling her head lovingly on Su's lap afterward. The Longmans' second-place prize money will go to the Atlanta Humane Society. "I just finished hosting a fundraising event for AHS and have seen their dedication firsthand," Su says. "Their love for animals is admirable."



03Third Place

Amber Rathburn and Baby Girl
Kindness Matters Ferret Rescue

Amber Rathbun has always had a soft spot for geriatric pets. She's also a vet tech, so she knows the value of high-quality pet care throughout an animal's life. So when Rathbun saw an ad about fostering older ferrets with health challenges, it really spoke to her. "My pet rat passed away prior to me seeing the ad, so I had a huge unused cage with supplies. It seemed like a sign." She responded to Kindness Matters Ferret Rescue's ad and soon, Baby Girl was hers. "Baby Girl is blind from cataracts, so coming to a new household was a little difficult at first," Rathbun says, but she has since learned to navigate the house with ease, even running up the stairs, scratching at the back door when she wants to play in the yard, and waiting by the pantry for her treat of raisins. And despite Baby Girl's health challenges, Rathbun says KMFR has been very helpful and informative, so they will receive her third place prize money. "I think rescue is the way to go," Rathbun says. "I've enjoyed every minute of it!"









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Wednesday, 22 July 2015 19:28

Spin Through Summer

By Amelia Pavlik

Imagine the feeling of a cool breeze whipping past your cheeks as you fly down a hill on a bike. Whether you're 7 or 70, this energizing feeling never gets old.

Now that summer is in full swing, what better way to enjoy the warmer temperatures – and squeeze in a workout – than by going for a bike ride?

"Not only is cycling a great way to explore the outdoors, but it is also low impact, and you can make the ride as hard or as easy as you want," says Jody McDanal, senior mechanic at Peachtree Bikes. McDanal has worked behind the scenes at professional races and competes in races himself. "I can't think of many other ways to burn as many calories as I do when I'm on the bike."

Gerry Halphen, a spinning instructor at Concourse Athletic Club and a triathlon coach, adds that whether you're prepping for a race or looking for an engaging workout, you can't beat riding outdoors. "An outdoor ride provides more realistic preparation," he says. "Plus, when you're outside, there is more stimuli, which makes the ride more of a mental challenge than riding a stationary bike in an indoor cycling class."

If you're new to riding outdoors, Halphen has the following tips to set you up for success:
Buy the right gear. This includes cycling shorts with built-in padding and cycling shoes with cleats that will help you pedal more steadily.

Learn from the veterans. Connect to experienced cyclists through local cycling shops. "Most are enthusiastic about the sport and are willing to help others get into it," says Halphen. "They are also often willing to loan or give away some of their old gear."

Go slow to go fast. "It takes time for the body to adjust, so don't overdo it and decide you're going to ride 100 miles five days in a row," he says. "That will likely result in significant discomfort, soreness or even injury."

And for those days that you don't have time to head outside, McDanal and Halphen add that indoor cycling is a great alternative. "You don't have to worry about traffic or weather," says Halphen. "And from a coach's perspective, the lack of obstacles like stop signs allow you to pedal continuously, enabling you to focus on a goal like a heart rate target." Many of Atlanta's indoor cycling options will show your metrics right on the bike or an overhead screen, helping you meet your fitness goals. Some even offer an upper-body component to ensure that you're getting a full body workout.
Read on for a list of spots where you can get a great outdoor or indoor ride in Atlanta and beyond.



Hit the Trail


PATH400 Greenway Trail

The first phase of what will be a 5.2-mile path through the Buckhead area opened earlier this year, from Old Ivy Road to Tower Place. Eventually, the trail will extend from Loridans Drive south to the Atlanta BeltLine's Peachtree Creek spur trail. When complete, this paved trail will wind through the North Buckhead, Peachtree Park and Lindmont LaVista neighborhoods. It will also give cyclists, skaters, walkers and runners plenty of room to share, with a path width of 10 to 14 feet.



Ride Inside


Cyc Fitness

Classes incorporate two-pound beanbag weights and a variety of movements from more than 20 different sports, including boxing and swimming. Childcare is available, and when taking a Cyc class, you also have complimentary access to The Forum facilities and amenities two hours before or after class. Hop on one of their 50 bikes for $25 per class for adults or $20 for students.

Details: Lenox Mall, inside The Forum Athletic Club, 3393 Peachtree St., Atlanta GA, (404) 698-4343,


Flywheel Sports

This popular studio incorporates arm work with weighted bars and regularly has themed rides so you can work out to music you love. They offer complimentary cycling shoes for riders and showers with Bliss hair and body products. If you can't reserve a spot on one of their 52 Buckhead studio bikes, try their Midtown or Alpharetta locations. Your first class is $28.

Details: 102 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta GA, 678-702-5684,


Roc House Fitness Spa

In addition to 25 bikes for cycling classes, the women's only Roc House also offers customized personal training, more than 45 group fitness classes a week, a full-service spa and cafe. The first class is free for Buckhead residents.

Details: 3402 Piedmont Road, Atlanta GA, (404) 500-1621,



Hit the Trail


Atlanta BeltLine

This project utilizes an existing 22-mile historic rail corridor that encircles the City of Atlanta as its foundation. Pedestrian-friendly rail transit and 33 miles of multiuse trails will follow this corridor and stem off of it. "I ride the BeltLine all the time," said Madison James, BeltLine fitness ambassador, B98.5 radio personality and AJC fitness blogger. There are currently four active trails – the Eastside Trail, the Northside Trail, the Southwest Connector Spur Trail and the West End Trail – and more in the works. Check out the map pictured to find your nearest BeltLine access point, and hop on your bike today!

James continues, "If you want a safe place to ride with your kids, it's perfect. Plus, there are bike tours and classes for first time riders."
Check out the temporary art installations that can be found along the trail, or take one of the free fitness classes offered in various locations that range from yoga to aerobics.

Details: Visit for details on upcoming expansion and an interactive map.


Ride Inside


Exhale Spa

Core Cycling is one of a suite of classes offered at exhale, including barre, boot camp and yoga. You can also enjoy a detoxifying coed hammam, sauna and steam rooms after your ride. Pay $25 for a cycling class, or sign up for the Week of Transformation for $30, which includes unlimited classes for a week and discounts on spa therapies and private training sessions.

Details: Loews Atlanta Hotel, 7th floor, 1065 Peachtree St., Atlanta GA, (404) 720-5000,


Torq Cycle Atlanta

Classes incorporate light weights for a total body workout, and all 30 bikes show an accurate display of power and RPM output to help you track and meet your training goals. Cool off post-ride with chilled eucalyptus hand towels, and enjoy showers stocked with Malin+Goetz products. Try your first class for free.

Details: 935 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta GA, (404) 606-6931,

VIBEVibe Ride

At Vibe Ride, which opened this April, 35 bikes use a performance IQ/class metrics system to track your heart rate, calories burned and power. The fun comes in with the instructors' rhythmic riding style that encourages you to "dance on the bike." The studio also offers boot camp and barre classes, so if you enjoy your first free cycling class, you can round out your routine with their other offerings.

Details: 950 West Peachtree St. NW, Suite 225, Atlanta GA,


Outside the Perimeter


Hit the Trail


Big Creek Greenway Trail

This trail spans 13.5 miles through Roswell, Alpharetta and Forsyth County. Currently, there are two sections to the trail. The Forsyth County portion extends from Bethelview Road to McFarland Parkway. The Alpharetta portion extends from Marconi Drive to just south of Mansell Road in Fulton County. There are plans to connect the trails, but nothing has been solidified yet.

Details: Find directions, parking and maps at


Silver Comet Trail

This 61.5-mile trail was build along an abandoned railroad line. It starts at the Mavell Road Trailhead in Smyrna and ends at the Georgia/Alabama state line, near Cedartown. It is a quiet, non-motorized, paved trail for walkers, hikers, cyclists, horses and dog walkers. It is also wheelchair accessible.




Ride Inside



Concourse Athletic Club

In addition to a 42-bike cycling studio, this club offers a variety of other classes ranging from yoga to Zumba. Members also have access to indoor/outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, whirlpools, steam rooms, saunas, and a restaurant and cafe.

Details: 8 Concourse Parkway, Sandy Springs GA, (770) 698-2000,



Life Time Fitness

Life Time Fitness' class offerings vary by location, but they range from EDGE Cycle, which provides an individualized experience to push riders, to Cycle Sculpt, which incorporates an upper-body workout. The Alpharetta and Johns Creek clubs also offer outdoor cycling programs for the best of both worlds. Classes are complimentary for gym members, and nonmembers can pay a guest fee, which varies by club.

Details: Locations in Sandy Springs, Lawrenceville, Alpharetta, Norcross, Woodstock and Johns Creek,


Editorial Resources
Gerry Halphen, Concourse Athletic Club –
Madison James, Atlanta BeltLine –
Jody McDanal, Peachtree Bikes –


This one-of-a-kind event will ignite the power, strength and world-changing capabilities of women


The inaugural Women Igniting Change™ conference is part of a global movement geared toward unleashing the contribution of women. This will be an annual event, which will add cities each year. Dates for 2016 have already been scheduled for Atlanta and Albany, NY.

Women Igniting Change™ was created from a desire to unleash the contribution of women in organizations, communities and the world. In the hearts of women lie the solutions to some of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Women can revolutionize our planet in limitless ways if they only realize that they themselves are the spark to ignite whatever change their minds can imagine!

image2Women Igniting Change™ is a one-of-a-kind women's conference unlike any other women's event in that it offers the missing piece of sustainability.

  • Experience a two-day curriculum that not only celebrates and honors the power of women, but also dives deeper to offer participants real opportunities for personal change and impact.
  • Be more than just empowered. Become awakened and transformed.

A portion of each ticket price for Women Igniting Change™ will go toward supporting women and girls around the world with our ultimate goal of donating $1 million by the end of 2025 to causes that advance women and girls.

Are you ready to be part of something greater than yourself? Join us! Go to to register.


Sponsored by: Ignite The Next International, LLC | P.O. Box 1240 | Roswell, GA 30075
Phone: (888) 467-6127 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. |


Tennis elbow, or lateral epicondylitis, is a condition in which the outer part of the elbow becomes sore and tender. The tendon that joins the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow and the forearm muscles themselves become damaged from overuse – repeating the same motions again and again. This leads to inflammation, pain and tenderness on the outside of the elbow.

DSC 8882-2Symptoms of tennis elbow include:

Pain slowly increasing around the outside of the elbow. Less often, pain may develop suddenly.

Pain experienced when shaking hands or squeezing objects.

Pain from stabilizing or moving the wrist with force. Examples include lifting, using tools, opening jars, or even handling simple utensils such as a toothbrush or knife and fork.

Tennis elbow can be relieved through the advanced TENEX HEALTH TXTM procedure. This procedure was developed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic and is a minimally invasive treatment option. The procedure uses ultrasound to locate the damaged tendon tissue. Once the source of pain is located, our physicians numb the area locally and use gentle ultrasonic energy to safely breakdown and remove the damaged tissue. The ultrasonic energy is applied with the TX MicroTipTM, which requires only a tiny incision to reach the damaged tissue. Because the incision is so small and the ultrasonic energy precisely treats only the damaged tendon tissue, the surrounding healthy tissue is left unharmed. When the procedure is completed, the doctor applies a small adhesive bandage (like a Band-Aid); no stitches are required and there is minimal downtime and less discomfort compared to open surgery.

shutterstock 67457257-2TENEX HEALTH TXTM has been effective in relieving the pain associated with tennis elbow. If you are suffering from tennis elbow, please talk to your practitioner so that we may discuss this as an option for you.

Reference: Tenex Health TXTM, (2015). Understand your tendon pain. Retrieved May 18, 2015 from,


Sponsored by: North Fulton Hospital | 3000 Hospital Boulevard | Roswell, GA 30076
Phone: (770) 751-2500 |




Tuesday, 23 June 2015 18:03

Body Symmetry MD

We interviewed one of the most respected – and engaging – names in the industry, One on One Matchmaking President Sarah Kathryn Smith, who explained, "If you're okay with quantity over quality, then online dating is for you. If, however, you are truly interested in finding the right person for a serious relationship (they've produced thousands!) or marriage (over 300!), consider engaging pros to help you navigate the world of dating."
As a 17-year veteran of the dating industry, she and her team of professional matchmakers guide upscale singles in both Atlanta and New York City; and she's been featured as an expert on relationships and singles by top media outlets such as: CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Cosmopolitan, The Wall Street Journal, Men's Health, and many more.

Over the past few years, personal matchmaking has become even more popular and widespread than ever before – especially for busy professionals. "We have compiled the largest database of singles in the Southeast, but we know that we're not the right choice for everyone." She offers these tips:

This should be a no-brainer. In order to match you and your preferences, your matchmaker needs to know all about the latest and/or greatest nightlife and attractions in your area. As an Atlanta native, I make sure our entire staff – me included – stays current (like up-to-the-minute current) and immersed in our city's culture.

If you genuinely want to find the best person to date, get serious, or get busy (not necessarily in that order) – then it is best to choose a highly customized service. One on One guarantees great dates because we gather feedback after every single date. We're not a factory churning out dates, but we do believe in "continuous learning for continuous improvement."

When "shopping" for the right matchmaker, it's important that you understand what the fees are before you invest in an in-person meeting. This is the one part of the process where your head should definitely rule your heart.

Make sure that you and the matchmaking service you select clearly understand what your goals are and the strategy on which you'll be teaming up.

Matchmaking may be serious business, but having a good time while doing it is part of One on One's mission. Ultimately, we're in the business of improving the quality of people's lives – their love lives that is!


Sarah Kathryn Smith
One On One Matchmaking

Founder and owner of Eight at Eight Dinner Club and One on One Matchmaking, Sarah Kathryn Smith and her team of professional matchmakers work with upscale singles in both Atlanta and New York City. Smith, a 17-year veteran of the dating industry, is one of the most respected names in matchmaking and has been profiled as an authority on relationships and singles by The Wall Street Journal, "The Oprah Winfrey Show," CNN, Men's Health and so many more.

Her expertise has led to more than 300 marriages and thousands of serious relationships. One On One Matchmaking not only sets up singles, but can also help plan your perfect date.


Sponsored by: One on One Matchmaking  |  3102 Roswell Rd NE  |  Atlanta, GA 30305  |  (404) 355-4646
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   |


Monday, 22 June 2015 16:50

Breast Density and Your Mammogram

Breast density is a measure of how the breasts look on a mammogram, not how your breasts feel. Dense breast tissue is not abnormal but it can make interpretation of your mammogram difficult. The breasts normally contain fatty, fibrous (connective) and glandular tissue. The fibrous and glandular tissues appear white on the mammogram. Fatty tissue is black, and the contrast provided by the fatty tissue allows the radiologist to identify abnormal areas. The pockets of fibroglandular tissue surrounded by fat create an image that resembles a smoky haze on the mammogram. High breast density means there is a greater amount of glandular and fibrous tissue as compared to fat. The mammogram image looks whiter in dense breasts. Most breast cancers also look white on the mammogram. So with dense breasts the addition of Tomosynthesis, ultrasound or MRI allows the Radiologist to see through the white, fibroglandular tissue to find smaller cancers.

MammogramBreast Tomosynthesis (3-D mammography) allows the doctor to examine breast tissue one layer at a time to find cancers hiding in the white fibroglandular tissue. Digital Tomosynthesis can help to detect more cancers in dense breasts, but the 3-D mammogram still relies on the contrast provided by fat. Some breasts are so dense that another screening modality is needed, in addition to the mammogram, to assure that there is no cancer hiding in the white fibroglandular breast tissue. Most breast cancers can be seen on a mammogram, but ultrasound and/or MRI can help find breast cancer that cannot be seen on the mammogram.

You may be called back for a Screening Breast Ultrasound or MRI based on your breast density and individual risk for breast cancer. A recall for additional screening does not mean that your mammogram is abnormal. So don't panic if you are called back! It is best to follow the recommendations of the interpreting radiologist and your personal physician.


Carolyn G. Dudley, MD
Diagnostic Radiology Ultrasound & Breast Center

Carolyn G. Dudley has over 30 years' experience in breast imaging. She attended Bryn Mawr College, Howard University and completed her Diagnostic Radiology residency at Saint Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, Michigan. She is board certified by the American Board of Radiology and is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society.

Dr. Dudley was one of the pioneers in developing techniques to diagnose breast cancer utilizing MRI. Presently, she has a private practice in Atlanta, Georgia where she offers patients a wide range of outpatient diagnostic services in a convenient and patient-friendly environment. Her practice is the first non-hospital facility in Georgia to offer the latest advancement in mammography: 3D Mammography (breast tomosynthesis). In addition, Dr. Dudley provides 2D Digital Mammography, bone densitometry and ultrasound utilizing the most up-to-date technology available.

Diagnostic Radiology is pleased to announce that beginning in January 2015 3D mammograms for Medicare patients are now covered by Medicare insurance.

Sponsored by: Diagnostic Radiology Ultrasound & Breast Center
755 Mt. Vernon Highway, Suite #310 | Atlanta, GA 30328  |  (404) 252-3430 |


A: Dr. Mefferd: Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that helps heal soft tissue injuries. A patient's blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge which separates the platelets from the red blood cells. These growth factor-containing platelets are then reinjected into damaged tissue to stimulate tissue generation and repair.



A: Dr. Mefferd: Any soft tissue injury; chronic tendon pain and ligament damage.



A: Dr. Mefferd: The ultimate goal of PRP therapy is to minimize pain and optimize overall healing.



A: Dr. Porter: Both procedures can be used for tendonitis, either alternatively or in conjunction. Your physician can help you determine which option may be best for you.



A: Dr. Porter: Our philosophy is aligned with our patients' philosophy. Patients want to get better in the safest and quickest way possible. We want to identify the source of their pain and the safest, most cost effective way to treat it.



A: Dr. Porter: Our patients tell us that our experience, professionalism and focus on service separate us from other practices.



The Physicians Spine and Rehabilitation Specialists of Georgia

Since 1995, The Physicians Spine and Rehabilitation Specialists of Georgia has provided innovative, effective and comprehensive treatment of pain with special emphasis on spinal pain and care of the injured worker.

They strive to improve their patients' quality of life and restore function to individuals suffering from acute and chronic pain conditions. They offer non-surgical treatment of spinal pain using the most advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques to identify and eliminate or minimize pain at its source.

Their board-certified physicians work with patients to help them better understand their condition and the treatment options available to them. They are committed to excellence and compassion in caring for our patients, and they welcome the opportunity to serve you.







Sponsored by: The Physicians Spine and Rehabilitation Specialists of Georgia
5730 Glenridge Drive, Suite 100  |  Sandy Springs, Georgia 30328
Phone: (404) 816-3000  |


Monday, 22 June 2015 15:33

Men’s Health: The Boys Are Back

By Kathy Kantorski

Healthy lifestyle changes and regular check-ups make these men feel years younger!

Annual check-ups are a crucial part of staying healthy – after all, you don't know what steps to take if you don't know where you're starting. In addition to your regular check-ups, it's especially important for men to check things like their PSA and cholesterol levels to avoid the health issues that commonly take guys out of commission. (Find out more about those tests on p. 17!) These three Atlanta men learned the value of regular check-ups and broad lifestyle changes after their own health journeys. Now, with closer attention on their health, these boys are back and feeling better than ever.


Pavuk-RonRon Pavuk

Cancer hit Ron Pavuk hard. Up until late 2013, he considered himself pretty normal: he didn't exercise regularly, he ate a typical American diet and he dealt with everyday stresses as best he could. There was no history of cancer in his family. He experienced mild acid reflux, but he considered that fairly common among men his age. Then, in the fall, he began to have problems swallowing. In December, a scope procedure detected esophageal cancer. After that, as Pavuk describes it, "Two weeks of musical chairs in different doctors' offices had me feeling even more lost than when I was first diagnosed." Finally, he found the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and began his battle.

"My treatment was five weeks of daily radiation with chemo weekly," he recalls. On May 2, 2014, he underwent a surgery to remove the cancerous mass. The surgery also removed part of his esophagus and pulled up his stomach to replace what was removed. He recounts: "Five days later, my surgeon came in for my morning check-up with a bigger smile than usual. 'It's gone,' he explained. The treatment had worked."

In the weeks that followed his surgery, Pavuk was on a strict diet to aid his recovery. As a result, he lost more than 50 pounds and he won a new lease on life. He saw the errors of his previous lifestyle: he had been overweight, his diet was unhealthy, he had too much stress and he didn't exercise regularly. So after he recovered from his surgery, he changed his lifestyle. He "stopped letting the little things bother me," as he puts it, and he now makes healthy choices for what he eats, including as much organic food as possible and proper planning. "Prior to my healthy diet, there was no planning for what I was eating – I ate whatever I felt like or wandered into that particular day," he explains. "Now, I plan my meals more strategically. Before going out to eat, I decide in advance what I'm going to eat when I get there instead of going with impulse."

Besides overall healthier living, one of Pavuk's main takeaways from his bout with cancer is that early detection is the key to faster recovery. You never know when that annual check-up might help stop a disease in its tracks.


Nears-KenDr. Ken Nears

Selflessness is often praised as a virtue, but as Dr. Ken Nears has learned, you must also take care of yourself if you want to be alive to help others. As a single father who was granted custody of his daughter when she was 11 months old, Nears has spent more than 20 years devoting his time to caring for others. His history also includes the launch of a mentoring program for middle-school minorities, volunteer work for the American Red Cross and foster parenting for at-risk youth. When he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, his frustrations about the lack of treatment information available caused him to again think of helping others and develop a website ( that serves as a one-stop shop for prostate cancer information.

Since his diagnosis and subsequent treatments in 2010, Nears' cancer has never officially been in remission. That fact, combined with the shock of his brother's death from a massive heart attack a couple of years ago, has led Nears to recommit to his own life. "I decided, if I was going to die from anything, it wasn't going to be from stupidity," Nears says. He began by eating "a simple, healthy diet," he says. He also started working out at a gym, and he took up tap dancing as a hobby. Then he found the Dance 101 dance studio. Offering classes in both mornings and evenings six days a week, Dance 101 allowed Nears to dabble in several dance styles and stay motivated.

Nears also focused on reducing the stress in his life. Prior to his diagnosis, he was a workaholic. "I taught full-time at a local university, conducted psychotherapy on the side and attempted to start several businesses," he says. "I believe that all of these factors combined, including my lack of rest, contributed greatly to my cancer by weakening my body's ability to keep dormant cancer cells under control." To reduce his stress, he makes a constant effort to think positively, visualize his goals, relax, stay centered and balanced and take time for reflection. As a result of his diet and exercise changes combined with his lifestyle changes to reduce stress, Nears is now 50 pounds lighter. "I look and feel better now than I have ever felt in my adult life."


Aparacio-Luis cred-Tony-BennerLuis Aparacio

He's been rowing for 48 years, since the age of 13. He's a three-time Olympian. He's a 64-year-old who works out two hours a day. Luis Aparacio is not a person you'd expect to suffer a near-fatal heart attack.

Yet earlier this year, when he was competing with the Atlanta Rowing Club in the world's largest two-day rowing event, the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston (his eleventh time competing in the event), he suffered a massive heart attack mid-race. In the hospital, the doctors put him into an induced coma, and his wife was instructed to prepare for the worst.

"In the morning, I was dead, and in the evening, I moved my toes," Aparacio says. Indeed, his recovery was miraculous. Nine days later he was transported to Atlanta, and he began cardiac rehabilitation at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital. "The first day I walked into rehab, I wasn't able to put one foot in front of the other," he says – he had suffered nine rib fractures from the CPR administered during his heart attack. "After three months of constant hard work, I got in shape and gained 87 percent of my muscle back."

He adds that, at 153 pounds, he is in better shape now than when he was prior to the heart attack. "I will always be grateful to the cardiac rehab staff," Aparacio says. "They saved me and encouraged me to go on and fight for a better life."

So what caused Aparacio's heart attack? He had a blockage in one of his arteries due to high cholesterol. "My biggest regret is that I should have seen the signs of heart problems and [monitored my] cholesterol levels," he says. Today, he advocates for awareness of your body's health. "Eat well, exercise hard, sleep, take no salty foods, avoid fat and junk food," he says. "Be grateful to God for your family and your friends, and don't forget to go to your doctor for as long as you live."



Monday, 22 June 2015 15:21

Sam Champion: Loving Life in Atlanta

By Amy Meadows

It was early 2010. Sam Champion, the beloved, award-winning weather anchor for ABC's top-rated "Good Morning America" was dealing with something that was all too familiar to him: skin cancer. His first diagnosis came in his mid-20s, and by his mid-40s, he knew the drill. He had five suspicious moles, and they had to be checked and treated by a dermatologist. "The problem is that there is no way to treat it other than to cut it out," Champion says. "But I'm on television every day, and that means that other people are aware of what's going on. When I have scars and loop stitches, people notice."

Twitter was just taking off, and Champion decided to reveal his skin cancer history to his growing number of followers. "It wasn't a conversation people were having on a regular basis. I just wanted to discuss with people why I had these scars and stitches," Champion explains. "I was so taken aback. I got a huge response. People were sending me pictures and asking if I thought they had skin cancer. I thought, 'We need to create awareness. People don't want to feel like they're being preached to, but we need get people talking about skin cancer.'"

With that in mind, Champion decided to have surgery live on air that May. He had a spot of basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer, removed from his left shoulder. The well-received piece allowed him to share more details about his personal experience and gave him a platform to create a new level of understanding about skin cancer. "I wanted people to know what I didn't know. When I was a kid, there was no discussion about skin cancer. You were told to get your first good burn of the year, and then your skin would acclimate. But I was a blond, blue-eyed kid. And every time you burn, you damage your skin," he notes. "The only way to prevent skin cancer is to use some kind of protection against the sun. Today, there is a huge variety of skin care products that include sunscreen. Those aisles in the stores are miles long, and they're there for a reason. Anyone can get skin cancer."

It's that kind of straightforward, educational discourse that has endeared Sam Champion to the millions of viewers who watch him every morning on television. Of course, today they tune in to The Weather Channel, Champion's home since early 2014, when he left GMA to serve as anchor of the flagship morning show "AMHQ: America's Morning Headquarters" and managing editor for the Atlanta-based weather network. The move may have surprised many people, but for Champion, it was a completely natural step.

SAM-1"I'm a project guy," he asserts. "A lot of people like to plan their career and know where they want to be. That was never me. I like a project. We took 'Good Morning America' to number one. We did that, so that project was done. And the opportunity with The Weather Channel came at a really wonderful time."
With a plan to move away from longer-form programs and reemphasize the weather again, The Weather Channel offered the perfect environment – and new project – for Champion, who was a longtime fan. Like many, he had become disillusioned by the shift in programming in recent years and was thrilled to hear about the new strategy. "I was a Weather Channel viewer. Like everyone else, I had to have my weather," he says. "And they wanted to get back to weather full time."

Champion's love for climate and science proved to be a perfect match for The Weather Channel's plan of action. The excitement of revamping the network's quality programming brought Champion back to the enthusiasm he felt during his earliest days in the industry. "In the '80s, the thing that excited me was live television. You could get a truck out there and be on a live feed and actually show people what was going on. Then in the '90s, there were all of these incredible computer graphics being used for the weather. It was something you'd never seen before. It was very visual, and I was drawn to that," he explains. "Today, we have even more knowledge. We can be live anywhere around the world in a moment's notice. And there really is zero competition for The Weather Channel in terms of being able to do that."

The feeling of admiration clearly is mutual. "Sam is one of the hardest working talents I have ever come across throughout my years in the television industry," says Nora Zimmett, senior vice president of live programming for The Weather Channel. "Not only is Sam terrific on air, but he is also an incredibly talented producer. He is able to view AMHQ and the whole network from multiple perspectives, which helps in the entire 360-degree production."

The opportunity also felt like the right move for Champion and his husband, Rubem Robierb, who married in December of 2012. New York City had been home to the couple, but relocating to Atlanta offered Champion the chance to do something that he truly enjoys. "I love learning a new town. I love exploring," he observes. "I grew up a military brat. My dad was a Marine, and we moved all over the world." Interestingly, Atlanta never made the list of cities in which he lived. In fact, the only time he visited the metro area was to report on the weather, from the severe droughts to the crippling ice and snowstorms of the past few years. However, once he and Robierb arrived, they quickly became taken with their new hometown.

SAM-2"We're outdoors people. We love the bike paths around the city, and we love living by Piedmont Park," Champion says of the couple, who split their time between Atlanta and Miami. They also enjoy the many dining options the city boasts. "The weight gain is horrible," Champion admits. "There is such good food here. If you're a gourmet or a foodie, Atlanta should be at the top of your list when it comes talking about food that excites you. It's an incredibly delicious city."

For Champion, it also feels like the best of both worlds. "Atlanta is a wonderfully progressive town. It's an international, world-class city, but I love that it still has a hometown feel," he says.

One thing Champion isn't as crazy about in Atlanta: pollen season. In fact, he jokes that his first year in Atlanta almost sent his body and his red, swollen eyes into shock. Fortunately, year two has been a bit easier on his sinuses. However, he is still waiting for the temperate winters he was promised before he left the Big Apple. "Since we've been here, we've had double ice storms, brutal cold and gray winters. I'm waiting for that nice, mild winter," he laughs. "But spring in Atlanta is amazing. When the season rolls in, you can go outside and just feel the warm sun. And the tulips and flowers look like they exploded overnight. Does someone come in and plant them in the middle of the night?"

While Atlanta has been a great fit for Sam Champion, he has been an equally great fit for The Weather Channel. And whatever he's reporting, from major weather events to skin cancer awareness and beyond, viewers can depend on his information being as fascinating as it is useful. It has become a hallmark of his impressive 27-year career. "Everyone loves an interesting tidbit," he concludes. "This is a new Weather Channel. It's about providing ongoing education with a purpose. We've spent a year now putting The Weather Channel's focus on the weather again. It feels good. It feels like a success."