Friday, 24 October 2014 15:11

Diabetes: Life Can Still Be Sweet

Nearly 30 million Americans are affected by diabetes – more than one million in Georgia alone. Diabetes is one of the most common chronic illnesses in Georgia and across the Southeast, and is the seventh highest cause of death among Georgians. Despite its prevalence, many cases of diabetes are preventable, and even those who have already been diagnosed can still enjoy a happy, healthy and productive life.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that prevents the body from making or efficiently using insulin. Insulin is a hormone that helps cells absorb glucose, a sugar that provides our bodies with necessary energy. Without insulin, glucose builds up in the blood. High blood sugar – called hyperglycemia – can cause blurred vision, headaches, slow healing and even organ damage or coma if not treated.

Type 1 diabetes occurs most often in children and young adults and comprises only a small percentage of all diabetes cases. In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes, by contrast, can occur at any age and is much more prevalent. In this form of the disease, the body cannot adequately use the insulin that it produces. Most cases are diagnosed in people ages 40 to 64, but Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in children as well. Other forms of diabetes include latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), sometimes called Type 1.5, and gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy and typically resolves when the pregnancy ends. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diagnosed diabetes in adults.

Sidebar-1Symptoms and Complications

Of the nearly 30 million Americans with diabetes, as many as eight million aren't even aware that they have the condition. The earliest signs of diabetes, such as blurred vision and fatigue, can be easy to miss or explained away as a natural part of aging. Other common symptoms include increased thirst, frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and numbness or tingling in the feet. Less commonly, diabetes may present with frequent bacterial or yeast infections, recurring sores or boils, or periodontal disease.

If diabetes progresses undetected or is poorly managed, these symptoms can worsen or develop into even more serious conditions, such as:

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage). This condition may first present as tingling and numbness in the extremities. It can lead to loss of sensation, most commonly in the feet, and can lead to amputation. "Approximately 73,000 patients undergo amputations each year due to diabetes," says Dr. Twiggy Harris with Kaiser Permanente.

Glaucoma and cataracts. Unmanaged high blood sugar can be a contributing factor in these eye problems, as well as diabetic retinopathy, a condition of the blood vessels in the retina that can lead to vision loss. "[Diabetes] is the leading cause of blindness in ages 20 to 74," says Dr. Dawn Smiley-Byrd, endocrinologist and associate professor of medicine at Emory University. Dr. Smiley-Byrd explains that in a 24-hour time period, anywhere from 48 to 55 people with diabetes will go blind, and that 28.5 percent of adults with diabetes have diabetic retinopathy.

Kidney damage. Diabetes can lead to kidney damage and eventual kidney failure, requiring dialysis.

Cardiovascular disease. While all diabetes-related conditions should be taken seriously, another threat looms. Dr. Jamie Noll, Certified Diabetes Educator and author of "The 95% Vegan Diet," reveals, "Most people with Type 2 diabetes [...] don't die from kidney failure." Instead, she says the real culprit is cardiovascular disease. Brooks Kent, licensed dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with WellStar, agrees. Kent describes heart disease as the number one complication of diabetes and stresses the need for managing blood pressure and cholesterol along with blood sugar.


Treatment and Recovery

Treatment for Type 2 diabetes is comprehensive and can change over time based on the current health of the individual, always with the goal of long-term management of blood sugar levels. Oral medications are the most common treatment. Metformin, which has been on the market for over 45 years, is the top prescribed oral agent for diabetics and often pre-diabetics as well. Metformin is an effective tool for managing blood sugar, and it can aid with weight loss and help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Unlike many of the newer oral agents, metformin is very affordable, only pennies a day, and is consistently the most reliable oral treatment for diabetes.

Insulin injections are another common treatment for diabetes. Insulin may be used for long-term blood sugar management or for more immediate management of symptoms. When a person with diabetes is admitted to the hospital for diabetic complications such as a build-up of sugar in the body, they are at risk for illness and organ damage. In cases like that, or if their A1c number is too high, Kent says insulin may be necessary for breaking the glucose toxicity. Insulin can be discontinued once blood sugar is back within a healthy range, and diabetes can then be managed through a combination of diet, exercise and possibly oral medications.

Better eating habits and regular exercise are both an important part of diabetes management. The sooner after diagnosis that dietary and exercise habits are improved, the better for long-term health and minimizing the need for other treatments. A mix of strength training and aerobic exercises provides an ideal balance, and a daily brisk walk can be the first step toward improved health.

Even with excellent diet and exercise habits, however, people with diabetes may still find an increased need for medications or insulin as they age. Over time, the pancreas produces less and less insulin. As a result, a person with diabetes is likely reach a point where insulin becomes a necessity. "Patients should not look at the need to intensify therapy as a personal failure," Dr. Noll stresses, but rather should see it as part of lifelong diabetes management. While insulin is often viewed as a worst case scenario treatment, it's actually one of the easiest treatments to control.

The most important aspect of diabetes treatment is regular monitoring. Blood sugar checks before and two hours after meals are necessary for identifying the causes of elevated blood sugar levels and adjusting medication accordingly. Regular visits with an endocrinologist, including A1c checks at least twice a year, should be prioritized. Because people with diabetes are at risk for depression, finding good emotional support is a must. Daily checks for wounds or other changes to the feet and skin should also be a part of regular diabetes management and are an important part of preventing diabetic complications.



While Type 2 diabetes can be managed through a combination of lifestyle changes and good medical care, those at risk for diabetes should focus on prevention. Certain risk factors like age, race or ethnicity and family history can't be changed, but many other risk factors can. Dietary changes and regular exercise significantly lower the risk of developing diabetes.

"According to the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study, just losing seven percent of body weight along with exercise can reduce the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent," says Dr. Noll. DPP participants who lost seven to 10 percent of their body weight continued to show a lower rate of diabetes throughout their lives.

Another important part of prevention is regular screening. People who are overweight, have a family history of diabetes, have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy, or who belong to a higher risk racial/ethnic group (Black, Hispanic, Filipino, Native American or Asian-American) should consider diabetic screening every one to three years and make sure their doctors are aware of their risk factors.

"Get screened, especially if you have risk factors," Dr. Smiley-Byrd says, because though diabetes is preventable and treatable, it is still a chronic illness. "It's serious," Kent says. "It is a serious condition, and should be taken seriously and controlled."

Now that you have the information you need about this condition, you can take steps to ensure your own health for a life that's just the right amount of sweet.


Editorial Resources
Twiggy Harris, MD, Kaiser Permanente –
Brooks Kent, MS, RDN, LD, CDE, WellStar Diabetes Educator –
Dawn Smiley-Byrd, MD, Emory University School of Medicine –
Andrew Muir, MD, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Emory University –
Jamie Noll, PharmD, LD, CDE –



Friday, 24 October 2014 14:38

Giving Thanks for Atlanta Area Teachers

Everybody has one – that special teacher who always went the extra mile. Who made learning fun and easier. Who listened and really cared. During this month of giving thanks, Best Self Atlanta wants to applaud and celebrate the Atlanta educators who make a genuine difference in their students' lives. Local area public and private schools, PTAs and students, told us about these teachers who truly stand out, not only because of their effective teaching methods, but also for the way they relate to and interact with the young people they teach every day. These instructors are just the tip of the iceberg, representing the many wonderful teachers who comprise Atlanta's educational system. And today we say thanks to each of them for being that "one" to so many.



Christina-Edwards-2Christina Edwards
Sylvan Hills Middle School

"Students need a mentor – someone who can build a relationship with them to show they care."

Every now and then, a former student stops by and says hello to Christina Edwards, a seventh grade English language arts teacher at Sylvan Hills Middle School. The visit always makes the enthusiastic educator, a 10-year teaching veteran, smile. She recalls how difficult this particular student was in a variety of classes and that, one day, the two bonded over Edwards' nail polish. "At first, I was taken aback. But then I thought, 'Maybe I can use this to motivate her,'" she explains. "I told her that if she would come to class and behave and complete her assignments in all of her classes, then I would take her to get her nails polished by professionals." Edwards secured permission from the student's parents, and after two weeks of recognizing her outstanding effort and improvement, the dedicated teacher made good on her promise. And that student improved in all of her classes for the duration of the year.
"Students don't only need a teacher – they need a mom away from home, a mentor and someone who can build a relationship with them to show they care," says Edwards, who knew she wanted to be a teacher even as a child. "Teaching is my innate ability, and my joy of teaching hasn't changed – even after 10 years. Seeing the faces of my students when they finally get a concept is priceless." And the way she guides them to that understanding can be summed up in one Benjamin Franklin quote, she says: "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn."


Geri-Flanary-3Geri Flanary
Duluth High School

"I am blessed with a career that inspires me to work hard every day."

Tenth grade AP world history teacher Geri Flanary has a sign hanging in her classroom: "It's not what you know. It's what you understand." An educator at Duluth High School for 18 years, Flanary, who previously taught AP human geography for 12 years, takes these words to heart. "I want my students to go beyond memorization and learn to think critically and analytically," she says. "I want them to dive into their learning and to truly seek understanding – to question and then want to learn even more."
A teacher for 28 years and the recipient of numerous awards, including Teacher of the Year, Star Teacher and the Nasdaq Teaching Award, Flanary can't remember a time in her life when she didn't want to be a teacher. And ending up at Duluth High School was a dream come true. "I am surrounded by competent, capable and enthusiastic educators. They do not know it, but they push me every day to be a better teacher and a better me," she says. "And Duluth High School has much social and economic diversity among the student body; I learn much from the students every day. They bring the world to my classroom!" They also give Flanary the opportunity to chair a unique program called the Care Team, which helps students who have financial needs that interfere with their learning at school. She says, "When I take a student to get eyeglasses, I watch them choose a pair that will help them to better participate and learn at school, but I also get to watch them take pride in their appearance. How cool is that?"
With such a rich career, it's almost impossible for Flanary to choose her most memorable teaching moment. "After all these years, I still take great delight in the daily wins that are part of a teacher's life," she concludes. "What is my most memorable moment? Ask me tomorrow. Chances are the answer will be different because I am blessed with a career that inspires me to work hard every day."


Sam-BiglariSam Biglari
The Galloway School

"Teachers can learn from students as much as students can from teachers."

Sam Biglari often has his work cut out for him. Not many freshmen enjoy political science or government, so this 22-year teaching veteran at The Galloway School has to find ways to make the subject as engaging as possible. And he clearly does. In fact, Biglari says, one of the most rewarding parts of teaching ninth grade political science, 10th grade AP U.S. government and 12th grade AP comparative government is "seeing students who were not even interested in government or politics at the beginning of their freshman year take all of my government classes, major in political science or international politics, get involved in political campaigns and civic organizations and pursue a career in law or politics."
In many instances, students can credit Biglari and his personal teaching philosophy for helping them develop that enthusiasm for the field. "Students learn best when they are drawn to learning," he notes. "And teachers can learn from students as much as students can from teachers." That reciprocal approach to teaching has been apparent in Biglari's classroom – and championed by The Galloway School – since he became a teacher in 1992. According to Biglari, "I have the support of our school and administration, which is very important for a teacher to be successful. I have always had a passion and interest in working with students, and being at Galloway has maintained my energy and passion for the profession."


Sara-Geiger-2Sara Geiger
St. Pius X Catholic High School

"I wanted to help build confidence in [young girls] so they could go on to do big things."

For Sara Geiger, who teaches ninth, 10th and 12th grade math, including algebra, geometry and statistics, it was her own high school experience that encouraged her to enter the teaching profession. "My high school years were so important to my growing as a person, and I learned so much about myself that I wanted to help others do the same," says Geiger, who also serves as assistant athletic director, head women's soccer coach and assistant cross country coach at St. Pius X Catholic School. "I wanted to become a teacher because I wanted to provide a positive role model for adolescents. I also have a big heart for all of the young girls that struggle with body image and wanted to help build confidence in them so they could go on to do big things in their lives."
For the last seven years, she has done just that – and was awarded the Teacher of the Year honor for the 2013-2014 school year. Geiger attributes her success in the classroom not only to the supportive St. Pius community, but also to using humor and her own passion for math to help gain her students' attention and make the subject interesting to them. It also helps that she is a truly vibrant, creative and tech-savvy educator who wants to see her students flourish in all areas. "I really enjoy getting to know my students by showing them that I am interested in their successes in math as well as their other classes, team performances and social areas," she concludes. "So many times you will see someone in your class succeed, and that slight bit of success will help build confidence that is inside each child. Seeing their glowing faces makes it worth it every day."


Jason-HolcombeJason Holcombe
Dacula High School

"Education is not a job to me – it is a way of life."

During his 14-year career as a teacher, Jason Holcombe has had the honor of working at Cedar Shoals High School, Dacula High School, North Gwinnett High School and Jackson County High School. In each school, he found great success. But he loved Dacula High School and the surrounding community so much that he recently returned to teach 10th grade AP world history, as well as serve as assistant athletic director and director of football operations. "I have made it my home," says the University of Georgia graduate, who is fully certified to teach broad field social studies and AP courses for U.S. history, American government and world history. "Education is not a job to me – it is a way of life. I absolutely love that my job allows me to raise my family and let them be a key part of what I do for a living."
And what Holcombe does, along with his "band of brothers and sisters" in the social studies department, is quite impressive. "My teaching philosophy is to teach students the relevance of history and how it shapes their lives," he explains. "I try to make them productive citizens who want to improve our society. I try to make history fun and interesting rather than just names and dates." That approach helps Holcombe dare to be great – something he encourages in and expects from each of his students. "I challenge my students to be great in all things because there are so many negative forces in the world that we must face. And they are not alone in this challenge because I'm doing it with them as we go through the year."
The effort clearly has worked. In fact, Holcombe's favorite experience as a teacher is watching his students walk across the stage at graduation. Often, one stops to thank him for the hard work and lessons they learned – something he remembers from his own high school days. "It is those relationships that I cherish most," he says. "Knowing that you have had a positive influence on a student and the world makes all the long hours and hard work well worth it."


Jeremy-Karassik-replacementJeremy Karassik
Chamblee Charter High School

"Nothing comes easy, but when it does come, the payoff is tremendous."

Jeremy Karassik is honest about his first day as a teacher. "I had no formal training and no idea what to really expect," he muses. Things certainly have changed over the last 10 years, as the ninth grade U.S. government/civics and 12th grade economics teacher has become one of the most respected educators at Chamblee Charter High School. Much of that success can be attributed to his approach to teaching. "A quote from Frederick Douglass that has been on my syllabus more than others is, 'If there is no struggle, there is no progress,'" he says. "Nothing comes easy, but when it does come, the payoff is tremendous."
And Karassik, who also serves as an athletic liaison, wants his students to experience that kind of payoff. That's why he strives to make the material he presents daily relevant to their lives. "If they can make a personal connection to the lectures, activities and assignments, they are going to remember it and, more importantly, apply it," he notes. Because he understands that the subject matter may not be terribly compelling to young people, he tries to bring his lessons to life. For instance, instead of lecturing about the three branches of the U.S. government, he invited a federal law enforcement agent into the classroom to make it more interesting. It's that kind of unique thinking that makes him stand out. Yet, Karassik is humble and actually credits his longtime colleagues with allowing him to enjoy success at Chamblee Charter High School, where he has spent his entire teaching career.
"My department is great. I have worked with Steve Rubino, Jennifer Tinnell, Kurt Koeplin, Gail Barnes and Brian Ely my entire career. They are the best resources I know," he says. "Most of them attended my wedding, and they are great friends and real inspirations. They are all much more deserving of attention than I am."


Erica-Periera,-3Erica Pereira
BEST Academy High School

"My teaching philosophy is to celebrate our mistakes."

Being in Erica Pereira's Spanish class doesn't always mean sitting in a desk. In fact, you never know where you might end up. "We have hiked volcanoes in Nicaragua, visited the Panama Canal, seen the Mayan pyramids in Tikal, Guatemala, and visited U.S. diplomats at the embassies abroad," explains Pereira, who teaches all levels of Spanish to grades nine through 12 at BEST Academy High School, an all-male, public school in Atlanta's Bankhead community. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences are part of the school's annual study/volunteer abroad program, which Pereira herself started. The program is supported financially and logistically by parents, the administration, and people and resources in the host countries. The program allows students to visit Spanish-speaking locales, live with host families for two weeks, volunteer with local children's organizations and immerse themselves in the language and culture. "The students return seeing themselves as global citizens and have more of an understanding of their place in the world and their community here in Atlanta," she continues. "It is life changing to my students and their families."
The opportunity to share these experiences with students is something Pereira never expected, especially since she had no plans to be a teacher. A former interpreter and translator, as well as an adult educator at Berlitz Language Centers, Pereira was encouraged by a friend to apply for a teaching job in the Atlanta Public School system. She finally did and has now been a teacher for 12 years; she also is a founding teacher of the relatively young BEST Academy. Her extensive experience made her a perfect fit for teaching young people, and her unique teaching philosophy has made learning a new language more accessible to them. "My teaching philosophy is to celebrate our mistakes," she notes. "Learning a new language can be a daunting task, especially for teenagers who want to express themselves in a clear and mature way. However, when you learn a language, you have to make mistakes. On the first day of class, I explain to the students that they have to make a million mistakes to become fluent. This makes class a lot less stressful, and you can see them becoming braver and more confident throughout the school year. Celebrating mistakes and even learning to laugh at yourself are vital in Spanish class – and even more so in life!"


Patricia-McCrery-2Patricia McCrery
Montgomery Elementary School

"All children are special, and all children can learn."

Patricia McCrery was inspired to pursue a career in teaching when she was in the seventh grade. Her teacher, Mrs. Pat Kidder, was the kind of instructor that she knew she wanted to be. "She demonstrated patience, empathy and respect for all of her students," says McCrery, who has taught fifth grade math and science at Montgomery Elementary School since 2007. "You could tell when you walked in her classroom every day that she cared about you and that she wanted you to be successful. She even made diagramming sentences seem fun!"
Seeing that kind of passion and attentiveness has translated into McCrery's own 16-year teaching career. "All children are special, and all children can learn," she notes. And she credits a particular source for her ability to succeed in her profession while providing her students with the tools they need to perform at the level she knows they can achieve. "I would not be able to perform my job effectively without the support of my [students'] parents," she concludes. "Fortunately, over the years, I have had extremely supportive and helpful parents. They have donated their time and resources to help me be the best teacher that I can possibly be. For that, I am truly thankful!"


Jim-ReasonJim Reason
Duluth High School

"I set high standards for my students and athletes. I expect their best effort at all times."

When Jim Reason's neighborhood swim team needed a coach in 1990, he decided to give it a try. He had been a swimmer since childhood, and it seemed like a good fit. Little did he know that his hobby ultimately would lead him to a career teaching U.S. history. "Working with kids, coaching and my love of history – it just made sense to pursue this career," he says. Today, Reason is in his 21st year as a teacher, and his 16th at Duluth High School. He teaches AP U.S. history to juniors and coaches the swim team. "I'm so thankful for the people around me – the other teachers and coaches that share my experiences," he notes. "I can lean on them and learn from them, and we work together well."
He also is grateful for the many experiences he has had at Duluth High School, including being recognized as a National Board Certified Teacher and watching Kelsey Scott become Duluth's first individual girl state champion swimmer when she won the 500 Freestyle in 2005. "It doesn't get much better than that," Reason says.
Of course, Reason always strives for improvement from both his students and himself. "Be pleased but never be satisfied," he says. "I set high standards for my students and athletes and tell them I expect their best effort at all times. I try to create a comfortable classroom setting that allows them to think for themselves and learn to improve in all areas."


Johanna-Mitchell-4Johanna Mitchell

"I believe in love and logic, optimism and leading by example."

Johanna Mitchell, who teaches seventh grade English and seventh and eighth grade journalism at KIPP STRIVE Academy, recently found herself in awe of her students. "My journalism students had the opportunity to interview the superintendent of our school district," she recalls. "I'll never forget the immense amount of pride I felt while I watched them apply their reporting skills and represent their school in an impressive way."
For Mitchell, these are the moments that confirm she chose the right career path seven years ago. "It's gratifying to hear them use new vocabulary words in conversation and make connections between our class novels and current events," she says. "Most of all, I love witnessing their unbridled enthusiasm and excitement for learning, especially when they finally understand a challenging concept."
The daughter of an educator, Mitchell's perspective on education has always been a positive one. "I believe in love and logic, optimism and leading by example," she says. "All children can achieve great things, and all teachers can help their students be successful, but both parties must be unrelenting in their pursuit of excellence. A teacher who has a mindset of continuous improvement inspires students to do the same."


Caitlyn-Kelly-4Caitlyn Kelly
Charles Brant Chesney Elementary School

"Students with special needs teach me more in a day than I can teach them in a lifetime."

Caitlyn Kelly teaches students with severe and profound disabilities in the second, third and fourth grades. The terms "severe" and "profound" are based on a range of IQ scores, but that's not how this devoted educator sees the children in her classes. "My students are much more than IQ scores and labels," she asserts. "They are smart, kind, funny children, and they are just like everyone else."
That keen understanding led Kelly to pursue a career in teaching with an emphasis on special education. And for the last two years, she has adhered to an important teaching philosophy. "Every student can learn," she says. "Sometimes it takes some creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to give students with special needs access to the general education curriculum. My philosophy involves making sure that all students are receiving what they need to be successful. If a strategy is not working, it is important to come back to the drawing board until something is found that works."
That includes finding resources that are grade-level appropriate and will challenge students, such as the poem "The Bear in There," which her class truly enjoyed and comprehended – just like the general education class. It also involves Kelly working with her fellow teachers and visiting therapists to tailor lessons to the students' motor skills and communication needs. But in the end, it all comes down to one thing for Kelly. "There are fewer opportunities for people with special needs, and it is important to me that this changes – that people with special needs have just as many opportunities," she concludes. "I love to teach because I love to come up with these opportunities and hopefully create opportunities for my students once they leave school. I wanted to become a teacher because I fell in love with students with special needs. And they teach me more in a day than I can teach them in a lifetime."


Alexander-Shannon-3Alexander Shannon
Tapp Middle School

"Now is the time to make an investment in the person you want to become."

Alexander Shannon considered himself an unlikely candidate for a job in teaching. He initially wanted to work in law enforcement and, upon graduating from Mississippi State University, accepted a position as a juvenile probation officer assisting with closing probation cases. His job brought him to many schools to speak with probationers, and one day he had a realization. "Most of the students I was interacting with were young men of color who were doing poorly in school," he relates. "I began to wonder why so many of these young men found themselves in trouble in and out of school – and what I could do to help curb this problem." After much soul searching and counsel from his pastor and a fellow church member, he decided to go into education and was hired as a middle school special education teacher. "This began my unlikely tenure as an educator some 17 years ago," says Shannon, who has worked at Tapp Middle School for the last eight years and currently teaches sixth grade science.
"My reason for choosing this profession has not changed. I'm still very passionate about young people realizing that they have endless potential and possibilities if they are willing to work hard," Shannon notes. In the classroom, he often tells his students, "Now is the time to make an investment in the person you want to become." But he also wants them to know that he is making an investment in them as well. "The essence of this profession lies in one's ability to see the endless possibilities within each student. And not only seeing the possibilities, but also motivating, challenging and inspiring students to take an introspective look at themselves."
Just when he needed confirmation that his approach truly makes a difference, Shannon received an email from a former student. She had been trying to locate him and wanted to inform him that she was attending college and studying to earn a degree in education. "She wanted me to know that I made a positive impact on her life, and she wanted to say thank you," he says. "Needless to say, I was more than appreciative to have gotten this email. The daily work of educating young people will never be in vain when you are working in your God-given purpose."


Christiane-Wyckoff-3Christiane Wyckoff
Sope Creek Elementary School

"My teaching philosophy: teach with passion and humor, create problem solvers and encourage a sense of morality and respect for others."

The students in Christiane Wyckoff's fifth grade class at Sope Creek Elementary School get paid to be there. Well, they get paid in Wyckoff WildCat dollars, which they use to rent their desks, computers and cubbies, pay for taxes and insurance and make charitable contributions. "We have a mini-economy, which means that every student has a class job that they apply for and are hired for the whole year," says the 13-year teaching veteran. "And at the end of every semester, a group of students researches a few charitable organizations, and they vote on where to give their real, hard-earned-at-home dollars." In the last few years, Wyckoff's class has donated to Project MailCall (which sends care packages to military men and women overseas), the Children's Miracle Network, Children's Hospital at Scottish Rite, the World Wildlife Fund and Toys for Tots. She explains, "Beyond the curriculum, I like to think that I teach my children to be wonderful human beings who are organized, enthusiastic learners, and compassionate and caring toward others."
Wyckoff's lessons, as well as her penchant for wearing fun hats and playing Enya music during tests, have made students remember her long after they leave her classroom. And that's what she wants, especially since fifth grade is the last year of elementary school, as well as the last one in which students have one teacher for all subjects. Wyckoff wants to make the most of that precious year. "I am a farmer. I sow seeds into young minds that will grow in a variety of different ways – many of which I will never actually witness in full bloom," she notes. "There are three main tenets to my teaching philosophy: teach with passion and humor, create problem solvers who will become good contributing members of society and encourage a sense of morality and respect for others, our community and our country."
With such a deep-seated love of teaching and a truly effective instructional approach (as well as a degree in elementary education from Skidmore College), it's almost hard to believe that Wyckoff was a stockbroker for 16 years before becoming an educator. However, after leaving the brokerage industry to spend more time with her three children and being asked to be a supply teacher in the Target program at Sope Creek, she was hooked. And she's been an educator ever since. "My favorite quote is from Ghandi: 'Be the change you wish to see in the world,'" she concludes. "And I strive to live up to it every day."


Donna-McDonald-4Donna McDonald
Birmingham Falls Elementary School

"Our future is in delightful hands."

For years, Donna McDonald worked in a variety of industries, from retail to consulting, and every job focused on training and teaching adults. "Adults learn just like young people, and now I get to work with young people," says McDonald, who joined Birmingham Falls Elementary in August 2013 as a fourth grade teacher. This year, she moved into teaching fifth grade math and science. And regardless of what – or whom – she is teaching, her approach remains the same.
"I am truly dedicated to my classroom, and my students come first," McDonald says. It's a straightforward philosophy that has given this enthusiastic educator unparalleled joy and a deep sense of gratitude, as well as great hope for the future. "The rewards that come daily from the excitement on a student's face when they grasp a difficult concept [are the most memorable to me]," she continues. "I will never forget the incredible talents that our young people share. I have gotten chills from the stories they have written, the skits they perform and the talents and gifts I see exhibited during extracurricular activities that I feel privileged to be invited to see. Our future is in delightful hands."


Friday, 03 October 2014 19:39

No Bust too Big or Small, We Fit 'Em All!

Q: What inspired you to start LiviRae Lingerie?

A: When we first got into the lingerie business, we worked for a company that catered to a specific type of woman. Our hearts were hurting for the women we had to turn away because we didn't have product that suited their needs. We decided to create a place where we could carry bras for everybody with every body! With that, LiviRae Lingerie was created as a judgment-free zone for women to come, find the products that they need and leave feeling beautiful, confident and of course lifted and gifted in their brand new bras. As our tag line states "No Bust Too Big Or Small, We Fit 'Em All," and we do just that!

Q: What is a telltale sign that a woman's bra doesn't fit?

A: Eighty-five percent of women are wearing the incorrect bra size; most are wearing two bands too big and two cups too small. If the band is too loose, riding up or digging in, the fit is likely incorrect. Another sign of an ill-fitting bra is an overflow in the cup or straps falling down.

Best-Self-Mag-ButtonQ: How do you ensure that each of your customers gets the perfect fitting bra?

A: Each of our bra fitters has an eye for the perfect fit. We allow our customers to try on different bra options during their fitting, giving them lots of styles to try on. We take the time during a fitting to provide an education about bra fit and breast health, answering the questions women always wondered but never thought to ask.

Q: Why is a correctly fitting bra so important?

A: A proper fitting bra is important for many reasons. The first and most important is general breast health. When a bra does not fit correctly, women carry extra pressure in their shoulders, neck and back. If the wire rests on the breast tissue instead of flat against the rib cage, that pressure can also cause calcification of the cells within the breast tissue. Outside of the health benefits, it also boosts self-esteem and makes women feel comfortable and confident in their own skin. As we always say, you change your bra, you change your life, and we truly believe in that.

Q: How does the "Virtual Fit" on your website work?

A: Virtual Fit is a revolutionary process! We use Skype to reach women no matter where they are and give them a personalized bra fitting experience. Following the fitting, our virtual fitters will walk their client through the online shopping process, helping them to navigate the site and show them what styles and products will work best for them.


IMAGELiviRae Lingerie's Double Divas Support Breast Cancer Awareness and Research. Here's where they stand.

Cynthia Decker and Molly Hopkins first opened LiviRae in 2006. The idea for a custom fit lingerie and bra boutique arose with a need to help women feel confident and sexy.

As the Double Divas stars, Molly and Cynthia are self-proclaimed "country girls" with a true God-given talent for fitting, design and helping women "one breast at a time!" We work to inform women about the importance of a proper fitting bra and use that platform to spread awareness about breast cancer as well, promoting our stance on early detection.

We also work to support local breast cancer charities in our community. This year, we are hosting "The Second Annual Burlesque for Breasts Under the Big Top" on Saturday, October 18! The event benefits I Will Survive, Inc., a local charity who increases breast cancer awareness through education and provides funding in lower income communities.

Visit to learn more and purchase tickets.



There are many reasons one may choose to have rhinoplasty surgery. Some people don't like the nose they were born with, some don't like the way aging has changed their nose, and some could be correcting the way an injury has distorted their nose. Some people may even be trying to improve their breathing.
Whatever the reason may be, having a well-shaped nose as a result of rhinoplasty surgery can greatly improve the appearance and overall balance of your face and increase your confidence. And the more natural it looks, the better.

Rhinoplasty surgeries can be performed three different ways: either using two concealed incisions on the inside of a patient's nose, using a small "w-shaped" incision hidden in the skin between your nostrils or with a small incision where your nostrils begin to flare. But no matter what incision your surgeon chooses to use, the bone and cartilage that make up the shape of your nose are very carefully sculpted in order to achieve an ideally shaped and fully functioning nose.

Recent advancements in medicine have made rhinoplasty surgeries safer, more effective and quicker than ever before. Most rhinoplasty surgeries can be completed as outpatient procedures and use general anesthesia or intravenous sedation. You can now go home to recover the very same day on which you receive your rhinoplasty surgery. Rhinoplasty patients can go back to normal physical exercise after two weeks, and contact sports after six.

rhinoplasty-Atlanta-case5-before1-08-13-2013-04-52-01rhinoplasty-Atlanta-case5-after1-08-13-2013-04-52-01Q & A with Dr. Sinha

How many rhinoplasty surgeries have you performed?

I have performed over 3,000 rhinoplasty and nasal reconstruction surgeries to date.

How do you help a patient decide whether or not to have rhinoplasty surgery?

The decision to proceed with a nose job, as with any cosmetic plastic surgery, requires planning. For all those considering rhinoplasty, I offer a private consultation in order to provide education, individualized procedure recommendations, computer imaging to communicate results visually and assistance with the financial investment of plastic surgery.

What is the biggest benefit of receiving rhinoplasty?

A rhinoplasty procedure can correct many aesthetic and functional BEFORE                                 AFTER                                            abnormalities of the nose. Having a well-shaped nose can inspire confidence and greatly improve the overall balance and beauty of the face. Rhinoplasty can also improve the way you breathe.


Atlanta Institute For Facial Aesthetic Surgery
980 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 110  |  Atlanta, GA 30342
Phone: (404) 256-5428  |

Dr. Sinha is a Double Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon specializing in cosmetic and functional surgery of the head and neck. He has successfully treated thousands of patients and is highly regarded and well respected by his peers in the medical community.


Wednesday, 01 October 2014 17:59

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month





In honor of triumphant women and their families who bravely fight breast cancer every day, Innovative Women's HealthCare Solutions is offering you a free breast cancer exam during October when you present this ad.


Facts You Should Know:
Women- 1 in 7 women will be affected by breast cancer
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women
- 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history


Early detection is your best weapon.
Dr Melinda Miller- Thrasher emphasizes a three-prong approach to early detection:

  1. Do Your Breast Self-Exam
  2. Have A Breast Exam By Your Doctor
  3. Get A Mammogram


Schedule your free breast exam with a health professional at Innovative Women's HealthCare Solutions during October when you present this ad.


Visit Innovative Women's HealthCare Solutions at one of our two convenient
locations in Vinings/Smyrna and Buckhead. Coming soon to Midtown. | 678.424.1123 | 404.549.1327

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter


Innovative Women's HealthCare Solutions offers low-cost screenings:

From September 1 - December 31, 2014:
Free Fibroid Check for the first 100 women who "like" us on Facebook.
After the first 100 women, the Fibroid Check is only $50.

Cervical Cancer Screen and Fibroid Check - $50 (up to age 29)
$100 (age 30 and over - includes High-Risk HPV Testing)

Free Breast Exam during October only, Breast Cancer Awareness Month


Melinda Miller-Thrasher, MD, FACOG   
Innovative Women’s HealthCare Solutions (IWHCS)
Buckhead, Midtown, and Smyrna/Vinings

Melinda Miller Thrasher is a native of NYC and attended Cornell University, Mt. Sinai and NYU for her residency training. Her expertise includes fibroids and minimally invasive surgical procedures to treat fibroids. She is on staff at Emory University Hospital and Piedmont Hospital. Dr. Miller-Thrasher has been selected as one of  Atlanta’s Top Doctors each year since 2009 as listed in Atlanta Magazine, One of the Gynecologists You Love (Essence Magazine) and she is a Patients’ Choice Award recipient. She is also a member of the WebMD medical review board. Her new book, “The Innovative Women’s Guide to Fibroids,” will be available late summer 2014.




Friday, 26 September 2014 13:46

Kiera Palmer Raises It Up for Breast Cancer

At first glance, Kiera Palmer seems like an unlikely breast cancer activist. She spreads awareness and raises research funds for this disease that traditionally affects women twice her age. She works long hours in the insurance industry, which doesn't seem like it would allow much spare time for fundraising. She hasn't had the disease herself. And yet, an activist she is. "I did the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk four times," she remembers. "I would have a fundraiser every fall for people to donate to the walk." In 2013, she took her passion to the next level by spearheading the launch of The Pink Agenda in Atlanta, a 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to breast cancer awareness and fundraising. "It's like a second full-time job, for sure," she says with a smile. But, she points out, "I'm so passionate about what we're doing that it's not work."

Where does that passion come from? Like many things in life, it started with her mother. When Palmer was just 16 years old, her mother passed away from breast cancer. Cindi Ranke was only 40 at the time, which spurs her daughter's activism today: she works to include young women in the awareness of this disease, knowing that they may be at risk just as early in life as her own mother was.

In the summer of 2013, Palmer was poised to begin her annual fundraising efforts for breast cancer, with October only a few months away. For years, she had been active in awareness walks and held annual fundraising events on her own, but now she was ready to step it up even more. In researching organizations she could get involved with, Palmer came across The Pink Agenda, a nonprofit in New York City affiliated with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). "I had never heard about The Pink Agenda, which surprised me, because I try to stay very involved with what's going on. So I read up about it and it kind of hit me – that was exactly what I was trying to do."

writtingTheir mutual goal was, and still is, to include the younger generation in breast cancer awareness. No dull sit-down dinners for this organization: they cater to a 25- to 40-year-old crowd by hosting events with open bars and DJs. At age 30 herself, and ready to get more involved, Palmer didn't hesitate to email The Pink Agenda's president, founder and treasurer – anyone she could find on their contact list. She asked them if they wanted to branch out of New York and bring their efforts into Atlanta, and the answer was a resounding "yes." Palmer was quickly on a plane headed to the BCRF office in New York City.

After a meeting with The Pink Agenda's New York team and Myra Biblowit, president of BCRF, Palmer returned to Atlanta empowered to launch the organization's first satellite chapter. Atlanta Pink Agenda's first big event, Toast to a Cure, happened "basically two months later," Palmer remembers. "It was pretty tough to get the word out and get sponsors on such short notice," but despite those challenges, she managed to pull it off with the support of her company, clients and Atlanta network. The event, which included drinks, music and a silent auction, brought in an impressive $56,000.

Staying true to The Pink Agenda's desire to cater to young breast cancer supporters and victims, a portion of these funds were awarded to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer in the form of a direct care grant. Increasingly, those young women seem to be all around us. Palmer says, "We have two women on our board of directors who are 31 and 29 who are both breast cancer survivors. We actually have a young woman coming to speak at [Toast to a Cure 2014] who is 30, and she is a three-time breast cancer survivor." And of course, Palmer's mother is never far from her mind – Ranke, passed away from the disease at just 40 years old. "We want people to know that it's not just your grandmother," Palmer says. "This is affecting people you are hanging out with every single day." And unfortunately, according to a study of more than 200,000 women in the SEER database, under-40 women with breast cancer are 39 percent more likely to die from it than their over-40 counterparts.


And The Pink Agenda's answer to that frightening fact is, as they say, to "raise money, raise awareness and raise hell." Bringing this feisty spirit to their important work helps pull in the younger crowd at events like Pink Your Drink, which they held in May at a local bar, or the annual Toast to a Cure, which will be held for the second year on October 16. "If you're going out and you're going to have a good time, come have a good time for something good," Palmer says. To that end, this year's Toast to a Cure includes a DJ, an open bar, a silent auction and heavy hors d'oeuvres. And true to The Pink Agenda's mission and Palmer's enthusiastic, dedicated spirit, it includes the promise of a meaningful good time.





The Pink Agenda awards a check to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation from last year's funds.

Toast to a Cure 2014

Where: Mason Murer Fine Art, 199 Armour Drive, Atlanta, GA
When: Thursday, October 16, 2014
Tickets cost $50 until September 26,
$75 until October 16

Friday, 26 September 2014 13:15

Breast Cancer: Then and Now





With the rapid progression of diagnostic technology, the Internet, social media and awareness campaigns in the latter half of the 20th century, it may be hard to believe that the topic of breast cancer was once taboo in America. But until the 1970s, it was not a disease that women discussed publicly. Then several famous women including Betty Ford, Happy Rockefeller and Nancy Reagan began to discuss their experience with breast cancer, and by the 1980s, many other organizations sprang up to support education, research and treatment. The diagnosis and death rates associated with this disease have changed, too. This month, we're taking a look at breast cancer by the numbers to see how the disease – and our approach to it – has changed through the years.Breast-Cancer-Infographic

As the numbers show, everything from awareness and funding to survival rates and information on genetic influences has improved in the last few decades. As we continue to learn more about influential factors and treatment options, the numbers will only look better from here.

Supportive Strides

In 1984, Massachusetts cancer survivor Margery Gould Rath wanted to celebrate fellow cancer survivors by raising funds for the American Cancer Society. With a committee of fellow survivors and other volunteers, Margie created a “move-along-a-thon” called Making Strides Against Cancer. The first event, held in Boston, drew 200 participants and instantly became an annual city tradition. In 1993, the event officially became known as the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, attracting 4,000 walkers at events in Boston and in Manchester, New Hampshire. Since then, Margie’s vision has inspired 10 million walkers to participate in Making Strides events in more than 300 communities across the country, raising more than $594 million to fight breast cancer. Margie remained a dedicated Making Strides volunteer until she lost her battle with cancer in 2001. This year, Atlanta’s Making Strides walks take place at Centennial Olympic Park on October 25 and in Marietta on November 1.
– Courtesy of the American Cancer Society,

30 Days of Pink

Many more local events and products support breast cancer awareness and research throughout October! Find them on p. 42.

Editorial Resources
Evelyn Barella, American Cancer Society –
Anita Johnson, MD, FACS, Cancer Treatment Centers of America –
Jeralynn Scott, WellStar Kennestone Women’s Imaging –
April L. Speed, MD, Just Breast, LLC –
Jayanthi Srinivasiah, MD, DeKalb Medical –
Cati Diamond Stone, Susan G. Komen of Greater Atlanta –
Lynn Baxter, MD, Northside Hospital –
Laura C. Taylor, WellStar Douglas Hospital –

The music is bumping, and you're sipping your favorite cocktail, exchanging glances with someone tall, dark and handsome across the room. The lights flash on signaling "last call," but you're not ready to leave the crowded club. Oh, wait. We're talking about a different kind of clubbing.
This month, we've rounded up some of the best and most welcoming clubs in Atlanta. From bookworms to barbecue lovers, there really is a club for everyone. These active groups keep the heartbeat in our city, allowing people of all ages to come together and bond over a common passion. Let's go clubbing, Atlanta.


001The Wine Cellars Wine of the Month Club

Whether you have an untrained palate or you fancy yourself a wine connoisseur, it's easy to get stuck drinking the same familiar wines over and over. The Wine Cellars Wine of the Month Club will keep things fresh, though, featuring two new wines each month and holding member-only wine tastings. "Member-only wine tastings often feature winemakers and always feature tastings with higher-end wines," says Reneé Rowe, the group's president. Monthly memberships cost $39.99, but discounts are available if you pay to join for three, six or 12 months at a time. Plus, Rowe says, members receive a monthly newsletter. "The TWC Newsletter includes information on featured wines, recipes, gift features and more."

Fun Fact: You are allowed to bring one guest to the monthly tastings, or you can purchase a membership for a friend. Just make a note of "gift" in the comments section when you order online, and your friends will be ready to wine and dine right along with you.

Insider Info: The Wine Cellars also hosts two large galas each year, which are catered and feature special tastings of more than 30 high-end wines for their members.

Details: 1295 W. Spring St., Suite 100, Smyrna, GA,


002Atlanta Over 40

If you're looking for the perfect blend of social and professional networking, the Atlanta Over 40 club might be for you. Darrah Brustein, the group's founder, says, "The people who attend are of the same mindset and are attracted to events that allow them to enjoy great conversations without fear of being sold something or being hit on, like might happen at a singles event." Events consist of three-hour happy hours, giving you a chance to explore and mingle through a high-energy crowd.

Fun Fact: No memberships for this club! Just come to any events that fit your schedule.

Insider Info: This group grew out of the success of Atlanta Under 40, so if you don't meet the age requirement for Atlanta Over 40, you have another great option to have fun and network.



003Atlanta BBQ Club

Have you ever attended a "meating" in Atlanta? Here's your chance. Every month, the members of the Atlanta BBQ Club meet up at a local barbecue spot to eat, chat with the owner of the restaurant and receive a tour of the smoker and kitchen. Live like a true Southerner and attend some awesome events like The Atlanta BBQ Festival held every year. "Everyone loves barbecue, and it brings people together for good food and good memories. Hog heaven on earth," says Bob Herndon, the down-to-earth club president.

Fun Fact: Atlanta boasts the highest ratio of barbecue restaurants per capita of any other city in the nation, and we're the only city in the U.S. with a barbecue club. Even more reason to join!

Insider Info: The Atlanta BBQ Club offers an app for iPhones called "Atlanta BBQ Club Locator." No matter where you are, you can always find some delicious barbecue nearby.



004Big Peach Running Co.

From the newest newbie to the most seasoned running veteran, you will find a home at the Big Peach Running Co. Their "no runner left behind" policy ensures that you will get fit, stay safe and have fun. "We always have someone leading the pack for the faster runners as well as someone at the back of the pack to make sure no one gets lost or is left behind," says Karen Kaye of Big Peach Running Co. The group offers various distance runs – anywhere from one to six miles on a given day. Long distance runs are offered Saturday mornings for those training for half or full marathons. To join, just show up for their runs whenever you're available.

Fun Fact: You don't have to be a runner to join the club. Big Peach Running Co. embraces walkers, day hikers, racewalkers, run/walkers, folks just getting started and those with a lot
of experience.

Insider Info: Be sure to sign up for their weekly e-newsletter for an insider's look into special activities and updates.




005Atlanta Sport and Social Club

Remember recess? The Atlanta Sport and Social Club serves active adults interested in playing sports, having fun and staying active. You can either sign up as a free agent or sign up with friends as a team. Don't worry – you don't have to be a prior Olympian to join the league. Think of it as a great way to meet new people and add some variety to your exercise routine.

Fun Fact: The club hosts ATL Field Day, giving the adults of Atlanta a chance to get down and dirty and vie for the title of "King of the Field."

Insider Info: The club's demographic mainly includes adults from ages 24 to 35. About 60 percent of participants are male, and 40 percent are female. Not bad, ladies!



006Alliance Française d'Atlanta

Indulge your sophisticated side by considering a membership with Atlanta's premiere provider of French language and culture. This nonprofit organization is supported by its members, requesting just $5 a month to join. Have an itch to get out of town? Practice what you've learned and join the group in one of their organized trips to a French speaking country. "It's like a little slice of France in Atlanta," says Wendy Robertet, communications director of the club, and people of all backgrounds are welcome. "I love meeting people from all over the world who share my affinity for the French language and culture," Robertet says.

Fun Fact: Classes are available for students as young as 12 months old. Your toddler can join the BeBe Alliance class and start her cultural experience early.

Insider Info: The club has two locations, Midtown and
Roswell, making it accessible for both the ITP and OTP crowd. Class sessions usually run for 10 weeks, with three hours of language learning per week.



007Atlanta Outdoor Club

Need some fresh air? Get off your couch with the Atlanta Outdoor Club, founded in 2000 for Atlantans ages 21 and up. This organization hosts more than 200 outdoor events each year, including urban hikes on the BeltLine, camping in Georgia's state parks and rafting or paddling trips on the Ocoee. Jennifer Howle, the group's vice president, says, "Being able to leave behind the stress of work and day-to-day life to connect with nature is priceless." In addition to the connection with nature, you can't beat their activities in terms of fitness. "I have seen people drop 50 pounds and go from being able to barely hike a mile to scaling a mountain with ease," Howle says.

Fun Fact: Membership is free! Simply join online to begin registering for events. There may be occasional fees associated with specific trips, but most of their events are free.

Insider Info: Before signing up for an event, check out the difficulty rating online. Even if you're enthusiastic, you don't want to get stuck in an event that is more demanding than you expected.



008Midtown Review Book Club

Get swept away by a love story or wrapped up in a mystery novel at the Midtown Review Book Club. This book club's attendees are low-key, welcoming to new members and always up for a good discussion. Monthly meetings usually include 10 to 20 members sitting down for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant, followed by two questions: "Did everyone read the book?" and "Did everyone like the book?" Then the conversation takes off from there. The organizer of the club, Dana Barrett, is a former independent bookstore owner with a passion for books, authors and readers. The organization attracts people of all ages from diverse backgrounds who share a common love of reading and are open to discussing important topics, and the voluntary membership fee is just $24 per year.

Fun Fact: The club often hosts local or visiting authors to join in and deepen the discussion.

Insider Info: In addition to monthly meetings, the group posts about book signings, author visits and more on their Meetup page, so you can keep your finger on the pulse of Atlanta's literary scene.



So whether you're interested in food, fitness or good old-fashioned fun, these Atlanta clubs can deliver. Join in today!


Editorial Resources:
Dana Barrett, Midtown Review Book Club –
Darrah Brustein, Atlanta Over 40 –
Bob Herndon, Atlanta BBQ Club –
Jennifer Howle, Atlanta Outdoor Club –
Karen Kaye, Big Peach Running Co. –
Korey Meek, Atlanta Sport and Social Club –
Wendy Robertet, Alliance Française d'Atlanta –

How do you know when it's time to have the "conversation" with aging parents?
Some signs to look for are depression, recent falls or injuries, long term illness, not being able to take care of activities of daily living (ADLs), weight loss, not taking medications, burning food or leaving on burners in the home.

What are the issues that should take priority?
A majority of seniors are now planning for the future and have discussed or planned their wills and finances. Health care usually takes the back seat to these items because this is an unknown for most seniors unless they have a serious health condition to begin with.

barWhat is the best way to approach the subject of moving to an assisted living facility?
Getting a calendar of activities as well as pictures of the well-appointed apartments can be helpful. It's important to emphasize that they will be moving to a "community" and not a "facility" where they can participate in activities and enjoy living with their peers.

What are some strategies for dealing with a parent who is resistant to change?
Remind the senior that they won't have to worry about their safety or being alone anymore. At Renaissance on Peachtree, there are licensed caregivers available to residents 24/7, and they always have someone to talk to and do activities with. Emphasize how nice it will be not to deal with housework or yard work, and stress the convenience of having someone else prepare their meals every day. We always encourage prospective residents to join us for a meal so they have an opportunity to try our food, meet our staff and mingle with our residents.

restaurantWhat are the most important things to look for when selecting an assisted
living facility for aging parents?

Go to these places unannounced and visit several so you get a feel for what the environment and staff is like. Are there residents in the lobby sleeping, or are they visiting and having fun? Taste the food and look at an activity calendar. Talk to current residents while taking the tour and note the odor and cleanliness of the community. Utilize the Internet to look for comments on the community, or check out the last state survey result. The family needs to feel that the staff and community will keep their loved one safe and well cared for.

Renaissance on Peachtree
3755 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30319 | (404) 237-2323

Debra Taylor is a Registered Nurse and serves as Corporate Health and Wellness Director at Leisure Care.
Crystal Spradley is a Registered Nurse and serves as Health and Wellness Director at The Renaissance on Peachtree.


Friday, 05 September 2014 15:22

What Men Need to Know

It is the most common form of cancer among American men, disproportionately affecting those over the age of 50. While nearly 200,000 men may be diagnosed with the disease in a given year, some may never suffer health problems as a result of it. Still, it remains the second most common cause of death for white, African-American and Hispanic men. We are talking about prostate cancer, which impacts the male reproductive system. The cause of this disease remains unclear. James Hamrick, M.D., chief of oncology and hematology for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, says it's important for men to educate themselves about prostate health and talk with their doctor to determine if testing is right for them.

What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in men, located just below the bladder, which produces fluid found in semen. Men suffering from prostate cancer have an abnormal growth of cells in this gland. Cancerous cells in the prostate tend to grow slowly, which is why men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer often die from other causes. Still, early detection of the disease is key to providing treatment for more aggressive prostate cancers.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
In the early stages of the disease, many men experience no symptoms. However, prostate cancer can cause urinary problems. Talk with your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain or burning sensation while urinating
  • Trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine
  • Inability to urinate
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in your urine

How do I know if I have prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is often found during a routine rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. High levels of PSA in blood can mean that you have prostate cancer or other issues related to your prostate gland. As a result, your doctor may opt to take a sample of tissue from your prostate to determine if cancerous cells are present. You should talk with your doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is right for you.

Is treatment available for prostate cancer?
Yes. If the cancer is not aggressive, your doctor may choose to monitor its growth over time. However, radiation, hormone therapy and surgery are other treatment options.

Although the cause of prostate cancer is unknown, are there risk factors?
Age, family history and race can impact your chances of developing prostate cancer. Men who are over the age of 50, African-American, or have an immediate family member with prostate cancer are more likely to develop the disease.


James Hamrick, MD
Chief of Oncology and Hematology  |

Dr. James Hamrick is chief of oncology and hematology for Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, the state's largest not-for-profit health plan serving 260,000 members through 30 medical centers across metro Atlanta and in Athens.