Mary J. Blige and other women touched by breast cancer talk importance of screening

The nine-time Grammy Award-winning singer said in an interview with “Good Morning America” that highlighting the illness is important to her because of the racial disparity in breast cancer death rates.

Higher death rates from the disease for Black women are due to several factors, according to the American Cancer Society’s biennial update on female breast cancer statistics in the U.S.

Some include “later stage at diagnosis and other unfavorable tumor characteristics, higher prevalence of obesity and comorbidities, as well as less access to timely and high‐quality prevention, early detection, and treatment services.”

Blige partnered with the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI), RAD-AID and Hologic, Inc. for the P.O.W.E.R. of Sure campaign in hopes of giving women necessary information about breast cancer screening and why it’s so important.

Women who have battled the disease or who are currently battling the disease are also sharing more about their cancer journeys in the campaign.

The importance of getting screened: ‘Do it even when you’re scared’

Blige said she feels “a lot of fears and barriers” affect whether or not a woman will prioritize getting screened. After losing an aunt to breast cancer, the singer says she now believes a lack of awareness toward screening played
a role in her loved one’s battle with cancer.

“I believe if she had this information that she would be here today — the importance of a mammogram,” the singer said. “When we were growing up, no one spoke about a mammogram, breast cancer — anything like that.”

The singer recalled having many fears going into her first mammogram after losing her aunt and wondering whether it was going to hurt or if she was going to be diagnosed.

“Once I went into the office and went to the procedure, I realized that it was nothing to it,” she said. “It wasn’t painful, it was just a little discomfort on each breast for a second or two, and then it was over.”

She emphasized how she received early results following her Genius 3D Mammography exam and even called the screening “enlightening.” She also said it made her want to know more about her health.

Kimberly Wortham-Macon, a mother of three, is fighting breast cancer and is featured in the campaign along with Blige. She is also adamant about emphasizing the importance of getting checked.

She said she had been considering putting off her mammogram because of the pandemic but quickly took action and went in for a screening after feeling a lump in her right breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in July at the age of 40.

PHOTO: Kimberly Wortham-Macon opened up on her battle with breast cancer for the P.O.W.E.R. of Sure campaign.

Kimberly Wortham-Macon

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On International Pronouns Day, transgender women talk inner strength, outer beauty

Wednesday marked the third annual International Pronouns Day, which is meant to educate and raise awareness about the importance of respecting personal pronouns.

This day, and the push to make asking and using other people’s personal pronouns commonplace, spotlights an issue that particularly affects the transgender and gender nonconforming communities, experts have said.

Two transgender women and a Northwell Health surgeon spoke at a livestreamed event organized by the hospital on Wednesday about some of the issues facing the transgender community.

Rubi Lacroix, 25, of Babylon, who grew up in Gramercy Park, and Demi Washington, 28, a South Carolina native who now lives in Brooklyn, underwent facial feminization surgery and spoke about their experiences alongside Dr. James Bradley.

The operations last seven hours or so as chins and jaws are softened, noses and brows re-sculpted and hairlines lowered, experts said.

“I have a softer face now,” Washington said. “It is easier for people to see me as a woman.”

Said Lacroix, on her way to becoming an X-ray technician and then a nurse: “It was really tough; I had to do this.”

About one half of transgender boys attempted suicide in their teens; for girls the rate was nearly one-third and for nonbinary individuals, whose identities fall outside of the gender binary, the figure was just under 42%, an October 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics study found.

“This is not about hair and makeup … this is a life-changing procedure not easily recovered from,” Washington said.

During the recovery, said Washington, “There is a lot of time to think about what it means to have the exterior features of a woman. This doesn’t erase anybody’s strife — now, all of a sudden you’re thoroughly deemed a sexual being. Now I’m reduced to the exterior, the woman you happen to see.”

“You have to be very strong to (handle) the transitions,” Washington added.

Crimes against transgender individuals appear to be on the rise by some measures, though they likely are quite undercounted because people are wary of how they will be treated — and some are not out.

Two years ago, 10 hate crimes against transgender individuals or their property were reported in New York State, down from 14 in 2017, Division of Criminal Justice Services statistics show. There were 18 such hate crimes in 2016, and one in 2014 and 2015.

For nonbinary individuals, who may prefer to be addressed with plural pronouns instead of as “he” or “she,” there were four hate crimes reported in 2018, zero in 2017, and five in 2016. Two were tracked in 2015, three in 2014.

Like many transgender individuals, Lacroix knew early on that her body did not match who she was on the inside.

“I think this is the best decision I ever made in my life,” she said. “Now, people

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Let’s Talk About Constipation During Pregnancy

Constipation may be two to three times more common during and after pregnancy, Finnish researchers report.

The scientists studied 877 women having babies, comparing them with 201 nonpregnant controls of the same age. They rated the women on the Rome IV criteria for diagnosing constipation, which considers five symptoms, including the amount of straining at stool, sensations of incomplete defecation, the necessity of manual maneuvering required to defecate, the firmness of stool and the frequency of bowel movements. The study is in BJOG.

Based on these criteria, 21 percent of the controls had constipation, compared with 40 percent of pregnant women and 52 percent of postpartum women. About 44 percent of women had constipation in the second trimester, and 36 percent in the third trimester. Fifty-seven percent of women who gave birth by C-section and 47 percent of those who gave birth vaginally were constipated at least for a few days afterward, but at one month postpartum, rates differed little from controls.

“For pregnant women, I would suggest that they talk about this symptom frankly,” said the senior author, Dr. Merja Kokki, an anesthesiologist at the University of Eastern Finland. “It’s more common in pregnancy than nausea and vomiting, which are always openly discussed. It’s a big problem that can cause difficult symptoms later in life — pelvic floor problems, uterine prolapse, urinary problems. These are things that can impair the quality of life.”

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Companionship and Senior Mental Health – Let’s Talk About Depression

Most of us believe that caregiving must focus on the mind, body and soul. When seniors are lonely, they get depressed, just like you and I. Human beings need companionship, but we also need the right type of companionship. Perhaps like you, I strongly believe in matching a caregiver’s personality with that of their client and I find it so unfortunate that many companies in the in-home care industry do not concentrate on this. Matching client personalities makes for a positive relationship, stronger mental health, and a stress free in-home caregiver situation. Everyone wins.

Yes, it takes a little longer to find the right caregiver, but that’s okay, because in good in-home care companies they’ve found it prevents turnover, which is one of the complaints that many in the industry have. A true companionship-based caregiver scenario is one where the client is treated like family. The best way to achieve this is to make a proper match so that both the caregiver and the client see each other as family, it is best when it is a two-way street.

There was a very good research study in the “Journal of Health Psychology” put out by the American Psychological Association in 2011 (Cite: Vol. 30, No. 4, 377-385. DOI: 10.1037/a0022826). The research is titled; “Loneliness, Social Isolation, and Behavioral and Biological Health Indicators in Older Adults,” by Aparna Shankar, Anne McMunn, and Andrew Steptoe. In conclusion the research paper notes:

“Loneliness and social isolation may affect health independently through their effects on health behaviors. In addition, social isolation may also affect health through biological processes associated with the development of cardiovascular disease.”

For those of who work as caregivers, they are hardly surprised. In fact, experts in the sector have been saying this all along. The families of elderly tell us that they too are concerned and it is often one of the primary reasons they contact a company for in-home caregiver services. I hope you understand and agree with myself, the families, and the empirical scientific research.

I believe no one should have to be lonely in old age, we are here to serve, and glad to help our clients live happy, healthy and with compassionate companionship. As our population ages these issues emerge to the forefront, and it is all of our responsibilities to makes sure everyone concerned is served fairly and treated with dignity. Please do the research and think of those people you know who are in need, we must make such positive steps a reality for all.

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