Families are in the trenches fighting cancer every day. If cancer hasn’t crossed your path, whether directly or through a loved one, consider yourself lucky. It’s easy to feel helpless when friends and people close to you are struggling. Since September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, we’re going to give you some simple things you can do to help those who are facing the dreaded “C” word.
Do. Don’t ask.
It’s easy to say, “let me know if you need anything.” What the family needs is someone to say, “hey, I’m making you dinner.” Or “I’m babysitting - just tell me what day (or night).” Don’t give them the burden of asking. Just offer it.
Gift cards go a long way.
Treatments can sometimes take a patient and family far from home. Do a little research and purchase gift cards for restaurants, hotel chains and gas stations near the hospital they are using. A gift subscription to Amazon Prime or Netflix may be helpful to someone who is bedridden. Some downtime and low key entertainment might be just what they need. And, of course, a massage gift certificate is a perfect way to care for the care givers.
Remember the siblings.
Cancer affects the entire family. Siblings often are trying to navigate many emotions like fear and jealousy. Commit to a sibling and offer to be there for them. Be a friend. Be someone they can lean on and talk to. If you send the cancer patient a gift, make sure you give them someone of equal to the sibling and include them.
Shortly after diagnosis, a family will receive calls, cards, and meals. Anything to help soothe the heartbreaking news. After time, these things fade away and the family is still traveling the long road. It could be months or even years. It’s a financial and emotional weight. Keep them in mind and reach out well after the dust settles.
It’s hard to know what to say to a family that’s struggling with cancer. But don’t disappear. Meet them where they are. Sometimes there are no words. Just be present. Reach out and enlist the help of others to send cards, letters and other nice/silly/fun things that will brighten the family’s day. Even an “I’ve been thinking of you” text speaks volumes.
These tips might not seem like much, but it can mean the world to a family facing cancer. Long days and sleepless nights can be an endless cycle. Little gestures of kindness can bring the family loads comfort.
Author: Allissa Haines
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and we are going to jump right in and look at some ways to stop the pain before it starts. Are you ready? Let’s go.
If certain foods or scents have triggered headaches in the past, it could be time to make a note of them and avoid them at all costs. Things like caffeine, cigarette smoke, and bright lights can be a big culprit in spurring on pain, but it doesn’t have to be that obvious. Perfumes, loud noises, flowers, and even lunch meat have the power to make you miserable.
Exercising on a regular basis reduces tension and can help prevent headaches. Choose something you enjoy doing - walking, biking, kayaking, hiking, etc. - and follow the proper guidelines for the exercise you’re engaging in. That means stretching and warming up slowly. And don’t forget proper hydration.
Eat and sleep regularly
Lack of sleep and skipping meals can aggravate symptoms for the migraine sufferer. Make sure you are getting enough fluids and are eating meals at regular times. Lack of sleep (or even getting too much sleep) will also aggravate symptoms, so implement routine and stick to it.
Stress. Stress. Stress. It happens. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid. The only thing we can change is our response to it. Learn techniques to reduce stress levels like breathing, yoga and meditation. You can also combat stress with a massage or acupuncture, a long walk, a hot shower, or whatever you need to do to take the edge off.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, nearly 36 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Acknowledging the triggers and patterns surrounding your migraine episodes will help you figure out what’s causing them and minimize your chances of experiencing headache pain.
Happy Mothers Day!
Whether you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother, Mothers Day is time to honor those who've played this important role. Stepmothers, birthmothers, and godmothers too. While there are as many ways of being a mother as there are moms in the world, one thing is certain: it's a tough job, but a rewarding one. Here are just three ways massage might be of service to the mothers in your life.
Prenatal massage is a growing field, as training programs for massage therapists increase and old myths about massage during pregnancy fade. Massage can ease the aches and pains associated with increased weight, loosened ligaments, and shifts in center of gravity. There are all kinds of cushions and props that can help pregnant women relax comfortably on a massage table, no matter what their dimensions. Contrary to the old tale, massaging the feet, ankles, back, or even stomach will not cause miscarriage when done appropriately.
Of course, massage therapy, while helpful, isn't a cure-all. Massage can't stop that nosy neighbor from touching your belly every time she stops by, or cravings for hot Cheetos and root beer at 2:00 AM. But it can alleviate some of the symptoms that naturally come with growing a new human being, leaving expectant mothers more free to focus on the hope and joy that make pregnancy such a fabulous stage of life.
Adoptive and Foster Mothers
Biological mothers typically get a nine-month period to prepare for parenthood. Foster and adoptive mothers might wait and wait for news … then find themselves parents of a tot or teen virtually overnight. Plenty of mothers juggle soccer practice with homework, but fewer have to add court dates and social worker visits to the mix. Not only can these realities place unusual stress on foster and adoptive moms, their uncommon nature means that it can also be harder to find much-needed understanding and support.
Massage can help manage this stress, for all members of the family. Symptoms of stress, such as headaches, high blood pressure, and anxiety, can all be alleviated by massage. And for children who come from backgrounds where touch was lacking (or inappropriate), pediatric massage can help them develop a healthy relationship with touch. When foster and adoptive mothers learn some of these techniques for themselves, it can also be a way for children and their new parents to bond.
Mothers of Young Children
Unlike pregnant mothers, who often feel like their motherhood draws too much attention to themselves, society tells mothers of young children that their role is all about their children first, second, and last. Getting up in the middle of the night to change a leaking diaper? Chasing a toddler into the street? Taking time off work to care for a kindergartener with an ear infection? No matter, it's not about you, mom. It's about your kids.
It's true, to a point. Who wouldn't make sacrifices for their children? But one factor that can contribute to a healthy, happy childhood is a healthy, happy mother, and every person deserves to take steps towards their own well being, mothers too!
Massage therapy can help the body rest and recuperate from the effects of a busy schedule, interrupted sleep, and the physical strain of lifting and interacting with growing children. It also provides precious time for moms to focus on their own needs, apart from the responsibilities of mothering. And for those mothers who find themselves dealing with the very real condition of postpartum depression, massage may also play a role (although far from the only one) in an appropriate treatment plan.
Moms who are not moms
For women who don’t have children, by choice or circumstance, Mothers Day can be melancholy. There is great joy in being a Favorite Aunt, Baby Spoiler, and Super Supporter of all her friends with children, but we don’t have specific days to celebrate those roles. Women without children don’t always get all that snuggle time with little ones that raises oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins. Massage is a great way to get the happy chemicals pumping. If there’s a woman in your life who loves your children, or makes your job as a parent better or easier, Mothers Day is a great time to recognize her.
There's no one way to be a mother
Despite what the sensationalist headlines about the Mommy Wars would have us believe, and there's no one way to take care of your health and wellness. Whether the mother you're thinking of needs a sports massage after her next marathon or a deeply relaxing hour so she can doze, it's all worthwhile. So this Mothers Day, let's do all our moms a favor and call a ceasefire, honoring them in whatever ways make sense for their own lives.
And to the mothers out there reading this, on Mothers Day and every day … here's to you.
Summer is right around the corner and where there is more sun, there is often more skin exposure. May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month and we are going to look at some ways you can prevent and detect skin cancer.
Cover up with clothes and sunscreen.
As a rule of thumb, cover up as much as possible. Be sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV blocking sunglasses. Use broad spectrum (UVA/B) sunblock with SPF 15 or higher every day. If you’ll be active outdoors, opt for a water-resistant, UVA or UVB sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. (Sunscreens should be used on babies over six months of age.)
Avoid harsh sun and tanning.
Avoid getting a sunburned at all costs. Skip the tanning and never use UV tanning beds. The sun is strongest between 10AM and 4PM, so try to avoid the sun during these hours and find some shade. Make sure to keep newborns out of the sun.
Perform a head-to-toe self exam.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends everyone practices a self examination every month. Skin cancers found and removed early are, more often than not, curable. You may find having a doctor perform the initial examination will help assure you that any existing spots, moles or freckles are totally normal and treat any that aren’t. After that a routine self exam shouldn’t take you longer than 10 minutes.
Get your partner involved.
In addition to seeing your physician annually for a professional skin exam, have your partner keep an eye out for any changes in your skin. Sometimes they see parts of our bodies that we don’t see everyday (like the small of our back or behind your neck). Have a discussion about the importance of paying attention to changes in your skin and make sure you return the favor by keeping an eye on any changes on their skin.
Prevention is only half the battle. And hopefully it’s the only battle you will ever face. If you should happen to find yourself in a different battle, the early detection of skin cancer is paramount. The sooner you catch it, the better your chances are of beating it.
Enjoy your summer, but remember to protect yourself from the sun and bring ANYTHING suspicious to your doctor immediately.