As a practitioner of Chinese medicine with the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program, I have the privilege of providing care for many women with breast cancer. In my discussions with patients, hot flashes are among the most common symptoms people ask for help with, as they cause both physical and emotional distress. In observance of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here’s a little more information about hot flashes, and some helpful tips on how to reduce the heat — inside and out.
Hot flashes are sudden, and many times, an intense sensation of heat in the body. They are often accompanied by a red, flushed look on the face and sweating. Many women also experience sweating at night (aka night sweats), a rapid heart rate and chills after the night sweats subside. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), they are “a problem for many menopausal women and a common side effect of breast cancer treatment.” Unfortunately, hot flashes aren’t just quick bouts of heat sensations that come and go quickly. They vary in intensity, duration and frequency, and interrupt sleep, often causing a sense of discomfort, anxiety and decreased quality of life. Continue reading →
Twenty-three-year-old LiBassi, who’s being treated for cancer at Rush, says he didn’t have such a positive attitude at the outset.
“I was like, this is awful … I never want to come here again,” he tells WCIU. “And then afterwards I was like, you know what? That’s just a horrible attitude to have because I’m going to have to be here whether I like it or not, so I just decided to change my attitude to I don’t like this but I have to deal with it, so let’s make the best of it.”
Fellow patient Katie Sanderson says LiBassi helps lift her spirits when she’s down.
“When he walks in you just see him smile,” she says, “and it’s awesome.”
Wow, I remember that day as if it was yesterday, and yet it seems like a lifetime ago. I was so “cavalier” about having another breast biopsy. I had been through this so many times. I wasn’t scared, I was inconvenienced.
But the next day, my cell phone rang. It seemed the surgeon had been trying to get a hold of me. I was to meet him in two hours. I still wasn’t worried, until I saw the look on his face. I had never seen that look; he took my hand and said, “The report wasn’t good.” He looked at me and said the words that would forever change my life: “The biopsy was malignant; you have breast cancer.”
My heart was heavy, my head spinning. Breast cancer? Me? I immediately thought of the horrendous surgery I saw my own mother go through when she was diagnosed with breast cancer many years ago. Why me? Why now? It almost seemed as though my life whirled in front of me. What had I done or not done to deserve this? I am turning 50. This must be a cruel joke! Black balloons, wilted flowers, but breast cancer? And now, I need to tell my husband, my children, my family.
Five days later, I found myself in surgery, again. This would be another day that would change my life forever. Today I was going to lose my breast. My mind was whirling again. Why me? I remember waking up in the recovery room, my left chest covered in a shroud of gauze and tape, so padded that it almost looked as though my breast was still there. I was in and out, lost in a sleepy haze and nausea. My back hurt, my shoulder hurt, and I was a one-breasted woman. Continue reading →
I’m sure you have seen the television commercials. A group of individuals describing how they came together to help an ailing individual. The commercials are a quick snapshot of the “team approach” that is in place at Rush University Medical Center.
A close family friend had recently completed successful treatment for lymphoma at Rush so I had a frame of reference. After completing a series of steps to secure an appointment, I arrived, still with a “deer in headlights” demeanor. I waited in an unassuming room with lots of light and windows and in walks in not one, not two, not three, but five individuals.
A medical oncologist, a surgical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a nurse practitioner and a psychiatrist introduced themselves to me. Clearly, still being in a semi-state of shock, this was a bit intimidating. Many thoughts are racing through my head. I didn’t know what to expect or what was going to happen next. Eventually, I would learn that they each would take the lead and answer the questions I had and even the questions I didn’t know I had. Continue reading →
When Janet Wolter, MD, began practicing medicine at Rush 46 years ago, the staff consisted of only three doctors and one nurse. Now, the Rush University Cancer Center’s just-opened outpatient cancer center has a team of more than 100 doctors, nurses and other caregivers providing cancer care in one centralized location. Rush’s Jody Lempa talked about the new cancer center with Wolter, who retired as Brian Piccolo Chair of Cancer Research in 2009.
Q: How do you think the new outpatient cancer center will affect care for patients?
A: The center is obviously a very beautiful environment. This alone will change everyone’s attitude dramatically. In the really old days, we each had an office that was 10 feet by 10 feet. We mixed our own drugs and medicine in the hallways, administered the chemotherapy ourselves and provided every aspect of care to the patients. It is evident that a lot has changed in 40 years.
Q: There’s a conference room named after you in the cancer center. How do you feel about that honor?
A: Well, it means a lot. The conference room is a wonderful place with all of the bells and whistles for looking at images and giving lectures. Aesthetically, it is very bright and inviting, which will hopefully reflect on everyone’s moods. I wanted a place that would provide a suitable location for Grand Rounds, and this state-of-the-art conference room is equipped to provide for greater learning opportunities.
Q: What are you most excited about for the new cancer center?
A: I am most excited about the new conference center. Now we have first-rate facilities to work in. … The patient rooms are going to be comfortable for both patients and caregivers. The waiting room was designed to be uplifting and functional -– there are personal computers so patients can look up information about medication or a specific disease as they wait. And the flow of the center allows patients to check in, get their vitals taken while waiting, and then be seen by their doctor sooner. This is a dramatic process improvement that will hopefully make the patients’ treatment less stressful as well.
Q: How do you think the new technology and accommodations will change the way medicine is practiced?
A: While the amenities are a nice bonus, they will not change how medicine is practiced -– that has undoubtedly come through research and hard work. Rush is lucky to have this space and I must say we are grateful to our donors and patients who provided the funds for this area that is so well thought-out and designed, it is like nothing we have ever had before.
Today’s the official opening day for Rush’s new outpatient cancer center, the Rush University Cancer Center. Shaped with input from caregivers and patients at Rush, the center is a celebration of the power of comprehensive, patient-centered care to tap the healing potential within each cancer patient.
These photos are from a quick tour we took this week of the new 48,800-square-foot center, which is three times bigger than the previous space. Here are a few other key facts about the outpatient center:
41 exam rooms, compared to 23 in previous space
56 chemotherapy infusion stations, 20 of them private, compared to 36 stations before
Three procedure rooms, including designated rooms for diagnostic gynecologic and bone marrow procedures, compared to one in the previous space
15 consultation rooms, compared to three in previous space