Surprised them most about their diagnosis

Unless you’re a breast cancer survivor yourself, there are some things about the disease that you simply can’t know or understand. Yet most of us know and love someone who has battled breast cancer, and the more you know about it, the better you can support them. So we asked survivors what surprised them the most about their diagnosis, treatment, and recovery and they told us all about the good, the bad, and the braless.

I never needed to wear a bra again

“After my breast-cancer diagnosis, I ended up needing to have both breasts removed and implants put in. My biggest and best surprise was never needing to wear a bra again. I have to admit I rub it in a little when my girlfriends complain about underwire and poorly-fitting bras.” —Mary S., Lodi, CA

There is such a thing as stage 0 cancer

“Cancer diagnosis is not straightforward, and doctors won’t always assume that’s what it is. This is why it’s so important to get a second opinion! Stage 0 cancer is still cancer. Be proactive in your exams and health, don’t wait to get something checked out. Green liquid is not supposed to leak from your nipple, as I learned the hard way.” —Megan H., Ridgecrest, CA


Doctors can be in denial too

“As hard as it was for me to hear that I had breast cancer, it was also really hard for my doctor to say it. It devastates doctors to tell young people (because let’s not forget that breast cancer is not just a women’s disease) that it’s cancer because, like you, they had desperately hoped it wasn’t.” —Megan H.

Chemo can make you crave junk food and gain weight

“Before breast cancer I had no idea how many different kinds of chemo are out there. It’s not like how you see in the movies where they are puking, losing weight, and all their hair falls out. In fact, some types of chemo do not cause nausea. So many people, including me, gained weight during chemo—mainly because the only taste buds that are left are for sweets, plus they administer steroids that stimulate the appetite. I hated how much I craved junk food when that is completely the opposite of my normal eating habits and tastes.” —Garian V., Boulder, CO

Dead after you die, study suggests

Driven by ambition and curiosity to learn what lies on the other side of death, five medical students deliberately stop their hearts in order to experience “the afterlife” in the new thriller “Flatliners” (Sony Pictures), which opened in U.S. theaters on Sept. 29.

They quickly discover that there are unexpected and terrible consequences of dallying with death — but not everything they experience after “dying” is in the realm of science fiction. A growing body of research is charting the processes that occur after death, suggesting that human consciousness doesn’t immediately wink out after the heart stops, experts say.

But what really happens in the body and brain in the moments after cardiac arrest?

The terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not identical conditions, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). During a heart attack, a blocked artery prevents blood from reaching a portion of the heart, which can cause that section to die — though the heart continues to beat, the AHA explained.

During cardiac arrest, the electrical signals driving the heart’s pumping action are disrupted, the heart ceases beating and death shortly follows, the AHA said.

In the vast majority of terminal cases, physicians medically define death based on when the heart no longer beats, said Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City.

“Technically speaking, that’s how you get the time of death — it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops,” he told Live Science.

Extremely rare bacterial infection

A severe pain in one man’s artificial hip joint turned out to be caused by an extremely rare bacterial infection, according to a new report of the man’s case. But doctors are still puzzled as to how the man got the infection in the first place.

The 77-year-old man’s right artificial hip joint was infected with the bacterium Francisella tularensis, which is responsible for a disease called tularemia, according to the case report, published Oct. 11 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Tularemia is also known as “rabbit fever” or “deer fly fever,” because the bacterium can be spread by handling an infected rabbit or being bitten by a deer fly. It can also be spread by tick bites. But in the man’s case, it’s not entirely clear how he picked up the infection.

“We did not find any ticks attached to his skin, although it’s possible he may have had a tick bite or exposure in another form,” said lead author Dr. Harsh Rawal, an internal medicine resident at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign. Rawal was one of the doctors who treated the man.


The man didn’t remember being bitten by a tick, and he had no pets that may have carried one into his home, according to the report. He also had no contact with any animals that could have transmitted the infection to him.

The man did tell the doctors that he had been a hunter about 50 years ago — some people may get the disease by handling or skinning infected rabbits, muskrats, prairie dogs and other rodents, according to the CDC — but, given his long absence from hunting, this wouldn’t explain how he acquired the infection five decades later.


A pain in the hip

After having severe pain in his right hip for about a week, the man went to the emergency room, according to the report. At the time, he said he was concerned because 25 years earlier, he had a total hip replacement done on this hip and an artificial hip joint was inserted.

His doctors decided he needed surgery to repair his artificial hip joint and drain fluid from the area, but they found no evidence of any infection.

But one week after leaving the hospital, the man returned to the emergency room with right hip pain and a fever of 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was then that the doctors noticed a bulbous skin lesion on one of his shins, according to the report, so they sent the man for blood tests and lab cultures once again.

Somewhere along the journey from childhood to retirement the solution

So Americans are fat. At least that’s the running monologue playing out in more media outlets than we can completely ignore. But somewhere along the journey from childhood to retirement the solution to that problem has become the New Year’s Resolution that almost everyone makes and almost everyone hates: exercise more.

As children, playing outside was the reward, not the punishment … so much so that a ridiculous trend in too many elementary schools today is for children to be deprived of outside play time in a stationary timeout at recess as punishment (because we all know that the one-thing that helps discipline a hyperactive child to be calm is enforced stillness. Or not.)

Yet, trudging through the institutional world of education, exercise became the thing that the quintessential, sadistic gym teacher enforced, complete with tests, metrics and goals for the unattainable. The joy of movement dimmed as the realization that perfection was just not on the menu for most of us. And there was math to prove it. Charts, indexes, measurements, graphs – all calculated to show the weary where they fall short.

Exercise stopped being many people’s entertainment, when it stopped being fun.

I can’t be the only person who finds modern-day conversations about exercise about as compelling as a marketing report, full of deliverables and metrics. Or like a performance evaluation by a cranky boss who won’t notice the 10 things you did right,  but only the one thing you did wrong.

I already live in a world of deadlines and demands. Whether at home or at work, I must comply with so many requirements that I cannot bear to take up an activity that has a to- do list.

In fact, a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that even when people were paid to go to the gym, most were not motivated to do it. Money could not camouflage the reality that many have lost that loving feeling for organized pain. And when the sales pitch is “no pain, no gain,” how surprising is it that many people just say no?

The student was admitted to an Urbana hospital last Tuesday and was receiving treatment

Students at the University of Illinois received a warning on Monday after a classmate was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis. The student is a resident in Leonard Hall on campus, reported.

The university said in a news release on Saturday that the student was admitted to an Urbana hospital last Tuesday and was receiving treatment. Friends and roommates of the student were contacted to identify any others potentially at-risk of infection.

Dr. Robert Woodward is the medical director of McKinley Health Center on campus and says others aren’t in danger unless they’ve had intimate or prolonged contact.

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by a bacteria and is often severe with the potential to turn deadly. Infections could affect the lining of the brain, spinal cord or bloodstream. It’s often spread through living in close quarters or respiratory and throat secretions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even if you’ve received the available vaccinations, you could potentially contract the disease.

Symptoms include onset of fever, headache and stiff neck, or others that can mimic the flu.

The nurses and the technicians who go beyond providing basic care to patients

A mother’s thank you note to the pediatric nurses caring for her 2-year-old daughter who is battling cancer has gone viral, receiving more than 51,000 reactions and nearly 28,000 shares since it was posted earlier this month.

Shelby Skiles, whose daughter Sophie was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in May, said she felt moved to thank the ambulance drivers, the nurses and the technicians who go beyond providing basic care to patients, and aim to make their stay a little easier.

“Dear Peds Nurses, (And incredible nurse techs!),” Skiles began her Oct. 3 post on the “Sophie The Brave” Facebook page. “I see you. I sit on this couch all day long and, I see you. You try so hard to be unnoticed by me and my child. I see your face drop a little when she sees you and cries. You try so many ways to ease her fears and win her over. I see you hesitate to stick her or pull bandaids (SIC) off. You say ‘No owies’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times in one day than most people say ‘thank you.’”

Sophie, who had a softball-sized mass in her chest at the time of diagnosis, has been receiving treatment at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

“I see all of those rubber bracelets on your arms and wrapped around your stethoscope, each one for a child that you’ve cared for and loved,” Skiles wrote to the nurses. “I see you carrying arm loads of medicine and supplies into one child’s room all while your phone is ringing in your pocket from the room of another. I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to make too much noise at night. I see you sorting piles of beads so you can give them to your patient to add to their ever growing milestone necklace. I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her covers around her tightly. I see you holding the crying mom that got bad news. I see you trying to chart on the computer while holding the baby whose mom can’t-or won’t be at the hospital with her.”

“You put aside what’s happening in your life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and something’s (SIC) dying children. You go into each room with a smile no matter what’s happening in there,” she wrote. “You see Sophie’s name on the schedule and come to check on us even when she isn’t your patient. You call the doctor, blood bank, and pharmacy as many times as necessary to get my child what she needs in a timely manner. You check on me as often as you check on her. You sit and listen to me ramble for 10 minutes even though your phone is buzzing and your to do list is a mile long.”