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Family Vacations- and Making Memories

by Nancy Brook on September 4, 2016

When we think about summer, we often think about vacation! So many of us have memories of family vacations from childhood. Whether it involved piling into the family car and driving to the beach, camping or visiting out of town relatives these trips definitely gave us stories to tell- both positive and negative. Being in close quarters for hours and days can tell you a lot about the people in your family.
Growing up and raising children of my own has allowed me the opportunity to travel with my own kids- and to decide what kinds of experiences we would have together. Like all parents I always find myself wishing I could do more- like take exotic vacations, African safaris or adventures to interesting places. But I am not in any position to complain; I made it a priority years ago to make sure we used our time off together to make new memories and create new traditions. Whether it was spending time at Disney, the beaches of Hawaii or even a cruise we have had a lot of fun. We have also had some challenges that were scary and stressful. I think my 8 month old son’s emergency surgery on Maui tops that list!
Traveling in the age of technology has created another layer of memory making- iphones and iMovie has allowed me to create cool videos to keep those memories fresh.  Pairing my favorite photos with music that I love has allowed me to relive the memories anytime I want, and to remember only the very best parts. I learned years ago that no matter what stresses came up during the trip, by taking the best photos of smiling faces and beautiful scenery I was able to recreate the memory in a way that was happy.  Now my kids are entirely more saavy than I am and can make the movies on their own.
This summer we did something we had never done before and traveled with my entire family to Canada where we visited the beautiful province of British Columbia. We had a great time exploring Vancouver, and enjoyed some long sunny days touring and spending time on the water. Really long days- actually the sun sets as late as 9:45 pm at some points during the summer months. Was there family drama or unexpected issues that arose? Of course- mixing that many personalities is never smooth but ultimately I think what we will all remember was that we took time from our busy lives and various routines and came together to create some new memories that I know we will cherish for years to come.
Do you need to travel far away to create new memories with your kids, your family or your friends? Not at all- you can do it right where you are. All it takes is a commitment to focus on the ones you love. And don’t forget to take pictures!Whistler

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You’re Told You’ve Got Cancer: Now What?

by Nancy Brook on May 29, 2016

When Brooke Budke discovered she had melanoma, she could barely believe her ears. She remembers her doctor’s words. “Your results are malignant,” he told her. “You have cancer.” She stood in shock, with little idea what to do next. “I was terrified,” says Budke, a 32-year-old who lives in Leawood, KS, and is an executive at Title Boxing Club.
No matter how you get the news, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed at first. Sit down and take a breath. Give yourself time to absorb what you’ve heard. Then you’ll be able to plan your next steps.

Educate Yourself
First, collect the facts. This begins with your doctor. Ask lots of questions. “Find out where the cancer started and if it spread to your lymph nodes or other parts of your body,” says Louis B. Harrison, MD, a radiation oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL.
Find out which stage it’s in. The lower the number, the less it has spread.
Learn more about the type of cancer you have:
Can it be cured?
Does it grow quickly or slowly?
What are the treatments?
Will I have side effects from treatment?

Create a File
“Pick up a three-ring binder and collect every piece of critical information pertaining to your case,” says Nancy Brook, MSN, NP, a nurse practitioner at Stanford Healthcare in Palo Alto, CA.
Include things like your lab reports, notes about your surgery, and results of scans and blood tests. Bring it to every appointment.

Get a Second Opinion
You may feel funny about asking for one, but most doctors recommend it, and some insurance companies say you need to do it.
A second opinion can help you understand your situation and give you a better sense of control. It’s important to feel confident about your treatment team, even if it takes an extra week or two, Brook says.
Budke was persistent in her efforts to get a second opinion. Most of the doctors she contacted were booked. But she and her mother, who helped coordinate her care, made calls until someone agreed to see her right away.
Try to go to a different type of specialist, Harrison says. If you have prostate cancer, for example, you may get one opinion from a urologist and another from a radiation oncologist.
Decide on Treatment
Once you know the facts, like the type of cancer and what stage it’s in, you’ll be ready to work with your doctor on a treatment plan. Treatments can have side effects. Your doctor will help you weigh the pros and cons so you can decide what’s best for you.

Get Care From a Group of Experts
“Most cancers should be treated by a team,” Harrison says. It’s a made up of specialists who will handle different parts of your care and work together. If you live close to a cancer center, go there, Brook says. “These centers are often most up-to-date on the latest research and clinical trials.”
Be Part of the Team
You’re a key part of the group that treats you. Ask questions. Learn about your options. If you don’t feel comfortable or your doctor doesn’t listen to your concerns, find another one. Ask a friend or family member to go with you to appointments. They can help if you find it hard to focus and remember details. “It’s another set of ears,” Harrison says.

Talk to Family and Friends
Who to tell and when to do it are personal decisions. You may think hiding it will protect people close to you, but that doesn’t always work. They may suspect something’s wrong. When they find out, they may be upset that you kept it secret. “I think it’s important to tell friends and family,” Harrison says. “Knowing the truth removes a lot of tension and everyone gets on the same page. This is one of the most important moments in your life. This is the time for friends and family.”

You may think you need to be strong and handle things on your own. But make sure you reach out to those who love you to get the emotional backing you need. “Support matters,” Brook says. “Research has documented this.”

You may also want to join a support group. You’ll meet people who understand just what you’re going through, and they can give you advice about how they manage things. “Many groups are virtual and online, so you can participate from the comfort of your home and office. There are even groups for most every kind of cancer on Facebook,” Brook says.
A therapist or cancer coach can help you work through your feelings and get through your treatment. Your doctor or hospital can help you find one.

Family support made all the difference to Budke. Eleven years after her melanoma diagnosis, she’s cancer-free and feels healthy and strong. Looking back, she says her mother’s encouragement was critical to getting through such a tough time. “Ultimately,” she says, “I attribute so much of my recovery to my mom.”

Originally posted on WebMD

518285260By Kara Mayer Robinson
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

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It’s Never Too Late!

May 23, 2016

I remember walking into work one morning about fifteen years ago and talking with a friend and colleague. Our work was stressful, the management unstable and my friend shared with me that this just was not the kind of work she wanted to be doing. Filled with curiosity I asked her what kind of work […]

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