Eight ways to take care of yourself and your cancer

take care of yourselfNutrition plays a pivotal role during treatment and recovery of cancer but maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge. Here are eight ways to take care of yourself and your cancer.

1. Try to have small, frequent and easy-to-eat meals and snacks throughout the day such as yogurt with fruit or banana with nuts/nut butter.

2. If meats are difficult to eat or don’t taste good, try chopped or ground meats mixed with a sauce in a casserole, stew or pot pie. Continue reading


Fredda Clisham retires at 95, says she’s ready to see what else is out there

Fredda Clisham is an active 95-year-old who will retire in October from the University of Michigan Health System. She joined the team in 1970 as a temporary staff member in several areas. In the mid-eighties, Fredda began working part-time with Child Life and Volunteer Services.

Fredda Clisham

“Most of my time was spent sending acknowledgements to people who had made donations, books, games and toys for patients,” she says.

In 2002, the job she’d had for more than 15 years became a full-time position. Not interested in working full time, the mother-of-five, grandmother-of-three and great-grandmother-of-two transferred to the Women’s Health Resource Center. She’s worked there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday ever since. Continue reading


White bean chicken chili is a game-day winner!

White bean chicken chili is flavorful, filling and nutritious.

White bean chicken chili is flavorful, filling and nutritious.

It’s tailgate season … and that means creating healthy, easy-to-serve dishes that deliver staying

power on game day. Try this delicious white bean chicken chili – it’s cooked in a crockpot so you can easily transport and reheat any time, wherever you happen to be.

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Sue Ryskamp is happy to report that this recipe was a hit at a recent University of Michigan Wellness Resource Center’s “Nutritious Is Delicious” food-tasting event.

White Bean Chicken Chili

Makes 6 one-cup servings


1.5 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breast, cooked and chopped

1 cup no-salt-added chicken broth

1 (11 oz) can no-salt-added white corn, drained

2 (15 oz) cans no-salt-added great northern beans, drained, 1 can pureed

1 small white onion, chopped

1 (4 oz) can chopped green chilies

1 (14 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

½ tsp chopped garlic

1 Tbsp chili seasoning


Add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook over low heat for 8 hours.

After cooking, stir in 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt.  Garnish with ½ bunch chopped cilantro leaves.

Nutrition Breakdown:

  • 165 calories per cup
  • 1.5 g fat
  • 22 g carbohydrates
  • 4 g fiber
  • 20 g protein


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.


Body image matters for cancer patients

cancer patient

Patient Sherry Hansen with her daughter Allie.

Cancer treatment is hard on your body and, in some cases, changes are permanent. Sometimes cancer patients become so focused on getting rid of their cancer, they don’t bring up body image issues with their oncologists. In writing Body Image Matters, a patient story in Thrive, I learned they should.

Sherry Hansen is a breast cancer survivor, 14 years and counting. She had surgery to remove her breast, but didn’t have time to think about reconstructive surgery at the time of her diagnosis. She had a 3-year-old daughter to take care of. Sherry described to me in detail the way she felt the first time she looked in the mirror when her bandages were removed. No one had prepared her for the change in her body. No one was there when she saw it for the first time.

This should never happen to a patient and, were Sherry diagnosed at the U-M Cancer Center, perhaps her emotional response would have been different. By the time she came to U-M, depression had set in. She’s doing great now, but it was a long road to recovery. Continue reading


Peripheral artery disease: what you should know

The connection between diabetes, leg pain and PAD

elderly-woman-walkingPeripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a disease of the peripheral arteries, most commonly in the pelvis and legs, in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs and limbs. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, thus limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

The more you understand about the condition and symptoms, the more you’ll be able to protect your health. For example, diabetes often goes hand in hand with PAD, which results in a decrease of blood flow to the legs and feet. This can result in inadequate blood flow to heal a foot sore or wound.

Patients with diabetes and PAD are more likely to have healing complications, infection and, in the most extreme cases, amputation. Although having diabetes puts you at a greater risk of developing PAD, anyone can be diagnosed with the disease. According to the American Heart Association, those who smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol are also at risk for PAD.

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Pelvic organ prolapse: How a pessary changed my life

Pessaries and pelvic organ prolapseI’ve heard pelvic organ prolapse described as a silent epidemic.  Why so hush hush for a condition that affects possibly 50% of women over 50?   I had heard of a prolapsed uterus.  But, my very large, uncomfortable, growing, fleshy protrusion in the fall of 2010 was my bladder.  Why me?  I am thin, fit and active.  A gynecologist and urologist performed the corrective surgery in 2011. Since the gynecologist believed that the uterus contributed to pushing the bladder out of place, I opted for a hysterectomy in addition to having mesh sewn into the vaginal wall to keep the bladder in place. Although I had more than 400 stitches, recovery was painless and quick.  All was well for 18 months.

In August 2012, I returned to the urologist due to spot bleeding and feeling the rough edges of the mesh protruding into the vagina and out.  He dismissed my concerns by saying that, as we age, we have weak areas of our body.  What?  I was angry, incredulous and confused.

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