Julia Covill, Milestones, Mary Covill, rehab, car accident

Julia Covill (2nd from left) and friends posing for prom pictures in 2012

The Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation program at Milestones is celebrating 25 years of service. Mary Covill shares her daughter’s story

For our daughter Julia, prom night 2012 wasn’t just a rite of passage – it was a milestone we weren’t sure would ever be possible. Except for the walker at her side, you wouldn’t know that the smiling teenager in the purple, strapless dress, arms wrapped around friends while posing for pictures, couldn’t walk or remember everyday words just months earlier.

Some seemingly ordinary moments are forever seared into a parent’s memory. For us, that’s the afternoon of Feb.11, 2012 as Julia left for a friend’s house to get ready for a winter dance. I remember warning her it was supposed to snow, telling her to drive slowly.

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Fatigue busters for cancer-related fatigue

cancer-related fatigueWe all experience fatigue, but cancer-related fatigue can be particularly distressing as it oftentimes is not relieved with sleep and rest. Approximately 80% – 100% of patients with cancer experience fatigue, and it’s the most common side effect experienced by cancer patients.

With the holidays upon us, it’s the season for socializing and spending time with family and friends. With it can come a flurry of activity that can wear out the most energetic of individuals. Finding a balance is especially important for those with a diagnosis of cancer. Continue reading


Eighty-seven-year-old shares her experience with peripheral arterial disease

Maxine Kilkoin is walking proud

Maxine Kilkoin blog

Despite PAD, Maxine Kilkoin enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her granddaughter.

An artificial limb hasn’t slowed Maxine Kilkoin down. In fact, she’s doing more today than ever, thanks to the treatment she received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. The 87-year-old says the doctors at U-M helped her keep her leg for five years after her prior physician recommended it be removed due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

PAD is a condition, or set of conditions, caused by the blockage or narrowing of the body’s large peripheral arteries. Lack of proper blood flow to the legs is very common in this condition. An estimated one in 20 Americans over the age of 50 has PAD and between 12 and 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older suffers from the disease. Continue reading


Nutrition therapy for myelodysplastic syndrome and aplastic anemia

aplastic anemia myelodysplastic syndrome While diet has been associated with some cancers as a potential trigger, this is not the case with myelodysplastic syndrome, or MDS, and aplastic anemia. However, a balanced diet is important to maintaining health and well-being and this is especially vital during treatment. By giving your body the fuel it needs, you can help to minimize treatment side-effects and fatigue.

Follow the steps outlined below to maximize your health before, during and after treatment.

Try to eat enough food to maintain your weight during treatment and don’t be surprised if the amount of food you need is increased. If nausea or diarrhea hit you during treatment, eating smaller, more frequent meals that are lower in fiber to ease digestion. Discuss taking a general multivitamin with minerals with your oncologist or dietitian, to ensure you are meeting all your nutrient needs. If you are not having any side effects, eat a variety of minimally processed foods that focus on non-starchy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Try to include non-meat alternatives on occasion such as beans and nuts. Limit sugary beverages and focus on water for hydration instead. Continue reading


Dental health and your heart

Safe heart surgery requires a healthy mouth

heart and dental health 320x320

Most heart surgery patients need to have dental clearance before surgery to prevent bacteria from traveling from the mouth to the bloodstream, which can compromise his or her health.

Healthy teeth and gums are important for reasons other than your smile. Many people who are in need of surgery — and heart surgery, in particular — might have to delay a surgical procedure for weeks, or even months, depending on their dental health. Because dental health and your heart go hand in hand, most cases involving heart surgery require a patient to have dental clearance before surgery.

That’s because bacteria present in the mouth can travel to the bloodstream and compromise an individual’s health. It’s important that a patient be free of any acute infection, including gum disease (gingivitis in its early stages and periodontal disease in later stages), bleeding of the gums, tooth abscess or any soreness in the mouth. Continue reading


Is your course of radiation treatment longer than it needs to be?

patient and doctor in an exam room

Radiation oncologist Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., consults with a patient

Mounting evidence finds that delivering higher doses of radiation per treatment is as effective in some breast cancer patients as a traditional course where smaller doses are given over a longer time period. The new method, called hypofractionation, involves about 3-4 weeks of daily radiation treatments, instead of the usual 5-week or longer course.

But several newly published studies have found that hypofractionated radiation is not widely used.

Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, led two of these studies. Looking at a national database of patients, she and her colleagues found that hypofractionation was used in only 13.6% of Medicare patients with breast cancer. In Michigan, Jagsi’s other study found, fewer than one-third of patients who fit the criteria for offering this approach got the shorter course of treatment. Continue reading