Cancer surpasses heart disease as leading cause of death in many US counties

An important transition is happening across the United States: Cancer was the leading cause of death in more counties in 2015 than 13 years earlier, a new study finds. However, the opposite was true for heart disease during that period; fewer counties reported it as the top killer.


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Fish Oil And Vitamin D Pills No Guard Against Cancer Or Serious Heart Trouble

A widely anticipated study has concluded that neither vitamin D nor fish oil supplements prevent cancer or serious heart-related problems in healthy older people, according to research presented Saturday at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions. Researchers defined serious heart problems as the combined rate of heart attacks, stroke and heart-related deaths.

Although hundreds of studies of these supplements have been published over the years, the new clinical trial — a federally funded project involving nearly 26,000 people — is the strongest and most definitive examination yet, said Dr. Clifford Rosen, a senior scientist at the Maine Medical Center Research Institute who was not involved in the research.

Doctors have been keenly interested in learning the supplements’ true value, given their tremendous popularity with patients. A 2017 study found that 26 percent of Americans age 60 and older take vitamin D supplements, while 22 percent take pills containing omega-3 fatty acids, a key ingredient in fish oil.

The new study also suggests there’s no reason for people to undergo routine blood tests for vitamin D, said Rosen, who co-wrote an accompanying editorial. (Both were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.). That’s because the study found that patients’ vitamin D levels made no difference in their risk of cancer or serious heart issues, Rosen said. Even people who began the study with clear vitamin D deficiency got no benefit from taking the supplements, which provided 2,000 international units a day. This amount is equal to one or two of the vitamin D pills typically sold in stores.

A recent Kaiser Health News story reported that vitamin D testing has become a huge business for commercial labs — and an enormous expense for taxpayers. Doctors ordered more than 10 million vitamin D tests for Medicare patients in 2016 — an increase of 547 percent since 2007 — at a cost of $ 365 million.

“It’s time to stop it,” said Rosen of vitamin D testing. “There’s no justification.”

Dr. JoAnn Manson, the study’s lead author, agrees that her results don’t support screening healthy people for vitamin D deficiency.

But she doesn’t see her study as entirely negative.

Manson notes that her team found no serious side effects from taking either fish oil or vitamin D supplements.

“If you’re already taking fish oil or vitamin D, our results would not provide a clear reason to stop,” Manson said.

Manson notes that a deeper look into the data suggested possible benefits.

When researchers singled out heart attacks — rather than the rate of all serious heart problems combined — they saw that fish oil appeared to reduce heart attacks by 28 percent, Manson said. As for vitamin D, it appeared to reduce cancer deaths — although not cancer diagnoses — by 25 percent.

But slicing the data into smaller segments — with fewer patients in each group — can produce unreliable results, said Dr. Barnett Kramer, director of the cancer prevention division at the National Cancer Institute. The links between fish oil and heart attacks — and vitamin D and cancer death — could be due to chance, Kramer said.

Experts agree that vitamin D is important for bone health. Researchers didn’t report on its effect on bones in these papers, however. Instead, they looked at areas where vitamin D’s benefits haven’t been definitely proven, such as cancer and heart disease. Although preliminary studies have suggested vitamin D can prevent heart disease and cancer, more rigorous studies have disputed those findings.

Manson and her colleagues plan to publish data on the supplements’ effects on other areas of health in coming months, including diabetes, memory and mental functioning, autoimmune disease, respiratory infections and depression.

Consumers who want to reduce their risk of cancer and heart disease can follow other proven strategies.

“People should continue to focus on known factors to reduce cancer and heart disease: Eat right, exercise, don’t smoke, control high blood pressure, take a statin if you are high risk,” said Dr. Alex Krist, a professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kaiser Health News

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Rescue cat detected Oregon woman’s breast cancer, owner says

When one Oregon woman rescued a cat from a local humane society, she never thought her own life would be saved.

Michelle Pierson says her feline Mia noticed a lump that ended up being breast cancer and that the early detection has given her a better shot.

The 48-year-old, who’s still fighting the…

Life Style – New York Daily News

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Early risers ‘less likely to develop breast cancer’

Women who are considered morning people are less likely to develop breast cancer than those who have more energy in the evenings, according to researchers.
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Who is Victoria Derbyshire? BBC TV host and ex Radio 5 Live presenter who has battled breast cancer

VICTORIA Derbyshire is a journalist who presents her own BBC current affairs programme.

Here’s everything you need to know about the broadcaster who won her battle against breast cancer…

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Victoria Derbyshire breast cancer diary showed her journey with chemotherapy. She admitted that losing her hair was worse than having a mastectomy[/caption]

Who is Victoria Derbyshire?

Victoria Derbyshire was October 2, 1968, in Lancashire.

She attended Bury Grammar School for Girls before studying English language at the University of Liverpool.

She then took a post-graduate degree in TV and radio journalism at Preston Polytechnic (now the University of Central Lancashire).

Victoria had a tough childhood, and has claimed that her father was abusive to her, her mother, and her younger brother and sister.

PA:Press Association

She thanked viewers for their ‘tremendous messages’ as she returned to work after having a mastectomy following a diagnosis for breast cancer[/caption]

What is Victoria Derbyshire’s background?

Her journalism career began as a local radio presenter before she joined BBC Radio 5 Live in 1998.

In this role she presented the breakfast show alongside Julian Worricker. The programme won Gold Sony awards in 1998 and 2002.

Following a break for maternity leave, Victoria then presented a morning show with Nicky Campbell.

On this show she famously fled the studio in tears, mid-news bulletin, after a falling-out during an interview she’d had with, then Home Secretary, David Blunkett in 2003.

She has also done a variety of TV shows such as Watchdog and Sports Talk on Channel 4.

She has covered some of the biggest global stories such as 9/11, the Paris Concorde crash, general elections, World Cups and Olympic Games.

Getty Images

Hosting How Should I Vote? – The EU Debate at The Briggait on May 26, 2016, in Glasgow[/caption]

In 2009 her BBC Radio 5 Live programme became the first live show broadcast from Zimbabwe, following President Mugabe’s lifting of restrictions on international journalists.

It made history twice more when it became the first to broadcast live from an abortion clinic in 2012, and later that year from an animal testing laboratory.

Now she presents her own daily news and current affairs programme on BBC Two.

When did Victoria Derbyshire have breast cancer?

In 2015 she announced via Twitter that she had breast cancer, and then recorded video diaries of her battle with the disease.

The vlogs detailed everything about her cancer treatment from chemo and radiotherapy to her eventual mastectomy.

In May 2017 she finished her treatment and got the all clear.

Speaking to the BBC she said: “Obviously I never want [the cancer to reoccur], I never want to go through chemotherapy again ever, I just do not want it to come back…

“I just want this to have been a blip and get on with my life, my kids’ life, my partner’s life, my family’s future.”

In March 2018 she raised awareness of the illness when she bared all for ITV’s The Real Full Monty in March 2018.

 

 

TV and Showbiz – latest celebrity news, gossip, photos, TV and film reviews | The Sun

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Novartis drug cut death risk by 35 percent in gene mutation breast cancer

An experimental cancer drug that Novartis hopes will raise the profile of its oncology portfolio cut the risk of death or disease progression by more than a third in breast cancer patients with a hard-to-target gene mutation.


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New Alexa tool helps women check for signs of breast cancer

Still don’t know what to look out for when it comes to breast cancer? Fear not because leading charity Breast Cancer Care has teamed up with Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa to share potentially life-saving information on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. Alexa will now be able to guide women through a breast check,…
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Roche takes on Loxo, Bayer in gene-defined cancer class

Roche’s entrectinib cancer pill was shown to shrink tumors in 57 percent of patients within a group that can only be identified via genetic profiling, as the Swiss drugmaker challenges an alliance of Bayer and Loxo Oncology in a new targeted treatment area.


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Grief Kills, Marijuana 2.0, Cancer Risk In Tall People

“Grief is itself a medicine”, said William Cowper, a popular English poet. But for some, it can prove fatal. In this week’s “Did you know?” column, we are presenting interesting findings about the impact of grief on human health, Marijuana 2.0 in the making, and link between height and cancer risk.
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AstraZeneca’s Lynparza shown to put brakes on ovarian cancer

An AstraZeneca drug that blocks a cancer cell’s ability to repair its genetic code greatly reduced the risk of ovarian cancer worsening in a phase III trial, underpinning its lead against two U.S. rivals in the same class.


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‘Weed the People’ Explores Medical Marijuana for Kids With Cancer

Marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, is growing more mainstream. Medical marijuana is now legalized in a majority of states, and 62% of Americans support legalizing it outright — but in the political realm, the plant has long been controversial.

Now, a new documentary called Weed the People, which opens in some theaters in October, explores the potential of medical marijuana for childhood cancers and the regulatory hurdles facing people who want to use cannabis. The film, which was executive produced by former talk-show host Ricki Lake, follows five families using cannabis oils to treat pediatric cancers. Some of the children used cannabis alongside treatments like chemotherapy, while others turned to the drug after conventional treatments had failed.

Lake became interested in medical marijuana when her late ex-husband, Christian Evans, began researching cannabidiol (CBD) — a compound in marijuana that does not cause a high —for his own health issues, including chronic pain and ADHD. (Evans died by suicide last year.) The two met a young girl with a tumor disorder whose family was desperate to get her off chemotherapy, and they helped connect her with a doctor who specializes in medical marijuana. Lake and her production partner, director Abby Epstein, were inspired to find other families in similar situations and tell their stories on screen. They made Weed the People to explore the potential of medical marijuana, and the regulatory challenges families and researchers must overcome to use it.

“I want to get people seeing it as a medicine, seeing what it was able to do for these children, and fight for this medicine to be available to everyone who needs it,” Lake says. “It’s a human rights issue.”

The film paints a rosy, anecdotal picture of the effectiveness of cannabis oils; some of the children featured had their tumors shrink substantially or disappear entirely, even if they were using cannabis oils in place of chemotherapy and other conventional treatments. “You can’t say the ‘cure’ word,” Lake says, “but how else do you explain it?”

But the concept is far from proven and could even be dangerous. While there is some evidence that marijuana can ease chronic pain and chemotherapy side effects, the American Cancer Society (ACS) warns that “relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences.” And while some studies have shown that compounds in marijuana can slow growth of or kill tumor cells in animals or lab dishes, evidence in humans — particularly around marijuana oils — is lacking, the ACS says. While conventional treatments like chemotherapy are still the standard, pediatric cancer providers are increasingly voicing their support for the use of medical marijuana, particularly in palliative or end-of-life care when other treatments may not be necessary.

More research is needed to learn about the potential effects and limitations of cannabis-derived medicines for both adult and pediatric cancers. As the families and experts in Weed the People see it, this lack of evidence is precisely the problem — and it’s exacerbated by current regulations around medical marijuana.

Marijuana, like heroin and LSD, is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” But in June, the FDA approved the first drug derived from marijuana, a purified version of CBD called Epidiolex, for kids and adults suffering from two rare forms of epilepsy; the DEA then rescheduled Epidiolex (but not CBD as a whole) to schedule V, the lowest restriction classification for controlled substances. Researchers who wish to study cannabis need a Schedule I drug license and must submit to background checks and site visits from the DEA.

The DEA also only permits one institution, the University of Mississippi, to grow marijuana for study, though DEA spokesperson Melvin Patterson says it is planning to grant additional licenses to other growers, which would “increase access to marijuana for researchers, potentially increase the number of available strains for research, and may foster additional research on marijuana.”

This means scientists are limited to studying only the products and formulations available from the University of Mississippi, which doesn’t include popular consumer products like vapes and edibles, says Dr. Jeff Chen, director of the University of California Los Angeles Cannabis Research Initiative. “At my office at UCLA, I look out my window and I can count two dispensaries that I can see,” Chen says. “We can’t touch that cannabis—not even to understand what’s in it.”

As a result of these challenges, many families who wish to use cannabis, including those in the documentary, are forced to buy it from sources outside the conventional medical system, and must trust that what they’re using is safe. “I just find it absolutely staggering to accept that in this day and age, with the billions of dollars that are spent on cancer research, the medicine we were relying on was made in somebody’s kitchen,” says Angela Smith in the film, whose son, Chico, uses cannabis oils to treat his soft tissue cancer.

Chen, who was not in the film but shares its frustration with current marijuana regulations, became swayed by the medical potential of cannabis compounds early in his career, when he encountered a young patient with epilepsy whose parents were treating her with CBD. Unfamiliar with CBD, Chen and his colleagues almost called Child Protective Services to intervene—until Chen looked into the compound further and saw how much he didn’t know.

“That’s when I realized that science had completely left cannabis in the dark,” Chen says. “It was time for science to step up and really to push on this issue. I felt a duty.” Today, Chen works to understand the health benefits and risks of marijuana and its many compounds, including CBD.

The film also touches on funding challenges associated with marijuana research, an impediment Chen has encountered with his own research. While the government does fund some marijuana research, Chen says the “vast majority” of federal dollars go toward understanding the harms of cannabis, not the potential benefits. Researchers who wish to study how marijuana may improve treatment for conditions ranging from cancer to chronic pain are largely left to find the money themselves, Chen says.

These roadblocks have led many researchers, including those quoted in the film, to call for looser marijuana scheduling, but the DEA denied two such petitions in 2016. Dr. Igor Grant, director of the Center for Medical Cannabis Research at the University of California San Diego, who was not in the film, agrees that current regulations have made research more difficult, and says marijuana probably doesn’t belong in schedule I. But he says he doesn’t believe that the government is actively trying to stifle cannabis research, as many people—including some in Weed the People—have alleged.

Grant says there’s some evidence that the barriers are becoming fewer. His lab recently made history by importing research-approved marijuana from Canada, a move that suggests U.S. researchers may soon have greater access to the plant. That access, combined with lighter regulations from the government, could open new doors, Grant says.

“You would have to both reschedule it and increase the availability of manufacturers,” he says. “This could be a joint effort between states, manufacturers, academia and federal [regulators].”

This type of collaboration is crucial, Lake says, and she hopes her documentary will garner public support for it. “I’m really hoping to reach the people who really have this idea that this drug is bad,” Lake says. “It’s a matter of just changing mindsets and having them fight to have access to this plant. I do believe change is coming.”


Entertainment – TIME

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Roche lands Tecentriq trial win, still trails Merck in lung cancer

Roche’s Tecentriq plus chemotherapy boosted lung cancer patients’ survival by nearly five months, study data released on Monday showed, underscoring benefits of the Swiss group’s immunotherapy but still leaving it trailing a rival’s drug.


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Roche scores win in slowing aggressive type of breast cancer

An immunotherapy cocktail from Roche helped slow an aggressive type of breast cancer where new treatments have proven elusive, offering positive news for the Swiss drugmaker as it chases medicines produced by its rivals.


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Julia Louis-Dreyfus reveals why she went public with her cancer fight

It wouldn’t have been Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ first choice to be so public about her battle with breast cancer.

The former “Seinfeld” star, who completed her final round of chemotherapy in January, explains in a new interview why she opted to open up about her fight against the disease after being…

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Elvis Costello Is Mad as Hell: ‘I’ll Punch the Next Person’ Who Says I’m Struggling With Cancer

Stephen Done

“I know that’s a very attractive headline to say I’ve got cancer, but it’s just not founded in fact,” Elvis Costello insists after I mention a recent story that said he was in remission.

“I’m not going to critique other writers, because I had a very nice conversation with a young man the other day, and 99.9 percent of the article he wrote was really interesting, but he used the word ‘remission’ to describe my health, and therefore his editor decided to put cancer in the headline,” Costello explains, noticeably still upset about the incident. “I’m not in remission because I didn’t have cancer. How could I be in remission? I was relieved of something that may have caused cancer. So out of respect to my friends who recently have lost that particular fight, and to those that continue to have it, of which I have rather too many, I’d rather everyone get the words right.”

In fact, Costello and I had corresponded last summer, and he had claimed then he was fine, if a bit shocked and suitably heartened that anyone cared about his health, even while headlines made it sound as though he was at death’s door after he’d been forced to cancel a string of live shows.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Facebook Live: The Cancer Divide

If you get cancer, how long you live may depend on factors outside of your control: your race or ethnicity. Where you live. Your age. The type of insurance you have.

Although Californians and Americans overall are living longer with cancer, some communities fare better than others. There are many reasons for this cancer divide. Certain groups may not have regular access to doctors or cancer screening. Smoking and physical inactivity play a role, as does exposure to air pollution.

On Friday, Kaiser Health News senior correspondent Anna Gorman discussed cancer disparities with Dr. Kenneth Kizer, a University of California-Davis professor. Kizer is the director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement, which works with the state Department of Public Health to manage California’s cancer registry.

Survival differs based on race and ethnicity, geography and income, Kizer said during the discussion.

“Overall, as a blanket statement, people who are poor and economically challenged do less well than people who are not in that situation,” he said.

Kizer explained that many factors influence how long people live with cancer, including whether they have access to cancer screening and high-quality treatments. Having health insurance increases the odds of getting better care, he said.

“However, it’s not that simple, because not all health insurance is the same,” he added. “So, the better health insurance you can get the … more likely you’ll end up in a place where you can get evidence-based treatment.”

To read Gorman’s previous coverage about how Californians with cancer are faring, please click here.


This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, a service of the California Health Care Foundation.

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Tina Turner reveals how she planned for assisted suicide after cancer diagnosis but was saved by her husband’s kidney

TINA TURNER has revealed she was so ill she considered assisted suicide — until her husband saved her life by donating his kidney.

The soul icon fell in love with music producer Erwin Bach, 16 years her junior, in 1985 after suffering years of ill-treatment at the hands of ex-lover Ike.

Tina Turner reveals how she found happiness in her new auto-biography My Love Story
Tina Turner reveals how she found happiness in her new auto-biography My Love Story
Getty – Contributor

Tying the knot 28 years later, the singer says their 2013 wedding was one of the happiest days of her life.

But, in her new autobiography — My Love Story, out later this month — Tina, 78, revealed how she started feeling faint during that day as the party gathered for photos.

It was the first sign of an impending stroke.

Just three months later, she woke up and felt a lightning bolt in her head and right leg.

Tina was married to Ike Turner, suffering domestic abuse and reveals she was beaten on the head by a wooden spoon
Tina was married to Ike Turner, suffering domestic abuse and reveals she was beaten on the head by a wooden spoon
1964 GAB Archive

Tina said: “I tried to speak but I couldn’t get any words out.

I was having a stroke.”

It left Tina unable to walk or use her right arm.

And, to add to her troubles, doctors also found she had high blood pressure which left her kidneys working at just 35 per cent of their normal function.

Yet Tina now admits she “foolishly” scuppered her treatment by ditching her medication and instead turned to homeopathy — a decision which almost cost her her life.

Her homeopath had claimed toxins in the water near her Château Algonquin home in Switzerland were damaging her body, so she set about replacing the water pipes and having the water purified by crystals.

‘I was overwhelmed by the enormity of his offer’

But the blunder sapped her strength, leaving her unable to walk from room-to-room.

Another shock diagnosis, early stage intestinal cancer, led to part of her intestine being removed.

By 2016, Tina’s kidney function was down to 20 per cent, leaving her unable to eat.

Tina admits at one point she thought of assisted suicide — legal in Switzerland — and signed up to be a member of Exit, “just in case”.

Ms Turner here poses with her late son Craig who took his own life
Ms Turner here poses with her late son Craig who took his own life
Facebook

She said: “I think that’s when the idea of my death became a reality for Erwin.

He was very emotional about not wanting to lose me, not wanting me to leave.

“He said he didn’t want another woman, or another life; we were happy and he’d do anything to keep us together.

Then he shocked me.

Erwin Bach and Tina married in 2013 after Mr. Bach proposed three times
Erwin Bach and Tina married in 2013 after Mr. Bach proposed three times
Getty – Contributor

“He said he wanted to give me one of his kidneys.

“I was overwhelmed by the enormity of his offer.”

Tina, who has notched up 200million in record sales, is no stranger to struggle.

Hers has been an extraordinary journey, from being an unwanted child picking cotton in the tiny ­segregated backwater of Nutbush, Tennessee, to years of being too afraid to leave her abusive first husband Ike.

When Tina went on stage the first time with Ike she thought he was 'real ugly'
When Tina went on stage the first time with Ike she thought he was ‘real ugly’
Getty – Contributor

She once said: “My struggle started inside my mother’s womb.

I suffered all the way from childhood right up until the end of Ike.

“What kept me on course was me, it was something I was born with.”

In July this year, that strength was tested again.

After she left Ike her career stalled buy then the album Private Dance launched her into the mainstream
After she left Ike her career stalled buy then the album Private Dance launched her into the mainstream
not known check with features

As the chart queen posed for photographers on the red carpet outside a fashion show in Paris, her eldest son Craig, 59, was in Los Angeles, about to turn a gun on himself.

Eight days later, Tina posted a picture of herself scattering her boy’s ashes off the coast of California, accompanied by the words: “My saddest moment as a mother.”

Tina, who was born Anna Mae Bullock, was just 18 years old when she gave birth to Craig in 1958.

She was determined to be a good mother, having been deserted by her own mum Zelma at ten.

Her father left three years later.

Tina performed with Mick Jagger in Live aid to sold out crowds in 1985
Tina performed with Mick Jagger in Live aid to sold out crowds in 1985
Rex Features

The baby’s father was the ­saxophonist in a band she became obsessed with after moving to St Louis, Missouri.

Its frontman was Ike Turner.

One night when she was in the audience, he invited her on stage and, wowed by her voice, later asked her to tour with them.

There was no romantic attraction initially.

Tina has performed at the Grammy's a number of times including sharing the stage with Beyonce in 2008
Tina has performed at the Grammy’s a number of times including sharing the stage with Beyonce in 2008
AP:Associated Press

It was only when she was trying to escape the advances of another musician she found herself in Ike’s bed — even though she knew then: “He wasn’t right for me”. ­

In 1960, the pair had son Ronnie.

Two years later they wed.

In 1966, they hit the big time with single River Deep Mountain High, which hit No3 in the UK.

Ms Turner's singing career began with Ike but after leaving him she became a household name
Ms Turner’s singing career began with Ike but after leaving him she became a household name
AP:Associated Press

More hits followed, along with the first of Tina’s eight Grammy awards.

But at home, she was nothing but a punchbag for cocaine addict Ike.

Describing the first beating at his hands, she recalled: “It was against the head, always against the head.”

But it was not until July 1976 that she finally fled with just 36 cents in her pocket.

Tina performed with Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Tina performed with Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Corbis – Getty

For a few years, her career stalled — but then in 1984 came her solo album Private Dancer.

The album sold 20million copies and gave her her first US No1 ­single with What’s Love Got To Do With It.

In 1985 she starred in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome with Mel Gibson — the same year she met German-born record executive Erwin, after he picked her up at an airport.

Tina recalled: “My heart was going da-dum.


I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is love at first sight.’”

They have been together since. The secret, according to Tina, is simple. She noted a few years ago: “What’s love got to do with it? A lot!”

TV and Showbiz – latest celebrity news, gossip, photos, TV and film reviews | The Sun

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Tamara Tunie shares heartfelt dedication to breast cancer awareness

One look at Tamara Tunie’s resume and you wonder when she sleeps. The TV veteran isn’t a household name, but she’s quietly become one of the most prolific actresses in Hollywood — appearing, in the past year alone, in “Blue Bloods” (CBS), “Dietland” and “Better Call Saul” (both on AMC) and the BBC’s “Black Earth…
Entertainment | New York Post

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Why Sandra Lee kept cameras rolling during her cancer treatment

At the opening of Sandra Lee’s new documentary, she confronts her own harsh, new reality. “You actually have breast cancer. Cancer,” the 52-year-old says, sounding incredulous. “That word will put the fear of God in you like you’ve never felt before. But you don’t realize what that feels like inside your body until it’s about…
Entertainment | New York Post

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Black Women Face High Risk, Dangers And Death Rates With Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October presents another opportunity to spread information about the disease and how it affects Black women. The disease is responsible for a high death rate in women of color, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer despite doctors diagnosing the disease in African-American and white women at about the same rate, the CDC reported. Also, Black women are more often found to have triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive type that frequently returns after treatment.

Age is also a big factor: breast cancer incidence rates were higher among African-American women younger than 60 years old but lower among those who are 60 or older.

One reason for this statistic could be that medical professionals tend to find this cancer at an earlier stage in white women.  Also, Black women may have inadequate medical care, including limited access to cancer screening technology.

Doctors encourage women, especially those at high risk due to a family history or having BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, to get out ahead of the disease. Early detection measures such as mammograms and screenings are strongly recommended. Women can visit local hospitals that offer low-cost mammograms or call their local American Cancer Society chapter for help with screenings or doctor referrals.

In addition, researchers continue to look into why some women are more susceptible to triple-negative breast cancer, in order to find better treatment options.

Women can also choose a healthier lifestyle for a better chance of lowering risks for the disease. BreastCancer.org recommends exercise, a nutritious diet and avoiding smoking and alcohol as important in the battle against breast cancer — one that many women can win regardless of race.

Many women are speaking out to spread awareness about breast cancer and helping women to fight it. Serena Williams posted a powerful message about the disease recently.

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Managing Your Career Through Breast Cancer

As we recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am reminded of the story of a woman I met a decade ago who serves as an excellent example of how to maintain your career, dignity, and mental well-being as you face this challenge.

In June of 2005, Hannah Burns was managing director of corporate communications at Lehman Bros., and fulfilling one of her major responsibilities: getting the company’s quarterly earnings results out to the public. As the numbers were being released, Burns set up a meeting with her boss – he believed she was going to update him on the media’s coverage of the data. Instead, she had to deliver a far more difficult story.

“I’ve got good news, and bad news,” she told him. “The good news is that it’s early and very treatable, the bad news is that I have breast cancer.”

Burns describes herself as a private person, but she went straight to her boss’s office when her doctor delivered the news over the phone. “Being in my function I couldn’t just disappear and not tell anybody. I just wanted to get it off of my chest and move on. It was an easy conversation. He was incredibly sympathetic, and shocked.”

The fact that this mother of two daughters had her disease detected early had her believing that she would be able to “get it off of her chest and move on.” The next few months, however, would prove to be a physical and emotional challenge that she could not have imagined.

Three weeks later, there was the surgery, which was followed by a rigorous four-month period of chemotherapy, bone marrow shots, and then seven weeks of radiation.

In a feat that can be described as nothing short of heroic, aside from a one week recovery period after surgery, Burns only missed one day of work throughout her entire four months of treatments.

“In addition to wanting to teach my daughters a lesson on how to work through adversity, the firm was so supportive that I wanted to do my absolute best to show my gratitude,” says Burns. “The firm said do whatever you need to do to get well. Knowing you’ve got that support is half the battle.”

Not only did Lehman provide Burns with inspiration, but the firm also gave her the flexibility to work through her challenge. She had her treatments on Wednesdays, did not have to return to work, and she was able to come in late on Thursday’s. Burns says her worst side effects set in on Friday afternoons, and Lehman allowed her to leave in the afternoon. The company also provided her with car service to and from the office throughout the entire ordeal.

breast cancer

(Image: iStock.com/Tagore75)

What to Do if This Happens to You

One of the many things Burns has taught me was that not everyone–not even corporate giants like Lehman Bros.– have all the answers. She simply had to tap into her courage and give the company a blueprint to help her best navigate this challenge. Otherwise, her boss may not have known what to do and there may have been a different result.

If you find yourself trying to work through this situation, here are some tips that may help:

1. Talk to your doctor before your employer

You need to know what you can expect physically and psychologically so that you can be clear about your needs to your employer. That way you can come to your boss with a clear plan of action. Burns, for example, purposely scheduled her treatments on Wednesday’s. That way she would have the weekend to recover when the worst of the side effects hit about 48 hours later. She knew she would need Friday afternoons off.

“Work is a very important part of a women’s life, and if she can continue to work, she’s going to do better,” says Dr. Ruth Oratz, renowned oncologist and associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “But they need to be flexible, and realize that they may have to make some changes.” Oratz adds that work is not going to be an option for all women.

2. Be true to yourself when talking to your boss

“How much you tell your boss depends on your own personal style,” according to Kate Sweeney, co-founder of Cancer and Careers. “If you have an open relationship, be open. If not, just present the situation, and tell them what you will need.” Also, if you have an open relationship with your co-workers, you will likely want to share details of your recovery. If you’re more private you may just want to say “I’m doing fine,” and don’t be afraid to leave it at that.”

3. Find out what your company has done with employees in this situation in the past

This is particularly true when it comes to leave and benefits. You are trying to determine if former policies will work for you. Suppose, for example, you want to work from home, yet you find out this has not been allowed. You want to be able to bring that up to your boss, as something you will need. Maybe your company has never been in this situation before. You need to find out if it is going to be up to you to guide them, when it comes to helping you remain as productive as possible.

4. Know your legal rights

In the U.S., for example, people with cancer are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act which gives you rights in the workplace. In addition, protection is provided under the Family Medical Leave Act, which provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year. The weeks do not have to be taken consecutively. Human resources departments can be a great resource when it comes to knowing your legal rights. They can also be of great help with your insurer. A company calling on your behalf will likely have a lot more leverage with an insurance firm than you calling as an individual.

5. Pay attention to how you feel

If you take time off for treatments, you can expect to have a lot of mixed emotions as you transition from patient back to employee. If you don’t feel psychologically up to speed, you may want to seek out some counseling, or attend workshops and seminars to refresh your work skills. Physically, take a look at your work space. Tell your employer if it needs to be redesigned with something like back support.

 


Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Oct. 1, 2018. It originally published on Feb. 4, 2016.

The post Managing Your Career Through Breast Cancer appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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