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HealthPerks Newsletter for September 2013

Living Well After a Serious Illness

For the nearly 14 million cancer survivors living in the U.S., adjusting to life after a life-threatening illness can be a struggle. Most people are anxious to move on and embrace life fully after enduring months of treatment and uncertainty. But the end of treatment doesn’t always mean an immediate return to life the way it was prior to cancer. In fact, the recovery can often taken longer than the treatment.

If you or a loved one is recovering from cancer or another serious illness, patience, realistic expectations, and a good attitude can all help. And living a full and rewarding life may be easier if you keep these things in mind:

  • Find a healthy way to manage stress. Finishing treatments and moving on is exciting, but it can also be very stressful. A relaxing bath, meditation, soothing music, or a short stroll outside can help reduce stress and promote healing.
  • Expect to feel a wide range of emotions as you ease back into your life. Fear, anger and resentment are as common as relief, joy, and happiness. A counselor or therapist can help you recognize and respond to your feelings appropriately.
  • Be open and honest in your communications with your family and friends. Your illness has affected them as well, and they may be uncertain how to support you once your treatment has ended. Talk to them about what kind of support you need, and allow them to share in the joy as you regain your health.
  • Maintain – or even expand – your support network. While family and close friends may have provided care during your treatment period, now is the time to nurture and build your social connections as well.
  • Remember that you are still the same person. You may have changed your outlook, but you’ll still have many of the same problems -- and opportunities – as you did before your illness. How you handle them is the real difference.
  • Look for the positive every day. You know more than ever what’s important, so let go of the small negative things that are dragging you down. You’ll be surprised how insignificant some of them may seem in just a few days.
  • Make health and well being a top priority. Eating a balanced and colorful diet, getting plenty of quality sleep, pursuing hobbies, spending time with the people you love, and taking time to laugh will help ensure that you are living every day to the fullest.

See how others have survived serious illnesses and are now back to living their lives here. Share your own story of overcoming illness and inspire others by participating in our “El Camino Hospital and Me” project. Learn more.

Senior Medicine Safety Tips

Medicine can improve quality of life by managing pain, fighting infection, and slowing the progression of chronic conditions. Most people will take more medications as they age, with the goal of living and functioning at optimal levels longer. But the same medications that save and enhance lives can also endanger them if safety precautions aren’t followed.

Seniors – or those at any age taking medication regularly – can make sure they take medications safely and effectively by following these tips:

  • Keep a list of all medications (over-the-counter, herbal and Eastern remedies as well as prescription) that you take, and make sure your doctor has that updated information at every visit. It’s especially important to share this information with when visiting a clinic or a new doctor.
  • Ask for specific information about why a medication is being prescribed, what it is intended to do, and how long you must take it.
  • Make sure you understand how to take any new medications your doctor may prescribe. Ask the pharmacist to confirm how much you should take, when you should take it, and if you should take it with food.
  • Ask your doctor about any potential side effects you should watch for, or any precautions you should take with new medications.
  • When picking up your prescription, verify that the medication name and directions match the information from your doctor.
  • Keep the medication in its original container. Ask the pharmacy to use an easy-open container or to use a large print label if necessary.
  • Use a pill organizer to help you remember to take the right pills at the right time – and avoid missed doses.
  • Dispose of expired medications or medications you no longer need (with doctor’s approval only).
  • Never take medication that wasn’t prescribed for you. Consult with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter, vitamin, or herbal supplements.

The Senior Health Program at El Camino Hospital has primary care physicians (PCPs) that can help you safely manage your medication needs. To find a physician, call 800-216-5556 for a referral today.

Why Teal is the Color of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all women’s cancer, and more than 22,000 women are diagnosed with it every year. With early detection, the survival rate is 93%. But 75% of all cases are diagnosed at the advanced stage, after it has spread beyond the ovaries. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to detect ovarian cancer in the early, more curable stages. There is no screening test, and symptoms are often vague and easy to dismiss. That’s why September is “Teal Toes” month. Paint your toenails a vibrant shade of teal to serve as a reminder to yourself and others that these early symptoms of ovarian cancer can’t be ignored:
  • Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain
  • Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Changes in bladder habits
  • Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Low back pain

If you experience symptoms for two weeks or more, contact your physician immediately, or call 800-216-5556 to be referred to an El Camino Hospital affiliated physician.

And to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer, Women’s Health Services at El Camino Hospital was proud to sponsor the 3rd Annual Toasting to Teal fundraiser Sunday, Sept. 22nd.

Download a delicious vegetarian chili recipe.

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