There are “awareness” months for cancer and other diseases, but November brings awareness to the caregivers – those who tend to the needs of their loved ones who are ill and unable to care for themselves.
Sometimes medical professionals are called caregivers, but I’m not referring to them in this post. Caregiver Awareness Month is dedicated to those loving people who do anything from running the occasional errand or cooking a meal to the 24/7 handling of a person in need of assistance. Caregivers put someone else’s needs before their own. It can be heart-warming to give to those you love, but it can also be an overwhelming responsibility.
I mention this because we all know someone who is going through or has gone through the struggle of having breast cancer. This awareness month reminds us of just how many people have coped with this disease that research is trying to understand in order to save more lives. Like my co-worker said: “Cancer is not for sissies.” Chemotherapy, although much improved in the last 15 years, is still a grueling process that knocks most people flat for a few days. By the time they begin to feel better, it is time for another dose of chemotherapy! It is not an easy thing to go through.
Beginning on September 3rd and going through October 2nd we will be at the LA County Fair at the “Our Body” exhibit. You will see actual bodies that have been preserved by using a special plastic solution allowing you the unique educational opportunity to see the inside of a body. Even if you have already seen this fantastic exhibit, plan to see it again! We are partnering with Inter Valley Health Plan and Western University of Health Sciences to bring a “Live Healthy” component to the exhibit this year. Even if you went last year plan on attending again, as the exhibit has new bodies and different organs/systems than were displayed last year.
There will be lots of “Did You Know” facts throughout the exhibit and on many of the days, physicians will be available to talk to you and further explain about the bodies and the individual sections/parts. Physicians and other health care professionals will be speaking on a variety of topics at different times. There will also be a video screen showing “MicroWorld” clips (why our bodies work they way they do) when a speaker isn’t available. There will be so many interesting things to see and a wealth of knowledge to be gained by visiting this exhibit.
I got good news last night when my niece phoned to say is pregnant for the first time. She is in her early 30s and in good health, so everything ought to be fine, right? The truth is, we never know. The importance pre-natal care cannot be under estimated. Finding a doctor that is compatible with you and your wishes and a hospital that offers superb medical care for you and your baby are among the first things she needs to think about. Of course vitamins, good nutrition and exercise are also very important for mom-to-be.
Women in the community are lucky that our Hospital offers so many services and programs for those who are pregnant. In addition to childbirth classes (a series or a one-day), cesarean birth preparation and maternity orientations there are special “Boot Camp” events for Dads and “Big Brother/Big Sister” classes. Since breastfeeding is the natural and most healthy way to feed a baby, we are committed to offering breastfeeding classes. Additionally lactation consultants are available if mom needs some extra help, and our Lactation Center is available for further help after they leave the hospital. And to make sure all the bases are covered, we offer Infant/Child CPR classes to empower new parents and a Safe Sitter class for 11- to 16-year-old boys and girls to teach safe babysitting techniques.
The week of August 1 – 7 has been designated world breastfeeding week so that people can learn and be reminded of the importance of breastfeeding! Many years ago, (1976) I breastfed my first son – wow things were different back then. The nurses didn’t encourage breastfeeding while I was in the hospital, in fact, I had to ask them NOT to give my baby glucose water. By the time my second son was born (1979) not much had changed…but I was more experienced and didn’t need the support that new mom’s should receive. The attitude about breastfeeding was beginning to change in 1982 when my third son was born, but it was still not where we are today in regards to acceptance and knowledge.
Breastfeeding has so many wonderful aspects. In addition to the bonding and loving that comes from breastfeeding a baby; it also may protect a mom against developing breast cancer later in life. It also makes ear infections, type 1 diabetes, diarrhea and certain types of rare childhood cancers less likely for babies. Breastfed babies are 20% less likely to die in the post neonatal period (after 28 days) and the longer a baby is breastfed, the lower the risk. The nutrients found in breast milk are responsible for the growth of a baby’s brain and nervous system. Another great benefit is mom’s who breastfeeding tend to lose more weight than mom’s who do not breastfeed.
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