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Diagnosed at 25: A Young Survivor’s Story.

FP_kwagnon

FemmePharma is excited to partnering with Living Beyond Breast Cancer for their upcoming Yoga On The Steps Event May 18th and in future endeavors.

Check out our guest blog “Diagnosed at 25: A Young Survivor’s Story”.

Diagnosed at 25: A Young Survivor’s Story.
By Kristen Dunleavy

“Think about life in your 20s for a minute. It’s a decade of learning, growing, falling down and getting back up – often more than once. It’s a hopeful, exciting time when you’re just getting the hang of this crazy thing we call adulthood.

Katy Wagnon was a typical 25-year-old. At the time, she was living in Arizona with her boyfriend of four years. She had a steady job and was perfectly content with the life she’d created for herself.

When Katy discovered a lump on her breast in the shower, she initially brushed it off. Like any good procrastinator, she decided to wait it out to see if it went away on its own. Katy had a co-worker around her age who had been diagnosed with breast cancer six months earlier – but there was no way that’s what this was!

Still, Katy kept this thought in the back of her head. When the lump didn’t go away, she made a doctor’s appointment to have it checked out. A mammogram and a few biopsies later, Katy was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer.

The diagnosis on its own was a punch in the gut – adapting to life with cancer was another story altogether.

“All of my friends were in their 20s and couldn’t understand what I was going through,”Katy said. “They were going out to bars, and I was at home with my boyfriend, always in-between chemo and surgery.”

The first surgery Katy endured was supposed to clear everything out – but it didn’t. It turned out that the cancer was further along than her doctors initially suspected, and she would require chemotherapy.

So Katy got a second opinion. Then a third. She eventually landed on a doctor in Tucson that made her feel at ease. At the age of 25, Katy went through a double mastectomy, with her reconstruction beginning that same day.

Katy now thinks of her experience as a blessing in disguise. While it was difficult to relate to other 20-somethings, Katy found plenty of support in her parents, grandmother and her boyfriend who is now her husband.

“In the end, it turned out to be an awesome experience,”Katy said. “Nothing is too big of a challenge for me now because I’ve been to hell and back. For anyone who is going through it now, know that it will get better.”

As young women like Katy know all too well, finding support in the wake of such a diagnosis isn’t easy, and sometimes it can feel like you’re totally alone. But that simply isn’t true.

In fact, that’s why Femme Pharma exists. With the mission of improving the health and quality of life for women through superior therapeutics, Femme Pharma has your back – and the backs of millions of women like Katy nationwide.

Gerianne Tringali DiPiano founded the company in 1996 to better address women’s healthcare needs, specifically in the areas of diseases and disorders. Ever since then, the company has been an advocate for all women, working to develop new treatment methods that promote healing across a broad range of therapeutic categories. Today, Femme Pharma is the go-to women’s health resource and community.

FemmePharma is enthusiastic about working with the women of LBBC; since both organizations’ missions and visions are very much aligned. We share the passionate mission of improving the quality of life and understanding how to accomplish that goal for women survivors of breast cancer.

And Katy knows this better than anyone – she’s FemmePharma’s graphic designer!

For more information about FemmePharma, visit FemmePharma.com.”

You can also read the article posted on Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s blog at: www.livingbeyondbc.wordpress.com

Understanding Food Labels

NutritionLabel
Over the last few days, I had the pleasure of traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in nutrition policy work. Nutrition policy can be quite daunting. It is hard enough for us to know how to figure out the food rules that dictate our daily lives (“Eat this, don’t eat that”). One item governed by nutrition policy that may be present in your life, many times a day, is the food label. The label can be helpful in meeting your goals, whether you are aiming to increase, decrease, or just be aware of your intake of a number of nutrients.

Share with us!
Do you use the food label to help you decide what to eat?
a. Yes, I don’t eat anything until I have analyzed it!
b. Sometimes, it depends how I am feeling that day.
c. No, I don’t want to know!
d. No, there’s a label on foods?

Tell us, what is the first thing you look for on the label?

Is there anything you find confusing about the label and if so, what is it?

For those of you who answered EVERYTHING, here’s a few tips on reading the Nutrition Facts Label:

  • Notice how many calories are in the product you are choosing. Use a food tracker, such as the SuperTracker (https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/foodtracker.aspx) to compare what you are eating to recommendations personalized for you.
  •  Compare labels to choose foods lower in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and higher in fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
  •  Take a look at the ingredients, which have to be listed in descending order. If you see sugar (or syrup) listed first, you know that the product has more sugar than any other ingredient.
  •  When buying cereals, crackers, pastas, and other carbohydrate rich foods, look for items that have whole grains (whole grain wheat flour, whole grain oats, etc.) as the first ingredient and more grams of fiber.
  •  Choose items lower in trans fats. Even if the label says 0 g of trans fat, look for partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients list to see if there are hidden trans fats.

Enjoy your day!
Emily

The Magical Age of the Mammogram

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The debate rages over the “magical age of the mammogram”.  The media fuels concerns by making statements about the risks of mammography for young women.  It’s been reported that radiation exposure, stress of “over-diagnosis”, biopsy and the period waiting for results, creates overwhelming anxiety for women.  There is no question all of this is stressful.  However, as a young breast cancer survivor I find this reporting infuriating.  I was only 25 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and luckily, my doctor did send me to get a mammogram instead of telling me “don’t worry, it’s nothing; you are too young”.  Luckily, my cancer was caught early and I underwent conservative treatment to increase the probability of success.

My experience compels me to encourage women to have a mammogram, if warranted, regardless of age, and proceed with further diagnostic tests if necessary. It’s far better to know the results, good or bad, than wait until the “magical age of mammogram”, (in my case it would have been 25 years later if I followed the recommendations) where the outcome/treatment options are likely to be far more aggressive and the prognosis worse. Through my own treatment, support groups, and general awareness, I’ve learned that breast cancer is no longer an older woman’s disease. No, not every twenty five year old woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer, but unfortunately an increasing number of women under the age of 40 are being diagnosed everyday. I guess the lesson from all of this is do what YOU think is best for YOU.

Here are my personal recommendations:

Do your self -exams every month!
Trust your instincts.
Talk with a trusted doctor especially if you have a family history.
Obtain a second opinion.

Early detection is the key to survival. A breast cancer diagnosis is no longer a death sentence especially if it’s found early.

-Katy

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month! Thus, advice columns and advertisements on what to eat and what to avoid are as plentiful as the forbidden indulgences on a Sunday brunch buffet. As we celebrate nutrition as a nation and attempt to digest all the news, it is important that we leave room to consider our individuality when it comes to food. What is your food style? How does the way you nourish yourself reflect who you are?

I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to enjoy my young children, tend to a home, work with FemmePharma, and volunteer with other professional organizations—all at once. You could say that I like to pack things in, which means that I strive to be efficient in all that I do! When I take a moment to contemplate my eating patterns, I see that same tendency towards efficiency in the foods that I choose. Fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants such as dark leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale, and broccoli), berries, sweet potatoes, and all colors and varieties of peppers, squash, melons, tomatoes, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, bananas—they are all the mainstays of my meals and snacks. Of course, there’s always green tea and dark chocolate, super dark for me, with health promoting properties as the added bonus to the pure enjoyment!

Why does it help to know how your food style reflects who you are? So that you can draw on your strengths when you need a little direction. For me, taking time to be aware of what I am eating can point out that here and there I may have slipped into some less-than-ideal food habits. I can use this to remind myself that I like to be efficient, to pack in the activities I enjoy and the foods that are nutrient-dense, those that offer the most nutrients per calorie.

Take some time this National Nutrition Month:

–        Celebrate the things about yourself that you like the most;

–        Be aware of what you choose to eat and consider how it helps to nourish you and support your lifestyle;

–        Consider the benefits of a healthy diet full of nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, and lean protein;

–        Let your individuality guide you toward a healthy diet that reduces your risk for chronic disease and improves your health and wellness!

Enjoy your day!
Emily

Highs and Lows: One woman’s story.

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At 21 Susan became pregnant, married the father of her child, and gained 55 pounds with her pregnancy.  She was elated to have been blessed with a child and concluded the pounds would come off as she breast fed her baby, and attended to household chores.  Three years and two more pregnancies later, and Susan had not shed much “baby weight”; in fact, her weight had hit an all time “high”.  With three babies and all of the challenges of motherhood she had no time for herself.   Susan was always tired, stressed out, and hungry even though she seemed to eat constantly.  She placed her “cute” clothes in a trunk and went for the “stretchy pants, and oversized sweatshirts.  They became her uniform.

Susan was at an all time low.  She felt unattractive, old, and she was bored with her routine.  Susan’s husband could see his partner deteriorating, and suggested she start taking time off beginning with a visit to the local nail salon for a pedicure. Although the appearance of her swollen feet, varicose veins, and ugly overgrown toenails horrified her, she put on her “big girl pants” and made the move. It was only short “vacation” but she desperately needed a break.  As the nail technician began to do her work, she noticed that Susan had a sore on her big toe; it was very infected.  Susan said she had injured her foot at least one month ago but hadn’t noticed or felt the pain of the sore.  The technician was concerned, stopped the pedicure, and recommended Susan see a podiatrist. Angry and frustrated, she had to abandon the idea of the relaxing pedicure.  Instead, she decided to treat herself to lunch at a local pub.  She did call a podiatrist!

(Fast forward) Susan’s podiatrist learned she had had other sores that had not healed, she was fatigued, had excessive thirst, she was experiencing vaginal infections, and waking during the night to go to the bathroom.  He suspected type2 diabetes and suggested Susan see her physician for diagnostic tests.  Susan was concerned; her Mom had diabetes and had developed a series of complications resulting in her death.

Nearly 79 million adults are at risk for developing diabetes.  If left untreated it can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, amputation, and death. Susan’s symptoms are consistent with the symptoms some women experience as early warning signs of diabetes but it’s important to routinely check your blood sugar and have other diagnostic tests such as the hemoglobin A1C test.

With proper diet and exercise diabetes can be prevented.  If diagnosed with diabetes, there are tools that may prevent the disease from progressing.  Susan started by making adjustments in her diet including increasing the amount of protein she consumed and decreasing her carbohydrate and fat consumption.  She began walking with her children to and from the bus stop and then walking around the track at her local high school.  After one year she’s back at an all time low; she is ten pounds lighter than her pre-pregnancy weight.

Sex shouldn’t be a “pain”

No Pain

Boomer women aren’t shy about their sexuality or are they?  We were the generation that had access to various means of birth control; we were liberated, emancipated, and freer than our Mothers?  Unfortunately, we won’t ask for what we want and need when it comes to sex.

I’m talking about vulvovaginal atrophy that affects 20% to 45% of women beginning in midlife and older.  Yes, it is a medical condition AND it doesn’t mean you are somehow inadequate or unsexy! It’s the result of lower levels of estrogen during menopause and the symptoms include itching, dryness, (sometimes women will also have the urge to go to the bathroom more often and with greater urgency), and painful sex.  Just when you threw your birth control out the window and you were looking forward to having sex with wanton abandon**, there’s the issue of pain. In fact, less than 25% of women with the symptom of pain during sex will discuss it; not even with their physician.   Instead they avoid having sex, or if they do have it may come with tearing, bleeding, and discomfort.   Sex is supposed to be pleasurable.  Time to confront the issue and start living life again.

What to do?

  1. Ask for help
  2. Check into non-hormonal lubricants and moisturizers;
    I’m personally not a fan of hormones
  3. iscuss this with your partner
  4. The cliché of use it or lose it is true
  5. Check out Jeffrey Osborne’s “Baby Stay with Me Tonight”
  6. When sex is FUN again, you’ll be “surfing in bed” again and again

**Important: Please practice safe sex. Unprotected sex may lead to sexually transmitted diseases including transmission of the HIV virus.

And, this is TMI for my daughter, so I hope she isn’t reading my blog.

Take good care,
G

A Woman with a Mission

woman Gerie

 

 

 

My entire career has been in healthcare, largely with the multinational prescription pharmaceutical companies.  After two decades, a lot of soul searching, and the birth of my one and only daughter, I decided to leave the security of BIG PHARMA to launch FemmePharma.  It may sound “campy” but as the Mom of a daughter, I wanted her legacy and that of other young women to be different.   As I reflect on the reaction of friends and colleagues, I have to laugh out loud; they were curious as to why I would elect to pursue the “niche” of women’s health.    Really?   Let’s see, women are the largest cohort of the population, they are responsible for 70% of the buying decisions, and they control household spending.  Sadly, however, our healthcare needs have been virtually ignored by the industry.   I was, and AM determined to change all of that!

FemmePharma has been in business for 17 years developing products for diseases and disorders affecting women; it is our passionate mission.  We believe in women and the absolute right to demand more than they have received in safeguarding their health.

I am happy to announce the launch of our Consumer Health Company; it’s an opportunity to interact with YOU, the woman consumer DIRECTLY, and to provide you with products to support you now and as you may face healthcare challenges.  Our consumer products do not require a prescription, and will be available to you online through our online specialty store.  We hope your connection with us will be fun, easy, discreet, and will provide you with a community to share your story with other women.   The FEMMEPHARMA WOMAN is strong, healthy, and empowered and will not be defined by age, disease, or condition.  FEMMEPHARMA IS FOR YOU!

I look forward to working with you and hearing from you.

Take good care,
“G”

Health and Happiness in the New Year!

new year

The FemmePharma Woman guards her health; in fact, she is ferocious about maintaining the healthiest lifestyle possible for herself and for her loved ones. It should be obvious that you cannot be there for your loved ones if you have not been fastidious about your health care needs.

Yes, I know, you’re pulled in all directions and some days you don’t know if you took the time to “breathe”.  BUT it’s time to pick up that calendar and plot out the year for your physical and “age appropriate” diagnostic tests. Tackle each one. If you’re terrified take a friend or loved one.  You may have to pay “dearly’ for making someone sit in the doctor’s office while you get poked and prodded so better think about  “pay back”…..

As you receive an “unremarkable finding” celebrate with your friends and family members and be grateful. (YAHOO).

If there is a challenge to be faced the sooner it’s confronted the higher the probability you and your practitioners can address it and hopefully resolve it.  Don’t worry either; worry is useless! Conserve your energy and attitude and fight for your health.

January:

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.  Remember to schedule that Pap Test.
What is cervical cancer?
It’s cancer that begins in the cervix; at the “upper end” of the vaginal canal.
What causes cervical cancer?
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.  Often referred to as “genital warts”.
How many women are diagnosed with cervical cancer?
The National Cancer Institute (NCI), estimates that 12,300 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013 and over 4,000 will die of the disease.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
There are typically no overt symptoms of the disease but regular Pap tests will be able to identify early pre-cancerous, or cancerous cells.

Early detection is not cliché; it may save your life.