Useful Apps for Cancer Patients

Baird Apps Cancer

Modern technology can be an amazing tool to help with our daily lives. Today, even cancer patients can find a variety of useful apps to assist in their treatment and recovery by monitoring symptoms, storing data, providing information and support. Of course, nothing can or should take the place of your physician and care team’s advice, but here are a few apps that may help keep and organize your data and assist in other ways as you navigate the course of your illness.

Cancer.net Mobile

Developed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), this app provides easy-to-use tools to help you plan and manage care – from diagnosis through treatment and beyond, and is provided by Cancer.Net. It includes the latest oncologist-approved cancer information.

Pocket Cancer Care Guide

Provided by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the Pocket Cancer Care Guide is an app that allows you to quickly and easily build lists of practical questions used to guide conversations between you and your doctors and nurses. Users can browse hundreds of questions in categories relevant to stages of your cancer diagnosis, build lists of questions to use when talking to your doctor or nurse, link doctor appointments to your lists and automatically add it to your calendar and record and playback your doctor’s or nurse’s answers. There’s also a glossary of medical terms for reference.

My Cancer Coach

This app, by Genomic Health, Inc., is a free mobile app developed in partnership with BreastCancer.org, Men’s Health Network, and Fight Colorectal Cancer. The app provides specific information about personalized cancer treatments to help manage your cancer’s progression. It’s like having ‘Cancer 101’ in your pocket. Questions about your stage of cancer? Should you get surgery? Is radiation necessary? Do you need chemotherapy? Is your cancer metastatic? My Cancer Coach provides easy-to-understand treatment information for breast, prostate, and colon cancer patients and their caregivers.

Create To Heal

This app is brought to you by The Women Wings Foundation Create to Heal (TM) program. It is designed to gently take you from your head into your heart, where the healing process begins. Because stress is the number one contributor to all major diseases, including cancer, the goal of this app is to provide patients with relief from stress through the use of beautiful imagery, sounds and words.

The Create to Heal (TM) guided meditations, music and art have been tested in several hospitals and cancer centers over a period of 5 years, with hundreds of cancer patients, survivors and their families. This app gives patients the tools to continue their creative therapy and stress reduction at home, at work, wherever they are. The app offers 10 music tracks, 4 guided meditations, 36 pieces of art, and 60+ inspirational messages.

My Medical

My Medical is a comprehensive record-keeping app for your personal medical information. The app offers autocompletion and autosuggestion for a wealth of medical jargon, including prescription drug names; vaccinations; common afflictions; life support options; laboratory units; and much more.

In addition, there are areas for emergency contacts, health insurance, doctors’ contact information, and other data that are not strictly part of a traditional personal health record (PHR) are all available. It will put doctor’s appointments and upcoming lab tests on your calendar. You can even set reminder alarms directly from the app, without ever going into your calendar. Finally, the app offers an area for files to be attached to your record. For example, you can add a picture of the pill next to a medication, or a copy of your insurance card alongside a provider’s contact information.

iHealth Log

iHealth Log helps individuals with chronic health issues manage their disease.  All medications and dosages are easily maintained along with important prescription details including a photograph of the medication and physician and pharmacy information.  The diary tracks daily medications and measurements which are critical to disease management.  iHealth Log makes it easy to email lists of medications to schools, summer camps and health care providers and it has reporting capabilities to plot measurement data and send this data via email to the physician.

Patient Follow up – Colleen Mescall

We talked to Colleen Mescall in November of 2015 about her recent image guided tendon treatment to relieve her foot pain. You may remember this video.

We recently caught up with Colleen to ask her how she’s doing today, and how the treatment has made a difference in her life.

How has your activity level changed since having image guided tendon treatment at VCU Health at Baird Vascular Institute? Before, my feet hurt all the time – walking, standing, or getting up from sitting they hurt; I did not really like to walk or stand for a long period, but now I can take walks, go sightseeing ,etc. without having pain or discomfort.

How long did it take you to feel fully recovered? Within 6 months of having both feet done, I noticed I could get out of bed in the morning without the painful first few steps, and now, when walking for long periods, I no longer have any discomfort.

How has your life changed since having the treatment? I am more inclined to go for walks or stand when I teach a class, I have joined a gym and take classes and I can wear heels again (that’s one of the best parts).

Would you have the surgery again if needed? I hope to not have it again, but if I had to do it again I most definitely would.

Would you recommend this treatment to others? Absolutely! And I have recommended it to others.

We’re so glad that Colleen is back in her cute shoes and feeling fantastic. You may be wondering, “Is image-guided treatment right for me?” If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time to discuss our image-guided tendon treatment.

  • Have you given up any activities due to tendon pain?
  • Have you been suffering for three months or longer?
  • Have you taken multiple steps to get rid of your pain without lasting success?
  • Are you tired of masking the pain or enduring it rather than treating it at the source?

Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss whether image-guided treatment is the right option for you.

Understanding Peripheral Artery Disease

The most common type of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is peripheral artery disease (PAD). Like the blood vessels of the heart (coronary arteries), your peripheral arteries (blood vessels outside the heart) also may develop atherosclerosis. Over time, the plaque buildup narrows the artery, causing increased pressure in the blood vessel. Eventually, the inside of the artery narrows so much that it restricts blood flow and less oxygen is delivered to the tissues, causing a condition called ischemia, an inadequate supply of blood that causes tissue damage.

If a fragment of this plaque from any part of the body breaks loose and clogs one of the arteries supplying the heart itself, the result is a heart attack. If a fragment breaks and blocks an artery going to the brain, a stroke will result. Narrowing of the arteries that supply the kidneys with blood can cause high blood pressure and kidney failure. Any tissue that does not have an adequate supply of blood and oxygen will, over time, become permanently damaged and die. It is critical to diagnose and treat peripheral vascular diseases before it becomes a more serious problem.

In the early stages of PAD, symptoms include cramping and pain in the legs and buttocks, indicating poor circulation in the legs. Other common symptoms include fatigue, heaviness and discomfort during exercise or activity. These symptoms generally go away when the activity stops or you are resting. This is called “intermittent claudication.”

These are early warning signs. If left undiagnosed and untreated, the symptoms of severe PAD intensify:

  • Leg pain that does not go away when you stop exercising
  • Foot or toe wounds that don’t heal or heal very slowly
  • A decrease in the temperature of your lower leg or foot, particularly compared to the other leg or the rest of your body.

What are the Risk Factors of Peripheral Artery Disease?

The most common type of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is peripheral artery disease (PAD), which affects about 8 million Americans. Atherosclerosis can start as early as the age of 20, and becomes more common as one gets older. By age 65, about 12 to 20 percent of the population has some degree of vascular disease. The exact cause is unknown, but several risk factors are known to accelerate the formation of fatty deposits, or plaque, in the arteries:

  • Smoking
  • Family history of vascular disease, angina, heart attacks or stroke
  • Being overweight
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diabetes
  • Being male
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Stress

Early diagnosis is critical, as people with PAD have a four to five times higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, PAD often goes undiagnosed as symptoms are often mistaken for something else.

If you want to learn more about peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and treatment options, wish to discuss symptoms or problems you may be experiencing or if your doctor has recommended that you see us for a vascular test, please contact us at (804) 828-2600 or email us.

 

 

Spring is around the corner and I don’t want to live with these spider veins anymore – what can you do for me?

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Don’t be embarrassed. You don’t have to live with spider veins anymore.

If you’re always covering up your spider veins, those unsightly dark blue or red blotches or jagged networks of tiny veins on your legs with longer skirts, pants and bathing suit wraps and towels – it doesn’t have to be that way. Today we offer gentle, virtually pain free treatments that eliminate or greatly diminish the appearance of spider veins.

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but are milder, involving the smaller veins just below the skin surface. Spider veins are more common among women of any age, and frequently appear during/after pregnancy or when gaining weight. The extra burden weakens the valves in the veins carrying blood back to the heart, so the blood pools and the veins swell. When only small, surface veins are affected, the result is spider veins, which can range from little patches to very large areas. They generally do not bulge or cause pain. But they can do damage to your self-esteem.

The good news is that today, spider veins are treatable – and easier to treat than other varicose veins. With new treatments using injections or safe laser technology, we offer cosmetic options that diminish or eliminate spider veins – and the embarrassment.

How are spider veins treated?

Until recently, spider veins went untreated. The veins are very small, there can be hundreds or thousands of them, and they do not present a significant health risk that requires surgery. However, today we can offer two gentle, technically advanced and effective treatments for spider veins that shrink or let the body absorb the damaged veins, leaving behind clear, unblemished skin: sclerotherapy or surface laser therapy.

Sclerotherapy involves using a tiny needle to inject individual spider veins with a solution that makes them shrink. As they shrink, blood is channeled to deeper veins, making the spider veins on the surface almost invisible. The vast majority of patients who have sclerotherapy experience significant improvement in the appearance of their veins.

Surface laser therapy uses an extremely accurate laser to deliver painless pulses of light energy to the spider veins on the surface of the skin. The energy causes the blood inside the veins to coagulate, which eventually destroys the spider veins, which are gradually absorbed by the body, which redirects blood flow to veins deeper below the skin’s surface, leaving behind clear, unblemished skin.

How long does treatment take?

The number of treatments needed to clear or improve your spider veins depends on their amount and severity. The average treatment is three to five sessions. Smaller veins may disappear after the first session. However, severe cases may require as many or ten or more sessions: in some cases, a vein may need to be injected one to five times or more, over a period of weeks or months. Multiple areas can be treated during each session, reducing the total number of treatments needed. In general, you’ll see an overall improvement within weeks or months.

Spider vein treatments do not prevent development of new spider veins over the years. Pregnancy, high estrogen levels or jobs that require a lot of standing may increase the likelihood that spider veins will reappear. Many people will require additional treatments from time to time to keep their legs clear.

Will insurance cover my treatment?

Most insurance companies consider spider vein treatment a cosmetic procedure, not medical, and in most cases it is not covered by insurance. You should check your individual plan to verify what varicose vein treatment options are included in your plan. Call us at (804) 828-2600 to discuss your options. You may decide that your beautiful legs are worth it.

Practicing mindfulness during cancer treatment

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Mindfulness is a common buzzword floating around many online sites these days. What is mindfulness, and what does it do?

Mindfulness is defined as:

“a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

By the textbook definition, mindfulness sounds a great deal like meditation, a technique used for centuries to clear the mind, de-stress the body and improve focus and concentration. But mindfulness takes meditation a step further and asks the practitioner to incorporate mindfulness throughout the day, rather than mediate for a few moments at the beginning or ending of each day. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, where you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance – without judging them good or bad.

According to the website Cancer Forward, “there are many studies about mindfulness and its benefits for cancer patients. They show positive improved psychological functioning, reduction of stress symptoms, enhanced coping and wellbeing in cancer outpatients. This adds up to a greater sense of peace, ease, and resiliency while living with cancer. The stillness that comes with mindfulness meditation fosters deep, physical relaxation and an opening of the heart.”

Anyone can practice mindfulness. It takes no special equipment, training or locations. All it takes is a willingness to learn and turn inward to acknowledge feelings and the present day. Many websites feature detailed ideas on how to get started, or ask a healthcare practitioner for direction.

By practicing this technique, it allows the mind to better cope with the day-to-day stresses, anxiety and negativity that creeps into the day.

Is image-guided treatment right for me?

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“Excruciating.” That’s the word every active person uses to tell us about the pain of “runner’s heel” (plantar fasciitis), “tennis elbow” and other tendon injuries. That little twinge you felt on your daily jog or practicing your forehand has now become a knife-sharp sting in the exact same spot with every step or every swing you take, every day. It’s impossible to ignore the pain…and you shouldn’t. Tendon injuries need attention. Sometimes, rest, therapy and a change in activities may ease the pain…but often the damage is permanent, and only gets worse.

Until now. Using precision ultrasound imaging guidance and a minimally invasive treatment, we can delicately remove the damaged tendon tissue and get you back to the activities you love in a matter of weeks – with little to no pain.

If you answer yes to these questions, it may be time to discuss our image-guided tendon treatment.

  • Have you given up any activities due to tendon pain?
  • Have you been suffering for three months or longer?
  • Have you taken multiple steps to get rid of your pain without lasting success?
  • Are you tired of masking the pain or enduring it rather than treating it at the source?

Sometimes you can cope with tendon injuries with ice, rest, physical therapy and other treatments – particularly if you stop the repetitive activity and rest as soon as you feel the very first twinges. More often than not, people try coping with the growing pain, on the job or at play. However, if the damage doesn’t heal properly, or if you continue the activity and increase the damage, you risk long-term injury, constant pain – and giving up an activity you love.

If you’re frustrated with chronic tendon pain or have tried multiple treatment options, image-guided tendon treatment – also called percutaneous tenotomy or fasciotomy – could be the treatment you need for rapid pain relief. Unlike other medical or physical therapies, this procedure safely removes the cause of the pain at the source, and unlike many traditional surgical procedures, it is far less invasive, requires far less recovery time – and has a much higher success rate.

The treatment may require only a local anesthetic and a tiny incision, and is virtually pain-free. We use a targeted application of ultrasound energy to break down the damaged tendon tissue while leaving surrounding healthy tissue untouched.

Most people won’t need any further treatment, such as physical therapy. You wear a walking boot for a week or two while the area heals. The most common post-procedure problem reported is some soreness, which can generally be treated with over-the-counter pain medication and typically lasts less than a week. In a recent study, doctors reported no other side effects. More than 35,000 people have had the treatment since 2012, with a high rate of satisfaction. In most cases, patients are back to the activities they love in six weeks or less.

We treat a range of common tendinitis or tendinosis conditions that can take you out of action:

  • “Runner’s heel” (plantar fasciosis or fasciitis)
  • “Tennis or golfer’s elbow” (lateral or medial epicondylosis of the elbow)
  • Achilles tendinosis

If you’re been coping with tendon pain, it may be time for us to help you get back in action.

 

 

 

6 Resolutions for a Healthy New Year

baird-healthy-resolutionsWhen dealing with a cancer diagnosis, the celebration of a new year may feel a bit bittersweet. Your health concerns have taken precedence over many areas of your life and you may feel a bit apprehensive about the New Year. Many of your friends and family will make resolutions to get healthy or lose weight. There’s no reason you can’t make some health-related resolutions of your own – even while going through cancer treatment. Here are some healthy ideas that you might not have thought of that help improve your overall health and well-being.

Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a common buzzword floating around many online sites these days. What is mindfulness, and what does it do? By the textbook definition, mindfulness sounds a great deal like meditation, a technique used for centuries to clear the mind, de-stress the body and improve focus and concentration. But mindfulness takes meditation a step further and asks the practitioner to incorporate mindfulness throughout the day, rather than mediate for a few moments at the beginning or ending of each day. Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present, where you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance – without judging them good or bad. Anyone can practice mindfulness. It takes no special equipment, training or locations. All it takes is a willingness to learn and turn inward to acknowledge feelings and the present day. Many websites feature detailed ideas on how to get started, or ask a healthcare practitioner for direction. By practicing this technique, it allows the mind to better cope with the day-to-day stresses, anxiety and negativity that creeps into the day.

Stay hydrated. Drink a full 8-ounce (or larger) glass of water each time medication is taken. If you have to take pills in the morning, at lunch, at dinner and at bedtime, that’s 32 ounces of water each day. If larger volumes of water seem difficult, try keeping bottled water handy at several locations throughout the house, and try to sip from them whenever you can. Incorporate high water-content foods into your diet. Foods like cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, watermelon, spinach, cantaloupe and strawberries are not only good for you – but are also more than 90% water. Try alternative sources of fluids like popsicles, milkshakes, sports drinks or smoothies. Increase the amount of fluid you take in if you’re outside in hot weather or exercising. If you’re sweating, you’re reducing the amount of water in your body, so it needs to be replenished.

Exercise your mind. Maintaining good health not only includes diet and exercise and our physical presence, but also good mental health and memory strength as well. Without stimulation, the brain is just like our muscles, it loses strength and ability if it is not challenged on a regular basis. However, research has shown that the brain needs to be challenged, not just stimulated, in order to retain memory and clarity over time. Crossword puzzles, for example, may be your go-to brain exercise, but if you breeze right through them, it may be time for something that challenges your brain in a different way, like painting or Sudoku.

See the world. With the holidays soon over many are thinking ahead to vacation travel to beaches, or the mountains, or destinations beyond with family and friends. If you’re undergoing cancer treatment, it’s no different; you need time to recharge from the day-to-day stresses of life, and especially your medical condition. When undergoing cancer treatment, there are a few extra precautions and considerations for the traveler, but that shouldn’t stop you from traveling or enjoying a vacation away from home. Careful planning can ensure you have a great – yet safe – experience.

Get some sun – safely. After being cooped up during the winter, many are looking forward to spending more time outdoors exercising or taking care of upcoming spring yard work. Whether spending the day outside, or just taking care of a few chores, it’s important to always protect your skin from the harmful rays of the sun. Depending on your skin tone, even just a few minutes can cause damage to your skin.

Incorporate superfoods. While no single food will protect you from disease, there are many foods that have disease-fighting properties that can be grown easily in your home garden. Some foods actually increase your risk of cancer, but some, such as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, and kale; Lycopene rich foods such as tomatoes and tomato based products and leafy, green vegetables such as spinach, kale, collards and chard, all support a healthy body and strengthen your immune system.