Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Training on Stage I and II Breast Cancer Survivors: A Pilot Study

Effects of Aerobic Exercise and Resistance Training on Stage I and II Breast Cancer Survivors: A Pilot Study

Background: Lack of physical activity has been noted in breast cancer survivors and been attributed to decreased physical function.  

Purpose: This study assessed the effects of a moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise program on body fat percentage, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max), body mass index, and bone mineral density (BMD) of breast cancer survivors.  

Methods: Eleven stage I and II breast cancer patients, 40–65 years old, were recruited to assess VO2 max, BMD, weight, and percentage of body fat before and after an 8-week exercise (aerobic and resistance training) intervention.  

Results: Supervised exercise significantly improved aerobic capacity (+4.227 ml/kg/min; P=0.004) and increased, though not significantly, bone mass densities of hip (+0.433 SD units; P=0.061) and spine (+0.224 SD units; P=0.350). No significant changes were observed for body mass index (+0.0196 kg/m2; P=0.927) or body fat percentage (-0.737%; P=0.639).  

Discussion: Understanding how breast cancer survivors tolerate and respond to a moderate-to-vigorous exercise program is an important step in developing programs for this population following recovery.  

Translation to Health Education Practice: Moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise may be an effective and well-tolerated intervention for improving physical function in breast cancer survivors.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

TNT Training Run 18 miles w/ C.

Today I ran 18 miles with a runner who has never run that far before ever in his life. It is nice to witness someone accomplish something they are not 100% sure they can do.  We negative split our run and finished with a tremendous sense of pride!

He is training for the NJ Full marathon for Team in Training as a way to do something to help those with leukemia, like his little girl.  C. is amazing.  He is always in a good mood and has a great sense of humor, which is important when running with someone, side-by-side, stride-for-stride for just about 3 hours.  He also underestimates his ability to tolerate things that most people find very hard.  For example, he mentioned causally that he does his mid-week runs, buy jogging over to the high school track, running 40 laps then running home.  That is simply amazing.

I can honestly say that if not for C. being there, looking for someone to keep him focused or distracted, and on a reasonable pace (which today was about a 9:30 pace), I would have been unlikely to drag myself out into the cold for a 3 hour run.  However, I find running with people like C, tremendously inspiring and I know that as much as he thinks I am there to help him, he is also helping me in the same way.

Now off to run a few more miles with my dog, Enzo, so that he doesn't feel neglected.

Friday, March 25, 2011

One for the Books has partnered with Sloan Kettering Cancer Center!

One for the Books (OFTB) has partnered up with Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Our first donation will go to the children undergoing cancer treatment at their facility.

OFTB is working hard to provide therapeutic and age-appropriate reading materials to children undergoing cancer treatment.  Our goal is to provide our smallest patients with understandable information about pediatric cancer and treatment as well as to provide non-cancer related reading material that can offer a healthy escape into the world of books. 

One of the main sources of fund-raising for One for the Books is the Run for the Books (RFTB) charity runner program.  This unique program allows you to pick a race of your choice of any distance in any location.  You agree to raise funds for RFTB.  We agree to provide you with a personalized training plan, online (and in-person when possible) coaching support, and we even pay your race entry fee

We also assist your in your efforts to fund-raise by setting you up with a free online fund-raising account and provide you with tips for creative fund-raising ideas.  We have decided to keep minimums low to make joining us less intimidating, especially for new runners and new fund-raisers. 

Fund-raising Minimum:

Any event 10 kilometers or less: (ex: 5k, 8k 5 miles, 10k)

Any event over 10 kilometers through Half Marathon (ex: 15k, 10 miles, Half)

Any event over Half through Full Marathon (ex: 18 miles, 20 miles, Full)

Any ultramarathon  (ex: 50k, 100k, timed races: 6hr, 12hr, 24hr, 48hr etc)

I hope you consider joining our team!

Thank you so much for reading!

Healing Through Art Therapy, Family Health Magazine - Fall/ Winter 2006

Healing Through Art Therapy

Art TherapyFor Shannon McGinn, art had always been a way to help other people to heal. With a master’s degree in art therapy, she had worked as a registered art therapist at several New Jersey prisons. Though she knew the therapeutic value of art, Ms. McGinn never realized the extent of that healing until she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29 in September 2005. Then it was her turn to receive the benefits of art therapy at The Cancer Center of Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

“Art creation breaks down barriers that might exist if you were speaking face to face with someone,” she says. “You can focus on the work while also sharing your feelings with others. I knew I could talk about stuff while I was creating and I would always feel so much better on the ride home.”

Though she had no family history of breast cancer, Ms. McGinn was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer and had her left breast removed by Elissa Santoro, M.D., attending general surgeon at Saint Barnabas. Two small invasive tumors were found in the breast tissue and she began three months of chemotherapy. Months later, Ms. McGinn decided to also have her right breast removed. Another small mass was found in that breast, although a biopsy confirmed that is was benign.

Now a law student, Ms. McGinn met art therapist Stephanie Buck M.PS, A.T.R., and began to attend some of the group art sessions, as well as scheduled individual sessions with Ms. Buck. She started a series of clay sculptures, several busts with closed eyes and smooth, bald heads. For Shannon, the heads illustrated both the trauma of losing hair to chemotherapy—the inability to hide the sickness any longer––and the concept that baldness does not necessarily have to be bad. “I wanted to create pieces of artwork that were bold so that people would have some positive connection to them,” says Ms. McGinn, who has since returned to law school in Miami and will continue to fly back to Saint Barnabas every three weeks for remaining treatments.

Many people are enjoying and being inspired by the work of Ms. McGinn and other cancer patients at Saint Barnabas through “A Creative Healing: Patient Art Exhibition,” currently displayed at the Medical Center. The exhibition can be viewed Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Works displayed include acrylic and watercolor paintings, clay sculpture, mixed media and collage.

“The most important thing about this work is not to create masterpieces, but rather to express yourself,” says Ms. Buck, an art therapist for 30 years. “This art room is full of joy very often even though people are talking about hard things. The creative process itself is profound, potentially joyful, and healing.”

Ms. Buck relates that those who create artwork speak of the sense of empowerment they feel in a health situation that otherwise results in feelings of helplessness, anxiety and fear. Through art, which also includes written forms of expression such as journaling, patients can transform these emotions. Anxieties and fears can be addressed safely in a supportive environment. Discovering, recognizing and using inner resources allows for the strengthening of those resources. Patients’ emotions and thoughts can be transformed into something hopeful, symbolic, and often beautiful.

After surveying the impressive range of outstanding works of art, Ms. Buck tentatively approached the artists with the idea of an exhibition as a meaningful way to share the art with others. She was pleased to find such a positive response to the idea.

“The artists were very excited about the exhibition and extremely proud to make the choice to share their work with other people,” says Ms. Buck. “There is so much profound work and it is very meaningful to share it.”

For the official opening on June 14, works of art were framed and hung or mounted on displays that were often accompanied by the artist’s thoughts on his or her work. Friends, relatives, physicians and staff from throughout the hospital attended and wrote comments about the experience in a guest book. Since then, several hundred people have viewed the exhibit.

“I feel so lucky that I could participate,” says Ms. McGinn. “Stephanie did the exhibit in a way that respected each artist’s personal experience.” Perhaps one of the most important parts of the art therapy process is the emotional freedom provided to each artist during the creation of the pieces. A painting called “Mountains of Peru” by Vickie Sanchez hangs in the exhibit. In it, the sun is rising over mountains and a donkey stands in the pastoral scene. Ms. Sanchez writes about her work, “For a moment I lived in my country while I was painting.”

In 2007, The Cancer Center Art Exhibition will be funded by the Richard M. Wasserman Fund, in his memory, at the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Foundation. If you would like to make a contribution, please call (973) 322-4330.

To learn more about the Art Therapy Program at Saint Barnabas, please call (973) 322-2171. For information about The Cancer Center at Saint Barnabas, please call (973) 322-5200.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Team Awesome" and Virginia's 24 hour run for Cancer 4/16-4/17

On April 16-17, I am running a 24 hour race as part of an ultra-relay team ("Team Awesome").  This is not a traditional relay because we are all allowed to run as much as we want in 24 hours.  We then combine our mileage at the end of the day. The team with the most mileage wins . . . nothing! (because this is for fun and fund-raising.) 

The race director, George Nelsen, puts on this 24 hour run as a way to raise money for his local chapter of the American Cancer Society.  I like George and his race.  I wanted to do something special.  With the help of my friends, (and with a lot of help from Jim Plant) we put together a really fantastic team of 11 ultra-runners (Jim Plant, Ray K, Cheryl Lager, Sabrina Moran, Jessi Kennedy, Dave Lettieri, Amy Perris-Schimmel, Frank Lilly, Charles West, Alanna Garrison, and Tom Gabell) plus myself.  Some are very talented runners.  Cheryl currently holds the women's course record at this very race. Others are maybe not as competitive, but all possess an amazing amount of positive energy and enthusiasm. This is helpful when running all day and night and part of the next day.

I hope that we will work together to set an untouchable new Team Course Record, while setting the bar high and challenging each other as individuals to run hard, fast, and far.  I hope this formula makes for some exciting racing.  At the end of the day, George will eventually write a Race Report.  If he has some good things to say, I hope that maybe more teams and more individuals will be inspired to come out next year, raising even more money for the ACS.  We have all been touched by cancer in some way and hope this makes some difference.

If you would like to help now, please consider making a donation to George's ACS Relay for Life page. http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLFY11SA?px=4311901&pg=personal&fr_id=33505
The ACS "Relay for Life" is not the same at the Ultra relay event and will take place on a different day than the 24 hour race, but all the funds go to the same place.

Thank you for your support in any way!  Go Team Awesome!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Race Report: The Art of Racing 50k in the Rain.

Location: 50k Nationals. Caumsett Park, Long Island. March 6, 2011 (http://www.glirc.org/race-results.php)

So who’s up for some repeats? 10 x 5k? In the rain? I am!

2010 Recap:  My health was a mystery. Hives attacked at random from February on. I felt weak all the time. I failed a Pulmonary Function Test (what?!) and needed a Nebulizer. My thyroid was erroneously blamed. I was possibly anemic. Specialists started pointing fingers at each other. I was allergic to “something”. After 250 needles, I was declared allergic to myself. I was given antihistamines, three inhalers, steroids, and some “emergency” pills. I have huge zip-lock bag full of medications that served mostly to make be bloated, fat, tired, and anxious. Eventually I just got better.

During all that, my training took a back seat. When the hives calmed down, I jumped back in where I left off and I ended up with fibromas (marble-sized lumps of painful scar tissue) on my plantar fascias. I had a hard time walking. I got the fibromas removed with cortisone. I felt good, so I ran over 65 miles in 12 hours and strained my under-trained ACL.  I spent most of 2010 running less, gaining weight, and just feeling cruddy.
The first of my very many DNF’s of 2010 happened at Caumsett 50k. I finished 2009 by crushing my PRs in every distance.  By February 2010, I was cruising through 24 mile runs on my treadmill during blizzards and racing marathons all around 3:25 or less just as training runs. I felt ready for a great Caumsett, until the week before when I ended up in the ER covered in hives.

Heavily medicated, I still arrived. I started fast and felt horrible. By loop 2, I saw the red welts surfacing. By loop 3, my abdomen was itchy. By loop 4 I called it a day.   In about 150 races since my cancer treatment, I had only DNF’d once (at my first ultra in a snow storm). This was #2 and it unfortunately set the tone for the rest of that disappointing year.

2011: I started 2011 with a “come back plan” that involved returning to my roots. I started again with low mileage and weekly short races. I was "found" driving up the highway by a small dog sitting roadside in the sleeting rain.  I named him Enzo (like Enzo Ferrari, like Enzo the dog from The Art of Racing in the Rain) and as it turns out he loves running fast and far. He got me out the door when the weather was miserable. He pushed (er… pulled) our pace. My mileage finally made it back up to 80 miles per week and then hovered around 60. My fastest long effort was only a 1:41 half marathon at the end of January (7 minutes off my best).  Looking at those numbers, I was not ready for a great 50k so I ran a slow 20 miles the day before.  I had a dream I ran a 4:33.  I decided that would be my goal.

The Race: My friend Ray came up to run. We decided to spend some time together. Ray has had faith in me, most often when I have the least in myself. Having him around always brings out my best.

A rainy road 50k with water stops twice per loops is pretty easy to pack for: 8 Endurolytes, a few gels, a pack of shot bloks, a 20 oz bottle of Gatorade and some dry clothes. I took 4 Endurolytes and drank the Gatorade on the ride to the race. At 8:25 am, I put one (1) Roctane pomegranate gel in one pocket and the 4 Endurolytes in the other. I ate one pack of black cherry bloks and walked off to the start.

Oh no, Ray is not there! I feel a pang of disappointment as the gun is fired. But as the crowd lurches forward, Ray makes his fashionably late entrance and off we go! First split 8:14.  I pass up the AS on the first loop and then wonder if I should have grabbed something. On the back stretch of loop 2, I grab a few ounces of Gatorade. I am very comfortable and wonder when I should take that gel.

Loop 1: 25:45
Loop 2: 25:36
Loop 3: 25:15

Halfway through loop 4, I feel a surge of confidence. I’ve made it further than I did last year and I feel GREAT!  As long as I am happy I will finish.  At the end of loop 4, I take that gel. I decide to take the 4 Endurolytes too. Why wait? I feel good. Nothing hurts. I’m still grabbing about 6 oz of Gatorade total per loop. My legs are steady. I feel strong. Then they run out of Gatorade on the back half during my 7th loop.
Loop 4: 25:47
Loop 5: 25:29 (
2:07:52 – first 25k)
Loop 6: 24:55
Loop 7: 25:27

Since I missed those crucial 3 oz of blue Gatorade on the back stretch, I grab another gel at the start of loop 8. It takes me two full laps to sip that down. As I approach the end of loop 9, I start to feel a little wobbly. I can feel my form weakening just a bit and I catch my self grunting a little.  With so little consumed, I know I am running off a combination of momentum and awe that I am really almost done. 

There is no one to catch and I am not being chased.  It is a relaxing finish. I give once last push as I see the end. I almost fall over from a head rush once I finally allow myself to stop running for the first time in 4 hours and 15 minutes and 31 miles straight.

Loop 8: 25:52
Loop 9: 26:03
Loop10: 25:30
(2:07:48 – 2nd 25k)

Caumsett volunteers print you a receipt within minutes of your finish. It contains your lap splits, final time, pace, place, etc… I look at the pace and see that it is 8:14 per mile. I remember Ray calling out our Mile 1 split as 8:14 and I knew immediately that he had something to do with this! I suspect that he was out there with me just to help me find my rhythm and beat this demon. I see Ray and show him my receipt. Like the human calculator that he is, he quickly adds up my splits and declares “You negative split this!” Holy cow, I did! (sure by only 5 seconds). I tell Ray how much I needed this to be a good race.  He tells me he already knew that.

4:15:32 for 31 miles (negative split by 5 seconds)
8th Female OA
27th place OA

What a great day for Racing a 50k in the Rain!   

Caumsett Park, I can’t wait to see you next year!
Thank you so much for reading.

This is my blog.

Today I start my blog.  (See, here it is).  

I hope to use this space to chronicle my efforts to create some momentum in my life.  There are many things I would like to accomplish, like to become a successful private therapist and coach; maybe teach a class or write a book.  I dislike stagnation, since I feel not much good happens to people when they sit still.

This blog will be about me getting moving, literally (through my running) and metaphorically (through my work).  I plan to post my race reports and my thoughts about my work as a therapist, counselor, and coach.  I'm sure I will comment about the things I study.  Without a doubt, I will discuss being a cancer survivor from time to time and any projects I am working on for that cause.  Although I am not likely to discuss my family that much, I am very likely to talk about my dog.  Finally, I am sure comments about food, travel, and other random acts of living life to the fullest will make there way to the wall because as you see, I tend to ramble. 

It would be nice if anything I say interests or inspires others in some way.  However, I assume that I'll be posting things mostly for me to reflect upon later (for a good laugh).  Maybe I can learn a little more about myself from this, along the way.

If you have stumbled upon this, I sincerely thank you for reading.