National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Key terms you should know

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Patients may hear some — or all — of these words while speaking to their doctors about breast cancer. Understanding these terms and how they can affect you may be key to getting the help you need. 

Below are their definitions, as well some other common breast cancer-related terms and what they mean.

Benign: When something is not cancer.

BRCA-1 and BRCA-2: These two types of breast cancer susceptibility genes usually “help protect you from getting cancer,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains. “But when you have changes or mutations on one or both of your BRCA genes, cells are more likely to divide and change rapidly, which can lead to cancer.”

Carcinoma: The term signifies “cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs,” according to the charity Cancer Research UK.

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): It’s “essentially a cell that looks like a breast cancer but it’s confined in the ducts” of the breast, Dr. Laura Spring with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told Fox News. It’s not yet able to spread distantly in the body, she explained.

BREAST CANCER SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Dr. Adam Brufsky, a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine professor, stressed the importance of finding DCIS, saying that it could become invasive cancer if it’s left untreated.

HER2/neu: Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2/neu) is a type of “protein involved in cell growth and survival and appears on the surface of some breast cancer cells,” the Susan G. Komen website explains. Testing may be done to determine a patient’s HER2 status, which can indicate if there’s a high amount of HER2/neu in the cancer.

Patients may also be tested to find out their hormone receptor status, which indicates “whether or not a breast cancer needs hormones to grow,” Susan G. Komen says. HER2 status and hormone receptor status can affect the type of care someone gets.

Continue onto FOX News to learn more about these terms.

How Achievable The 6 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions Really Are

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goals

With the holidays coming to a close, it’s time to get serious and set some New Year’s resolutions for 2018. Unfortunately, keeping those resolutions is often easier said than done.

In the spirit of setting achievable goals, we asked therapists to weigh in on six of the most common resolutions and grade them on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being “very attainable” and 5 being “very difficult”). See what they had to say below.

1). LOSE WEIGHT
“Losing weight requires a fairly good understanding of nutrition and calorie intake. It also requires, rather uncomfortably, changing your diet and exercise ― two of your three most basic behavioral patterns (the other being sleep) ― and then maintaining those changes indefinitely. Before I was a psychologist, I worked as a personal trainer: You have to have structured goals and set attainable goal posts. Without structured goals, it’s my experience that people do well for two or three months, lose some weight, but then revert back to their previous lifestyle and gain the weight back throughout the year. Grade: 3/5.”—Ryan Kelly, a psychologist in Charlotte, North Carolina

2). GET ORGANIZED
“This is very achievable if you start small. Most people want to go from not taking any action to immediate results, which is unrealistic. Good habits are best built upon one another in small, easily achievable steps. If you want to get more organized, choose one tiny organizational skill you can do for five minutes a day until you’ve mastered it. For example, make it a goal to pick up your clothes from the floor each night before bed. It can be as simple as that. Grade: 1/5.”―Amanda Stemen, a therapist in Los Angeles, California

3). LEARN TO SAY ‘NO’
“Setting boundaries with others means understanding how to change patterns of people-pleasing. People often learn to say ‘yes’ when they’d rather not do something because in our culture, we’re rewarded for taking direction well in family and in work. Luckily, the pendulum is swinging where people are learning to practice taking care of their own needs. I recommend trusting your intuition when something feels right to you, and learning to stay grounded in your experience while still responding to the needs of others. If you’re bogged down at work before a vacation, say: ‘I hear that you need this work done by the deadline, but I also have time off scheduled and I’ll only get the most urgent things ready for the client before then. When I’m back, I’ll finish it.’ Grade: 3/5.”―Kari Carroll, a marriage and family therapist in Portland, Oregon

4). TRAVEL MORE
“Traveling is super easy to experience, and you don’t need a fancy trip to Indonesia like your friends on Instagram to escape the pressures of life and enjoy nature. Get creative and pay attention when others you know take excursions around your area. You can easily take day trips on the cheap to check out nearby towns, hikes, lakes, a resort pool or an obscure museum. Sometimes getting in the car and driving until you find something cool can be an adventure in and of itself. Grade: 1/5.”―Carroll

5). SPEND MORE TIME WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
“Post-holidays, you may have had more than enough of some people in your life. But if we’re not intentional about getting together, it will only happen when forced upon us by holidays or others. This one is very doable with some planning and intentionality to follow through. Get started by picking one person a month to reach out to, then be the one who initiates and plans the get together. Grade: 2/5.”―Kurt Smith, a therapist who specializes in counseling for men

6). LEARN A SKILL OR TAKE UP A NEW HOBBY
“As long as you’re not a perfectionist about this one, it’s achievable. I would phrase the goal as ‘time spent on a new hobby’ so it doesn’t feel like you haven’t made progress when you’ve practice tennis an hour a week and still miss the ball half the time months into it. I also think that trying new hobbies and skills is good because you may learn that you don’t actually enjoy the thing you thought you would. In that case, it’s better to switch and move onto something else. Grade: 3/5.”―Marie Land, a psychologist in Washington, D.C.

Read more from the Huffington Post here

Why Nursing Jobs are High in Demand

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Nursing Jobs

The United States is experiencing a shortage of qualified nurses. Perhaps the most unsettling result of the nursing shortage is that patient care may be adversely affected.

Another point of concern is that the shortage is occurring just as the massive Baby Boomer generation is aging into their senior years, when they will likely require more healthcare. Compounding the problem, a large number of Baby Boomer nurses are nearing retirement age.

The Nursing Shortage: Current and Projected Figures
According to data published by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the shortage of qualified registered nurses (RNs) will remain into the foreseeable future.

Due to growing demand, the healthcare job market is rapidly expanding. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that healthcare accounted for one out of every five new jobs created in 2012.

The BLS reported that registered nurse (RN) is a fast-growing occupation with an increase of 16 percent projected through 2024.

The nursing shortage is projected to continue nationwide, especially in the South and West, according to a report in the American Journal of Medical Quality.

Health Affairs reported that the nursing shortage will grow to 260,000 RNs by 2025—twice as large as shortages that have occurred since the mid-1960s.

Factors Leading to Nursing Shortage
Along with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, a number of other factors have contributed to the looming shortage:

Opportunities expanded—Nursing was traditionally a female occupation. Because of limitations placed on women, it was one of the few professional fields open to them. Now, women are free to pursue whatever career they choose, and fewer are choosing nursing.

Not enough student nurses—Nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet demand.

A shortage of nursing educators—Applicants are being turned away from nursing schools because of a lack of qualified educators.

The recession—Many nurses who would have retired during the recession stayed on the job. Others who worked part time switched to full-time status.

States and Specialties Facing Nursing Shortages
In as many as 30 states, healthcare organizations are finding it difficult to fill nursing positions. For example, the American Journal of Medical Quality reported that by 2030, states such as Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa will lack sufficient numbers of RNs (shortages of 3,827; 1,757; and 1,243 respectively).

One area of specialty that is particularly under-served is neonatal intensive care nursing. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics found that NICUs were understaffed for 32 percent of their patients. The study of 560 NICUs found that while the average number of beds was 30, the average number of nurses per shift was 12, even though standards would have required 15.

Turning the Tide
Fortunately, nursing schools, healthcare organizations, and nursing associations are taking steps to increase the number of qualified nurses available to care for patients.

Improving retention—Nursing can be a stressful job at times, but a number of organizations across the country are working to boost the number of magnet-like hospital programs, where improved communication, increased staffing levels, and more autonomy can help give nurses better job satisfaction and in turn, increase the rate of retention while decreasing nurse stress levels.

Encouraging educators—Many states are focusing on scholarships, grants, and awareness programs aimed at increasing the number of nurse educators. By encouraging current RNs to return to school for advanced degrees, they hope to reduce the educator shortage and enroll more applicants in nursing schools.

Attracting new nurses—Creating awareness also extends to children and men. Campaigns aimed at middle and high school students help them learn about the positive aspects of a nursing career. At the same time, reaching out to men may help increase the number of nursing school applicants.

Source: villanovau.com, By Bisk on behalf of Villanova University

National Coming Out Day 2017: 11 Quotes To Celebrate LGBT Life

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Wednesday is National Coming Out Day, which is an annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI) awareness day observed on Oct. 11.

It was founded in 1988 by Richard Eichberg, a psychologist, and Jean O’Leary, a gay rights activist, to spread awareness about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and its civil rights movement, according to American Psychological Association.

On Oct. 11, 1987, about half a million people participated in a March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which was the second such demonstration in the nation’s capital. This march resulted in the formation of several LGBTQ organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay & Lesbian Organization (LLEGÓ ) and AT&T’s LGBTQ  employee group, League.

“Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does,” cofounder Eichsberg said in 1993. “It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.”

Express your true self and respect your individuality with these 11 quotes collected from Brainyquote and Goodreads.

1. Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is. — Jim Morrison

2. To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

3. Be yourself, but always your better self. — Karl G. Maeser

4. The world is so obsessed with defining sexuality for everyone and attaching labels to it. Any time any person openly leaves the sexual norm, their sexuality becomes, more often than not, the absolute defining characteristic of that person. It becomes the first thing people think about and often the first thing they mention. Every other part of that person all but disappears. — Dan Pearce

Continue onto International Business Times to read the complete article.

Curves kicked off their 25th birthday celebrations and will gift 25 female veterans $25,000 each toward owning their own Curves club

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Curves Fitness

In the ever-changing and highly competitive fitness industry, there are few brands that stand the test of time. September marks the 25th birthday of Curves International Inc., one of the largest chains of fitness clubs for women in the world with more than 4,000 locations in over 70 countries.

In 1992, Curves introduced the 30-minute strength training circuit and has since helped millions of women build healthier lives. Today, Curves kicked off their 25th birthday celebrations and announced that in honor of their 25th birthday, they will gift 25 female veterans each toward owning their own Curves club. To learn more about the Curves franchise opportunity gift and to apply, visit www.buycurves.com/veterans.

Curves has partnered with F7 Group to hand-pick the 25 winners of the Curves franchise opportunity gift. F7 Group is an organization dedicated to helping female veterans and women in military families strengthen themselves, their careers and their communities. Through support and mentoring, the F7 Group empowers and equips female veterans and women in military families for their entrepreneurial journeys.

“We can’t think of a better way to underscore Curves’ commitment to helping women get stronger in all aspects of their lives than by supporting 25 female veterans to become business owners. These new business owners will seek to improve the health of women in their community,” said Monty Sharma, CEO of Curves International, Inc. “Curves has an incredibly strong and dedicated community of women worldwide and we are thrilled to celebrate this 25th birthday with them.”

Throughout the month of September, Curves will celebrate their 25th birthday at their locations worldwide through a series of unique opportunities and incentives:

  • The first 25 members at every club who join between August 28thSeptember 27th can join for free with the purchase of an annual membership*
  • On September 28, Curves will be celebrating the 25th birthday around the globe with special workouts and local in-club parties. Non-members can also join their local Curves for 25 cents to celebrate the day.**
  • Follow Curves on Facebook and Instagram and comment on their giveaway post for the chance to win free goodies
  • Join the party on social media by following #25YearsStrong and #CurvesStrong
  • Be heard on social media! Go to https://www.thunderclap.it/curves to register and share a special birthday post on social media.

Curves is a club designed specifically for women, providing a 30-minute total body workout, along with a supportive and non-judgmental environment for fitness, weight loss and healthy living.

For more information, visit www.curves.com

ABOUT CURVES INTERNATIONAL, INC.
Curves International, Inc. is one of the largest chains of fitness clubs for women in the world with more than 4,000 locations in more than 70 countries and is famous for its 30-minute Circuit with a Coach that works every major muscle group with strength training, cardio and stretching. Curves Specialty Classes*** offer workout moves for key focus areas like strength, balance and flexibility. With Curves Complete, women have a fully integrated, personalized weight loss and weight management solution that includes the Curves fitness program, customizable meal plans and one-on-one coaching and support. Curves is committed to providing women with the tools necessary to empower them to live more fulfilling lives. For more information, please visit curves.com.

ABOUT F7 GROUP
The F7 Group was founded in 2010 when USAF Veteran, Cassaundra Melgar-C’De Baca realized there was a lack of resources for Female Veterans and Women in Military families who had the desire to be entrepreneurs. As a very successful entrepreneur herself with many ventures under her belt, she began the long journey to where they are today. Through support and mentoring, the F7 Group provides female veterans and women in military families with essential access to resources within their communities to help empower and equip them for their entrepreneurial journeys. In 2013, the Group’s CEO and Founder, Ms. Melgar-C’De Baca, MBA, was honored as the first female veteran to be named Champion of Change by The White House.

No purchase necessary to enter. Open to eligible female US veterans who are legal residents of the US. Void where prohibited. All entrants must read and agree to the Official Rules at www.buycurves.com/veterans. 25 winners, if qualified and approved, will receive a $25,000 credit, which covers the Initial Franchise Fee and part of the equipment cost. Winners will be required to pay other initial fees, including but not limited to the remainder of the equipment cost ($15,034), cost of all permits and licenses, expenses to attend training and other fees as described in our Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). This giveaway and the information relating thereto is not an offer to sell a franchise, which can only be done in a state where our FDD is filed and registered, or we are exempted, as set by state law, and only if we deliver the FDD in compliance with applicable law.

*Joining fee waived for first 25 members who join at each location starting 8/28/17. Monthly membership fees required and vary by location. Offer based on enrollment for a 12-month recurring billing fitness membership. Valid at participating locations. Cannot be combined with any other offer. No cash value. Expires 9/27/17.

**Monthly membership fees also required and vary by location. Offer based on first visit enrollment for a 12-month recurring billing fitness membership. Valid at participating locations. Cannot be combined with any other offer. No cash value. Valid only on 9/28/17.

***Classes offered at participating clubs only

SOURCE Curves

10 Reasons to Breastfeed

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Dr. Lorna Shepard

August is National Breastfeeding Month. In recognition of the health benefits to women and infants, Dr. Lorna C. Shepherd shares 10 Reasons to Breastfeed.

1. Decreases incidence or severity of infectious diseases in the infant and fewer allergies are reported.

2. Decreases rates of sudden infant death syndrome.

3. Decreases rates of development of chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes later in life.

4. Enhances neurodevelopment in the infant and improves cognitive development.

5. Promotes mother-child bonding.

6. Decreases postpartum bleeding in the mother.

7. Enables more rapid uterine involution in the mother.

8. Enables earlier return to pre-pregnant weight for the mother.

9. It is economical for mothers & families dealing with other related costs of having a child!!

10. It is simply the BEST nutrition for the infant!! Adequate nutrients in the right quantities, at the right temperature, and well absorbed by the infant.

Dr. Lorna C. Shepherd, Ed.D. R.D., L.D/N., is the Chair for the Union Institute & University Master of Arts Online Program Health & Wellness and Bachelor of Science Maternal & Child Health Program. Both of these programs offer a career path in human lactation. The United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) sponsors National Breastfeeding Month to raise awareness of the health benefits to women and infants. This year’s National Breastfeeding Month theme—Charting the Course Together—will focus on how we can use data and measurement to build and reinforce the connections between breastfeeding and a broad spectrum of other health topics and initiatives.

Union Institute & University is a national university with five academic centers located in: Hollywood, Florida, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sacramento and Los Angeles California, and Brattleboro, Vermont. To learn more, visit www.myunion.edu or call 800-861-6400.

Military Spouse Finds Future in Healthy, Affordable Food Prep.

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Founder and CEO of Healthy Momma, Flossie Hall is an active duty Navy spouse of 15 years and a mother of four, ranging in age from 6 to 17.   Like many military spouses today, despite having a college degree, Flossie faced employment challenges due to her husband’s frequent deployments and multiple moves.  In fact, Flossie was headed to medical school when orders were received for her husband to deploy overseas – again.  Unemployed in San Diego with four children and a husband in harm’s way, many might have considered it easier to pack up and move ‘back home’ to be closer to family for support.  Not Flossie.

Living in San Diego is expensive, where one in five active-duty military families qualify for food subsidies according to Feed America.  With money and time being tight, Flossie had started preparing fresh cooked meals in bulk for her family each week.  Word soon spread and she found herself cooking healthy meals for other military families.  Marrying her passion for eating healthy and a desire to meet a growing need for affordable meals outside our nation’s drive-thru windows, Healthy Momma was born.  In the beginning, the majority of her customers were other military families, but that soon changed with the help of The Rosie Network, a local nonprofit whose mission is to help veterans and military spouses successfully launch and grow their small businesses.

Within the first six months, Flossie was producing nearly 6,000 meals a week out of a commercial kitchen and employed over 40 people – mostly military spouses and veterans looking for flexible hours and supplemental income.  Today, Healthy Momma has surpassed 1M in sales, provided over a quarter of a million affordable, healthy meals in San Diego and has become a resource and mentor to other military spouse entrepreneurs.  She has been featured in the Military Entrepreneur MAG and was recently nominated by the San Diego Business Journal as a 2016 Most Admired CEO.

Flossie turned her personal struggles juggling kids and military life, into a thriving businesses that offers a flexible work environment where military kids are often present during meetings.  She knows all too well the chaotic needs of the military spouse community and has made it part of her mission to make a difference.

“Donating my time and meals to military families in need is the least I can do for those who serve our country and the spouses who serve beside them,” said Flossie when asked what she enjoys most about being an small business owner.”

What’s next for this young Wonder Woman?  Taking Healthy Momma nationwide.  Flossie is on a mission to show America that a meal delivery service doesn’t have to be a “luxury item,” and that healthy food can be delicious, easy and most of all, affordable. With meals ranging for $3-$8 each, options for family style meals, kid’s meals, low carb, gluten free and just about everything in between, there truly is something for everyone. So whether you’re a busy mom, a single sailor, moving into a new home, experiencing a loss or illness, a college student away from home, or just someone who loves good food, Healthy Momma has you covered.

7 Strategies to Advance Women in Science

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stem cell research

Despite the progress made by women in science, engineering, and medicine, a glance at most university directories or pharmaceutical executive committees tells a more complex story. Women in science are succeeding in fields that may not even be conscious of the gender imbalances.

In a recent issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell, the Initiative on Women in Science and Engineering Working Group—of more than 30 academic and business leaders organized by the New York Stem Cell Foundation presented seven strategies to advance women in science, engineering, and medicine in this modern landscape.

“We wanted to think about broad ways to elevate the entire field, because when we looked at diversity programs across our organizations we thought that the results were okay, but they really could be better,” said Susan L. Solomon, co-founder and CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation and a member of the working group. “We’ve identified some very straightforward things to do that are inexpensive and could be implemented pretty much immediately.”

  1. Implement flexible family care spending

Make grants gender neutral by permitting grantees to use a certain percentage of grant award funds to pay for childcare, eldercare, or family-related expenses. This provides more freedom for grantees to focus on professional development and participate in the scientific community.

  1. Provide “extra hands” awards

Dedicate funds for newly independent young investigators who are also primary caregivers and hire technicians, administrative assistants, or postdoctoral fellows.

  1. Recruit gender-balanced review and speaker selection committees

Adopt policies that ensure that peer review committees are conscious of gender and are made up of a sufficient number of women.

  1. Incorporate implicit bias statements

For any initiative that undergoes external peer review, include a statement that describes the concept of implicit bias to reviewers and reiterates the organization’s commitment to equality and diversity.

  1. Focus on education as a tool

Academic institutions and grant makers must educate their constituents and grantees on the issues women face in science and medicine. For example, gender awareness training should be a standard component of orientation programs.

  1. Create an institutional report card for gender equality

Define quantifiable criteria that can be used to evaluate gender equality in institutions on an annual basis. For instance, these report cards may ask for updates about the male to female ratio of an academic department or the organization’s policy regarding female representation on academic or corporate committees.

  1. Partner to expand upon existing searchable databases

Create or contribute to databases that identify women scientists for positions and activities that are critical components for career advancement.

“The issues in science, technology, engineering, and medicine are the kinds of challenges that we as a society face, and we need to have 100 percent of the population have an opportunity to participate,” Solomon said. “We need people who care because they’re thinking about their daughters or granddaughters or nieces, sisters or wives, or larger issues like finding cures for disease or climate change and they want to make sure that we’ve got enough horsepower behind us.”

Source: Cell Press

University of Utah Engineers Develop World’s First 100-Percent Biodegradable, Yet Comfortable Maxi Pad

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Each year, nearly 20 billion sanitary pads, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year, and it takes centuries for them to biodegrade inside plastic bags, according to a 2016 Harvard Business School report. Additionally, it requires high amounts of fossil fuel energy to produce the plastic for these products, resulting in a large carbon footprint.

But a team of students led by University of Utah materials science and engineering assistant professor (lecturer) Jeff Bates has developed a new, 100-percent biodegradable feminine maxi pad that is made of all natural materials and is much thinner and more comfortable than other similar products.

The SHERO Pad uses a processed form of algae as its super-absorbent ingredient, which is then covered with cotton and the same material that makes up tea bags. The result is a maxi pad that is effective, comfortable to wear and can break down anywhere from 45 days to six months.

“This is novel in comparison to other biodegradable options out there for pads,” said Amber Barron, a University of Utah junior in materials science and engineering who is on the team of four students. “Most are really bulky because they don’t have a superabsorbent layer.”

The need for something like the SHERO Pad originally came from SHEVA, a nonprofit advocacy group for women and girls in Guatemala, which turned to Bates because it was looking for a sustainable solution for feminine hygiene waste. One of Bates’ area of research is in hydrogels, which are water-absorbing polymers.

“In Guatemala, there’s no public sanitation system. All the rivers are black because they are so polluted,” Bates says. “So there really is a genuine need for people in Guatemala to have biodegradable options.”

Part of Bates’ solution came one night while feeding his 5-year-old daughter.

“One day we were eating dinner with white rice, and my daughter spilled it all over the floor,” he says about that night two years ago. “The next morning, when I was cleaning it up, it was all dry and crusted. I drove to work and thought, ‘What was it about rice that does that?’”

That question of how rice hydrates and dehydrates began a two-year process of searching for the right natural materials for the feminine pad, which included testing with different leaves, such as banana leaves, and forms of cotton.

Bates, Barron and the rest of the team — which includes sophomore students, Sarai Patterson, Ashlea Patterson and Ali Dibble — ultimately developed the SHERO Pad, which is made up of four layers: An outer layer of raw cotton similar to a tea bag to repel liquid, a transfer layer of organic cotton to absorb the liquid and pull it from the outer layer, the super-absorbent layer made of agarose gel (a polymer from brown algae), and a final layer made of a corn-based material that keeps the moisture inside and prevents leakage.

While there are other similar sustainable feminine pads on the market today, they either use a hydrogel that is not 100 percent biodegradable or they use thicker layers of natural cotton that are uncomfortable to wear, Barron says. Another advantage to the SHERO Pad is that it can easily be manufactured in smaller villages using locally sourced materials and without sophisticated tools, just common presses and grinding stones, Bates says.

While the team originally developed the SHERO Pad for users in developing countries such as Guatemala, Bates and the students also will start selling the product in the U.S. for environmentally conscious women. A working prototype has been produced, and they have launched a startup company based in Bountiful, Utah. They hope to have products in Guatemala and on U.S. store shelves within a year.

Continue onto Ohio University’s Newsroom to read the complete article.

Diagnosed with Colon Cancer at 31, This Woman Is Determined to Teach Black People the Risks & Signs

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Colon Cancer Signs

Imagine being at home one night in your living room singing along to music with your husband while making dinner, and then, just like that, the phone rings and your entire life changes without warning.

This was an unfortunate reality for Shannon Sylvain, who received a call from her doctor one evening with bad news that marked the beginning of her continued battle with colorectal cancer, which is better known as colon cancer.

“My doctor asked if I was sitting down,” recalled Sylvain. “After telling her yes, I remember her voice cracking when she explained that they saw evidence of colon cancer during the procedure.”

The news was tough to swallow.

“I was in disbelief … all I could think was how badly I wanted to stay in this moment with my husband, in our home, singing Stevie Wonder songs and laughing,” she continued.

Sylvian was diagnosed last year at the age of 31. After the doctor confirmed she didn’t have internal hemorrhoids and there was blood in her stool, Sylvain had a colonoscopy done.

“[It] is something that everyone should get at least once … colon cancer is considered the silent killer because there aren’t really huge symptoms,” Sylvain continued.

The colonoscopy cost her $3,000 out of pocket. The testing wasn’t covered by her insurance because she did not meet the age requirement, which for most companies is 50. In addition, she hadn’t yet met her in-network insurance deductible.

Sylvain recalls her doctor telling her that colon cancer can be preventable, but disproportionately affects Blacks for two reasons: “Access to financial resources and good doctors.”

“That information was very startling to me since colon cancer is preventable, and you don’t have to die from it even if diagnosed,” she shared.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent reports show that Black men have the highest rate of getting colon cancer, followed by whites and Hispanics. Amongst women, Black women have the highest rate of getting the disease, followed by whites and Hispanics.

Last April, Sylvain had her first surgery for stage IV colorectal cancer and shortly afterward she began daily radiation for two months. She endured chemotherapy for another six months until she was told at the end of last year that she was cancer-free.

Sadly, last week she encountered another bump in the road on her journey of recovery: She was notified that the colon cancer is now showing up in her liver.

Sylvian admits that learning the news was rough. “It was difficult for my family, but we are believers and will continue to pray through this … I know God wouldn’t put more on me than I can bare.”

As of way to build awareness and provide financial assistance for colonic screenings, she created a non-profit organization, Brown Sugar Rehab. The organization aims to promote education on excessive sugar consumption and preventative health strategies, and is a financial resource for those in need of testing.

Continue onto PEOPLE to read the complete article.

 

Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day — let’s empower women globally

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HIV is often characterized as a disease that overwhelmingly affects gay and bisexual men, subsequently obscuring the significant and unique risks experienced by women. In truth, 27 percent of all new HIV cases are attributed to women, making HIV/AIDS the leading cause of deathworldwide for women aged 15-44.

Women are subjected to various institutional barriers that escalate the risk of infection and prevent access to treatment.

On National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, it is imperative that we recognize the threat of HIV facing women of all ages, encourage steps towards ending the epidemic among women, and empower women to affect the global response to HIV.

Around the world, women encounter institutional barriers that increase the risks and impact of HIV. The failure by public institutions to promote comprehensive sex education, both in the United States and abroad, has limited awareness of the dangers of HIV infection for women.

Women also comprise two-thirds of the world’s 800 million illiterate adults, a product of social hierarchies that limit educational opportunities for girls and women. As a result, women are frequently unable to access desperately needed information about sexual health, STI testing, and available treatments.

Women are also exposed to the risks of HIV through sexual assault. In the United States, one in five women is sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Our society’s failure to properly address sexual assault has endangered women while allowing perpetrators to routinely walk free.

Women face greater risk of HIV infection not only through the incidence of sexual assault, but also as a result of the life-long trauma and symptoms that can result from sexual assault. For that reason, GMHC’s Safety in Housing program offers housing to individuals suffering from unstable housing as a result of intimate partner violence.

Women with HIV have also struggled to attain proper healthcare. As of 2012, only 55 percent of women living with HIV received continuous treatment, only 39 percent of women had been prescribed antiretroviral therapy, and only 30 percent had achieved viral suppression.

Since the early days of the HIV epidemic, the HIV-positive community has struggled to receive affordable access to care and treatment. For HIV-positive women, access to treatment is further complicated by gender inequities in employment and pay.

Moreover, 62 percent of all women diagnosed with HIV in 2014 were African American and 16 percent were Hispanic, signaling the prevalence of HIV among women of color susceptible to additional barriers to care.

Programs such as those offered through GMHC’s Women’s Care, Prevention, and Support Division, and our Empowerment program for transgender women, play a vital role in expanding access to testing and treatment for women who are most at risk.

Continue onto The Hill to read more about the HIV/AIDS epidemic.