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No one ever thinks they will develop cancer. Cassandra Lewis-Moore was one of those people. The 34-year-old thought there was a possibility she would get diabetes as it'runs'in her family, but she never thought cancer would happen to her. But during the eighth month of pregnancy with her first child in October 2010, she felt a huge lump in one of her breasts. She knew something was wrong. She sought medical attention.
"It was very large, and it shouldn't have been there,"recalled Lewis-Moore."I'd never felt anything like that before. It didn't hurt, but it was very hard and very big. But because the breasts were so large you couldn't see it."
Because she was pregnant, her doctor ordered an ultrasound of the breast and concluded it was breast milk that would go away once she started breastfeeding. Lewis-Moore, a newlywed and her husband, Kevin welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Andreus, who they call"KJ"into the family. In the months after her son's birth, she noticed her breast size decreasing, but the lump getting bigger and protruding through the skin and not disappearing like the doctor had told her it would. It had started to hurt. It was a pain she chalked up to tenderness from breastfeeding. That was until the day she was playing with a then crawling"KJ"and like all babies do, he kneed her in the breast. The pain was excruciating. She remembers actually pushing her baby away from her so suddenly that she scared him. She thought about what the doctors had told her, and massaged her breast and put hot towels on it to help dissolve the milk. But it was the day that she took a"me day"in January 2011, and headed to the spa for a massage. As the therapist worked on her back, she said it was so painful she could not complete the therapy. That pain sent her back to her doctor.
Her doctor requested a mammogram. The result showed hardened milk. Her doctor requested a lumpectomy to remove the hardened mass, which was done in March 2011. The mass was tested and the result returned as Stage 2 breast cancer. The cancer cells were actually inside the hardened breast milk.
FRIGHT TAKES HOLD
Lewis-Moore was scared--not because it had taken so long to determine she had breast cancer--she was mad because she wondered what would happen to her family after she'd waited so long to get married and have a child, and then to be diagnosed with cancer while still a newlywed and a new mother.
"In my 20s, it was all about education and my career--so in my 30s, it was about getting married. And I'm the only girl and the last child in my family, so it was a big thing[for me to get married and have a child], and to be told this[that I had cancer]. I thought, what was going to happen to my family?"
Lewis-Moore began her battle with the deadly cancer cells. She celebrated her baby's first birthday one week before she began chemotherapy treatment. And she did her best to keep her energy up over the months of treatment for her child, who was too young to understand that his mom was sick.
"He just knows one day mommy had hair that he used to pull,"says Lewis-Moore who boldly sports a bald head no hair caps for her."The tough part was when we were playing one day and I had already started chemo, and he pulled on my hair, and a whole clump came out in his hand and fell on his face. He just dropped it and ran. He was scared. But other than that, mommy is still mommy. Sometimes, she can still play; sometimes, she can't because she's very tired."
She's finished with chemo, but will have to take additional treatment because she was diagnosed as HER2-positive. This is a diagnosis for people who have a protein called human epidermal growth factor that promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positivebreast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. They're also less responsive to hormone treatment. However, treatments that specifically target HER2 are very effective.
"I'm going to have to do additional treatments, but they're not as severe as the chemo, and they want me to do radiation, and we're still setting that up."
The road to survivor isn't quite finished yet, but Lewis-Moore begs to differ. "I had a lump--the cancer was there, and they took the lump out, and the cancer hadn't spread."
Even though chemo was a downside, Lewis-Moore has come out on the other side with a friend--a 31-year-old who had to have an immediate double mastectomy because her cancer was spreading like wildfire.
"Chemo was rough; I will not lie,"she says."It is not rough for everyone, but for those who have the illnesses after the chemo, make sure you have a strong support system at home and at work."
BRINGING SEXY BACK
She is now on a slow road to bringing sexy back. She's walking at least 20 minutes a day as recommended by her doctor, and looking forward to the fabulous new breasts she will soon be getting. She had a partial mastectomy on one breast, but to put safety measures in place for her future, she wants to have a double mastectomy then get those"fabulous new breasts"with which will come a tummy tuck. The surgery she will have done, a TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction, which is the gold standard in breast construction, removes some of her stomach skin and fat, to reconstruct her breasts and fill them in.
As she battled the disease, she admits that she was not always as confident as she is today and says at one point, she really stopped trying and didn't bother with anything. But after a month or two, she said to hell with it--that she was going to live her life and have fun. She was going to dress up and go out and rock her bald head.
When she first started to lose her hair, which was natural, her cousin took her to his barber and she got a low haircut. The hair continued to come out, so she told her husband to shave off the rest. Right after she did that, Lewis-Moore, who works for BAF Financial and Insurance Bahamas Ltd., the coordinators behind Denim Day in the country for 14 years in raising monies for a cure, says she had to attend a company awards ceremony to which she wore a head-wrap. For a week she wore different head-wraps until she was hit by a hot flash at work. All she wanted to do was get naked, but she couldn't at work. The best thing for her to do was remove the head-wrap. That was the last day she wore one.
Removing the head-wrap liberated her and gave her confidence.
"I had another coworker who had breast cancer and her advice to me was to just wear makeup, but I couldn't wear that because I sweat too much, so I would just draw on my eyebrows if I remembered in the mornings. One morning, I woke up, was washing my face, looked in the mirror and said,"By damn, I don't have any eyebrows, eyelashes, nothing. So some days, I had eyebrowsâEUR¦some days, I didn't and I put on my lip-gloss, put on my earrings and was out the door."
The cancer survivor is excited for her future. And she says cancer does not have to be a death sentence. She says women need to take their health seriously and check things out because they know their bodies, and know when something is wrong. She encourages them to get bumps or moles that they hadn't seen before checked out.
For anyone who has been newly diagnosed with breast cancer or will be diagnosed in the future, Lewis-Moore says she has learned that you need to have a strong support system at home and at work, both of which she had.
Through her battle, Lewis-Moore was thankful for the support she received from her husband, and also thankful that he had a group of friends with wives, sisters or mothers that had breast cancer that he could talk to.
"It was tough, because being a newlywed and fairly young, and I didn't have urges. It just wasn't there. I was miserable in the sense that I did not want to be bothered and I did not want to be here."
But she says her husband's support, as well as that of her family--her mother traveled from Grand Bahama to stay with them for six months--and her aunts and cousins helped by keeping the baby some days and make certain she was okay, especially after days when she endured eight-hour chemotherapy sessions, helped her through the rough times. And her co-workers that knew what she was going through were helpful and very understanding.
"I never thought cancer would happen to me. I thought maybe I would get diabetes because that runs in my family, but never anything like this,"she says.
It's almost summer and most women are looking forward to getting a pedicure and showing off those pretty toenails, but as diabetics, before you kick off your shoes, consider the potential downsides of pedicures.
People with diabetes are at high risk for a number of complications including infections, ulcers and amputations. If there is a break in the skin, it can lead to a leg or life-threatening infection. As podiatrists, we recommend that individuals with diabetes do not receive a pedicure because of the often questionable sanitary conditions of the beauty salon, the skills of the individual performing the pedicure and the cleanliness of the instruments used.
Regardless, many women (and, yes, even men) with diabetes are still heading to salons and spas. Aside from being a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, pedicures can ensure that feet are clean and moisturized, which is important when you have diabetes with dry skin. The reality is that women are going to get pedicures whether they are diabetics or not. If people with diabetes choose to have pedicures. they must be aware of the risk and follow these tips to keep their feet safe.
Know when to skip it: If you are healthy, with your diabetes under control and without complications, getting a pedicure may not pose as great a threat as it does for people with diabetic foot complications. If you have decreased feeling in the feet (neuropathy), an infection or an ulcer, don't book an appointment. An open wound will allow in any bacteria that may be hiding in the foot basin, the water or on the instruments. Further, because of the nerve damage you may not be able to tell if you've been cut or burned if the water is too hot.
Check out the salon: Before scheduling a pedicure at just any nail salon, it is wise to look into the cleanliness of the salon and its practices. It is important to look into all the salon's sanitation practices, the technician's training (make sure he/she is licensed), how the tools are cleaned and how the basin is cleaned. If the salon looks clean, but you're still not sure, don't be afraid to ask them how they clean their basins and instruments.
Foot baths and instruments should be cleaned with a hospital-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant after every client. If the salon or spa does not clean often enough or with the proper chemicals, don't take a chance on going there. There are so many things you can catch at a salon that is not clean including fungus or bacteria. It is recommended that you visit and check out the salon or get a manicure first before getting a pedicure.
Examine the foot bath: Foot baths provide a pool of warm, bubbly water that is relaxing. But they can also be filled with bacteria that can come from the water or from the basin not being cleaned properly after the last client. It is recommended that basins are thoroughly cleansed between each client.
Inspect the tools: Before you let a pedicurist touch your feet, find out how her tools are sanitized. All nail instruments should be cleaned after each use. Dirty instruments used on past customers or soaked in unchanged sterilizing fluid or open containers are very dangerous and can be the source of an infection. Pick a salon that uses stainless steel instruments, which are easier to clean rather than wooden sticks or porous files. To prevent the spread of infection, emery boards and nail buffers should be used once and given to the client or thrown out after each client. To ensure instruments are clean and safe, some people take their own tools to the nail salon. At the end you would take the tools home and clean them yourself.
Give instructions: If you have diabetes it is best to tell the nail technician you have diabetes. Give clear guidelines on how you want them to take care of your feet safely. Tell them that you cannot have your feet soaked in hot water. Request that the technician not clip your cuticles or file your heels or calluses with a blade.
Make sure the water is warm, not hot, and that your toenails are cut straight across. Moisturizing lotions or creams should be massaged into your feet, but not between the toes. Insist that the pedicurist avoid a credo blade or razor on your feet.
Consider the alternatives: These measures may seem a bit excessive, but consider the alternative. Unsterilized instruments can pass bacteria and infections between clients. The first thing to understand when it comes to diabetics is that pedicure risks in healthy people are multiplied in diabetics.
The first thing that a diabetic should do is to consult their podiatrist and ask them if they can have a pedicure. Sometimes patients with controlled diabetes can enjoy pedicures without much more risk than normal healthy people. However, nail technicians must remember that instruments should be cleaned before use and that diabetics are at increased risk for complication and that their skin should never be broken.
In the unfortunate situation that the skin of a diabetic is broken, or if there is pain or soreness you must take immediate steps to clean the wound and place a dressing on the wound. You should see a podiatrist as soon as possible if symptoms persist. When you have diabetes, any injury to your feet is a major concern even if it is caused by the manicurist. An injury is an open invitation for an infection. An infection can lead to higher blood sugars and higher blood sugars can interfere with healing, which can lead to ulcers and potential amputation.
When it comes to pedicures, persons with diabetes must ask themselves if it is worth the risk? People with diabetes should be seen by a podiatrist on a regular basis for routine foot care. It is best to see the podiatrist, regularly so any problem or potential foot complications can be dealt with early.
o For more information, email me at email@example.com or visit www.apma.org or pedicuretip.org. To see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street or call 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane or call 394-5820.
Schooner Bay is developing a $2 million retreat to entice guests seeking a therapeutic escape - but with a twist.
Well Bahamas, comprised of several buildings spilling out into a courtyard, should come online by Spring 2013. Luxurious yet simple, the attraction hopes to remain consistent with Schooner Bay's mantra of sustainability.
"It's in development now," said Amanda Lindroth, the wife of the key developer behind the South Abaco community. "It has to be run by great personnel, so they have been developing it with us. The concept, like Schooner, is predicated on health and well being, away from the fitness center with pounding music."
Instead, Well Bahamas aims to offer a serene setting with accommodations for up to eight people at a time. The restaurant will dish out healthy, clean meals, with many of the products grown on site.
Walking routes through the forest or down the beach, massage treatments, manicures and pedicures, and a variety of body treatments will also be provided.
Lindroth expects Well Bahamas to generate 10 jobs upon opening.
"The modern idea of going to spa ... I find the concept dated now. Schooner evokes a spirit. It's so elemental and there is so much nature. It makes you think abut approaching things in a more natural way," she added.
Well Bahamas may also have a taste of the modern, however. Lindroth said the spa could bring in electronic kiosks or provide mobile applications so guests can log progress on the designated walks.
Lindroth told Guardian Business "there will be nothing like it in The Bahamas".
According to blueprints obtained by Guardian Business, Well Bahamas consists of five or six structures facing a courtyard. There are fitness rooms, treatments rooms and rooms for guests at the spa.
The end of the year opening should work well with the considerable growth expected at Schooner this year.
In fact, up to $30 million will be spend on infrastructure, amenities and homes as it grows into a full-fledged community. As many as 30 homes are slated for completion in 2012, in addition to the 12 now underway at various stages of construction.
Many houses are already finished and the community has welcomed its first residents.
The opening of the harbor, the only one within 20 miles in any direction, is being touted as a major step in Schooner's development.
James Malcolm, the head of marketing, said the fuel dock will be installed this year and up to 20 boats should be moored there by the end of 2012.
"Now we're getting powered up with the opening of the harbor, and everything has been very deliberately orchestrated," Malcolm said.
For the average distance runner, one goal is to compete in a half marathon and then eventually a full marathon, whether it's for his or her own personal gratification or just for a worthy cause. For the past three years, the Bahamas Roadmasters Club has provided both opportunities.
Now into its fourth year, the Roadmasters annual charity run is set for Saturday, September 17 and the interest is brewing from a cross section of the society. Last year, the proceeds went to the Pilot Club of Nassau in their quest to build a pool for the Physically Disabled. Previously, the Aids Foundation and the Aids Camp were among the beneficiaries. This year, Bahamas Roadmasters' goal is to raise at least $10,000 to assist the Ranfurly Home for Children.
The club, founded by president George Smith and others, provides an avenue for Bahamians to develop their dreams of being marathon runners. It also catered to those members who were primarily interested in losing weight or just improving their physical conditioning.
Kimley Saunders, chairman of the organizing committee for the run, said they are opening doors for so many other Bahamians to participate because of the charity aspects attached to the event. Although it's not a full or even a half marathon, the run features a number of aspects that will cater to just about every causal or competitive runner, from a five-mile run or walk from Montagu Beach to Charlotte Street and back.
There's also a 10-mile run/walk that leaves Montagu Beach and travels all the way to Goodman's Bay and back. If a participant dares to be more adventurous, there's the 20-mile run that leaves Montagu Beach and travels all the way to Blake Road and back to Montagu. Additionally, there's also the 20-mile uniformed officers relay that already has a team from the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), two from Her Majesty Prison and three from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) signed up to compete. There is also an open relay.
For those doing the 20-mile run, the start time is 4:30 a.m. The five and 10-mile races will begin an hour later at 5:30 a.m.
Saunders noted: "We hope to have at least 150-200 participants or more and that everyone will have fun and enjoy themselves and at the same time support the Ranfurly Home. We hope that we can raise the $10,000 or more that we are anticipating to raise for the Ranfurly Home."
In July, 2009, Angela 'Grandmother' Rahming decided to increase her mobility by moving up from walking to running. She did her first charity run two years ago and returned for her second appearance last year. This year, however, Rahming has decided to work closely with the organizing committee. She serves as the assistant secretary, but she said she was so inspired by her ability to "complete the run" without any problems that she's made it her goal to encourage others to get involved.
"It can be for anybody," she insisted. "You don't have to worry about keeping up with anybody. As long as you are consistent, you can finish. Every day you go out, you can add your mileage. Being consistent is the key."
Through her new found love, the actual 'grandmother' of one said a lot of the members were taken aback when she started, but she never allowed anyone to discourage her. In fact, they are all in awe of her achievement in just three years. Last year, Rahming participated in her first half marathon on January 31 at the ING in Miami. Her nephew, who lives in Florida, was so thrilled about her commitment and dedication, that he decided to join her.
With the support of her daughter, grandson, sister and niece on the sideline cheering her on, Rahming completed the course in three hours and 10 minutes.
"For me, that was good, really good. Obviously, it's not elite running time, but for me it was super," she quipped.
That has led to Rahming making strides in a series of other events. In October, she did a half marathon on a Saturday in Washington and on Sunday, the following week, she did her first full marathon. In April, Rahming duplicated the feat when she ran the Kentucky Derby, then drove back to Ohio and did a half marathon.
"I didn't tell anybody in the club that I was going. I just went with another friend," she stated. "They were all surprised that I did it."
Although it was a new event last year, the RBDF has dominated the relay competition and this year, sports officer Ramone Storr said the Defence Force will be back to do it again.
"I guarantee a repeat in the relays," said Storr of their dominance of the first, second, third and fifth place finishes. "We have a couple solid young fellas in training and on the squad now, so I guarantee we will repeat with the relays."
Known for their athletic prowess, Storr said the Defence Force is always capable and ready.
"This road race will just showcase our talent," he pointed out. "We really are in it because we want to do to our part to assist with charity."
For a registration fee of just $20, each participate will receive a T-shirt, Eco friendly bag, a water bottle and free food - stew conch, chicken souse, Johnny cake, fruits - Gatorade, juice and water. A number of prizes will be offered, including tickets on the Bahamas Fast Ferries, dinner for two at British Colonial Hilton and gift certificates from the Sports Centre, Mystical Gym, Lickety Split, Dominos Pizza and a full body massage from International Orthopedics.
Registration sites are the Palmdale Vision, the Reef Restaurant and the Ranfurly Home for Children.
Like many parents, Brennamae and Fernley Cooper want only the best for their children -- success, health and for them to maximize their full potential. With a thriving, striving eight-year-old son and a perfect second pregnancy with all of her checks balancing out, the Coopers were shocked to learn just days after their daughter was born in 2009 that she had a congenital heart disease. The mother described the feeling as she was told of what was wrong with her daughter as "heart-wrenching".
"Shock is an understatement. It was so unreal," she said. "I recall when the doctor was explaining it that I immediately started crying because everything up to that point was good. My pregnancy was great, I felt good and I had been up-to-date with all my checks, so there was no indication."
At her first post-natal visit, the doctor heard a heart murmur and referred the Coopers to pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jerome Lightbourne. Grace was diagnosed with a heart condition called Trilogy of Fallot. She had a hole in the lower chamber of her heart, a common thing, but in Grace's case it was multiple, and that the pulmonary vessel that takes blood to the lungs was too narrow, restricting the proper flow of blood to her lungs. Dr. Lightbourne made plans for the just days old baby to fly to Florida for life-saving medical help. In the first two years of her young life, Grace has already undergone a number of operations, to repair a number of defects, including having surgery to remove a portion of her small intestine after she developed intestinal infection after one of her surgeries. The baby had to undergo open-heart surgery in 2010 at one year and two months of age to repair the hole in her heart and the valve.
The Coopers know their daughter will have at least one future surgery to replace a stent that was put in to open a valve which they know will have to be replaced as Grace grows and it becomes too small. But they say God's will be done.
As she approaches her third birthday, Grace is thriving, having met all of her milestones. And her mother marvels at the milestones she said her daughter has achieved.
"Initially, the motor skills we had to work on and thankfully while I was by her bedside I was able to watch the physical therapists as they massaged and worked her legs, arms and neck, positioning her so she could hold up her head and do the different things to strengthen her because she was in a sedated state for such a long time that the body could become stiff in certain areas," she said.
"So I learned to do the exercises and when we returned home, my husband and I continued doing them with her at home for a few weeks. After that, Grace was just striving -- feeding, sitting up and crawling. Now she's walking, talking and doing well."
Her mother describes her as a toddler with a strong personality who loves to sing and smile. "She's just a happy soul," said Cooper.
Grace was able to have all of her surgeries done in the United States courtesy of The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation, a privately funded charity that raises funds primarily through donations and from the annual Heart Ball held in February, and which will be held on Saturday, February 18 at Sheraton Cable Beach Resort. Over 97 percent of each dollar raised goes directly to the aid of children.
"Prior to 2009, I honestly did not even know about the Sir Victor Sassoon Heart Foundation ... and honestly I don't know if that's sad or whatever, but often times you don't know about these things until you have to use them yourself."
She said as Dr. Lightbourne made arrangements for her daughter to seek life-saving medical help in the United States, she still was unaware to what extent the organization would be able to help them. Cooper said she was left speechless when the doctor explained that the foundation would cover the bill. Today, she is eternally grateful and still does not know how much it cost for her daughter's life-saving surgeries.
"I recall one day when one of the medical personnel came by and asked if I wanted to have a look at what the bill was so far, but I said to her I really didn't want to know because I didn't want a headache that day. Later on she kind of gave us an idea, and it was thousands of dollars -- money that my husband and I would not have been able to come up with at that time -- and not even now. From when this happened, we knew we would not be able to pay back monetarily -- not dollar for dollar, but what we can do is tell people about the foundation."
Reliving the ordeal they went through with their daughter is still painful to the Coopers, but the mother said she and her husband agreed to share her story as their way of giving back.
"If it touches the heart of people who hear the story to give to the foundation, we would do it every time because we are eternally grateful. I know of situations where parents who got bad news from doctors that their loved one has to go into surgery, and they have to come up with 'X amount' before the surgery can even be done, and we cannot relate to that thanks to the foundation. We don't know how that feels."
Cooper said they've made one or two monetary contributions to the foundation since, but nothing they do in comparison can compare. And she encourages people to make donations to the organization because they're not just making a donation, but saving lives.
Through the generosity of others, she says Grace's life -- which she knows has a purpose, has been saved.
"I work with children who sometimes have certain disabilities that prevents them from leading a full life, but because of the opportunity that the foundation has afforded us, Grace can live a normal life. Grace can run around like her peers now, and the teachers don't have to be cautious, and if they are cautious, it's only out of their own fear, and they want to be extra careful. It's not because she's ailing," she says.
With Grace "out of the woods", Cooper says their goal is to help Grace to live a full life, grow up and use her existence as a testimony to let people know.
"We are firm believers in God and I know that even going through it, if I had a different spirit ... a different mindset, I can honestly say I wouldn't have been as mentally stable as I am today because even the way Grace's body changed, and things we saw with our eyes could have blown our minds. As a young couple we were close," said the 35-year-old mother, but this whole experience has brought us even closer because we went through this together and that made it even more easy to deal with."
After the ordeal her family went through she says many people have told her that they expect Grace to be "spoiled", but the mother says she disciplines her daughter when necessary, but has noticed that her daughter has a mind of her own and is very strong-minded. She says if Grace wants to do something she will let them know. And that Grace doesn't stop calling for her mom until she has her attention.
With the foundation's major fundraiser, the Heart Ball scheduled for Saturday, February 18 at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort, the Coopers are planning to attend for the first time. She says for the past two years they weren't able to attend because they weren't able to financially, but this year the Cooper's are making the sacrifice to pay the $500 per couple price tag, for tickets plus travel into New Providence for the event. She says it's the least they can do.
The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation was established as a living tribute by Lady Sassoon following the death of her husband, Sir Victor Sassoon, in 1961, to assist Bahamians with heart disease. Lady Sassoon had asked that instead of sending flowers to honor her husband, that people send a donation to the local heart fund. A few weeks later the hospital called to tell her that a substantial amount of money had been donated in her husband's memory, but that there was no local heart fund. She took it upon herself to create one.
Through the foundation's fundraising efforts, over 4,000 children have been afforded quality medical care. The foundation currently has a list of 11 children that need immediate life-saving surgery.
Donations can be made to the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation at P.O. Box N-8189, Nassau, Bahamas.