Written on June 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm , by Samantha Shelton
Everyone at FITNESS was deeply saddened to learn the news that Robin Roberts, TV host on Good Morning America, has been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood and bone marrow disease that may have resulted from her breast cancer diagnosis (which she beat!) five years ago. After speaking with doctors, she learned that the scary Google statistics that pop up when you search MDS don’t apply because Roberts is younger and fitter than most who receive this diagnosis. Another reason why we encourage you to make health and fitness a priority: it can increase your chances of survival in dire situations like this one!
Roberts has now begun chemotherapy pre-treatments in order to prepare for a bone marrow transplant that will take place in the summer or fall of 2012. Fortunately, her sister, Sally-Ann Roberts, is a nearly perfect match, so the hunt for a donor is not a worry she faces.
Others, however, are not so lucky. Many family members do not end up being a match for those in need, and some have to sit and wait, hoping a match will appear in a donor registry like Be The Match. Bone marrow donors are not in abundance, and many don’t even realize they can help save a life, whether it be someone they know or a complete stranger.
In order to find out, visit marrow.org and follow the instructions. You may also learn more about the donation process and enter your information into the registry if you decide that’s the right personal decision for yourself.
In the meantime, we’re sending all of our strength, love and well wishes to Roberts for dominance over this disease, and a speedy, healthy recovery!
Now you tell us: How far would you go to help a loved one (or complete stranger)? Are you already an organ donor, or considering being one?
Written on October 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm , by Karla Walsh
Professional kayaker Brad Ludden knew the power of a great active adventure from a young age. “I was raised in the outdoors growing up in northwest Montana. Each season was a new family adventure, from skiing to camping, fly fishing, kayaking and hiking,” Ludden says. “My favorite memories were formed outside and my passion stayed there.”
So when, at age 13, Ludden had to watch his aunt battle breast cancer, it was only natural for him to turn to the river when he was seeking a way to help those fighting the all-too-common disease. He started teaching teens at a pediatric oncology organization how to kayak and asked, “Why isn’t there anything like this for people like my aunt?” So in 2001, when he was just 18, Ludden created something. That something is now First Descents, designed to help those who have or currently are battling cancer “experience the healing properties of the outdoors.”
We spoke to Ludden to learn more about his unique way to empower young adult survivors and fighters who are among the most underserved demographic of the cancer world.
What is your top memory from your time with First Descents?
Through 11 years of amazing friendships, experiences, adventures, conversations and challenges, I’ve gained priceless perspective on life. I live every day differently because of the time I’ve spent with First Descents.
Keep reading for more about Ludden’s aspirations for First Descents and for details about how you can make a difference.
Written on October 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm , by Karla Walsh
We all remember Shannon Miller for her high-flying feats and beaming smile at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. So what has she been up to since then? Conquering cancer with style, and helping other women do the same.
Last December, Miller’s doctor discovered a cyst on her ovary during a regular exam that she almost skipped (reminder to get your check-ups!) and had surgery to remove it a few weeks later. It was cancerous, but caught at an early stage. Miller, a mom to a 15-month-old son at the time, completed nine weeks of chemotherapy filled with nausea, hair loss and low energy. That’s where the Look Good…Feel Better (LGFB) program comes in.
LGFB launched in 1988 and has been helping women with cancer improve their self-esteem and quality of life through makeovers that remind participants that they are beautiful inside and out. It’s the only free, worldwide service that teaches those in the midst of cancer treatment that they can have a bit of normalcy back in their lives.
“As a woman, Look Good…Feel Better pulled me out of the sadness of treatment. I was able to focus on being a person again, which when you lose all of your hair—eyebrows and eyelashes included—is hard to do,” Miller says.
Beauty professionals host makeover workshops and webinars focusing on cosmetics, skin and nail treatments and accessories that address specific side effects of cancer so the patients can direct their energy on healing.
“Not every person wants to be asked about their treatment all of the time, and I know that I wanted my son to still be able to recognize me,” Miller explains. “You have to deal with so much when you have cancer—financially, physically, mentally—is makeup and hair important? It is! Your body begins to feel like you’re own again since how you look is a symbol of how you feel.”
Today, besides promoting LGFB (she was honored at the organization’s DreamBall in September, see photo above), Miller is back to work with her wellness company Shannon Miller Lifestyle and just received a clean MRI scan!
Learn more about LGFB and find out if it’s available in your area here.
More from FITNESS: Sweat for a Cure: More Women Who are Making a Difference
Written on July 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm , by Marianne Magno
The next time you struggle to reach the top shelf and curse your short legs, remind yourself of this recent revelation: tall women were found to have a greater risk for cancer, according to a new study. Total cancer risk rose by 16 percent with every 4-inch height increase, according to a study published in The Lancet Oncology.
Researchers looked at more than one million middle-aged women who were grouped into categories based on their height. They found that taller women were at higher risk for cancer regardless of their age, income, BMI, physical activity and other factors known to increase your chances of getting cancer. The biological reason for this correlation is still unknown, but some researchers are pointing to growth hormones, which tall people tend of have more of, and the simple fact that tall people have more cells, which can lead to more growth of cancerous cells.
For someone who’s stuck standing at 5 feet 0 inches tall, I guess this makes up for all those times I wish I were a little bit taller, like when I look at long-legged runners who could cover in one stride what I do in two, volleyball and basketball players who make spiking and dunking the ball look so easy, and tall women who look statuesque (and frankly more intimidating than my petite self).
So tell us: Tall or short, do you think your height affects your fitness or health?