The Health Brief

The F.D.A has approved a generic epinephrine auto-injector

Teva Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. has gained the F.D.A. approval to market their generic version of EpiPen.

The need for a generic life-saving version of the EpiPen started in 2016 when Mylan Pharmaceuticals (a multibillion dollar pharmaceutical company and the owners of the brand name medication, Epipen) made a what were you thinking kind of move and drastically increased the price of the EpiPen medication from $100 for two pens to over $600 for two.

(Someone had to be smoking some serious crack when they made that decision).

Even with insurance the hefty increase in price made it virtually impossible for everyday people to buy the life-saving medication.

Mylan’s disturbing increase combined with the upset of the people and the news coverage caught the attention of federal antitrust regulators.

Regulators started an investigation that led to what some have called a “Mind-Blowing” antitrust scheme wherein 18 drug makers were accused of fixing generic drug prices.

All together, the 18 companies worked together to falsely inflate the prices of 15 drugs to treat glaucoma, arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and asthma as well as several other conditions, the attorneys general allege.

Although there are other medications on the market none of them have been granted the title “Generic EpiPen” until now.

This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages.— F.D.A. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in the statement.

Hopefully, it will be far more affordable!

More than 100 cases of Measles have been reported in the U.S.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 100 cases of measles have been diagnosed this year in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

How? A contributing factor to an increase in measles in the United States is that travelers visit countries where there’s a measles outbreak and then they bring them back.

What can I do? If you already have measles, it’s important to reduce the risk of spreading the infection to other people. You should:

  • avoid work or school for at least 4 days from when you first developed the measles rash
  • try to avoid contact with people who are more vulnerable to the infection, such as young children and pregnant women, cancer fighters and the aging while you’re ill

What about prevention? If you plan on traveling to other countries, see your doctor, first! You may need to be vaccinated. Whether you’re traveling or not according to the CDC, two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine are nearly 100 percent effective at preventing measles. (CDC)

But I’m worried about the safety of vaccines. You’re not alone. Many of us are. As the years pass we get more information about the potential side effects. There are pros and cons to vaccination.

I plan to discuss this more in a future article but for now my advice is that you do your research. Talk to your doctor. Don’t let others influence your decision. Trust your gut.

Weed killer reported in breakfast foods? 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently reported that Glyphosate, a weedkiller linked to cancer, was found in “hefty doses” in popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars.

To my dismay, the weed killer was also found in about one-third of the samples made with organically grown oats. For the full story and the brands tested go to EWG.

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Up Close & Personal: Lesley Barth

LESLEY BARTH is a singer-songwriter and entrepreneur who believes music has the power to change lives and help us to better understand ourselves, and each other.

With her rich voice, relatable lyrics and 70’s sound (and vibe) she’s been compared to music greats like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Carly Simon and Cat Stevens.

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak with Barth. She talked about why flying solo is so important to her and how she’s overcoming the habit of worrying about what others think.

Continue reading “Up Close & Personal: Lesley Barth”

under (re)construction

Hello friends! It’s Friday July 27, 2018—I hope this finds you staying cool, and looking forward to a good weekend.

To my cancer fighter readers, I hope this finds you on a good day.

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. That’s because a few weeks ago I had the final surgery of delayed breast reconstruction (yay!).

I’ve been recuperating.

This surgery was to remove breast tissue expanders a.k.a. spacers, and replace them with permanent breast implants.

What is a breast tissue expander? A breast tissue expander is an inflatable breast implant designed to stretch the skin and muscle to make room for a future, more permanent implant.

The breast tissue expanders are seen here on the left. Not every expander looks the same. I’m a very petite woman and each surgeon has their preference.

Why do you need expanders? Once you have a mastectomy you don’t have a pocket (or space) to hold implants so the surgeon creates one using “spacers.”

It took me four years to get to this place. Reconstruction doesn’t typically take as long as mine did. Many (like Angelina Jolie) opt for immediate reconstruction following mastectomy.

That was my intent, too. But everyone’s body and circumstances vary.

In my case, when my surgeon removed my breast tissue (I had double mastectomies) my skin rebelled. It quickly started to change color. When the skin changes color it may mean the skin is dying off due to lack of blood supply.

This is a complication called, Necrosis.

When my surgeon saw my skin reacting negatively she determined it was better to back out of immediate reconstruction and give my body and skin time to heal. And I agree!

At the time, she didn’t know if the skin issue was going to end up being a complex situation.

Thankfully, it was not! Within days my skin was back to normal.

I could have jumped right back into surgery to finish the job but I wanted to take a timeout to just breathe and heal emotionally. And, I wanted to restore my immune system before doing so.

Cancer, chemotherapy and surgery are taxing physically and emotional. I needed a break, so I took one.

Two years later I went back to the same plastic surgeon. This time my experience was a disappointing debacle.

I’ll share more about that in another letter but for now, I just wanted to touch base with you all. And, I like to try to keep my articles shorter than normal for people on the run.

Update on my blogging challenges.

I haven’t given up on my blogging goals. If you’ve been following me you know what I’m talking about, if not, you can read more about that here..

I continue to learn ways to better myself as a writer, content creator and blog designer. And I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned.

But if there’s one thing life is teaching me it’s that you don’t have to do it, grasp it or be it, overnight. It takes time and patience.

Have a great weekend!

Always, Imperfect April

The pit in my Stomach?

Diary. June 5, 2018—-I have that pit in your stomach anxiety.

That feeling is related to a photo I posted on Instagram earlier this morning.

She was brave and strong and broken all at once. —Anna Funder

I took the above photo back in 2013 while going through chemotherapy.

Objectively speaking and from a photography perspective, I think it’s a good image.

In fact, It was the artist and documentarian in me that posted it.

But now, the woman and survivor in me is feeling vulnerable. I’m even somewhat embarrassed by it.

Why? I’m at my worst in this picture. Why in the world would I want to post it for all to see?

And what about my family? I wonder if it makes them feel bad to have to remedy it all. Will it change how others see me? My feelings about it is confusing to me.

I’m all about truth telling. I’m also the person who prides herself in gladly taking these kind of photos for other people. I do so with a sense of pride and honor.

I think what I’m feeling has to more to do with vulnerability than embarrassment. I keep reminding myself that so many other survivors do this. So it’s not like I’ve done anything that’s never been done before.

But still, my stomach is telling me otherwise.

The key note on this is that there are no rules, expectations or standards on how to proceed after an illness like cancer.

It’s up to each individual. So I think the best thing to do is to just wait and see how I feel tomorrow.

I’m feeling tired now so I’ll leave it at that for now.

ps. my toe keeps twitching.