Sunday, May 31, 2009

More NY state anti-dog legislation in the Assembly this week

A purebred dogImage via Wikipedia

Senator Aubertine's office advises that 10 bills of interest to dog owners are on the agenda for next week's (June 1-7) NY State Senate committmee meetings.

**Regarding "puppymills" **

S4961A Oppenheimer (same as A 7983A Paulin) Redefines "pet dealer" by REMOVING the exemption for residential/ hobby breeders and ADDING "any person who SELLS, OFFERS FOR SALE OR NEGOTIATES THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF ANIMALS BORN OR RAISED ON ANOTHER PREMISES;

The proposal also adds numerous requirements for care of animals by "pet dealers" including veterinary protocols, exercise, and more. Also requires pet dealers to authorize release of their records with breed registries and veterinarians to New York State or its agents.

link: A07983&sh=t
- - - -
S5392A Squadron (same as A7285 Paulin)
Prohibits ownership or custody of more than 50 intact dogs or cats

Allows for seizure of dogs or cats if any person or business "has in its care" more than 50 intact dogs or cats over the age of 4 months. Note that such animals may be sold off or killed by the impounding agency if security bond requirements are not met within five days.

link: A07285
Note: this bill is endorsed by HSUS
- - - -
Please join the Dog Federation of New York in opposing these bills and immediately write or phone NYS Agriculture Committee Chair Darrel Aubertine and the Agriculture committee members to express your concern regarding such extremist proposals. If enacted, both will devastate
lawful, humane pet breeders.

As always, be brief, be polite, mention the bill number and "oppose" in the subject line

Contact information:
Hon. Darrel Aubertine
Chair, NYS Senate Committee on Agriculture
903 Legislative Office Building
Albany, New York 12247
518-455-2761 (office) / 518-455-6946 (fax)

committee members:

Sen. William Stachowski, Ph (518)455-2426,

Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, Ph (518)455-3451,

Sen. Neil Breslin, Ph (518)455-2225,

Sen. David Valesky, Ph (518)455-2838,

Sen. Catherine Young, Ph (518)455-3563

Sen. James Seward, Ph (518)455-3131,

Sen. George Winner, Ph (518)455-2091,

Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, Ph (518)455-3161,

also copy or call:
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith
Office of New York State Senator Malcolm A. Smith
909 Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Tel: (518) 455-2701 / Fax: (518) 455-2816

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More on the journey to recovery with yoga

I mentioned yesterday that, just out of surgery, I began exploring yoga to help me with balance, strength and endurance. It was my third abdominal surgery--which meant a healing incision from my navel to pubic bone along the original incision from my anterior perineal resection (APR) in 2005. I didn't want to do anything that would risk my $125K tummy tuck--but I had to get strong enough to at least be able to walk the dogs!

The waterwheel series by Kate Potter, one warmup from her FitTV series "Namaste Yoga," was a favorite practice that I still do at least once a week. All but one of the moves in the last few seconds of this very short video are things even someone who is just beginning surgical recovery can manage with modifications. And the first time I was able to bridge, and to fully extend my legs over my head, even for a few seconds, I knew I was on the right track to rebuilding my strength. Enjoy this excerpt; I'll post some additional favorites from Potter's videos in the next few days.

waterwheel excerpts with from kate potter yoga on Vimeo.

YogaBear, a not-for-profit corporation which links cancer survivors with yoga teachers and studios for free yoga classes, will be providing free introduction-to-yoga classes as part of National Cancer Survivor Day on June 7 in NYC at Rock & Run on the River, as well as in other NCS celebrations in San Francisco and Los Angeles. They're also looking for Reiki practicioners to help out on that day; you can contact them for more information at

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Online support for colon cancer patients and young survivors

Histopathologic image of colonic carcinoid sta...Image via Wikipedia

Colon cancer. Rectal cancer. Anal cancer.
They are the cancers with a high 'ick' factor, the cancers that embarass people, the cancers no one wants to talk about.
The screening guidelines for colorectal cancers (CRC) are based on the historical data that most people diagnosed with these cancers are over the age of 50. Due to this focus on an older patient population, it can be very difficult for patients under 50 to receive proactive, routine colonoscopies--even when they have a direct first-line (mom, dad, sibling) with a CRC diagnosis.

I was 48 years old when I was diagnosed with metastatic rectal cancer. The cancer had already spread to my liver, compromising as much as 85% of its function. I'd had at least five fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) as part of health maintenance physicals; all were normal. I didn't know I had any kind of family history. And I didn't have any red-flag symptoms. My only symptom--which everyone took seriously--was sudden weight loss and wildly high liver enzymes which both were recorded within 8 weeks of my diagnosis. Had I waited until 50 for a screening colonoscopy, I'd be dead.

Because CRC education focuses on people 50 and over, there are almost no places where CRC survivors under 50 can go for support. In face-to-face support groups, I am often the youngest patient in the room, and almost always the only metastatic recurrent rectal cancer survivor.

But there is a place online which was started by and focuses on providing information and support for CRC survivors who are UNDER 50. The Colon Club and its online support forum Colon Talk work to provide a place of community for young CRC survivors to learn about their diagnosis, exchange treatment infomration, discuss side effects and share their cancer journeys. Anonymous 'guests' can participate in the discussion if they are concerned about the privacy of revealing that that are CRC patients. And the forum provides a healthy dose of the latest news in cutting edge treatments and improvements to the current standards.

If you are a CRC survivor of any age, finding a community to share your cancer journey which can also give you accurate CRC-specific treatment and side-effect information is very difficult. Finding a community which actively discusses survivorship issues unique to CRC patients diagnosed under the age of 50 is nearly impossible--unless you find yourself in The Colon Club.

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

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Yoga for Recovery: Check Out YogaBear

Image of Yoga Bear from TwitterImage of Yoga Bear

Last summer, while recovering from my third major abdominal surgery in four years, I re-discovered yoga via FitTV's Namaste Yoga, a multi-skill-level yoga practice created by Canadian Kate Potter.

I was too weak from the combination of surgical recovery and chemo to do much more than the warm-up/cool-down and meditation portions of each show. At first, I felt like I was in the CT scanner (breathe in--hold your breath--breathe out!) Concentrating on breathing while doing active poses was tough at first, but each day's small improvements intrigued me enough that I quickly sought out the entire Namaste series on DVD and added them to my collection. I'm still very much a yoga beginner, but I'm now able to do a physical yoga practice every day, and although my practices have to be short, some days I manage as long as 15 minutes of active poses. My daily yoga practice is centering, calming and energizing at the same time. It is a way to get my active life back, and get stronger from the inside out.

Today on Twitter, I found out about YogaBear, a not-for-profit corporation which links yoga teachers and yoga studios across the US with cancer survivors. Via Yoga Bear's program, this network of teachers offers cancer survivors free yoga classes. If you're a yoga studio, yoga teacher or cancer survivor, visit YogaBear to make the connection, find and renew your inner energy!

You can join several fundraisers to support YogaBear's efforts:
June 7 2009, National Cancer Survivor Day: catch YogaBear's free yoga classes in NYC at Rock & Run on the River (a celebration of cancer survivorship sponsored by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center). Free classes also available in LA and San Francisco
June 27: Yogapalooza will offer free public yoga classes in Atlanta GA, Austin TX, Cleveland OH, San Francisco CA and Washington DC.

Bloggers, until the end of the day on June 6, 2009, you can blog for a cause and spread the word about the benefits of yoga in improving recovery for cancer survivors. If you blog about your experience with yoga, and link back to YogaBear following these instructions, could win $6K to support its efforts to provide yoga classes to cancer survivors!

This blog post is part of Zemanta's "Blogging For a Cause" campaign to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes that bloggers care about.

Breathe in. Hold your breath. Breathe out. I've had four CT scans since last summer, and now, when I hear those words, I think yoga practice--not scan anxiety! I decided to blog for a cause about Yoga Bear so that other cancer survivors can learn that there's more to the power of breathing than just getting the best possible CT scan picture. Namaste.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Fight Cancer: Mohawk Valley communities chosen to participate in nationwide lifestyle vs. cancer study

Relay for Life, 2008Image by Andy Ciordia via Flickr

A story in today's Utica Observer-Dispatch announced that "The Mohawk Valley has been chosen to participate in the American Cancer Society’s nationwide Cancer Prevention Study 3, and ACS is seeking local people to enroll in the study. The study will examine lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors to determine which may contribute to or help prevent cancer."

Study participants must fit this profile, according to Peter Cittadino, ACS community executive director:
"All adults ages 30 to 65 who do not have a personal history of cancer are eligible to enroll. Participants must be willing to commit to a long-term study that, although it requires minimal involvement, will continue for about 20 years."

Earlier multi-community studies established the links between tobacco use and cancer, and between obesity and cancer.

Interested participants can register (a 20-30 min. process) at a table at the Utica Relay for Life on June 13-14 at Mohawk Valley Community College. People interested in participating in the study do not have to be RforL participants to sign up. The registration process involves a survey and some initial measurements on day of sign-up, including giving a blood sample.

Thanks to @foodmedic on Twitter for the heads-up about this study. Sometimes it takes a tweet from Texas to let Central New Yorkers know that they have an opportunity to help researchers make strides evaluating the connections between cancer, lifestyle and diet!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Comment to "Let's Talk About Cancer"

I just left this comment on AC360, Anderson's Cooper's blog at CNN.
AC360 correspondent Randi Kaye blogged today and asked for comments in her post Let's Talk About Cancer.

-----------------This was my comment:--------------
‘Farrah’s Story’ was gritty, dramatic, and real.
I like her docs’ description of cancer as terrorists; that is exactly what Stage IV cancer feels like.

I was diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer and extensive mets to my liver, on April 30 2004. The gastro doc knew during the colonoscopy two days earlier, but diagnosis date is the first appointment with the oncologist.

I wasn’t one of those people who ignored years of symptoms–I only had symptoms for about 8 weeks, and they never included any bleeding or other red flags. My most glaring symptoms were sudden weight loss and sudden intolerance for dairy (so I knew something was wrong.) My routine bloodwork was off the charts, so the docs knew something was wrong. And everyone moved fast; everyone took me seriously. I was only 48. I’d had a decade of FOBTs as part of routine physicals and DREs every six months as part of well-woman exams–all negative. If I’d waited until I was 50 for a screening colonoscopy, I’d be dead now.

The oncologist gave me his last appointment of the day on a Friday. My sister-in-law was upset that after explaining his plan, he didn’t tell me the staging. I explained that if he was correct that the cancer was in my liver, then he didn’t need to say the stage out loud–I was stage IV. What my oncologist, a terrific doc and good friend did say was that because I was young and otherwise healthy, we might win several battles–but we wouldn’t win the war. In other words, he made clear from the beginning what I was up against, that this diagnosis was fatal. No false hope, no miracles. And while I’ve responded very very well to treatment, It’s still fatal. I can’t relax for one second, because believe me, cancer and its microscopic terrorist cells aren’t going to relax. No breaks, no holidays, no truces. Once you start dancing with Stage IV cancer, it’s a dance marathon and you can’t ever leave the floor without very careful planning!

I could have died every treatment in the beginning. But I didn’t die; I improved. Against all the odds, I responded very well to chemo, and I worked through the whole thing. After nine months of treatments every other week, I qualified for surgery to remove the primary rectal tumor and place a pump that would directly infuse chemo into my liver. After a year of those treatments, I qualified for liver resection. After each surgery, I went back to work and after the liver resection I was cancer free (NED) for 21 months. I had a recurrence diagnosed in Dec. 2007, was treated with radiation, chemo and another surgery in 2008, and have been back at work since Sept. 2008.

Last month, I marked the fifth anniversary of my diagnosis–five years of overall survival as a Stage IV, someone who’d had an original prognosis of 18-24 months. My success makes my local doctors happy (along with all of the docs in NYC, where I’m also treated), but some days it fills me with questions. Why did I make it–but not Leroy Sievers? Not Randy Pausch? Not my friend Brady who is right now in hospice only 3 years after his diagnosis? They call this survivors’ guilt, but it’s not all that. I work in preclinical research, and I want a reason, I want to know why. I want to understand better what we don’t know. Our newest treatments are gaining only months on a disease that steals years, and steals from far more people than the new treatments can help.

I’m again cancer free (NED), and this time we all hope it lasts longer than 21 months. The cancer hasn’t returned to my liver, and I’ve had enough chemo and radiation to last me several lifetimes. While I’ve been dancing with this cancer, I’ve lost over two dozen friends who weren’t so lucky with their chemos or their surgeries or their docs or their diagnoses. I have to tell newly diagnosed cancer buddies that my mileage with treatment may not be their mileage–that in cancer even more than gas consumption, mileage varies.

But in the end, you can either sit still and listen to the music, or dance. I will keep dancing, keep taking evasive action as long as the good days outnumber the bad ones. And when the bad days outnumber the good ones, I hope for the grace and sanity to recognize that and be in harmony with my expectations.

What I hate is the platitude that I might get hit by a bus. Yeah, I might–but the sign on the bus that kills me is a lot more likely to say ‘Cancer’ than ‘South Ave Connection.’ I am a Stage IV, and I am a long way from out of the woods yet, if I ever will be out of the woods.

So here’s a salute to you, Farrah, for being so incredibly brave to share your story so that people who don’t get to live this first-hand might understand. She said something amazing that really resonated with me: I’m great…and I’m fighting for my life. What are you fighting for?