Debra Patt: Doctors for the Cure

By: Debra Patt, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A

Today is Doctor’s Day. It is a day where we celebrate and appreciate the doctors in our lives that help to make a difference.

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Dr. Debra Patt

As a doctor, I can tell you that there is no better profession. As a breast cancer specialist, I get the honor and privilege of seeing so many patients through one of the toughest times of their lives, and I get to help to make it better by keeping our eye on the ball. I get to help guide and direct their path to reduce their risk, improve their outcome, and help them live healthier lives. I get to work with a talented team in my office—my partners in Texas Oncology, our talented nurses and other healthcare providers as well as ancillary staff to facilitate the complexity of supporting patients through cancer care.

While all of this would be a privilege in any era, we live in a time of tremendous discovery and innovation in cancer care. In the last decade therapeutic advances in cancer medicine have evolved to such a degree that women who would have previously died relatively quickly of metastatic disease now can live with cancer as a chronic disease with a high quality of life as they live to see their lives move forward, their children grow, and their milestones accomplished. Research cures cancer.

While advances in cancer therapeutics give us remarkable optimism of how we can fight cancer, advances in risk prediction, appropriate screening, and early detection have also dramatically enhanced survivorship.

In fact, cancer mortality has decreased by 1.5% every year for the last decade.

Of course, we as doctors like to think of ourselves as the quarterbacks, but we don’t play on the team alone. We need many partners to provide good care—collaborating physicians, hospitals, navigators, social workers, nurses, physical therapists, financial counselors, medical assistants, administrative staff, caregivers, family and friends. We need patients to have access to the screening, diagnostic, and therapeutic services they need, which is more limited in Texas than in other states due to a large un-insured and under-insured population.

For doctors day I am grateful for my patients and my teammates, those who make it possible for my patients to have a good outcome. I am grateful to Susan G. Komen® Austin for the $11 million dollars they have put in to my community here in Austin to fund local community organizations that support cancer care and to help provide screening, diagnostic, and therapeutic services to patients in need. 75% of funds dispersed from Komen Austin goes to support funding locally. The other 25% goes to support national research to help advance treatments in this disease.


Thank you Dr. Patt and all other doctors that have helped Komen Austin through our journey to keep fighting breast cancer. Happy Doctor’s Day! 

-Komen Austin

 

 

“Chemo brain” – Pre and Post Treatment Cognitive Function

By: Kim Seyferth, Education and Outreach Intern

We have all misplaced our keys, forgot why we walked into a room, or have been distracted by something other than our task at hand; however, what if these became an everyday occurrence after successfully battling cancer? Unfortunately, for many cancer survivors, this is an issue that is all too real.

At the January grantee round table meeting for Komen Austin, we were fortunate enough to have speaker, Dr. Heather Becker of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing come to speak with us on “Cognitive Survivorship for Breast Cancer Survivors.” During the presentation, Dr. Becker discussed the changes that occur with the cognitive function in cancer survivors, along with ways to best cope with these new challenges.

It has been reported that approximately 75% of cancer survivors state they have experienced cognitive impairment at some point after diagnosis.

This “mental fog” is most prevalent during treatment, however, for some patients, it does not just disappear once they go into remission. They indicate having some short-term memory loss and attention deficit, which makes doing tasks they once considered mundane to be more difficult and time-consuming. This is especially true with ‘executive functions’, which are the functions we use to plan and sequence a task.

While many health professionals still consider this phenomenon to be “Chemo brain,” it is vital to understand that for many patients it is much more. Aside from going through treatments that affect their bodies, patients often experience trouble sleeping, fatigue, depression, and in the case of certain cancer treatments, changes in hormone levels. The combination of these factors can cause a change in a patient’s ability to mentally focus the way they once were able to, even after treatment is completed.

Aside from causing a feeling of annoyance in their activities of daily living, this change in cognitive function can cause employment issues. Supervisors may express frustration with these changes in focus once the cancer survivor returns to work post-treatment, and survivors may feel ‘guilty,’ as they feel they are creating additional problems for others. Survivors may also not understand that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they have the right to request reasonable accommodations to be made at their workplace, such accommodations could include moving to a quieter workspace or asking for extended deadlines, as a diagnosis of cancer is considered a disability under the ADA. If the survivor works in an organization with a human resources department, it could be very beneficial to sit down and discuss any concerns or difficulties with the department, as they are more likely to be aware of how to improve the situation for everyone involved.

The question then becomes what can each of us do as friends, family members, healthcare professionals and cancer survivors?

The most important first step for everyone involved is to validate that this is a real struggle for many survivors and to remember that while there may not be a ‘cure’, there are several ways people can make things easier on themselves, or for those they care about.

Friends and family members should continue to act as a support system for their survivors, even after treatment is completed. They should remember that it will take time for survivors to adjust back to their routines again, and that some may have a harder time than others.

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As healthcare professionals, it is vital to ask survivors about any cognitive issues they may be experiencing during follow up visits. Explaining to them that it is fairly common to experience these issues, as well as providing suggestions of ways to deal with them, will make the transition easier and may help to reduce frustration for the patient.

As a survivor, understanding that you are not alone is of the utmost importance. It is also important to discuss any issues with your support system, employer and doctor so that everyone around you understands what you are going through, especially because everyone’s experience is different. Coming up with new ways to accomplish tasks may be useful. This can include developing new habits such as leaving your purse, keys, etc. in the same place each night to let your brain go on autopilot and ‘rest’, or working on projects at a different time of day when you may be more focused. In addition, exercising, eating well, attending support groups and incorporating new activities such as yoga and meditation have all been recognized as being helpful in coping with this ‘mental fog.’ Finally, challenging your brain with new activities such as working on crossword puzzles, using online programs such as Lumosity or learning a new instrument can also have some very positive effects. The best plan of action is to decide what works best for you!

While it may be difficult to accept that life may not return to normal right away after fighting such a horrendous battle, survivors should remember that with time and patience things will get better.

Dr. Becker put it best by stating that, if you came across a roadblock or flooding on your way home from work, you wouldn’t just give up. You would find a detour to make it to your destination.

In other words, while it may take some time to adjust making these changes along the way will hopefully give you similar results in the end.

#IAmKomenAustin – My Breast Cancer Scare and Dealing With Anxiety

By: Maggie Borgman

I am a 27 year old waitress who loves spending time volunteering for Love-A-Bull, a non-profit that educates the community on pit bull type dogs. I also love spending time with my fiance, and our 4 dogs, and I am about to start fostering as well! My first pit bull type dog, Carmen, who’s now 11 years old, she really changed everything. Growing up with her, she has shown me the most beautiful parts of life, unconditional love, loyalty, and so much more. It has also made me aware of how people can be so quick to judge, before even giving the situation a chance. Pit bull type dogs are some of the most abused and neglected dogs, and it is my mission, my passion, to advocate and find homes for these amazing dogs! I also have the best friends a girl could ask for, and so far it has been really fun planning my wedding!

Honestly, I was watching TV when I felt the lump on my right breast. I felt it a few more times, then called my fiance into the room. One part of dealing with anxiety is self doubt. Even though I have really good intuition, I am constantly doubting myself, so my fiance confirmed to me that yes, he also felt the lump.

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Maggie Borgman with her fiance.

Panic sets in. Not necessarily because I think it’s breast cancer, but because I just dealt with losing my beloved 5 year old pit bull to cancer {lymphoma} and was still dealing with grief, and anger. I also start to panic because another part of dealing with anxiety is, at least for me, feeling like I am constantly drowning in things I need to do. I start to frantically question myself, ‘How do I even begin to deal with this right now, my insurance doesn’t kick in for another month…’ , ‘What if it really is cancer?’ , ‘Who do I talk to?’

I confided in my manager, and she was the one who told me about Susan G. Komen®  Austin, a non profit that helps women get screened for breast cancer.

I immediately go to the website, which was really easy to navigate, and within minutes I was on the phone scheduling my free breast exam. I was really relieved to know there were no online forms to fill out, completely easy and stress free.

I was informed how the SGK [sic] grant worked, and relief started to come over me. This doesn’t have to be a huge financial task! Now that I had scheduled the appointment, I started to get really anxious about the whole process.No one in my family had breast cancer, I really didn’t want to freak out my mom, so I reached out to one of my best friends who has been through a similar situation, and she really helped me cope with what I was going through.

Going through the breast exam was scary, and the doctor confirming the lump was even scarier. Withing 2 days I had someone call me through the grant to schedule an ultra sound. I was so mad that cancer was playing a role in my life again, but I remained really hopeful that it would be benign. Through the ultrasound, we found out that the lump was considered ‘Fibroadenoma’, a benign tumor common in women under age 30. Some of the benign tumors have to be taken out, some don’t, luckily I was just recommended 6 month check ups.

Cancer is a really terrible thing to go through, whether it’s you or a loved one going through it. You watch it change people, break them down, and I wouldn’t wish for anyone to have to go through it, but millions of people do. I’m so grateful that I live in a community dedicated to saving lives. Bringing awareness and medical support is so important.

Thank you, Komen Austin, for all that you do!

 

#AmplifyATX – Karen Shultz: Quality Care Matters

Karen Shultz, Susan G. Komen® Austin Interim Executive Director, became involved with Komen Austin by participating many years in the Komen Austin Race for the Cure® to support friends and family who have survived or are living with breast cancer. She lost family members and friends to metastatic breast cancer so this is an important issue for her family. Several years ago Karen joined the board of directors and became interim executive director of Komen Austin in 2014.

Karen enjoys gardening, reading, traveling, golfing, health and wellness. Beginning at a young age, she was motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle. She is an advocate for taking care of herself through exercise, organic and fresh foods and meditation.

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Photo of Karen Shultz and why she is #AmplifyATX

Our mission is to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering others, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures. Susan G. Komen® is a locally-based 501c (3) nonprofit committed to saving lives locally and fighting breast cancer globally. We are the only local breast cancer organization attacking the disease on all fronts – education, screening, treatment, follow-up care, survivorship support, advocacy and research. The organization serves the women and men in the city’s five-county area battling breast cancer by removing barriers to care for the uninsured and underinsured. Of the funds raised annually, Komen Austin invests up to 75 percent into local community health care grants and educational initiatives; the remaining 25 percent is invested into global research studies to find the cures for breast cancer.

 Our vision is a world without breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the North America; 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  If detected early, the 5-year survival is 99%. Komen funds research grants that exemplify potential to advance the field and have an impact on patients through a rigorous review process called peer-review. Following the peer-review, Komen’s Scientific Advisory Board guides all research and critical questions that need to be answered.

Since 1999, Komen Austin has invested nearly $11 million into breast health services and raised $5 million to fund global research studies to find the cure for breast cancer. This year Susan G. Komen will commit 50% of the research dollars raised to metastatic breast cancer. Komen Austin funded the first ever “Pink Bus” in Central Texas. The Pink Bus is a self-contained breast screening on wheels featuring advanced digital mammography services and an exam room for breast self exams distributed through Seton Healthcare Family. Komen Austin serves 1.9 million residents of the Greater Austin Area and has removed barriers in order to care for uninsured and underinsured community members in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties. Komen Austin has one of the largest groups of volunteers, which are a critical asset to carry out our mission at Komen Austin. 2,000 volunteers lie within the heart of the organization and the Komen Austin Ambassador program is essential for implementing exceptional education and outreach to the entire greater Austin area we serve.

Susan G. Komen® is the largest non-government funder of breast cancer research. Metastatic breast cancer (MBC), also called stage IV or advanced breast cancer, enables tumor cells to spread to other parts of the body. During the 1970’s, only 10% of women survived five years after diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer but Susan G Komen® has increased the survival rate to 40% through the research and discovery of new and more effective treatments. Komen has invested more than 15% towards the funding in metastatic breast cancer research.

Komen is a member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Research Alliance along with 29 organizations with the goal to improve the lives for those living with MBC. More than $133 million in research has allowed Komen to investigate on identifying the genes and processes that cause breast cancer cells to metastasize, develop and test new therapies to both prevent and treat MBC and discover new methods for predicting or detecting metastasis using urine or blood tests or body scans.

I’ve lost a daughter-in-law and friends to breast cancer. Although we made huge strides in diagnosis, treatment, care and research; there is much more work to be done. I strongly believe no one should die because they could not access quality care. -Karen Shultz


 

Happy Amplify Austin Day! Amplify Austin is a 24-hour day of giving to local nonprofits like Komen Austin. Donate to Komen Austin today to help us reach our goal of $5,000.00. Anything helps to keep our mission at a stand to end breast cancer forever! 

-Komen Austin 

 

 

Dine Around Austin

On the way to work and hungry for migas or breakfast tacos?  Heading out to lunch and craving a great deli sandwich or grilled chicken fajitas served with guacamole and pico de gallo? Or maybe you’re just craving a fresh cold press juice full of nutritious vegetables and fruits.

Komen Austin’s wildly popular Dine Out for the Cure is back this spring! From March 8th-10th, you will have the opportunity to enjoy 14 of Austin’s restaurants and eateries with over 30 participating locations to choose from.  Enjoy good cuisine in Central Texas while contributing a portion of the tab to saving lives locally and fighting breast cancer globally.

For breakfast, lunch or dinner head out to participating restaurants for Dine Out for the Cure and enjoy yummy food ranging from Tex-Mex, Hill Country cuisine, Indian, Chinese and Asian and much more!  Bon Appetite!

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Below is a Q & A with a few of our participating restaurants:

Benji’s Cantina

  • What is your most popular dish?

Our most popular dish is our signature fajitas, which are made from the finest ingredients available, grilled to tender perfection, and served in a sizzling anafre. Accompanied by guacamole, pico de gallo, cheese and sour cream and your choice of our homemade corn or flour tortillas.

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Benji’s Cantina signature fajitas

  • What is a great healthy menu option?

Benji’s offers multiple salad options that feature perfectly seasoned and grilled proteins, lettuce and dressings(which can be ordered on the side). We also offer a small portion of fajitas, our Señorita Fajita plate. This can be shrimp, chicken or beef fajitas and, when paired with the right accompaniments, it is both healthy and delicious!

  •  How would you describe your style of cuisine in 3 words?

Unique, Flavorful and Tex-Mex.

  •  Do you or your staff have a personal connection to breast cancer?

Many of our staff have dealt with breast cancer on some level, including relatives and close friends. We are all so thankful to the Susan G. Komen® organization for allowing us to be a part of an event that raises money to fight breast cancer!

Veracruz All Natural 

  • What is your most popular dish?

The migas and fish taco.

  • What is a great healthy menu option?

La Reyna taco (egg whites, carrots, mushrooms, red bell pepper, spinach, onions, cilantro, Monterrey cheese, avocado)

  • How would you describe your style of cuisine in 3 words?

Fresh, Authentic and Mexican.

  • Do you or your staff have a personal connection to breast cancer?

Co-owner Reyna Vazquez – her husband Ryan has a sister who is a breast cancer survivor!

 

Daily Greens Juice Bar

  • What is your most popular drink?

Our most popular drink is Purity. Pure and simple greens with a touch of lemon.

  • What is a great healthy menu option?

As mentioned before, we do not serve food dishes. However, our Founder and CEO, Shauna Martin, has a Daily Greens™ 4-Day Cleanse book which features several raw recipes to make throughout your cleanse experience.  Shauna’s red cabbage & walnut salad is a perfect spring time dish. This fun and hearty salad came about as she was preparing for a hamburger cookout. She needed something to complement all the burgers and pickles, and this salad was an instant hit.

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Shawna’s Red Cabbage and Walnut Salad

  • How would you describe your style of juice bar in 3 words?

Green, Refreshing and Fun.

  • Do you or your staff have a personal connection to breast cancer?

Our Founder & CEO, Shauna Martin, is a breast cancer survivor. She has been cancer free for 10 years!

Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano

  • What is your most popular dish?

Red Snapper Mango​

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Carmelo’s Red Snapper Mango

  • What is a great healthy menu option?

Sea Bass – roasted or grilled with tomato, garlic and onion. (Check out their gluten free and vegetarian menus as well!)

  • How would you describe your style of cuisine in 3 words?

​  Italian and Freshly prepared​.

McAlister’s Deli  

  • What is your most popular dish?

McAlister’s Club

McAlister's Club  Sweet Tea

McAlister’s Club

  • What is a great healthy menu option?

Lite Choose 2 | Half a Southwest Turkey Melt (390 calories) and our new Southwest Vegetable Soup (110 calories).

  • How would you describe your style of cuisine in 3 words?

American, Regional and Favorites.

  • Do you or your staff have a personal connection to breast cancer?

Breast cancer hits close to home here in the corporate office, but also in the lives of our General Managers and Team Member’s that work in our 63 locations. Just in our corporate office, six out of the 18 of us have had a close family member diagnosed with breast cancer. Additionally, McAlister’s Deli Marketing Manager, Amy Dickey’s mom is an eight year breast cancer survivor. Her mom was diagnosed at Stage 3 back in 2007. She underwent 8 chemotherapy treatments, 30 rounds of daily radiation and a double mastectomy.

The Leaning Pear 

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The Leaning Pear crab cake

  • What is your most popular dish?

Crab cakes are probably our best seller.

  • What is a great healthy menu option?

We have many great healthy options from our Kale Salad at lunch to the Grilled Steelhead Trout for dinner.

  • How would you describe your style of cuisine in 3 words?

Hill-country inspired

  • Do you or your staff have a personal connection to breast cancer?

Several members of our crew have been personally touched by friends and family members who have suffered from breast cancer.

 


 

Go get your grub on at the restaurants below! #DineOutATX


-Komen Austin