Supporting your spouse with dementia starts with caring for yourself!

By Karen Rose

According to the Alzheimer’s Association 2016 Facts & Figures, every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. develops this disease. The hidden heroes are the family members who support their loved ones with dementia in maintaining their independence and dignity, too often at the expense of their own health.  Below, I offer my insights for supporting a spouse with dementia—although these tips apply to supporting anyone with dementia.

  • Take care of yourself! Supporting a loved one with dementia is a hard job.  Family caregivers are known to forego their own health needs as manifested by skipping medical check-ups and failing to maintain routine self-care activities.  This likely plays a role in poor health outcomes for many family caregivers.  Make and keep the appointments you need with your healthcare provider to maintain your own health.
  • Stay connected with your social networks. Your loved one with dementia is a person who benefits from being around others to maintain their own dignity and self-worth. It may be that your loved one no longer enjoys being in big, noisy crowds—but, that doesn’t mean that smaller, more intimate social activities surrounded by loving family and friends need to be relinquished.  You need to stay connected with your friends and your loved one does, too.
  • Stay active! Regular physical exercise is good for you and for your loved one with dementia. Being outdoors, weather permitting, can have a calming effect for your loved one as the sights and sounds of nature are known to be soothing. And, there are health benefits from regular aerobic and strength-training exercises for persons with dementia, so it’s a good thing to do for everyone.
  • Get adequate rest and sleep. You cannot support your loved one if you are operating from a glass that is “half full.”  Maintaining adequate rest and sleep help support your ability to be at the top of your game.  Avoid too much caffeine and strive to maintain a regular schedule for when you go to bed and when you rise in the morning.  A routine for you and your loved one with dementia helps everyone feel well rested.
  • Ask for help. Family and friends want to help support family caregivers and aren’t always sure how to do so. Make specific requests for assistance, like picking up a prescription or going grocery shopping, as you will find that people are eager to help.  People want to help—it makes them feel good and it helps you to continue to provide support for your loved one.
  • Reexamine holiday traditions. Are you able to pare back some of the activities of your holiday traditions while still maintaining what’s important to you and your family? You may notice that your loved one with dementia becomes anxious or seems agitated when many people are around, even if the people are family members. In this case, reexamining family traditions and reframing these in ways that will not overwhelm your loved one may allow you to continue to honor family traditions in a different way.
  • Plan for the future. Now may be a good time to have meaningful conversations with your loved one with dementia and your family so that you can make plans for your future.  Working with your attorney and financial advisor will provide you with comfort in knowing your wishes for the future are carried out in the ways in which you and your loved ones want them to be.

In short, taking care of yourself is the best way to support your loved one with dementia.  There are many community resources that are available to support family caregivers and persons with dementia.  A great place to start is by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging.  Additional resources are available through the Alzheimer’s Association and through the Family Caregiver Alliance.

https://www.tn.gov/aging/article/aaad-map1

www.alz.org

www.alztennessee.org

https://www.caregiver.org/


rose_karenKaren Rose Contact
UT Knoxville

Karen Rose is the McMahan-McKinley Professor of Gerontology in the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in gerontological nursing. Dr. Rose’s program of research is focused on supporting family caregivers for persons with dementia and in addressing and ameliorating neuropsychiatric behaviors in dementia. Karen enjoys traveling, hiking, doing almost anything outdoors, and spending time with her family and friends.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

The Beauty of a Tennessee Autumn

By Britton Sharp

Autumn in Tennessee is one of my favorite things. Perhaps it is because much of what we have become so accustomed to seeing around us begins to display a new brilliance. Paths we walk to our office or class begin to change, life visually is entering a new phase. Things become more vibrant and we know that a change is coming. (Even if it is still 84 degrees!)

As the seasons change, it reminds me of changes in my life. It is my belief that our lives have seasons as well- periods of new beginnings, seasons of fruitfulness, times of transition and moments of internal development.

A few years ago while I was working in Sweden, I had the opportunity to speak with one of their top botanist. We were discussing the beauty of the season of Spring in her country. She began to explain that the external beauty of Spring is only made possible due to the internal development that occurs during Winter.

The same has proven true in the many areas of my life (professionally, personally, emotionally, physically and spiritually). I have struggled when I have compared myself to those around me. However, as I look back, I see that many times I was comparing my Winter to their Spring. When we compare ourselves to others it can so often rob us of the depths of our current season. Just because my growth in an area isn’t visible, doesn’t mean it isn’t occurring. We do have the responsibility to cultivate environments of growth, but we have to realize that much like nature around us, we cannot rush it. You can yell at an apple tree all you want, but you will still have to wait for an apple.

As the season visibly changes around us, my hope is that we would be reminded of the process of growth and the seasons in our own lives, that we strive to cultivate healthy environments in all areas of our lives, but also be patient to see those areas bear fruit.

May you enjoy the beauty of a Tennessee autumn.


Britton Shaimg_0446rp Contact
UT Knoxville

Britton is an artist, writer, gardener, husband and father. When he isn’t chasing toddlers with his wife, Brooks, you can find Britton writing in a coffee shop or watercolor painting downtown. He is a regular contributor to the blogs: https://collegiateabbey.com/ and http://www.flightnetwork.com/

As vice president of the Campus Ministers Council and director of Collegiate Abbey, he works to provide self-care resources to UT Knoxville faculty and staff.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Crock-Pot Cooking is Convenient Cooking

By Reston Hartsell and Tsz- Kiu Chui

September is the month of the year that gets us excited about fall. Temperature fluctuations have many, including myself, hopelessly optimistic about cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, Labor Day festivities, and plenty of college football. Rather than looking forward to the sea of orange that fills Neyland Stadium on game day, others view September as the month prior to seasonal pumpkin treats (Starbucks fans rejoice!). While it is exciting to think all of the activities and festivities that occur during the month, it is worth mentioning that September runs the gauntlet for health awareness issues, such as Childhood Cancer Awareness; Blood Cancer Awareness; Ovarian Cancer Awareness; National Food Safety Education; Healthy Aging; National Childhood Obesity Awareness; Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN); and even National Yoga Awareness!

Your health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”1 To prevent disease, physically speaking, we all can do our part to eat our fair share of pumpkin treats (Kidding! Moderation is the key!). On a more serious note, taking care of our social well-being is key when we are stressed and overworked. When I need to decompress and reflect, I often reminisce about the fun times of playing Catch Phrase during the holidays or thinking of memories of staying up too late telling stories with friends. Of all places, the kitchen table was where these fun times occurred, and I often didn’t want to remove myself from the fun to cook or clean up the dishes. Yet, eating is a special event that allows us to further be in communion with those around us. If you should find yourself away from the table making a meal, why not try something easy like cooking with a crockpot?

If you are like me and want to find more time to be with your friends, while cooking at the same time, I recommend getting “crocky.” Yes, I’m creating a word, but stick with me for a moment. The art of getting “crocky” is the state of cooking in a crockpot (or slow cooker), while simultaneously enjoying one’s social environment, preferably in one’s home with or without a glass of wine. Crockpots are convenient, affordable, easy-to-use, and fun! There are numerous uses for crockpots that range from snack mixes to desserts. However, for the sake of our physical well-being, delicious nutritious crockpot cooking is key. If you are busy, tired and overwhelmed with work, crockpots may offer you an escape from the routine question of asking yourself, “What should I make for dinner?” Rocky Top, it is time to get “crocky!” Let’s make September the month to bring back the crockpots. Happy September, Crock Potters!

Caramelized Apple Slow Cooker Oatmeal

breakfast-pic1

Want a hot and ready-to-eat oatmeal for breakfast?  Try this recipe!  You can simply make this before you go to bed and enjoy your freshly cooked oatmeal in the morning!

 

 

 

View recipe: http://nourishingjoy.com/caramelized-apple-slow-cooker-oatmeal/

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

 soup-pic2Craving for soup? You can make it as simple as this recipe.  More importantly, it’s easy and delicious!

 

 

View recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/89539/slow-cooker-chicken-tortilla-soup/

Company Pot Roast

pot-roast-picYou can’t leave pot roast out when cooking with your crock pot!  This recipe might take a little more time for preparation in advance, but it’s going to be well worth it.

 

 

 

View Recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/company-pot-roast

Snack: Pumpkin Nutella Slow Cooker Granola

 pumpkin-nutella-picIt’s Fall! You got to have pumpkin! Try this easy recipe with your crackpot to make your own seasonal granola.

 

 

 

 

View Recipe: http://www.crunchycreamysweet.com/2014/10/22/nutella-pumpkin-slow-cooker-granola/

 

For More Crockpot Recipes Please Visit The Link Below:

http://greatist.com/eat/healthy-crock-pot-recipes-for-breakfast

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/top-rated-recipes/slow-cooker-favorites

  1. Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference, New York, 19-22 June, 1946; signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Official Records of the World Health Organization, no. 2, p. 100) and entered into force on 7 April 1948.

img_11373Reston Hartsell Contact
UT Knoxville

Reston is a graduate student in the Healthy Eating and Activity Laboratory. He received his Bachelor’s of Science in Health Sciences from Furman University in Greenville, SC. He is a dual graduate student seeking a Master’s of Science in Nutrition with a concentration in Public Health Nutrition and a Master’s of Public Health with a concentration in Community Health Education. His hobbies include cooking, ceramics, tennis, and being outside.

headshot-22 Tsz- Kiu Chui Contact
UT Knoxville

Kiu is originally from Hong Kong and is currently a graduate student pursuing her Master’s of Science degree in Public Health Nutrition at UT.  She’s also a registered dietitian, who practiced in both clinical and community settings, with a passion to inspire people to enjoy healthy food.  When Kiu is not in school, she’s probably traveling, making Chinese food or playing volleyball.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

A Wish for My Children

By Sarah Colby

I have two sons.

One is six feet and 125 pounds and can’t gain weight. He is mostly sedentary and eats atrociously. A few years ago, when he got a respiratory illness, he got worse fast. He did not have the 10 pounds to lose that he lost. It was scary and to this day, I wish I could personally thank the inventors of the medicines that saved his life.

My second son is about six feet, three inches and well over 300 pounds. He goes to the gym, is physically active (much more than my first child but still less than I would like) and eats a pretty healthy diet. He was 18 pounds at 2 ½ months of age, wore size 16 shoes by the time he was 12 and has always been as far above the growth charts as the charts are wide.

The ultimate irony- I am a childhood obesity prevention researcher.

Obesity is a worldwide public health crisis. Medical cost associated with weight-related illnesses may cripple our economy. Many overweight or obese children of today may become young adults with diabetes. If things continue unchanged for those young adults with diabetes, what will it do for the workforce and economy if they begin to lose their eyesight, kidneys, or feet when they are barely even middle-aged? Will our children grow up to be healthy enough to take care of their own families, contribute to society, or to protect our country? Sound dramatic? It is a realistic concern. And that does not even begin to address the human suffering that occurs at every point of this spectrum.

This threat has been widely recognized and many are dedicated to changing the outcome of this story. The great news is that among young children we are beginning to see positive changes in the overweight/obesity trends. The efforts to reach families, schools, and communities, through education, programs, policies, systems, and environmental change appear to be having an impact. That investment of research funds and time may be making a real difference.

So what patterns of healthy eating might be making a difference? In general, most of us need to consume a variety of foods, in moderation, more natural and unprocessed, enough fiber (we almost all need more beans), lean proteins, more water, and eat all the colors. No, sorry, colorful candies don’t count. If you absolutely want to cut something out of you and your child’s diet- added refined sugar. That is the one thing that I can say is fine for almost everyone to cut completely out of their diets.

eatinghealthyfood
http://www.investitwisely.com

So if I know all of this, why do I still have one child seriously underweight and one child obese? Because it is not that simple. We don’t have all the answers, but we don’t give up. I talk to them about food not because they should look any specific way, but because I want them to be happy, healthy, and living the life they want to live. It is hard to be happy when we hurt and if we get sick from the way we eat and live, then we hurt. I teach my boys to enjoy healthy food and be active. Our job as parents is to provide healthy foods at every meal or snack, have regular meal times, let our kids see us enjoying eating healthy foods and being active, cook meals with our kids, eat together as a family, not use food as a reward or a punishment, and then, here is the key, not focus on what they are eating or their weight. That is the most and best we can do until we have more answers. I also believe that teaching my boys to love and appreciate their bodies and that they are beautiful the way they are, is most important. Weight matters not because we all need to look a certain way or fit a certain body type, it only matters because it impacts our health and our lives. Celebrate you, love you, accept you and live the life you want to live. That is what I wish for my children.


colbyheadshot

Sarah Colby Contact
UT Knoxville

Dr. Colby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutrition at the University of Tennessee. She is an obesity prevention behavioral researcher with a focus on health communication through novel nutrition education strategies (including marketing, arts and technology). In addition to her focus on novel communication strategies, she has research experience with young children, adolescents, and young adult populations; community-based participatory action research; Latino and Native American populations; food security issues; and environmental and economic influences on food behavior.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Get Out and Play!

by Dawn Coe

Growing up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I spent most of my free time outside playing with the neighborhood kids.  We played sports and games such as basketball, street hockey, “kick the can” and “washers”.  Although I spent a great amount of time outdoors, very little of that time was spent engaged in nature.  The urban setting offers few opportunities to truly experience nature.

After high school, I moved to Michigan.  Living in Ann Arbor, I began to experience nature primarily through hikes and trips to the arboretum.  I later settled down with my husband on Lake Michigan, taking advantage of the lake and hikes in the surrounding area.  Eight years ago, my family moved to Knoxville.  We immediately fell in love with the area and started going on family hikes shortly after my daughter’s birth; taking her on her first hike at only two weeks old.   As a parent, I know the importance of physical activity for children.  Therefore, my husband and I have always modeled a physically active lifestyle for our children.  I love that our children have grown to love the outdoors and have a natural tendency towards being active.

coe3
Favorite activity on the Michigan lakes!
coe4
Going on a family hike.

As a pediatric exercise physiologist, I have always known the positive benefits of children engaging in an active lifestyle.  As my research has evolved during my time at the University of Tennessee, my research line has veered towards the measurement of outdoor activity and activity behaviors in children.  Through this research, I have found that activity in nature provides a host of additional benefits to children than what is seen with physical activity alone.  Outdoor play encourages risk taking, providing opportunities for children to become more aware of their bodies as well as engage in vigorous activity.  Play in nature also provides a variety of sensory experiences (i.e. motor, visual, tactile) and the opportunity for active, imaginative play.  These types of experiences not only benefit the child physically but also mentally.  In general, young children (3–5 years old) should accumulate approximately 180 minutes of activity per day, while school-aged children (6-17 years) should accumulate at least 60 minutes of daily moderate (brisk walking) to vigorous (jogging) physical activity that is developmentally appropriate.

coe5
The view from the top of Mt. LeConte

I feel the multitude of benefits of outdoor activity provide a strong impetus for me to continue encouraging my children to engage in outdoor play.  While both of my children currently take part in athletic pursuits, they still enjoy our family time outdoor together.  We try to periodically “unplug” and enjoy fun days in the Urban Wilderness or Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Resources detailing the importance of nature play in children can be found in Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods and on the Children & Nature Network website (http://www.childrenandnature.org/).


Dawn Coe Contact
UT Knoxville

Dawn P. Coe, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sports Studies within the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Dawn is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.  Dawn’s research focuses on physical activity assessment in youth, natural playground activity and behavior, and the impact of physical activity and physical fitness on academic success in children and adolescents.  Dawn enjoys watching her children play sports and spending quality time outdoors with her family.

 

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

2 Lifestyle Changes to Curb Chronic Headaches

By Beth Ford  

I began having little headaches in my early 20s. Small nagging ones that lasted an hour or so and eventually went away.

In my 30s, the migraines developed. They only came on occasionally but led to me seeing a neurologist and adding prescription medication to my over-the-counter relief regimen.

The pattern continued through my 50s. According to my neurologist, I was experiencing rebound headaches from all the medications I was taking.

I finally decided to take his advice in November 2011. I went cold-turkey and stopped taking everything. I had one of the worst migraines I’ve ever had. I missed a week of work—tossing and turning in bed, pacing back and forth through the house—until the headache wore off. It was one of the most miserable weeks of my life. But I did it.

The next four months, I had some headache-free and some not-so headache-free days. The days I struggled, I would fight through it without taking anything.

I became engaged to my now-husband, Charlie, and had a wedding to plan. Three days before our wedding, I gave in and took an Excedrin to get rid of a nagging headache. Unfortunately, that was all it took.

The same problem returned—infrequent headaches that intensified and drove me back to medication.

By February 2016—yes, this year—I decided enough was enough. I was going to try going cold-turkey again. I missed another week of work with an excruciating headache.

While I was in bed suffering, my twin sister Nancy, who is a nurse, came by to check on me. She was going over a list of other potential causes of my headaches and asked me how I drank my iced tea.

We grew up on iced tea, and it was my go-to beverage. Over the years, I switched from sugar to Sweet’N Low to Splenda. Being healthy wasn’t quite the fad it is now.

Nancy banned me from using artificial sweeteners in my iced tea, and I agreed. That’s the decision that changed everything.

I have been a headache sufferer most of my life. Now at age 61, I can finally say I am headache free.

Four months ago, I gave up Excedrin and stopped adding artificial sweetener to my iced tea. I no longer have daily headaches. I feel great and love life again!

Beth (right) vacationing with three of her four sisters
Beth (right) vacationing with three of her four sisters

I had heard through the years that sweeteners can cause headaches but never really put much stock in that. After all, if it’s on the market, it must be safe, right?

Wrong. I now firmly believe my daily use of artificial sweeteners was the main cause of my headaches. I am ever so thankful to my caring and knowledgeable sister who solved my headache mystery.

I hope this story helps anyone who might have a similar problem. Life is too short to not be enjoyed every day!


Beth Ford Beth Ford Contact
UT Knoxville

Beth was born and raised in Knoxville, along with her six siblings. She grew up an avid tennis player, following in the footsteps of her parents. She has also discovered pickleball with her new headache-free life and cannot get enough. Beth and her husband, Charlie, attended high school together and have a love for animals. Beth is an administrative support assistant in the UT Knoxville College of Law.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Walk this Way

By Jane Barcroft

I’ve struggled for years to come up with some form of physical activity that I would actually do on a regular basis. Something that would permanently imprint in my brain and positively change my behavior.

Habit
“You see the signs—but you don’t heed,
You’re walking at a different speed,
Your heart beats in double time,
A few more steps and you’ll be mine…”**

 It started with a commitment I made to myself,
A significant change from far right to far left,
It was way past time to get out of my chair,
So I strapped on a Garmin and took off from there,
Slowly at first and then a pattern took hold,
Results of the day are synced to my phone,
Progress is made with daily routine,
Family and friends become part of the team,
Competition is fierce and we speak of steps,
How far and how many and who needs help…
To stay on track and remain in the game,
A challenge to us – never the same,
My cue to move is a scary red line,
That appears on my tracker when it’s time,
It’s almost insane – exciting and fun,
At the end of the day we’ve really all won,
A habit is forming and we’re all in line,
“A few more steps and you’ll be mine…”

**Adapted from “Addicted to Love” by Robert Palmer

The voice of Habit (subconscious) comes through at the beginning of my poem. At first, I was not interested in what this habit wanted from me. But, Habit was persistent—waiting for me to change from the same old way to a new way. Finally, I caught on and the “steps” are chronicled in my poem.

I’m not exactly sure when I decided that walking might be a good activity, but last year I purchased a small electronic pedometer that would fit in my pocket. I couldn’t be seen wearing one of those black plastic devices on my wrist—what if someone noticed? I might have to be accountable for how many steps and how far and how often I walked.

I was not a good steward of the pedometer. I ignored it and did not let it work for me—left in my pocket, it fell victim to the washing machine. My son purchased another pocket pedometer for me and the same washing machine got that one as well. I was not a faithful walker.

During a check-up with my internist earlier this year, he strongly suggested that I get more exercise. And I decided it was time for me to get serious. I needed to make a commitment to change my behavior and stick with it.

I purchased a Garmin Vivofit and Hoka walking shoes. The walking habit was within my reach—it was out there just waiting for me, refusing to give up even though I had ignored all the signs and made excuses for not fully participating. This time, I strapped that Garmin on my wrist and have never looked back.

One step at a time (documented) progress is being made. A friendly step competition takes place with family and friends. Co-workers have been interested and some who were reluctant to participate have been won over.

We talk about how far and how many steps and what we are doing to stay on track. We make an effort to get up and move during the day, and I think it makes us all more productive.

I use my lunch time to walk from Morgan Hall to UT Gardens and back—about 2,500 steps. I park my truck on the far side of the UT parking lot and walk 900 steps to my office. Now I park on the far side of any parking lot and am really happy when it adds at least 200+ steps to my trip to the store. In the afternoon when I get home from work, before I go inside, I walk on one of the trails near my home until a minimum of 10,000 steps per day is met.

Four miles a day! I love it and feel great. I don’t worry about not getting enough exercise these days because it’s something I want to do and plan for every day. My acquired behavior pattern has become involuntary…finally I have a walking habit to call my own.


Jane Barcroft Jane Barcroft  Contact
UT Institute of Agriculture

Jane Barcroft is an artist, a poet, and a walker.  She spends her workday as an accounting specialist for AgResearch at the Institute of Agriculture. She enjoys spending time with her son, daughter-in-law and three beautiful and energetic grandchildren. She also has found favor with her grandson’s hamster, Rory Jenkins and the family dog, Sky. Jane grew up, the oldest of five, in a military family where she moved all over the country and spent her high school years in Bermuda. You can follow Jane and her Bermuda-state-of-mind on Twitter at @1bdagal.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Be Watchful and Informed about Cancer

By Don Eisenberg

My wife of 30 years had always been pretty healthy. She didn’t engage in risky behavior, except to marry me, her brothers used to joke.

Jan was 50 when she felt a lump on her chest and went for her first mammogram. Later testing and biopsy confirmed that it was breast cancer, stage III, including some lymph nodes. Treatment would involve 56 days of radiation, followed by surgery and chemotherapy.

This diagnosis seemed very surreal to both of us. We had faced many challenges during our three decades of marriage, and, with the Lord’s help, we committed to fight this new enemy together, too. Being people of faith, we prayed and engaged our church, family and friends to join us.

The doctors recommended a mastectomy. After considering the known facts at that time, Jan opted for a lumpectomy. She had weekly chemo treatments involving seven different drugs in different doses and combinations, and we reorganized our lives to adjust to the many side effects of treatment. Later, when she needed transfusions of red blood cells and platelets, we set up a system of donors to assure that she would have more than she needed at all times.

About 18 months into treatment, we discovered her cancer had metastasized to her lung lining and bones. Chemo continued, but we lost her in 2007.

The impact of her loss to me, our kids and other family members and friends was incredible. Thankfully, we had amazing support from our church and family, co-workers and friends, plus a loving God—though we didn’t understand the outcome.

I’m sharing her story in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, and in hopes of encouraging you to be vigilant with your own health. More and more people are surviving cancer. The better informed you are, the more likely you are to be able to avoid it or beat it.

Earlier detection and an awareness of family history might well have changed our outcome. Following my wife’s diagnosis, it turned out that both her mother and grandmother had had brushes with cancer.

All along the way, we tried to learn as much as we could about her disease and treatment options. My advice to anyone facing a similar diagnosis is to keep digging. Insist on information and options, second opinions and treatment facility alternatives.

Congratulations to the survivors and their families! Rejoice in every day you are given. For others, be watchful, be informed, be proactive—see your doctor regularly and never delay annual screenings.

Life is precious. Protect it and cherish each moment and each person.


Don Eisenberg HeadshotDon Eisenberg  Contact
UT Foundation, Inc.

Don is director of development for the UT Knoxville College of Arts and Sciences. He enjoys helping UT alumni and friends find their passion to support at UT, whether that be students, faculty or other opportunities. Born in Nashville, and having lived in England, Africa and several states, he is delighted to finally live on the “peaceful side of the Smokies” in Townsend, Tennessee, with his cat, Lucy, and to share the grandeur of God’s creation with visiting family and friends.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Share Fresh Produce Through the Grow More, Give More Program

By Carrera Romanini

I love to spend time in my garden. I find it doubly satisfying to share with others in need. With the Grow More, Give More (GMGM) program, I can do both.

GMGM and the UT Farmer’s Market opened earlier this month, celebrating the growing season and sharing with others. GMGM is a UT Institute of Agriculture and Society of St. Andrew service project designed to bring fresh, local produce to our neighbors in need. Agencies that feed the hungry indicate that their organizations have a need to supplement their canned donations with fresh veggies. A secondary aim of this program is to reduce food waste.

How do you GMGM?
Each week, GMGM volunteers talk to market-goers about the program and collect produce donations. To participate in the program, plant a little extra in your garden or pick up an extra pound or two at the farmer’s market. GMGM has a booth set up where you can bring your produce, chat with volunteers and learn where your donation will go that night. At the end of each Wednesday, volunteers take the donated produce to local food banks. Examples of organizations that we have donated to include Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries, Love Kitchen, Salvation Army, Samaritan Place and many others.

Where You Can Find Us
GMGM runs in conjunction with the UT Farmer’s Market, each Wednesday from 4–7 p.m., May 11 through Oct. 19, 2016. You can find us under the big green tent. The market is held in the UT Gardens, the official botanical gardens for the state of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive in Knoxville.

If you would like to volunteer or learn more about the program, email us at gmgm@tennessee.edu or like us on Facebook.  You also can follow the GMGM blog to see where the day’s produce was donated and to see photo updates and the weekly total of donations received.

Let’s Work Together
No donation is too small because it all adds up! We’ve received donations from the most delicate of herbs to rare vegetables and handfuls of cherry tomatoes, up to bushel baskets of tomatoes, whole watermelons, bags of green beans and everything in between.  Last season, we collected 2,230 pounds, which equates to 6,690 servings of fresh produce donated to our hungry neighbors. This summer, set a goal for yourself to spend more time outside, plant a little more in your garden for those in need and share the bounty of your harvest through the Grow More, Give More program.


Carrera RomaniniCarrera Romanini  Contact
UT Institute of Agriculture

Carrera is a Grow More, Give More volunteer who likes to explore all that Knoxville has to offer and to spend time with friends. When she’s not out and about, you can find her in the garden or kitchen.  She and her husband live with two, four-legged friends (a cat and dog), and they foster retired racing greyhounds. She currently serves as the communications coordinator for AgResearch. 

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Still My Hero

By Susan Robertson

As it is with most little girls, my dad was my first hero. I am the third of four children, and I always tell people I was my dad’s son before my brother was born. He taught me to throw a baseball, punt a football and even taught me to sew a dress for my Barbie doll.

My dad passed away in September 2012, but because of his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease in 2001, we gradually said goodbye to him over the course of 11 years. I lived out of state during that time but visited my parents at least monthly. And watching my father succumb to this horrible disease was one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced.

Most often Alzheimer’s is associated with the loss of memory. I never think it is funny when someone forgets something and then jokes, “I must have Alzheimer’s.” There is nothing funny about that disease. It truly robs sufferers of everything—from memory to the ability to speak to dignity. My father’s Alzheimer’s started with paranoia—thinking people were coming into the house and changing the times on the clocks or moving things from one location to the next. That was followed by the loss of his ability to process information and although he still remembered us, he often talked about going to see his mom and dad (who had both passed years earlier).

As with most Alzheimer’s patients, my dad started to wander. He would pace endlessly around the house all day and much of the night. One night he even climbed out his bedroom window and walked more than a mile to a nearby recreation area. Thankfully, some neighbors who had gone to the area to walk the next morning spotted him and brought him home. It was after that incident that my mother had all of the windows nailed closed from the inside. She also added alarms to each entry door so dad couldn’t go outside without her knowing it; and added baby locks on the cabinets after dad ate a dishwashing tablet thinking it was candy.

Alzheimer’s caused my dad to become very childlike. He liked playing with and holding toy cars. On one visit, I was in the backyard walking around with him when he picked up an acorn and threw it at me. When I turned around, he just grinned impishly. I was crying inside, but I just had to smile because that is something my dad would have done before the disease. While dad was very different and needed around-the-clock care, he was still very much my dad.

The disease also took a toll on my mother who was dad’s caregiver. Not only was it emotional to deal with the fact that your husband of 50-plus years was no longer the same, it wore on her to have to make sure she knew where he was 24/7. One of the things I say to anybody who is a caregiver is you have to take care of yourself! Stress plays havoc with our overall health. Mom finally agreed to have a home health worker visit three days a week, and one of my sisters moved in with my parents to help care for dad. My other siblings and I gave my mom and sister breaks on the weekend so they could be away from the house while we would watch dad. It only made sense that the weekends I was visiting, I would toss the ball with dad. It was just like old times—sort of.

I wish that no one would have to deal with this disease—no individual and no family. But the truth is that today, 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; the disease is now the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S.; and every 66 seconds someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with the disease, all according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

My paternal grandfather and my father both had Alzheimer’s, so I’ve read a lot of research about how to prevent the disease. Unfortunately, no one can pinpoint the exact cause. Researchers have identified many things such as environment, diet, etc., but currently there is no cure.

It was about 10 months before my dad passed, Christmas of 2011, when I realized for the first time he didn’t know who I was. That was extremely tough to accept, but it was not about me. My dad was very different from the man I knew as my first hero, but in my heart he was still my dad.


Susan RoberstonSusan Robertson  Contact
UT Institute for Public Service

Susan handles communications for the UT Institute for Public Service. She enjoys spending time outdoors—hiking and documenting the natural beauty of East Tennessee through photography. Susan loves watching all sports, reading, cooking and fulfilling the needs of her demanding miniature dachshund, Wrigley.

Disclaimer
Posts represent the views, expertise and recommendations of their authors and do not necessarily reflect an endorsement by the University of Tennessee. Furthermore, the content of the blog is for informational purposes only. The content of the blog is not, and is not intended to be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.