November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

In case you didn’t know,  November is National Diabetes Month and it’s almost over but before it the MedGift team has a question?  Did you know this year’s focus has been promoting health after gestational diabetes (GD).  Pregnant women with nogd-risk-factors history of diabetes but who experience high blood sugar levels during their pregnancy are said to have GD. Studies indicate approximately 2%-5% of pregnant women from the general population experience GD and the occurrence almost doubles with the  risk factors shown in the table to the right.  Furthermore, women who develop GD have a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Symptons of GD include: feeling thirsty even when you haven’t done anything, feeling fatigued especially early in the day and a dry mouth.

Because these symptons can be subtle all pregnant women are screened for GD during the 24th and 28th week of their pregnancy.  The screening test measures blood glucose levels.

If left uncontrolled, the condition may be harmful — or even deadly — to both the woman and her child, and can increase both of their risks of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

The key to treating gestational diabetes is tightly regulating blood glucose levels through lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) and, if necessary, insulin injections. You have to cut simple sugars out of your diet Ladies.  For a great overview of GD check out this article by the American Diabetes Organization.

We hope you have had a great November and will have a safe, happy holiday season.  Back at you in December!

Sources used in this post include:

  1. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/what-is-gestational-diabetes.html
  2. https://www.webmd.com/baby/symptoms-of-gestational-diabetes
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4653418/
  4. https://www.everydayhealth.com/gestational-diabetes/guide/treatment/

 

Celebrating Diem Brown’s Life

Diem and Megan Brown
Diem and Megan Brown

Anniversaries are a funny thing, we have these dates on the calendar that mean more to us than other dates. We take pause, let ourselves either celebrate; honor an event in history or mourn a moment that changed everything. We allow ourselves these specific dates even though yesterday and tomorrow are in reality no different.

11/14 is one of those dates for me.  Even though there’s not a day that passes that I don’t think about my sister, it’s this date the past four years I let myself really go there. Go back to her, our memories, her journey and that day specifically.

This year for the first time I let myself watch her memorial, I hear her voice, her laugh. I read her eulogy. Took hours to get through both, alone. As I was watching and reading I kept wanting to stop, why let myself hit that nerve, how did I ever get up again after this day four years ago or any days that followed?

A tribute to Diem Brown
Tribute to Diem Brown Please click here

As I reflect I always go back I think about Diem’s overall “legacy,” and to the fear that people could be forgetting, that her life was lost in vain. And then I come back to MedGift. Are we doing everything we can to share her story, her mission? That will be her real legacy. Knowing lives were helped, touched, changed because of her vision.

What I often struggle with is how I remember viewing cancer before it touched my life. I was one of the millions that believed it “it will never happen to me, or my loved ones.” Faceless victims I couldn’t identify with. Cancer was a million miles away from my life. Until one day it wasn’t.

I believe we have become desensitized to this disease because of how rampant it’s become, from the diagnosis, to treatments and to the number of lives lost. We need to reenergize our focus and our efforts as a society to combat it and be there for those fighting it, every single day.

I’ve racked my brain for a way to reach those who see Cancer today the way I saw it years ago. The need to make cancer a person; an amazing, living, breathing, smiling, dancing person – how to reach those that have been lucky enough to still believe it’s a million miles away.

I’m sharing Diem’s memorial video, and her eulogy to make cancer human again and Diem’s memory and legacy fresh for anyone that’s willing to go there with us.

It’s my hope that Wednesday, November 14th’s Collaboration Hub Kick Off Event (Powered by WeWork & The Biden Cancer Initiative) on the anniversary of Diem’s passing will do just that. Put more faces and voices to this disease, to create an opportunity for us to meet one another by coming together to fight cancer and understand the resources we can all share with those who need them most.

Click here to keep Diem’s legacy alive by supporting MedGift .

Diems Eulogy by Megan Brown

I needed to get words on paper so I set out around the city to all the places you loved, Central Park, the Plaza for tea, our apartment but I couldn’t find you anywhere. It was the first time I had been alone in days and I was hoping you would somehow speak to me, you would somehow let me know it’s all going to be okay and that you’re in a better place, pain free.

Diem and I were 18 months apart. We were raised as twins. The Girls. Go check on the Girls, the Girls need a bath, the Girls are in time out. Identical toys, identical outfits but completely different personalities. My mom said Diem came out fighting from day one. Always full of energy, hands in everything, curious and brave. They had a joke about when we would travel that Diem was on a tour of the world’s hospitals. No matter what country we were in she found herself with a broken bone, missing tooth, or needing stitches. It was her go go go attitude. She was fearless, mischievous and incredibly clever. Since we moved around a lot we were often each other’s only companions and in turn only tormentors. Diem and I shared the same bed when we were toddlers. Diem had a bed wetting problem but because of her quick thinking at age 5, I was the one in diapers. Diem had figured out at that age if she just switched spots and undergarments with me no one would ever be the wiser. It took my parents catching her mid act for the truth to come out. From then on we enjoyed separate beds. A few years later I was in Girl Scouts and I had my heart set on the top prize for selling the most cookies, it was a Caboodle. Id given up, complaining there was no way I would sell enough to win. Diem, at age 8, rolled her eyes at me, grabbed my cookie form, a phone book and filled in the entire sheet. I was soon awarded the top seller for the entire East Coast. We were psyched until about 900 boxes of unclaimed cookies were delivered to our house. We were grounded and needless to say I had to return the Caboodle.

I have hundreds of memories and stories however most I don’t feel right sharing because obviously as sisters we’d always have our own version of how the story actually went. Im not sure whose going to correct me when I tell the biting story without you here to chime in that you were just laughing… really really hard. What empties me are not the memories I can recall so vividly it’s the memories that were to come. Ive always just pictured you by my side for all our life events. You’re at the alter with me on my wedding day, you’re beaming from ear to ear when I hand you your new niece or nephew. We take turns hosting family holidays, we plan girls getaways, wine weekends, concerts and Brown-Bowl tailgates. We grow old together.

The body, mind and heart are all amazing things. I truly can’t believe my body is capable of producing so many tears, I can’t seem to get my mind to stop racing/linking every sight, smell and sound to you and I can’t get my heart to stop aching. It actually hurts. Today I am able to understand that this is the very essence and beauty of life and Gods resilience in us. My armor will eventually crack because in order to truly honor my sister I have to learn to live like she lived and that was day by day and to the fullest. She saw the good in everyone. She loved hard, laughed hard and danced hard. I will and challenge you to aspire to live as she lived. Life is too short.

Family surrounded Diem in her last moments, I held her hand and put the other on her head. Father Morris led the Hail Mary and I closed my eyes tight. I saw Mom waiting for you with arms stretched open “come home darling” in her sweet Aussie accent. You ran to her. When I opened my eyes you took your last breath and you were at peace. That is what we hold onto now. Cancer did not beat you Diem, it lead you to Eternity. Our dancing angel.

Megan Brown

Important Resources for Women Battling Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM).  BCAM is an international health campaign to raise awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer (12%) while one in 38 will will die from the disease (2.6%). Chances are you have a family member or friend who has been diagnosed with breast cancer so you understand the diagnosis is the beginning of an arduous, difficult journey. This blog post highlights two web sites that serve as resources for women undergoing cancer treatment. 
 
Lisa Lurie, cofounder of the web site Cancer be Glammed writes of her experience:
 
“When I was 47, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In a very short period of time, I became bald, breast-less, and bloated from surgery and chemotherapy. I could barely recognize myself. It was soul destroying.”
Lisa Lurie and Ellen Weiss Kander
Founders of Cancer be Glammed Lisa Lurie and Ellen Weiss Kander
Understandably, women experiencing this terrible disease need lots of support and they need different types of support.  Aware of these needs firsthand Lisa, and cofounder Ellen Weiss Kander who passed away from liver cancer in 2012, created their web site to to help prepare women for the non-medical, appearance-related side effects of surgery and treatment, and to provide them with easy-access to fashionable recovery products and lifestyle solutions. Check out their site http://www.cancerbeglammed.com/about-cancer-be-glammed for more information.
 
A second resource for those undergoing chemotherapy was founded by Heather Brown as a result of breast cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy treatment. Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2016.  She felt that keeping her hair would be very important to her mental state and thus affecting the outcome of her treatment. 
Heather Brown, Founder of Care for Hair
Heather Brown, Founder of Care for Hair
Heather was able to use the DigniCap which was cleared by the FDA in 2015, although most insurances currently don’t cover the cost.  She kept about 90% of her hair, inspiring her to create the foundation Hope For Hair to help those who otherwise couldn’t afford the cost of the cooling cap technology. If you or someone you know is preparing for chemotherapy and would like to use the DigniCap but need financial support check out Heather’s site at Hope For Hair now.
And of course, MedGift is there for those needing financial and emotional support or assistance coordinating tasks.

You, MedGift, Netflix and the New York Times – WOW!

Netflix and the New York Times are currently filming a documentary series about people with undiagnosed medical conditions.  The series is inspired by Dr. Lisa Sanders’ Diagnosis’ column in the New York Times and will air on Netflix in 2019. The series producers are looking for new cases to follow and are particularly interested in patients who come from minority communities and/or parts of the country that aren’t often seen on television. They have asked us to reach out to YOU, our MedGift extended family.

If you are undiagnosed or have a personal medical mystery you’d like to share, please email the producers at diagnosissubmissions@gmail.com.   All information will be treated in confidence and be subject to HIPAA guidelines.

Please don’t submit medical emergencies or conditions that require an immediate response. The goal here is to share individual stories with “the crowd”, to follow your journey as you seek a diagnosis and to potentially make appropriate information available to you. If you are under 18, please have your parent or guardian communicate the request.

Here are the first four cases:

PATIENT #1:  ANGEL:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/11/magazine/netflix-diagnosis-series-angels-severe-muscle-pain.html

PATIENT #2:  MATT:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/04/magazine/netflix-diagnosis-series-matts-fainting-spells.html

PATIENT #3 – WILLIE:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/05/21/magazine/netflix-diagnosis-series-willie-seizures.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

PATIENT #4 – LASHAY

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/06/20/magazine/netflix-diagnosis-series-lashay.html

Reducing Medication Costs

Are the high cost of medications impacting your household?  According to Consumer reports approximately 30% of those surveyed responded medication costs are resulting in lifestyle changes.  The May issue of Consumer Reports has a special report on how to reduce your medication costs. Tips mentioned in this article include:

  1. Always ask about the availability of a generic equivalent.
  2. If like most you have been using the same pharmacy for years, shop around for lower prices, do not assume your pharmacy offers the lowest prices.
  3. Do not be afraid to use reputable on-line, web-based pharmacies.
  4. Check on-line, at your pharmacy and your physician’s office for coupons.
  5. Always ask your pharmacist for the price of a prescription and then ask if this is the lowest price available?
  6. Consider a ninety-day prescription.

Check out this excellent article from Consumer Reports for more tips on reducing your medication costs.

 

How one MedGift family is coping with high medical expenses

Hit hard by medical expenses?  Checkout this touching article from Today’s Parent on the skyrocketing cost of care and how one of our MedGift families is managing through this national dilemma.

https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/kids-health/how-to-crowdfund-your-kids-medical-expenses/

Top 11 Things Not to Say to a Grieving Friend

Most people say the loss of a loved one is their number one fear.  downloadHere are the top 11 things NOT TO SAY when talking to someone experiencing grief due to the loss of a loved one:

1. I know how you feel …
2. Time heals all wounds …
3. Let go … move on
4. Have faith …
5. Everything happens for a reason …images (1)
6. At least …
7. Be thankful …
8. They are in a better place …
9. At least you have XYZ. Count your blessings …
10. You are still young. You can have more children …
11. I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t imagine …

Following are the top 8 things you might consider saying:

1. I love you …
2. I remember the time …
3. I gave to their memorial fund …
4. Do you want to talk …
5. I can do this task …
6. I have no words …
7. I am so sorry for your loss …
8. I am here for you if I can help you in anyway

Sources:

http://www.upworthy.com/5-things-i-didnt-want-to-hear-when-i-was-grieving-and-1-thing-that-helped?c=ufb6

http://stillstandingmag.com/2014/01/6-things-never-say-bereaved-parent/

https://www.today.com/parents/child-loss-what-you-should-should-not-say-parents-t30596

Joan Lunden discusses MedGift on the Today Show

Check out Joan Lunden speaking on the Today Show about her journey with breast cancer.  At the 2:05 mark an audience member asks Joan how to help a friend or loved one when they are diagnosed with cancer?  Joan’s response:  Do not tell your friend to call you if they need anything.  Instead offer to setup a MedGift support page for them.  With a MedGift support page everyone will know exactly what they can do to help.  MedGift’s support pages include fundraising to cover expenses, calendars for coordinating care and wish lists for specific items. MedGift takes the awkwardness out of asking while connecting those in need with those who care.  And of course MedGift is 100% free.

Crowdfunding for Medical Expenses Best Practices

What do you do when you are faced with large medical bills?  Have you considered crowdfunding?  Here’s a great article from Bloomberg regarding the use of crowdfunding to pay medical bills.  Why does this make sense?  Well, when you are in need your family, friends and other loved ones want to help Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 5.10.03 PMbut other than flowers or cards they don’t know what to do.  So, consider creating a MedGift support page where you describe exactly what you need.  Share it with your support community and watch our generous they are.  If you haven’t heard of MedGift we are a not for profit,  completely free, refreshing alternative to other sites such as gofu##me.com.  Following are are some best practices for setting up and managing your MedGift support page.Crowdfunding Best Practices

1. Have a catchy MedGift page title. For example, which sounds better “Kickin it for Kelly” or “I need help” The first one, right? You probably have already done that when you started this page …but you can change it if you like…now or later.
2. We suggest you include a personal photo of the Beneficiary – this really warms the page and helps to establish a connection with your visitors.
3. We have really made it easy to connect and post to your social media outlets – email, FB and/or Twitter. You should share your new page as well as subsequent updates with as wide an audience as you feel comfortable. You can do this and more from your “DASHBOARD”. To access your dashboard, just log into you MedGift account, select your page, and you are off and running!4. Ask you community to also “Share”. What we have learned is that when a page and comments are shared, your community engagement increases by nearly 5X ( 500%), When sharing on FB or Twitter as the organizer, you become “verified” and that seems to make people much more comfortable engaging with your page.

5. Update your page frequently-– 1x /week at a minimum and share these updates with you social media connections as well. Your family and friends want to know how things are going, but often times don’t want to burden you by asking.
6. Add Photos or Videos. This will keep your page fresh, grab attention and invite compassion.
7. If you are looking to raise funds, the more specific you can be about how they will be used, the better. Also it’s best to start with a modest goal, but do not hesitate in asking for what you need and you can adjust up /down according to your needs. And don’t forget to enable your WePay account. This is where your donations will be stored. Whomever you designated as the Funds manager, yourself or the Beneficiary, will receive an email within 2 days how to do that!

8. If you are raising funds, it’s just like the tip jar, people often prefer to donate after someone else, and so we suggest making the first donation yourself. Our experience indicates this will jump start your efforts. And adjust your goals and timeframes as you are comfortable.

9. Use the Wish List to pictorially describe what you need or how you plan to use the funds

10. Please also explore the calendar. It’s a terrific tool to let your friends know if you would like help with meals, someone to visit or perhaps even walk the dog, transportation to an appointment, help with laundry or any other physical related activity. This has helped many other MedGift friends ease their burden.

Regards,

The MedGift Team

Think You’re Tough?

Think you are tough, think you are having a bad day?

▪︎There is a less than a 1% chance of getting Breast Cancer again after undergoing double mastectomies but cancer has shown no mercy to Tracy Baker and her kids.
▪︎Tracy tackled breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 34. She endured months of chemotherapy and her breasts were removed. One battle with cancer is tragedy enough for a family but this family is faced with a SECOND cancer.

Tracy has been diagnosed with cancer, TWICE! Check out her head shaving video that went viral at https://www.medgift.com/help-tracy-baker-fight-breast-cancer  Tracy is the definition of tough.