Community Connections

In Your Neighborhood

National Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, November 18, 2016

While lung cancer is a concern all year, November has been designated as Lung Cancer Awareness month in order to bring attention to the 2nd most commonly diagnosed form of cancer. While Skin Cancer has the largest number of diagnoses, lung cancer is actually the leading cause of cancer deaths. There are steps we can take to reduce our risk based on lifestyle choices. Changes in behaviors and early diagnosis can enable treatment to allow people to live a more productive and healthier life.

“Tobacco products are an addiction that is very hard to quit. Norman Regional has a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist who can provide you with the tools necessary to help you. Ready to try?”
<p>Tobacco products are an addiction that is very hard to quit. Norman Regional has a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist who can provide you with the tools necessary to help you. Ready to try?</p>

The best method of preventing lung cancer is tobacco cessation. Smoking is believed to cause 80% of the lives lost to lung cancer. The Great American Smoke-out is a perfect time to make the potentially life-saving step and stop utilizing tobacco products. The annual Great American Smoke out is celebrated on the 3rd Thursday each November. The first event was held on November 16, 1977 in San Francisco with the hope that people would stop smoking for 24 hours and then eventually quit. According to the American Cancer Society, there has been a reduction in cigarette smoking since the 1960s. However, cigars, pipes and hookah, all of which are dangerous and addictive, have seen a large increase in utilization. E-cigarettes are also on the rise. This year, The Great American Smoke-Out will be held on November 17th.

Tobacco products are an addiction that is very hard to quit. Norman Regional has a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist who can provide you with the tools necessary to help you. Ready to try? We are here for you. For information about our Quit Smart class, please call (405) 307-3175.

Another resource available to assist you is the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline. Primarily funded by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, or TSET, this hotline is a toll-free support line with an enhanced selection of services. You can receive free text and email support, phone and web coaching, patches, gum, lozenges and more. Please call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit OKhelpline.com to register and receive nonjudgmental support from specially trained Quit Coaches who can help provide services tailored just for you.

Norman Regional Health System offers a low dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer. This non-invasive and painless test (Computed Tomography) is taken of the chest area. This low dose scan provides detailed x-rays, reviewed by radiologists, who can detect early stage lung cancers that may not show up on traditional x-ray methods. A patient is notified of any abnormalities by a specialized nurse navigator who will help the patient determine their next steps. Patients will receive a letter when the findings are normal. This screening can be used as a baseline or a point of reference for any future tests that may be needed.

The cost is only $79 and does not require a referral from a physician. Insurance will not be billed.

This screening is recommended for the following people.

  • Between the ages of 55 to 74
  • Have smoked more than a pack a day for 30 years
  • Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years
  • Have been exposed to second-hand smoke for an extended period of time
  • Had or have a job with exposure to radon, asbestos or diesel exhaust

You can check with your insurance company to see if this is a covered test. If you are using your own insurance to pay for the test, please make sure to follow the necessary steps as required by your insurance company in order for the test to be covered and to avoid being billed anything above your copay or deductible and coinsurance.

The lung cancer screenings are performed at all three of Norman Regional Health System campuses: Norman Regional Hospital on Porter Avenue, Norman Regional HealthPlex on Tecumseh Road and Norman Regional Moore on Telephone Road. The test takes about 15 minutes. Patients can call (405) 307-2290 to schedule their screening today. Norman Regional's comprehensive lung services also include board-certified pulmonologists and interventional pulmonologists. If you have a finding on a lung cancer screening, our team is available to provide follow-up care and treatment including biopsies.

There is not time like the presence! Take that important life-saving step of turning your back on tobacco products. Norman Regional Health System is here for you with the resources and support you need to be successful.

UPDATE - Patients with Parkinson’s Fighting Back

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Since June, Oklahomans living with Parkinson’s have been fighting back with a local Rock Steady Boxing program created through a partnership with Norman Regional's Rehabilitation Services and The Health Club. Rock Steady, a national non-profit, certified Debbie Bennett, a NRHS occupational therapist and Stacy Hyden, an NRHS physical therapist to bring this unique program to Norman, Oklahoma. It is inspiring to watch this group work overcome some of their difficulties they have from Parkinson’s disease.

“Rock Steady boxers are such an inspiration to me and each other. It's been a great experience watching them improve so much!”
<p>Rock Steady boxers are such an inspiration to me and each other. It's been a great experience watching them improve so much!</p>

During their Tuesday and Thursday weekly classes, the group has become a family supporting and encouraging each other to work hard. Debbie and Stacy are their fearless leaders who show such compassion and support to help the participants stay motivated and successful. Debbie is known for her great sense of humor and ready to give out big hugs. Debbie passionately said, "Rock Steady boxers are such an inspiration to me and each other. It's been a great experience watching them improve so much!"

The program that launched 4 months ago focuses on core strength, improving balance and posture as well as flexibility and speed. For those not living with Parkinson's, some routine tasks are taken for granted. On the other hand, Parkinson’s causes hands to tremor and creates some significant balance issues. Many participants agreed that something as simple as putting on your clothes became a difficult undertaking. It was very liberating when their balance improved enough to step into their pants on your own without needing support. It is an important accomplishment not taken for granted.

According to Bob Pritchard, who started at the initiation of the program, he was reassured about his progress when he ran into a friend who he had not seen in 6 months. The friend immediately recognized his overall improvement. He received a big hug from Debbie with that announcement.

In addition to the encouragement among the class participants and leaders, there is another constant support system known as the corner men or corner people. This boxing term was affectionately given to their spouses, family members and friends who ensure the participants are able to get to class, help with exercises outside of class and are there when a helping hand is needed.

The Rock Steady program is already having such a positive impact on so many people. It is not too late to join this exciting program. The classes are open to anyone diagnosed with Parkinson's Diseases, however, in order to participate, an initial assessment is required. The Health Club is located at 3720 W Robinson St #124 in Norman. To inquire about the cost of the assessment, class fees or equipment, you may contact you may contact Lisa at (405)307-1722.

September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Many people are not familiar with thyroid cancer considering it is not one of the more common cancers in the United States. Thyroid cancer is quite treatable. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of this disease.

“The thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that looks like a butterfly and produces hormones which regulate the body's metabolic rate...”
<p>The thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that looks like a butterfly and produces hormones which regulate the body's metabolic rate...</p>
  • What is the thyroid?
  • Where is the thyroid located?
  • What is the function of the thyroid?

These are all very important questions. The thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that looks like a butterfly and produces hormones which regulate the body's metabolic rate as well as heart and digestive function, muscle control, brain development and bone maintenance.

Thyroid cancer, which affects women more often than men, cannot be prevented. However, the treatment for thyroid cancer has been found to be successful. Surgery can be performed as well as a therapy which includes radioactive iodine. After a thyroidectomy or the total removal of the thyroid gland, on-going hormone therapy is necessary. It is rare that thyroid cancer spreads throughout the body. However if indicated, radiation and chemotherapy can be considered in these situations.

The American Thyroid Association discusses four types of cancer. They are listed below in the order of most to least common.

  • Papillary Thyroid Cancer accounts for about 70% - 80% of the diagnosed cases and can affect people of all ages. Papillary cancer tends to grow slowly. Even if it spreads to the lymph nodes, the general outlook is still very positive.
  • Follicular Thyroid Cancer makes up 10% - 15% of thyroid cancer in the United States. This is a significant decrease in the number of cases compared to those with papillary thyroid cancer. Patients tend to be older in age. In addition to spreading to the lymph nodes, this type of cancer can grow in the blood vessels and possibly spread to the lungs and bones.
  • Medullary Thyroid Cancer – only accounts for 5% - 10% of all thyroid cancers. It could be based on hereditary and other endocrine problems. Genetic testing can be performed.
  • Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer only affects less than 2% of the patients with thyroid cancer. This cancer is the most aggressive type and least responsive to treatment.

According to Dr. Tom Connally, the Medical Director of the Norman Regional Health System Endocrine Surgery Program and an expert in the area of minimally-invasive thyroid and parathyroid surgeries, "It is important to discuss your treatment options with a physician to determine the most effective method for you based on your situation, age, health and medical history."

The overall prognosis for thyroid cancer is very optimistic, considering it is curable for the vast majority of patients diagnosed. And that is very good news for people facing a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

What is West Nile Virus?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

West Nile virus is a term we continue to hear. What is this virus? Is this a local virus? Can this affect my family? These are important questions to have answered.

“The virus can have varying results on individuals based on their central nervous system.”
<p>The virus can have varying results on individuals based on their central nervous system.</p>

The West Nile virus has documented cases around the world and first spread to North American in the late 1990s. It has continued to spread across the continental United States as well as Canada. The West Nile virus is mainly spread via the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito can become infected when they feed on an infected bird and in turn can infect both humans as well as other animals. While it is extremely rare, the virus could be spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.

The virus can have varying results on individuals based on their central nervous system. While most people infected with the virus experience no symptoms, those who do may have dizziness, headaches, a rash, muscular issues, body aches and/or intestinal problems. It can cause febrile illness which is when the body temperature spikes. People with the minor symptoms are most likely to have a complete recovery, although fatigue could continue for weeks or even months.

Anyone over the age of 60 as well as those with certain medical conditions are susceptible to a more severe impact. These medical conditions may include diabetes, cancer and those with a compromised immune system. While it is very rare, encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, and meningitis, an infection of the lining of the brain as well as the spinal cord, are neurological illnesses that could result from West Nile Virus. It has only affected about 1% of those infected by West Nile Virus.

People who spend a lot of time outdoors for work or other activities are at a higher risk because of their increased exposure. Wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks could help protect your skin. In addition, insect repellent with DEET could be beneficial as well. At this time, there is not a vaccination for West Nile virus or medications to treat the virus. There are only over the counter remedies to reduce the symptoms for those with mild reactions. Individuals with severe outcomes may need to be hospitalized. Our best defense is to minimize the potential of getting mosquito bites.

According to Dr. Patrick Cody, Medical Director of Norman Regional Health System's EMSSTAT Emergency Services, "Mosquito-borne viruses are interesting because they are an excellent example of how we can impact a disease by prevention measures. If we use public health resources to reduce mosquito populations and decrease mosquito exposure (ie., the "fight the bite" ads), we can stop the disease in its tracks."

Patients with Parkinson’s Fighting Back

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Oklahomans living with Parkinson's can now fight back at their disease with a new boxing program. Through a partnership between Norman Regional Health System (NRHS), The Health Club and the Oklahoma Parkinson's Foundation, two Norman Regional Rehabilitation therapists were able to be trained at the non-profit Rock Steady Boxing Program. The program uses boxing classes and coaches to help improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease.

“The program uses boxing classes and coaches to help improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease.”
<p>The program uses boxing classes and coaches to help improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s disease.</p>

Starting in June, The Health Club will offer Rock Steady Boxing classes every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00pm. Rock Steady Boxing is a class taught by certified professionals who use a non-contact, boxing inspired fitness routine to improve the ability of people with Parkinson’s to live independent lives. The philosophy behind the program comes from the equipment and exercises used by boxers. Some of the equipment includes heavy bags, speed bags and punch mitts. The goal is to increase core strength, improve balance and posture as well as flexibility and speed.

Rock Steady is a national non-profit that not only has its own gym where classes are taught, but also trains others in their unique program for people living with Parkinson's. Debbie Bennett, an NRHS occupational therapist and Stacy Hyden, an NRHS physical therapist are the two therapists who trained in Indianapolis and became certified trainers in the program.

Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. It affects about half a million people in the United States although the numbers may be much higher. Exercise can help people with Parkinson's improve their mobility and flexibility. It can also improve their emotional well-being. Exercise may improve the brain's dopamine production or increase levels of beneficial compounds called neurotrophic factors in the brain.

It is exciting to have such interest in the program which was launched on June 2nd. At a recent open house to educate our community about the benefits of the program, over 50 people were in attendance.

The classes are open to anyone diagnosed with Parkinson's Diseases, however, in order to participate, an initial assessment is required. The Health Club is located at 3720 W Robinson St #124 in Norman. To inquire about the cost of the assessment, class fees or equipment, you may contact Lisa at (405)307-1722.