This month's Komen Race for the Cure and 3-Day for the Cure, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks and other pink-draped events are active ways to raise awareness and funds to fight one of the most common cancers in American women. The emphasis on activity also makes an important point for breast cancer survivors: Research shows that women who exercise increase their odds of recovery and enjoy benefits ranging from better sleep and reduced stress and depression to better pain control.
GET MOVING: Exercise and weight control are strongly associated with breast cancer survival as well as prevention — so bring your friends along.
Here are some tips from the American Council on Exercise:
• Work your way up to aerobic activities at moderate intensity for a total of 150 minutes per week or vigorous/strenuous intensity for 75 minutes per week.
• Strength training should work the major muscle groups in both the lower and upper body two or three times per week.
• Follow aerobic and strength-training sessions with a good stretching routine.
• If you have had surgery, allow time for healing and then evaluate arm and shoulder mobility before attempting upper-body exercises.
• Don't try a vigorous workout when you're extremely fatigued or in pain.
• Set short-term goals to prevent loss of interest or motivation. Nausea from chemotherapy may lead to lack of appetite and then to low energy.
• If undergoing hormone treatment, choose safe activities that limit the possibility of falls and the risk of fractures. Exercise in a cool environment and drink plenty of fluids.
• If you would like some coaching, ask your doctor, hospital or support group for a referral, or look for a qualified personal trainer at your favorite gym or through acefitness.org.
• And if you want to get in on the Making Strides walks on Oct. 22 in Tampa and St. Petersburg, register at makingstrides.acsevents.org.
FINDING THE RIGHT WORDS: It can be tough to find the right words when a friend or loved one tells you she has breast cancer (or any other serious illness, for that matter). Here are some statements that peer counselors at Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization found the most — and least — helpful:
"I'm here for you, and we'll see this through together."
"I'll organize your friends to make dinners, drive car pools, shop, etc. "
"I know this is difficult for you. Please know I will do all I can to support you."
"I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I'm here to help in any way."
"Would you like to tell me more about it?"
"You'll be fine."
"You poor thing."
"I know how you feel."
"I know someone who died from that."
"Call me if you need anything."
"Will you be okay financially since you won't be able to work?"
"I think you should . . ."
MAMMOGRAMS: Although Medicare and private insurance plans cover mammograms, many women don't have insurance and can't afford these vital screening exams. If that's your situation, there's help:
• The Pinellas County Mammography Voucher Program assists uninsured women who meet certain income requirements. Call (727) 820-4117.
• In Hillsborough County, the Florida Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program assists uninsured women and those who have only catastrophic health care coverage. You must meet age and income requirements. Call (813) 307-8082.
• The Florida Suncoast Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure provides funding for mammography screening programs in six bay area counties (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota) and will help those with a Komen-approved screening obtain treatment, if needed. Call toll-free 1-877-506-6927 or visit www.komensuncoast.org.
Need more help to shape up? Every weekend in October, you can go to your local Y for free, in celebration of National Family Health Month. Call (727) 467-9622 or visit ymcasuncoast.org for more information.
Not sure what your healthiest weight is? A BMI check is a good place to start. Women can visit any Sam's Club with a pharmacy today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a free check of their body mass index, their blood pressure and also their thyroid levels. (It's also free for nonmembers.) For more information, visit SamsClub.com/healthyliving.
STAY INFORMED: Want to know the latest on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment? Morton Plant is hosting three expert discussions, and they're free to the public. For reservations and information, call (727) 940-2776.
• Oct. 18, noon, Morton Plant Hospital, Cheek-Powell Heart and Vascular Pavilion, 455 Pinellas St., Clearwater.
• Oct. 20 at noon, Morton Plant Mease Outpatient Center, Community Room, 2102 Trinity Oaks Blvd., Trinity.
• Oct. 25 at noon, Bardmoor Medical Arts Building, Conference Center, Room 120, 8839 Bryan Dairy Road, Largo.
Times staff, wires