Make us your home page
Instagram

Irene Maher, Times Correspondent

Irene Maher

Irene Maher has reported on health for more than 25 years, mostly for WFLA-Ch. 8 in Tampa. She now writes about personal health and wellness for the Tampa Bay Times.

Phone: (813) 226-3416

Email: imaher@tampabay.com

link
  1. With a tailored approach to cancer treatment, doctors at Moffitt see more cures, fewer side effects

    Health

    Treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center has been more precise since doctors and researchers there began using targeted drug therapies nearly a decade ago. And soon they plan to expand on that approach, known as personalized medicine, to include radiation therapy.

    Doctors already know how to more precisely deliver beams of healing radiation so they spare as much healthy tissue as possible. Their next step will be to tailor the dose and duration of radiation to each patient based on their tumor biology, genetics and complex mathematical equations. ...

    Dr. Eric Haura is director of the Lung Cancer Center of Excellence and a senior member in the department of thoracic oncology at Moffitt.
  2. Relatively new treatment offers alternative for men with BPH

    Health

    David Aslan was looking forward to hitting the beaches at his new Longboat Key address when he moved from New York to Florida last December. But trips to the beach and beyond soon became a source of worry for the retired firefighter when he developed BPH, a benign form of prostate enlargement that leaves men always looking for the next restroom. While not cancerous, it's certainly annoying and often embarrassing because of the frequent, urgent need to urinate....

    Dr. Scott Klavans of Morton Plant Hospital plans to take special training.
  3. Summer 101: How to have fun and stay out of the ER

    Health

    Whether it's picnicking in a city park or traveling to a bucket list destination, summer calls us to do something fun. Whatever it may be, check out our Summer Survival Guide first.

    We hope these tips will ensure your summer diversions end safely at home, and not in the emergency room.

    Irene Maher, Times correspondent

    Outdoor food safety

    • Pack raw, cooked and ready-to-eat foods in separate containers and coolers....

    Friends Eric Wheeler and Peter Highland, both of Pass-a-Grille, enjoy the shade at Pass-a-Grille Beach. It’s best to avoid sun exposure from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and, when outside during the day, to always seek shade.
  4. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of acceptance that you need help. It shouldn't be a source of guilt.

    Kim is the wife of country music legend Glen Campbell. They've been married almost 35 years and have three children together, all of whom performed with their father's band. In 2011, the couple revealed that Glen has Alzheimer's disease. "Glen did so much to remove the stigma, to open a national conversation when he went public with his diagnosis," said Kim, 58, in a recent phone interview from her Nashville home. ...

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  5. Dementia: learn about a living will extension, better communication and resources

    Life Times

    Make your wishes known

    Empath Choices for Care, one of the organizations that co-sponsored Kim Campbell's late-May visit to Empath Health in Clearwater, has launched something new to help people plan for their care should they develop dementia. It's a document that was designed to be an extension of a completed living will. "Living wills are great, but they only apply during a small window of time at the end of life, when there's little or no hope for recovery," said Tracy Christner, executive director of Empath Choices for Care. "When someone has dementia, there are many care decisions to make before the end of life. Dementia can last for many, many years. That's why it's important to document your wishes early, before the stress of managing a terminal illness affects you and your family." ...

    Tracy Christner is executive director of Empath Choices for Care.
  6. Old-looking hands and what you can do about them

    Health

    If you really want to hide your age, hide your hands. • Hands are often forgotten when it comes to anti-aging prevention measures and cosmetic treatments. You dye your hair, spend big bucks on Fountain of Youth skin creams for your face, and dip into savings to have Botox injections and lifts for the eyelids and jowls. • But most of us — okay, it's primarily women — forget about our hands, which, experts agree, will say more about your age than your hair, face and neck. • Here are some things to know about hands:...

    Dr. James Spencer says it’s important not to cut corners when it comes to hands.
  7. Less invasive treatment lowers risk for those with an abdominal aortic aneurysm

    Health

    At 92, George Luzier wasn't up for major surgery to repair a potentially life-threatening abdominal aortic aneurysm, also known as a triple-A or AAA.

    The aneurysms develop silently and often grow larger over time. The larger they are, the more dangerous they can be. As with most people, Luzier's was discovered by chance a few years ago when a doctor ordered a scan of his upper body for another medical reason. ...

    X-ray images are used to guide the placement of the Zenith Fenestrated AAA Endovascular Graft at Tampa General Hospital.
  8. Message for national stroke month: If you see the signs, get to the hospital fast

    Health

    Every 40 seconds in the United States someone has a stroke.

    This interruption in blood flow to the brain can cause lifelong disability, even death, if the symptoms are not recognized and treated within a few hours. According to the American Stroke Association, death from stroke is on the increase again after years of decline.

    Yet 80 percent of strokes are preventable by taking commonsense steps such as controlling your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, exercising and not smoking. But almost as important as prevention is knowing the warning signs of stroke and treating them as a medical emergency worthy of a call to 911. ...

    Yolande Petit-Homme, 60, of Lakeland is shown in April 2016 with daughter Jen, 31, who recently moved from Wesley Chapel to Atlanta. Yolande had a stroke in 2015. She ignored the signs for days and did not get a clot-busting drug. She has weakness on her left side. She works hard at rehab, hoping to resume such daily tasks as bathing and dressing. But, she is back to two of her favorite activities: attending church and handwriting letters.
  9. The essentials of skin cancer prevention: self-checks, sunscreen and covering up

    Health

    Would you recognize skin cancer if you saw it?

    The American Academy of Dermatology chose May, Skin Cancer Awareness Month, to launch a nationwide campaign it hopes will get you to check yourself and a loved one for suspicious skin spots that should be evaluated by a doctor.

    The new awareness campaign, "Check Your Partner. Check Yourself," urges us to take self skin checks seriously. Anyone who sees you regularly — not necessarily a trained professional — might notice a spot, freckle, mole, bump or crusty patch that has changed or just doesn't look right. If they do, take action and have it checked. If you notice the same on someone else, speak up....

    Patel, a dermatologist, looks at moles on the fingertips of Favio Cabrera of Tampa. Nearly two dozen people were screened at the Mole Patrol event at the Long Center.
  10. National 'take back day' for unused prescription drugs lets you safely empty your medicine cabinet

    Medicine

    That collection of prescription pills, liquids, sprays, patches, tubes and blister packs is sitting in your medicine cabinet, getting old. You no longer need them or they're expired, but you don't know what do with them. Don't just flush them down the toilet or toss them in the trash. Instead, get rid of them Saturday during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration....

    David Craig is Moffitt Cancer Center lead pharmacist for supportive care medicine and acute pain.
  11. The Dish: JJ Layton, executive chef at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, talks cooking hospital food for thousands

    Cooking

    Imagine cooking for more than 4,000 people each day. For most of us, it's hard enough just getting lunch boxes packed and a family meal on the dinner table every night.

    But JJ Layton, executive chef at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, has experience cooking and preparing thousands of meals for people of all ages — from toddlers to grandparents of multiple cultural and ethnic backgrounds, with widely differing taste preferences and food traditions and a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions. That's what he and his team of 30 cooks, plus a small army of support staff, face each day when they come to work....

    JJ Layton, executive chef at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, is pictured in Seasons Caf?, where most visitors and employees eat. The menu changes daily and there are numerous food stations.
  12. Implanted devices offer an alternative to CPAP machines for some sleep apnea patients

    Health

    Mark Yegge knew he was a snorer. But when he found out that he also repeatedly stopped breathing during the night, followed by gasping for breath, he knew it was time to see his doctor.

    "I didn't believe it until someone taped me sleeping," the Clearwater resident said.

    A sleep study confirmed he had obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, the most common sleep disorder, which affects about 18 million Americans. It occurs when the tongue, tissue and muscles in the throat relax during sleep, become floppy and block the airway. ...

    ,The aura6000 delivers mild pulses to the hypoglossal nerve, stimulating muscles at the back of the tongue, improving muscle tone and keeping the tongue from collapsing and blocking the airway.
Courtesy of ImThera Medical Inc.
  13. Treatments vary for painful plantar fasciitis, but rest is the best

    Health

    You might say Judi Briant has spent more than 33 years on her feet. As a teacher with Hillsborough County schools and a professor at Hillsborough Community College, she was always standing or walking.

    "That's the way I work," said Briant, who retired from Armwood High but still teaches at HCC. "I can't sit down and teach, I'm always on my feet in the classroom."

    On some days she'd put in another 3 miles at home on the treadmill. ...

    Dr. Gabrielle Gagliardo gives an EPAT treatment to Christa Chaney, 58, of Riverview at Ankle + Foot Center of Tampa Bay. The treatment sends low-frequency sound waves into the foot. “I feel a major difference in each foot after treatment,” Chaney said. “I’m a walker and I feel lot less pain.”
  14. Avoid being one of the millions who get sick — get the flu shot, doctors say

    Health

    Some people have to get the flu before they'll get a flu shot.

    They'll miss a week or more of work or school, suffer through high fevers, body aches, headaches, a sore throat and coughing before they vow to do everything possible to prevent or lower their chances of getting the flu again. The flu, they feel, is that bad.

    Gabe Echazabal of Tampa can tell you all about it. He never wanted to get the shot after hearing the stories of people who got the bug despite getting the vaccine. He also heard that the vaccine itself might make him sick. ...

    Family medicine specialist Dr. Amber Stephens says Tamiflu shortens sick time and makes people less infectious.
  15. Groups work to ease the path to recovery for those with eating disorders

    Health

    Robin Murray was in her 40s when the eating disorder she battled as a teenager and young adult came roaring back.

    Suddenly, she returned to the destructive behaviors of her youth — restricting, bingeing on and purging food, plus overexercising to compensate for any calories she managed to keep down.

    During her earlier battle, which lasted 15 years, Murray went through several different treatment facilities and once came close to death because she had become so thin....

    Johanna Kandel founded the Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness.