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Health Topic #1 - Breast Cancer Awareness

Well here it is October 4, 2010. It is hard to believe Desert Bloom Family Practice has been open almost one month now. We have been so busy, but smiling all the way.

We have seen a steady stream of patients, for that we are grateful. For all those patients that have found Marguerite and I, that have come to see us and share in our dreams and our belief in what primary care looks like, we are so joyful. The wonders of social networking and word of mouth!

We are seeing new patients nearly daily and feel so honored in their perseverance to continue to seek “good providers, that listen, are honest, care about patients and good at what they do”. You have put your trust in us to see what we may have to offer. This is always a gift. Keep coming, we are in the business of helping you reach your max potential towards a healthier you!

We had our open house with an amazing turn out. We had music, food, a jumping castle, free chair massages, and the wonderful people of the Southern Arizona Mustang Club came out to support us for a “Patient’s Choice Award” car show. We had a terrific time and are so glad to share our joy with our community.

With this mini update I want to announce our plans to have a monthly health topic posted on our website. The way it will work is we will post a health topic on our website monthly in which you can post questions to for the entire month.

In observance of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month we would like to post some information about breast cancer.

Q: Do you know the latest recommendation for breast cancer screening?

A: Despite recent spin in the national news from “medical experts”, the American Cancer Society continues to recommend annual screening with mammography and monthly self breast exams for women 40 years of age and older.

Q: What is a Mammogram:

A: A mammogram is a special imaging test that specifically looks at breast tissue. Mammograms don’t prevent breast cancer, but they can save lives by finding breast cancer as early as possible.

Q: How do I do a monthly self breast exam (MSBE)?

A: Click this link and you will be guided through a self breast exam

Q: What are my risk factors?

A: Risk factors you can’t change: heredity, being female, natural aging, race and ethnicity (white women have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, although African American women have a higher chance of not surviving breast cancer), and DES exposure in utero.

Risk factors you can change: obesity, alcohol consumption (more than one alcoholic beverage per day), smoking, oral contraceptive pills, and prolonged hormone replacement therapy after menopause are all risk factors you can change. Maintaining a healthy weight, daily exercise (10 miles of walking per week) and breast feeding your baby for 1-1/2 years help reduce your risk of breast cancer.


Commit to quit

November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month.    Do you know that in 2009, there were 159, 390 lung cancer deaths nationwide, and 2,820 of those occurred in Arizona (American Cancer Society)?  Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, killing more than 1.3 million people last year (World Health Organization).

The most common cause of lung cancer worldwide is long-term exposure to tobacco smoke; 87% of lung cancers in the United States are directly attributed to smoking tobacco (Mortality Estimates from National Vital Statistics).

Cigarette smoking is also one of the largest preventable causes of death and disability in the United States (American Lung Institute).  Non-inhaled tobacco, such as chewing, pipe, hookah, and smokeless tobacco can also be harmful, causing oral, lip, and throat cancers.  Infants exposed to second-hand smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and young children to developing asthma, allergies, and other breathing disorders (Clinical Medicine, 2009).

Why not give yourself and your loved ones the best holiday gift ever, and “commit to quit” this coming New Year?  Establish a “quit date”.  Find a “quit buddy”.  Use mouthwash, sugarless gum or mints often.  Brush your teeth after eating.  Increase your daily exercise.  Pick up a new (or old) hobby.

Please consider utilizing your health care provider as your ally in quitting smoking.  We are here for you!  Make an appointment at your earliest convenience to discuss the many helpful treatment plans we offer to assist you in achieving your New Year’s goal of quitting smoking!  Desert Bloom Family Practice wishes you a healthful holiday season and Smoke-Free New Year!

Marguerite Havlis, FNP-BC Family Nurse Practitioner, Board Certified

Desert Bloom Family Practice


HGC: Is It Right For Me?

Have you observed your weight creeping up by 5-10 pounds each passing year, despite your “two salads a day” and “go to the gym after work” regime?  Have the holidays been unkind to your waistline? Are you tired of attending weekly weigh-ins, purchasing expensive pre-packaged foods, and having your diet books collect dust on your bookshelves?

Would you like to lose 20-25 pounds of excess weight by Valentine’s Day? Would you like the weight loss to be permanent and excess fat deposits in those “trouble” areas to disappear?  Are you in search of a weight loss plan that doesn’t make you feel tired, weak, irritable, or ravenous? Are you ready to make a change for better health and longevity?

Our Medically Guided HCG Weight Loss Plan could be right for you!

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is part of an all-natural medical weight loss program designed and supervised specifically for you by the Nurse Practitioner.    HCG triggers the body’s internal mechanism to burn excess stored fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.  A daily dose of HCG, combined with a specific eating plan for up to 40 days, creates a unique weight loss, one that can be permanent, and can also improve the shape of your body, by burning the excess fat deposits from your hips, thighs, and abdomen.  Our HCG Weight Loss Plan keeps you feeling good while stored fat is released into the bloodstream and out of your body!

HCG can help you lose up to a pound per day!  Our clients lose an average of 24 pounds in one month.  As well, for many clients, their diabetes, blood pressure, and joint pain all improve dramatically!  By reducing your weight, you can begin to see lasting health benefits, including a reduction in necessary medications for conditions such as blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and joint pain.  Imagine the many health benefits that you may experience as a result of permanently losing up to 25 pounds of excess weight, on a safe and medically supervised plan.

Our HCG Weight Loss Plan includes daily correspondence and lifestyle coaching, as well as ongoing support during and after your 30 day regime is complete.  From an HCG support group, to coaching on calorie reduction, food choices, and exercise programs, we are here to assist with your weight-loss goals.         We monitor you every step of the way, providing individualized support, lifestyle modifications, and even a cookbook and eating-out menu suggestions to support you with your dietary selections!

Don’t wait for another 10 pounds—get started on our medically supervised HCG Weight Loss Plan today!  You will be pleasantly surprised at the differences in this attempt at weight loss:  The plan is simple, short, and it is guided by medical professionals!  Let this be the year that you take a significant step towards personal wellness, by permanently losing the excess weight, and developing lifetime skills to maintain your weight loss.

Marguerite Havlis, FNP-C Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner

Desert Bloom Family Practice


Healthier, Wealthier you!

So now, most of us are two month into our New Year resolution of weight loss.  How is your resolve? Unfortunately, this is when many have lost momentum.  One question I often ask my patients is what “what was your reason for weight loss”.  Most say “I want to be healthier”, after all, they are talking to their healthcare provider.  Other responses include “I have nice clothes I want to wear” or “I can’t afford to buy new clothes”, and of course, “I want to look better”.

Here are some things to think about… your medical costs related to your being overweight?  Are you on daily medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, or cholesterol?   What about knee pain, foot pain, low back pain? Have you considered the money you lose in your paycheck or loss of job performance from being absent from work?

It was reported by Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at the national “Weight of the Nation” conference July, 2010 “people who are obese spend almost $1,500 more each year on health care — about 41 percent more than an average-weight person. Beyond those costs are the disability and early deaths caused by obesity”.

Wow! Think about the money you could save to go on a nice vacation without the burden of your weight, medications, or cost if you were to finally commit to your goals of weight loss.

Lastly, we have not mentioned the invaluable experience of playing ball with your child, taking your grandchild to the fair, or walking hand in hand with a loved one many years from now.

Today, I challenge you, open a “vacation account”, re-commit to your goals, and find yourself on a wonderful, health-filled vacation at year’s end.

Call your healthcare provider and begin your journey to a healthier and wealthier you


Stress hormones

Ahhhhh…. Stress! It does not do the body good.

What is stress?  Merriam-Webster defines it as “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation”. We all experience stress in our daily life but most people do not understand what stress does to the body.

Over time, stress affects the “mother hormone” known as DHEA-S. It is a pre-cursor hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands and is responsible for many functions in the body such as fat and mineral metabolism, hormone production such as estrogen, progesterone, cortisone and testosterone which give us our male and female characteristics.

DHEA-S is also responsible for controlling our reaction to stress and the way it affects our body by producing cortisol. Cortisol launches a “fight or flight” response against the stressor we are up against. After a period of prolonged stress our adrenal glands become worn out and fail to produce DHEA-S and we begin to suffer the side effects of “adrenal fatigue”.  Adrenal fatigue is a state of being in which our hormones are depleted. We are tired, depressed, hungry, and chronically sick. Adrenal fatigue decreases our productivity at work, our ability to handle our personal life stressors, and our engagement with our children and loved ones through impatience and short temperedness.

DHEA-S is considered to be a protective measure against breast cancer, artery disease, depression, bone loss, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease through healthy production of hormones and a healthy metabolism.

Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include extreme fatigue, decrease in muscle mass, decreased bone density, depression, aching joints, loss of sex drive, and a lowered immunity.

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms and have persistent stress in your life seek the advice of a primary care provider and have your blood checked for adrenal gland functioning and hormone production. There are many ways to treat the effects of prolonged stress; let us help you in regaining your vitality.


In health and wellness,

Amy Strocsher FNP-BC

Desert Bloom Family Practice


What is all the Fuss About Sunscreen

Most of us, of certain age… uh-um, have no recollection of our parents putting sunscreen on us as we were growing up. So what is all the fuss about in our community about sunscreen these days?

Here is the discussion: Let’s start at the beginning.  Scientists have determined one of our risks for skin cancer is childhood sun exposure, particularly people who have grown up in geographically sunny areas. Statistically, children spend three times more time in the sun than adults.

Another risk factor is our depletion of the ozone layer. As the ozone layer lessons we lose our environmental “veil” against Ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Additional risk factors are:

Lighter natural skin color

Skin the burns or freckles easily

Blond or red hair

Blue or green eyes

A family history of skin cancer

All of these risk factors are not modifiable but there are still some important strategies to reduce yours and your family’s risk of skin cancer.  Begin by applying sunscreen to your children from infancy (there are baby safe sunscreens available) through their childhood.  Set a good example and apply it to yourself the same way.  Sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or greater are generally recommended and reapply every two hours with excessive sweating or swimming.

Include a sunscreen product, such as Obagi Nu- Derm Facial Sunscreen, into your morning routine before you head out.  If you are headed out to the ballpark with the little ones, invest in a sun-brella and keep it handy and shade yourself if you will be in the direct sunlight for a long period of time.   As the summer months approach us, protect yourself and your loved ones from dangerous UV (ultraviolet) rays.  If you notice any curious spots appearing, make an appointment with your primary care provider.

Amy Strocsher, FNP-BC


Influenza Is On the Way

Labor Day has past and the holidays are right around the corner.  As the seasons change and cooler weather arrives, flu season follows close behind.  People debate on the benefits of receiving a flu vaccination, and some people believe the vaccination hand delivers the flu to his or her system.  The flu vaccine contains an inactive flu virus based on worldwide flu trends and analysis. According to The Arizona Partnership for Immunizations (2010): “sometimes when your body responds to the vaccine you feel a little run down for a day or two.  This is really just your immune system working on building the antibody to fight the flu, not symptoms of disease.”

Although symptoms are similar to a cold, influenza is a virus.  Often symptoms are not present during the first day of contagiousness. A good rule of thumb is if you are running a fever (greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) you are generally considered contagious. In addition to receiving an annual vaccination, properly and frequently washing your hands with warm soapy water is a step towards avoiding the flu.  If you should contract the virus stay well hydrated, rested and take in plenty of nutrients for healing and recovery.

Flu vaccinations are available for patients as young as 6 months of age to end of life and should be discussed with your family health care provider or pediatrician to learn more about the risks and benefits of this very important immunization.

For additional information regarding the current 2011-2012 flu season and vaccination please visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season.

In health and wellness,

Desert Bloom Family Practice


Serving Up Memorable Holiday Dishes

With the holiday season right around the corner, friends and family begin to fill their schedule with parties and celebrations.  Gatherings are accessorized with new found recipes and family favorites.  As dishes of diverse presentation make their way to the table, the possibility of foodborne illness follows.

Start food preparation with clean hands and a sanitized work area.  Refrain from putting prepared foods on plating used for raw foods without washing and sanitizing them.  Never partially cook a dish and continue cooking to temperature upon arrival.  As your shopping for all the menu items, invest in a food thermometer and make sure foods are cooked to the proper temperature.

Social gatherings often fill an afternoon or evening and often the table of food stays as long.  Prevent foodborne illnesses by making sure the food is attended to throughout the event.  Food should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours, unless the temperature is above 90 degrees, then it should be properly stored after an hour.  Hot foods should remain at a temperature above 140º F and cold dishes should remain at 40º F.  Always keep foods out of the danger zone (40º – 140º F).

Stock up on shallow storage containers to pack up the leftovers.  Food stored in shallow containers can be reheated to 165º F with consistency through the dish, avoiding under cooked leftovers (USDA, 2011).

As you review your calendar and prepare your holiday traveling menu, prepare to serve your dish for everyone to enjoy.  From sanitary preparation areas to serving leftovers, keep your friends and family healthy this festive holiday season.