Monday, July 30, 2012

Man's Best Friend Is Really Woman's Best Friend

Michael Gallacher

A woman in the U.K. discovered she had breast cancer when she could no longer dismiss her Cavalier King Charles spaniel constantly sniffing and nuzzling her breast.

Sharon Rawlinson tells Fox News that her dog Penny "would gently paw me as if she was trying to get something out of my left breast, but I ignored it. When she stood on me in the middle of the night and wouldn't get off, the pain was like a thousand bee stings."

Doctors confirmed Penny's suspicions and found an aggressive tumor growing in Rawlinson's breast. She started chemotherapy immediately to shrink the tumor and underwent surgery today.

Last year, researchers in Germany found that specially-trained dogs could sniff-out cancer in a patient's breath 70 percent of time. Other studies have yielded accuracy rates between 88 and 97 percent. Dogs have been known to detect skin, breast, bladder, lung, and ovarian cancers as well as diabetes.

Doctors believe that tumors produce certain chemical compounds that emit a scent that eludes humans but which dogs can pick up on. Animal experts believe that a dog's sense of smell is as much as one million times more sensitive than our own.

According to Charlene Bayer, a principal research scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute, "[the dogs] don't necessarily know what's wrong, but they know that there's something that's not normal, that you don't smell the way you normally do."

While Penny is just a regular domestic pet, stories such as this one make it hard to overlook the seemingly extraordinary connection between humans and the animal kingdom.

In his book, Your Dog Is Your Mirrorauthor Kevin Behan proposes the theory that owner and dog share one "group mind."  This comes as no surprise to any pet owner; most will tell you that there are times when their pets' intuition is nothing short of miraculous.

Quincy, my 18lb. tuxedo cat who often sleeps with his body wedged tightly against my side, very noticeably preferred to lay vigilant at my feet or on the chair in my bedroom during my recovery. I have little doubt that he sensed something was different and patiently waited for the moment when it would be safe to snuggle up closely near my chest once again.


And to shift gears slightly...for anyone who thinks that cats aren't cool let me leave with you with this little exchange Fashionista had with CFDA winner Jason Wu about the debut of his new lower-priced fashion line Miss Wu in which he clarifies that his muse is definitely a "cat person."
Fashionista: Us cat people get stuck with a stigma sometimes–that we’re creepy and destined to die alone with lots of cats.
Jason Wu: I’m changing that. Cats are chic! It’s called a catwalk not a dog walk.
 Amen Jason...amen...

Friday, July 27, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Shopping Splurge: Summer Shirt Dresses

It's frickin' hot here in NYC and even though I need to dress a little more covered-up on top, I groan every morning when I reach for a long sleeve button-down shirt to put on.

The height of the summer season is upon us and I'm noticing women prancing around town in short dresses exploding with flowers. Floral prints usually feel too girly on me and I tend to favor more man-tailored, loose-fitting pants, but shirt dresses merge perfectly at the intersection of feminine and comfortable; not to mention you can stay cool while still covering up.

Here are this week's picks for Summer shirt-dresses:

1-T by Alexander Wang // 2-Thakoon Addition // 3-Zero Maria Cornejo // 4-10 Crosby Derek Lam // 5-ALC // 6-Iro

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cancer-Fighting Kale

I can't think of a leafy green vegetable I don't like but I absolutely love Kale. Thankfully, Kale's star is on the rise among many of NYC's tastiest restaurants and I'm determined to eat my way through Serious Eats' 11 greatest kale dishes in the next few months.

Kale is considered one of mother nature's "superfoods" and is jam-packed with lots of good stuff like iron, folate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C. This cruciferous vegetable has been proven to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. Kale is cardio-protective (i.e. it safeguards your heart) and also helps to reduce cholesterol.

The magic components of Kale are several isothiocyanates which not only ward-off potentially life-threatening carcinogens but also serve to break-down and speed-up removal of those which may already be present.

In terms of breast cancer specifically, Kale has been shown to reduce the estrogen metabolite, 16 alpha-hydroxyestrone, which researchers have identified as a cancer gateway. Similarly, Kale stimulates "apoptosis" (aka: cell suicide) and inhibits "angiogenesis" (the process by which cancer cells signal surrounding healthy tissue to grow new blood vessels in order to promote the tumor's own growth.) A Korean study even showed that some components of Kale heighten the anti-cancer fighting properties of Taxol, a drug used in chemotherapy.

I'm kind of a lazy cook so I normally just sauté my kale with olive oil, sea salt, crushed red pepper, and garlic and top it off with a splash of red wine vinegar.  Since I love potato chips though, I'm going to whip up a batch of these yummy Crispy Kale Chips with Lemon courtesy of the Food Network's Guy Fieri.

For more information on Kale visit The World's Healthiest Foods website.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cancer-Care Center Focuses On Architecture and Design

Modernist architecture's credo of "form follows function" is something surprisingly undervalued in the world of healthcare. Most hospitals and medical facilities generally function properly, having all the requisite equipment and machinery, but few have been updated to reflect the explosive focus on good design that we've seen in the past 15 years or so. You need not look any further than Apple to understand how influential and life-altering a well-designed product or system can be.

So when I read about the uber-cool patient care center created by London-based architecture firm CZWG for Maggie's Centres on the grounds of Nottingham City Hospital Campus I was not only blown away by the artful, whimsical aesthetic but the smart, considered approach to offering cancer patients and their families a relaxing and functional escape.

The project, completed in 2011, was spear-headed by CZWG partner Piers Gough who is known for his powerful, yet playful and imaginative style. The 360 sq. ft. building is surrounded by trees and nestled between the Oncology Department and the Breast Institute on the hospital's campus.

Gough describes the space as follows:
"The light, peaceful and non-institutional design of Maggie's Nottingham will be a sanctuary for all those who walk through the door. Sheltered by trees, the centre will be a homely, comfortable space next to the busy hospital, where anyone affected by cancer can come to relax. The centre is a safe space where visitors can engage with nature while being sheltered from the elements. From the outside the playful appearance will entice people to take a look through the door, once they do the harmony of light and space will create a uniquely welcoming environment."

Maggie's has always had an eye for great design and has previously commissioned work to other notable architects such as Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry.

With interiors designed by British fashion powerhouse Sir Paul Smith, himself a Nottingham native, patients and their families are able to fix themselves a cup of tea in the large, open kitchen and take refuge in one of several private rooms decorated in Smith's happy and colorful signature style.


I'd love to see Graves collaborate on a project like this for Memorial Sloan Kettering in NYC with say, Donna Karan to create a sublimely zen environment or Marc Jacobs for something quirky and cool.  Then again Franciso Costa or Calvin Klein himself might be more along the lines of Graves' modernist aesthetic.

Think of the possibilities....

Friday, July 20, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Shopping Splurge: Pajamas

By now you know I firmly believe in button-down shirts for not only being classically cool but also as the perfect solution for your changing body and limited arm mobility after surgery.

One of the best gifts I got was from my friend Meg who gave me a pair of blue ticking stripe Ralph Lauren pajamas. While I was still in the hospital, the standard-issue gown was the most practical for allowing doctors and nurses easy access, but once I got home, her gift was a life-saver. I don't think I changed out of them for a whole week!

Make sure to buy 2 or 3 pairs before your surgery and don't get anything fancy or ruffly. A classic men's look is not only cool but ideal. They should have a button-down front, generous armhole, and a drawstring or light elastic waist.  

I originally thought I would just wear my awesome Nike Dri-fit training pants and a t-shirt. The t-shirt was an immediate no-no since I couldn't raise my arms more than 6" but it was also super painful to pull the Nikes up and down every time I went to the bathroom. The high spandex content in work-out gear is needed to keep everything in place but those garments surprisingly required far too much strength for me to maneuver post-op.

Additionally, since I wasn't moving around very much during my recovery, I used jumbo safety-pins to attach my drains to the waistband of the pants and tucked them into the top of my underwear. Not an ideal solution but it did the trick.  

I'm certain I can design something better...

Here are this week's picks for cool summer pajamas:

1-Marigot Classic Long Pajama // 2-Marigot Lorient Short Pajama Set // 3-Eberjey // 4-Piamata Isabella Pajama // 5-Donna Karan Sateen Classic Pajama Set

Once you're able raise your arms over your head you obviously can wear anything you want but man-tailored pj's on a woman are sexy.

Split up the set and wear the bottoms with a tank or you can be like this chic woman during Paris Fashion Week and wear them out and about!

via Mister Mort

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What You Need to Know About the FDA's New Sunscreen Guidelines

image source

We're into our third heatwave of the summer here in NYC and I am reminded how badly I wish I could throw on a bathing suit and jump around in the ocean right now. While I have never really been a sun-worshipper, being blessed with a more olive-y complexion means I rarely burn and admittedly, I have been less than diligent about remembering to wear sunscreen over the years.  

Until now.

While I wouldn't exactly call getting cancer "lucky," it's definitely served as a wake-up call to revamp other areas of my health and beauty regime. While every dermatologist will tell you that once you've gotten a sunburn the damage to your skin has already been done, you still need to take every possible precaution to prevent yourself from ever getting burned again.  

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90 percent of all non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and more than 3.5 million cases are newly diagnosed each year.

Now, for the first time in 30 years, the FDA has overhauled it's sunscreen regulations which all manufacturers must comply with by December, 2012. The new laws will help the consumer navigate the convoluted product maze created by unregulated testing, complicated labeling, and fancy marketing techniques.

Here are 6 essential things you need to know before making your next purchase:
  • Broad Spectrum:  SPF refers only to UVB rays but research now shows that UVA rays can be just as damaging and are thought to be a leading cause in premature skin aging. The new laws will eventually require manufacturers to use a star-rating system of 1 to 5 to indicate their UVA protection level. Prior to this, the term "broad spectrum" was commonly presumed to indicate protection against both UVA and UVB rays. However, since there were no standards regulating this, many manufacturers labeled their product as "broad spectrum" while adding very little UVA-blocking ingredients. Now the FDA requires any sunscreen to be labeled as such to have an SPF of 15 or higher and the ingredients need to pass certain tests to prove their blocking capabilities.  
  • SPF:  Only sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher will be allowed to claim that they help prevent sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Furthermore, the FDA is working on a law which would set a cap on sunscreen protection at SPF 50. Any brand claiming to offer superior protection at SPF 80 or SPF 100 for example, would no longer be allowed. In fact, the FDA says there is no data supporting the assertion that an SPF higher than 50 is any more effective.  My very close friend, a noted dermatologist here in NYC, often reminds me that the key to sun protection is to constantly reapply; not necessarily to wear SPF 100 and forget about it.  
  • Water-resistant:  Terms like "water-proof" and "sweat-resistant" will no longer be allowed.  Period. Not only are these terms misleading to a consumer, they are technically impossible.  The key to staying protected post-swim or during sport is to re-apply.
  • Application:  The new laws will prohibit any brand from making the claim that protection is immediate upon application or can last for longer than 2 hours without submitting research and getting approval from the FDA.
  •  Sprays:  The FDA has requested further research to determine if sprays are not only as effective as more traditional types of sunscreens but also if they can actually cause harm when inhaled. Unfortunately there is no deadline for these tests to be concluded and in the meantime, you the consumer, may be exposing yourself to additional, unnecessary risk. There are so many products on the market, its both logical and feasible to avoid the unknown and opt for something else.
  • Make-up:  Skin creams and other cosmetics that claim to have an added SPF benefit will now be held to the same FDA testing requirements and guidelines as any other sunscreen product.  This means your favorite brands might have to change their formulas in order to be compliant otherwise they will have to add special skin cancer and skin aging warnings to alert the consumer that the product's protection is limited.

image source

After all you've gone through, you deserve a little fun in the sun...just make sure you're wearing sunscreen and sitting under a beach umbrella!

Monday, July 16, 2012

1 in 5 Women With Breast Cancer Have Multiple Surgeries

A recent study of more than 55,000 British women showed that twenty percent of patients who initially opted for breast-conserving surgery (i.e. lumpectomy or partial mastectomy) underwent additional surgery to remove more tissue. Approximately forty percent of these re-operations were for a total mastectomy.

A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association last year puts the repeat rate for American women at closer to 1 in 4, or twenty-five percent. Additonally, women diagnosed with DCIS were more than twice as likely to have additional surgery.

Finding out you have breast cancer is scary. Having to decide between a lumpectomy with radiation or a total mastectomy is like choosing between swimming with a life vest through shark infested waters or white water rafting down the Colorado River without a paddle. Neither is preferred and both ensure risk and sacrifice.

For me, the choice to have a mastectomy was made for me. My multi-focal, multi-centric DCIS made having multiple lumpectomies both cosmetically and surgically implausible. While radiologists identified three sites in my right breast prior to surgery through biopsies, ten sites were ultimately found once the final pathology report was completed post-op. One of the sites had micro-invasions; I shutter to think what may have developed had I chosen to have a lumpectomy instead were that an option for me.

My decision was between having a single or a double mastectomy and it was a choice I struggled with for a few weeks. I had a difficult time wrapping my head around removing something healthy however I did not want to live waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. The pathology report confirmed that there was no cancer present in my left breast so ultimately my decision was a prophylactic one. I am completely confident I made the right decision and am one hundred percent regret-free and happy.

While much of my research was based on anecdotal information, I found myself honing in on stories of women who initially opted for a lumpectomy only to find out that their cancer had returned and lamented the fact that they had to endure both the emotional and physical stress of surgery and treatment all over again. During my first consultation with the surgical oncologist, and when I originally thought there was only one site, he mentioned that should the cancer return, the cosmetic results the second time around would be far less than optimal if I had already undergone a lumpectomy with radiation. This definitely weighed on me.

It's true that you have to do what feels right for you however I was most appreciative of the friends and doctors who gave me their blunt opinions and recommendations. I found it easier to frame my own decision against the clear and definitive advice offered by some rather than the "let-your-heart-tell-you-what-to-do" versions. You have to know your audience though...some people need a more delicate approach.

Doctors are quick to emphasize that survival rates for women having a mastectomy and those opting for lumpectomy with radiation are nearly the same however some cancers are not easy to detect and breast-conserving surgeries may miss removing all of the tumor.

Researchers say that prior to this study, doctors would routinely warn women of the possible risk for further surgery however they now say that women can make their decision based on actual data.

Is twenty-five percent a risk you can live with to save your breast?

Let me know your thoughts.

Friday, July 13, 2012

C.G.G.C Weekend Shopping Spluge: Color Blocking

Color-blocking is kind of always in style but there are moments when the fashion gurus decide to focus on the trend. We are in one of those moments.

via: facehunter

Here are some color blocked shirts to try for a mid-summer pick-me-up:

1-Celine // 2-Equipment // 3-Equipment // 4-Derek Lam 10 Crosby // 5-Equipment // 6-Proenza Schouler

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How To Wear A Headscarf

I came across this great post for 2 ways to tie a headscarf by Meredith of Meredith and Gwyneth, The New Yorkie.

If you are going through chemotherapy and have lost some or all of your hair this is a great way to make it through the summer months looking effortlessly chic. This is also the perfect "work-around" for hair that is thinning in front and around the top but with longer hair hanging down in back.

Many women start to notice changes in the density of their hair as they approach 40 regardless of cancer or chemotherapy so this is a simple solution for anyone.

Try This Trend - Head Scarves
Shopping Guide:
Flamingo Print Scarf c/o Shawlsmith London
Yellow Floral Scarf (old, but similar style at Nordstrom)
Men's Slim Selvedge Chambray Shirt from J. Crew

If you're apprehensive about pulling off the look, consider these two things before you rule it out: 

1. Wearing a scarf around your neck in the summer can get a little toasty, but leaving accessories to be lonely in the closet is just mean. 
2. Trying this trend means bouncing out of the house without having to wash and dry your hair - leaving you with more time for grabbing an iced coffee on the way to work (or going for a longer walk with your pup, as Gwyneth suggests.)

Now that you (and your pooch) are on board, go shop your closet for your favorite rectangular scarf and your favorite square scarf, and Gwyneth and I will show you two stylish and no-slip ways to wear them.

Let's start with your favorite rectangular scarf:

1. Fold your scarf in half, width-wise.
2. Drape over the top of your forehead and head.
3. Tie the ends in a knot behind one ear.
4. Separate the two loose ends.
5. Twist the two loose ends.
6. Wrap the twist around the knot you tied in Step 3.
7. Loop the end of your twist through the loop you made and pull to secure.

Now for your favorite square scarf:

1. Fold in half.
2. Drape over your head, so the point is in the front.
3. Adjust so the long side of the scarf rests at the nape of your neck.
4. Pull the ends towards the front.
5. Twist the ends around each other, over the point in the front, then back around to tie in a knot at the nape of your neck.
6. Gather the point of the scarf, so it is the width of a large knot.
7. Roll the point back, tucking it under itself to secure.

All images and content above courtesy of

Some chic shots for inspiration:

colorful headscarf via: thefashiontag
nicole richie via: lookgoodonthego
sophia loren via: dreamyhairstyles
jackie o. via: unabashedlyprep

Monday, July 9, 2012

Data Inconclusive: Young Women Who Undergo IVF May Develop Breast Cancer

IVF Injection

Few women in their 20's expect to have trouble conceiving when they're ready to have a baby.

According to women 20-24 have an 85% chance of getting pregnant and women 25-29 have a 78% chance of getting pregnant. Still, there are no guarantees and roughly 1 in every 5 women under 30 struggles with infertility.

Louise Stewart, a researcher at the University of Western Australia and lead author of a 16-year study on the link between IVF treatments and breast cancer, says the results are inconclusive. The study, which followed over 21,000 women between the ages of 20-40 found that only 2 percent of the women who had IVF with fertility drugs developed breast cancer vs. 1.7 percent of women who used fetility drugs alone.

Researchers felt this difference was statistically insignificant.

However, when the results were broken down by age, women who started IVF treatment at the age of 24 saw their risk jump to 56%. Interestingly, women who went through IVF at 40 or older showed no increased risk at all.

Breast cancer in many cases is linked to estrogen exposure and with IVF, there are short, but significant estrogen level spikes. Researchers think one possible reason is that younger women are exposing themselves to higher levels of circulating estrogen during their cycles of IVF.

Stewart additionally proposed that younger women who require IVF treatment may have underlying issues that differentiate them from women who undergo fertility treatments without IVF at the same age. Of course, this is all just a hypothesis and Stewart points out that the study did not include any information about the cause of the women's infertility.

Bottom line: no one knows.

The best course of action is to discuss options and risks with your own doctor. Seek out a specialist if you feel your Ob/Gyn isn't able to provide you with the answers you need.

You can read the complete article at the Chicago Tribune.

Friday, July 6, 2012

C.G.G.C. weekend shopping spluge: red, white & blue

3 ways to be cool, patriotic, practical, and chic with shirts (and shirt dresses!)

images via:  thesatorialist // nightcharmer // voguediet

Happy holiday weekend!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Words Of Wisdom

As I mentioned in my previous post, holidays allow us a chance to slow down and pause for reflection. Sometimes we forget the simple stuff and need to be reminded.

#6 is the one that resonates with me the most...

via: fashionfever

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

C.G.G.C. 4th of July Fashion

Even though I'll be spending the 4th of July in Europe, there will be fireworks of excitement and gratitude exploding inside of me. Holidays are not only a time to hang-out with friends and family but the slower pace allows you to take a moment to reflect on your life. How lucky am I that I feel healthy and strong enough to take a trip to Italy and Spain by myself?!  (Florence is for work but 3 days in Barcelona is a treat to myself for making it through the past few months.)

Nautical looks by way of Marseilles or the Italian Riviera have always been one of my favorites. It's so much different than say, "Cape Cod Prep" and never looks uptight or boring. I love the way European women express their individuality by totally mixing pattern and color in a seemingly discordant way yet always manage to look effortless and cool.

I'm infusing my homage to red, white, and blue this Independence Day with a little European flair. This is exactly how you should incorporate the new chambray shirt you bought last weekend.

As a final note: the layering camisole (AKA: your new bra ) should be worn under everything to keep you feeling comfortable and protected.

buy here:  Preen Chambray Shirt // The Row Cateye Sunglasses // Calvin Klein Stretch Satin Camisole // Polka Dot Silkscreen T // Murad Everyday C Moisture SPF 30 // Amrita Singh Jared Cuff // Amrita Singh Penny Cuff // Amrita Singh Kimmy Cuff // Splendid Vintage Twill Shorts // Paloma Barcelo Formentara Leather Wedge Sandals // Carven Printed Cotton Voile Skirt // Navy Supergas

Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Breastless Cancer Survivor Swims Topless and Gets Banned

Jodi Jaecks is an inspiration whether you've had breast cancer or not.

Jaecks, who underwent a bilateral mastectomy in 2011 and is a lifelong athlete, was referred to Seattle's Medger Evers public pool by her breast cancer support group once she was ready to resume working out. The pool is known for it's warm water and low-chlorine levels.

Like many mastectomy patients, Jaecks suffers from skin hypersensitivity and experiences an intense burning sensation on her chest when anything tight, like a bathing suit, makes contact. She prefers instead to swim topless.

When she politely and responsibly told the front desk about her apperance so no one would be alarmed, she was promptly denied access.  

The claim: Jaecks was violating the pool's "family-friendly environment."

Seattle city law doesn't even prohibit public nudity! In fact, Seattle is home to the Fremont Solstice Naked Bicycle Parade.

A parks department spokeswoman said, "She made it clear she wanted to show her scars as a 'badge of courage' and wanted to use the pool to spread her message." But superintendent Christopher Williams, a cancer survivor himself, later issued a statement overturning the decision; the caveat however is that he would only do this for Jaecks. He said he would hear similar requests in the future on a "case-by-case basis."

Seattle city council member Sally Bagshaw thankfully says it's time for the policy to be reviewed. She further dismissed the parks department's argument that seeing Jaecks' scars would be disruptive to the family environment.

Jaecks, a lesbian, describes herself as "pretty androgynous looking." With her short hair and barely visible scars she says her appearance basically looks no different than any "dude."

Regardless, does this defense actually need to be made? What if the city banned use of the pool to leg amputees or burn victims? What evil exactly are we shielding our children from? And isn't it better to explain differences and teach kids acceptance, tolerance, understanding, and compassion rather than to perpetuate fear and ignorance?

The pictures don't lie. What do you think?

breastless cancer survivor Jodi Jaecks
photo courtesy of:

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