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Happy Father’s Day!

At WWHF the focus is women, but we never forget the importance men have in our lives.  This Sunday is Father’s Day, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share some of our fondest memories of our own influential Dads.

My dad has always been a winter sport enthusiast.  He sails ice boats on Wisconsin’s frozen lakes, skis and even gave snowboarding a try.  One of his favorite winter sports is sledding.  At my grandma’s house there’s a huge hill and every winter weekend dad would clear a little more of a sledding path for my sister and I to zoom down.  He’d build in banked walls for even more of a race-like feel.  We’d test out different types of sleds until we found the fastest – a metal disc.  By the end of the winter we were zooming down the best sledding hill ever at top speed!  I’ll always remember these winter weekends because my dad, sister and I would spend hours sledding to see who’d make it the furthest (my sister won this title), and head in, rosy-cheeked for hot cocoa.

When my dad became a grandpa almost four years ago, his love for sledding reemerged.  He built a sledding path and pulled my bundled up baby nephew around the yard in the baby sled with a smile on his face.  This year’s sledding path was aided by the plow shoveling a huge pile of snow into the yard – perfect for a quick ride!

Hillary Whitehorse – Grants & Contracts Manager

 

My dad worked long, strenuous days at the office, but always made time to read me bedtime stories every night.  I remember these nights as so joyful and loving; he was so animated and goofy reading me any book I chose, even when I picked a story we both had heard many, many times before.  I would laugh so hard most nights, that it was hard for me to fall asleep right away.  As I get older, I so greatly appreciate that time we had together every night, especially when I think about how he could have been relaxing some other way, getting ahead on his next busy workday, or sleeping.  Spending “story time” with me was never a chore for him, but rather great bonding time.  Whenever I dig through my childhood toys, those familiar books always bring back some of the greatest memories of my dad.

Amanda Verbrick – Striving to Quit Enrollment Specialist

 

Some of my favorite memories of my Dad from my childhood include weekend motorcycle rides (where lost was “temporarily misplaced” in his words), teaching him how to cook (outside of boxed mac & cheese and shake & bake), making Mickey Mouse pancakes in the morning and him singing to me before bedtime.

Chelsea Stover, CHES- Program Coordinator- First Breath/My Baby & Me
 

Summer Travel Safety

Summer travel plans are upon us.  A big part of any vacation is in the planning.  We have found that with proper planning,  potential disasters can be thwarted.  Please consider packing a roadside emergency kit before you hit the road.2010-07-09-121316-1800x1928-600x401

Emergency Roadside Kit
Even a well-maintained vehicle can break down, so it’s advisable to put together an Emergency Roadside Kit to carry with you.  A suggested Emergency Roadside Kit contains:

  • cell phone (with emergency contact numbers)
  • first aid kit
  • flashlight
  • flares and a white flag
  • jumper cables
  • jack (and ground mat) for changing a tire
  • basic repair tools and some duct tape (for temporarily repairing a hose leak!)
  • a jug of water and paper towels for cleaning up
  • nonperishable food, drinking water, and medicines
  • extra windshield washer fluid
  • maps

Safe travels!

A Badger Basketball Star at Brooklyn Elementary School

At our recent VIP Pre-Gala Auction, A long-time WWHF donor and supporter purchased a “Little Badger” auction item at the WWHF Annual Pre-Gala VIP Auction held on May 4th, 2013 at the Madison Concourse Hotel.  The package, donated by Mike Bruesewitz and the UW Badger Basketball Team, included courtside bench passes for a parent and their elementary-school student for a UW Men’s Basketball game, a second game with an opportunity for two children to be “ball-kids” watching the game from under the hoop and meeting the players and coaches after the game, and the coveted exclusive meet and greet from Badger star Mike Bruesewitz at the child’s game, practice, or school.

brooklyn elementaryUniversity of Wisconsin basketball star, Mike Bruesewitz, headed to Brooklyn Elementary School (K-4th grade) on Thursday, May 30, 2013 to address the school about sportsmanship, commitment, and staying on the right path through sports. He also discussed seeking out the right kids to surround yourself with.  The teachers and students thought it was great that he came from a small town just like Brooklyn! Mike also talked about how he played 4 sports.  He wanted the children to know that it is good to experience all sorts of activities and to keep busy and active and to live a healthy lifestyle.

brooklyn 2Following his speaking, he started at one end of the room and worked to the other side, taking questions from students and teachers.  Mike signed a basketball for his “biggest fan” and posed for photos!  Bruesewitz played dodgeball with the 4th graders. Then, they taught him a “team” game called human knot.  They all hooked hands cross-wise and worked together to “untie” the group.  The whole class lined up and he signed something for each of them!  We are sure his hand was tired.

He then played sponge tag with two kindergarten classes.  About 50 kids throwing wet sponges at him and he was soaked after 20 minutes of chasing!  After he left, A LOT of comments were made on how wonderful he was.  The speech, the games.  The staff loved that he was VERY personable and genuine.  The teachers may have been just as excited to meet him as the students. It really was a fantastic day!
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All proceeds from the WWHF auction stay right here in Wisconsin and support local programs designed to meet local needs.  What a fun way to raise money for a great cause!

For more information about WWHF events and ways to get involved, please visit www.wwhf.org

June is Men’s Health Month

Prevention and early detection are causes we at the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation can stand behind; which is why we support Men’s Health Month. The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.

Family farm

Regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings can improve your health and extend your life. Members of high risk groups, or those with a family history of a disease, should consult their health care provider about the need for earlier screening. Here are some checkup and screening guidelines:

WhatWhen
Physical Exam
Review overall health status, perform a thorough physical exam and discuss health related topics.
Every 1-3 years
Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (Hypertension) has no symptoms, but can cause permanent age to body organs.
Every year
Rectal Exam
Screens for hemorrhoids, lower rectal problems, colon and prostate cancer.
Every year
Self Exams
Testicle: To find lumps in their earliest stages.
Skin: To look for signs of changing moles, freckles, or early skin cancer.
Oral: To look for signs of cancerous lesions in the mouth.
Breast: To find abnormal lumps in their earliest stages.
Every month
Source: Men’s Health Network
 

World No Tobacco Day

May 31st is a day that is honored annually as “World No Tobacco Day.”  This year’s event goes beyond highlighting the risks of tobacco use and focuses on action; banning tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.no smoking

Why Ban Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship?

According the World Health Organization, evidence shows that:

  • comprehensive advertising bans lead to reductions in the numbers of people starting and continuing smoking, and
  • banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce tobacco demand.

The need for these policies is of global importance, but also touches close to home.  Nearly one million Wisconsinites smoke, including an estimated 74,000 youth (1).  Tobacco use also costs Wisconsin approximately $4.5 billion annually in health care expenses and lost productivity (1).  Beyond the economic expense, we need to hold in our hearts and minds the nearly 7,000 Wisconsinites who die annually from illnesses directly related to smoking (1).

What You Can Do?

  • Get involved in local efforts to shape policy and fight the tobacco industry.
    • Tobwis.org is a project of the Wisconsin Clearinghouse for Prevention Resources and has an excellent tool kit that prepares Wisconsinites to inform stakeholders and shape policy.  Learn more here.
    • The Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention & Poverty Network (WTPPN) is an organization that fights against the tobacco industry and addresses the stark tobacco related disparities that exist in our state.  Call 800-264-6412 to learn how you can get involved.
  • Support our community members who struggle with nicotine addiction.
    • If you are a smoker and want help quitting smoking, call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit their website.
    • There is a special program for expecting moms called First Breath.  For more information, call the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation at 1-800-448-5148 or visit us on the web.

Source:  (1) Voskuil KR, Palmersheim KA, Glysch RL, Jones NR. Burden of Tobacco in Wisconsin: 2010 Edition. University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. Madison, WI: March, 2010.
 

Lucy’s Story

Lucy* found success in quitting smoking by joining the WWHF’s First Breath program for pregnant women who want to quit smoking. Here is her success story:

At the time I got pregnant with my little Evelyn, I was living with my fiancé and his brother in North Charleston, South Carolina. I found out I was pregnant a few days after my 23rd birthday. I stayed in South Carolina until I was 3 months along and moved to Wisconsin. We lived in a bad neighborhood, we were financially unstable, and I had family in Wisconsin. At that point in time, I was smoking at least a half a pack a day and I continued until I was about 6 1/2 months along. I don’t know why I continued to smoke but I think the main cause of it was the stress I had because of being apart from my fiance.
Lacey I joined the First Breath program at Ministry Medical Group in Rice Lake and got help with quitting smoking. What got me to quit was the text messages I would receive from First Breath. It made me realize I was being selfish to my own daughter and the damage I could be doing to her if I was smoking while being pregnant. I would find myself apologizing out loud while I was pregnant after I would finish a cigarette and feel guilty. In response, I would eat a yogurt or salad out of remorse. Eventually, quitting became a priority for me and I quit for good. Now here I am, with a beautiful healthy daughter that was born on December 8th 2012. Evelyn was 8.1 lbs. when she was born and 21 inches. She’s 4 1/2 months old now and my fiance and I are still apart from one another so I am the sole caretaker of Evelyn. Evelyn is all I have and she is the light of my life. It is hard on my own, but at least she is healthy and we have each other. I just want to say a big thank you to the First Breath program; you guys really do make a difference!

To learn more about WWHF’s First Breath program, click here or email Perinatal Programs Manager, Krissy Alaniz, MPH.

*This participant’s name has been changed.
 

Memorial Day

Today the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation is closed in observance of Memorial Day.  A day honoring the men and women who have died serving in the United States Armed Forces.

FlagsandHeadstones

So whether you’re enjoying a cookout with your friends and family, camping, eating brats or watching a parade, take a moment to remember those who lost their lives serving this country.

 

How to Help a Friend Who’s Sick

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copyright Rose Photography, LLC.

Recently a very good friend of mine was diagnosed with b-cell lymphoma.  Cancer.  The news came only one week after my friend gave birth to her second child.  Take a moment to let that sink in.  A brand new baby and cancer all within a matter of days.  After the initial shock, family and friends wondered how we could help; what could we possibly do to ease the stress of this diagnosis?  How could we help a young family with a brand new baby?

Cancer-free after several rounds of chemotherapy, I asked my friend what was the most helpful during her five months of cancer treatment, weekly doctor visits, hospital stays, new baby feedings and diaper changes.  Here’s what she said:

  • The Facebook group that my family started was a great way to share information with everyone.  I didn’t have to make a million phone calls when I wasn’t sure if I could explain things one more time without crying.
  • Friends and family bought bracelets to show their support – the money from the bracelets helped us pay for everyday, household expenses since I wasn’t able to work.
  • Friends and family used Take Them A Meal to sign up to bring us meals and restaurant gift certificates. We didn’t have to worry about cooking and even found some new favorite recipes!
  • People dropped off diapers and other baby essentials and watched the girls and our dog while I was at doctor appointments and in the hospital.
  • A group of anonymous folks set up a cleaning service that came to our house every week!
  • Everyone called or texted before stopping over.  I could tell them I wasn’t up for a visit or if there was something specific we needed.  Short visits were better for me as well.  I also appreciated that people talked to me like they would’ve before the cancer.  It’s still me, just no hair!
  • The outpouring of love and support through Facebook posts, cards and calls was a huge part of my recovery process – helping me stay positive, reassuring me that I was strong enough to beat this.
  • One of the most AMAZING gifts our family received during this time was breast milk for our baby girl.  Breastfeeding is very important to us and I was devastated that I wasn’t able to nurse our baby.  A good friend of mine had a baby a few months before me and offered to supply us with breast milk for as long as she could and we’re just now starting to supplement with formula!  So even though I would never have asked, this offer of support was a blessing that we are truly thankful for.
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copyright Rose Photography, LLC.

So when you’re not sure how to help, offer to stop over with a funny movie or a meal, send a card or mow the lawn and don’t be afraid to offer something outside the box.  Be specific about how you can help – it’s overwhelming being sick and your friend may not have the energy to think of ways for you to help.  Lastly, be positive – your positive energy will go a long way in your friend’s recovery.

 
 

Your Heart Will Thank You!

Research suggests that if you’re getting into cardiovascular exercise in order to improve your heart health, it might not matter which kind of cardiovascular exercise you choose, HealthyHeart-webjust that you choose one.  In one study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers looked at data from two cohort studies for walkers and runners.  Initially, it looked as though running resulted in greater risk reductions for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and coronary heart disease.  When researchers controlled for the total calorie expenditure though (as running burns more calories than walking), the risk reduction became very similar to the reduction in these risks that one receives from walking.

This information could be good news for everyone.  For those who don’t enjoy or are unable to run, you can still get many health benefits by walking.  For those who might be a little pinched for time, jogging or running can get you the same heart healthy benefits as walking, just a little bit faster.  And for those who prefer other methods of cardiovascular exercise, there are likely similar benefits as well, as the benefits may be more connected with the calories you are burning than the exact exercise you do.

Overall, this is a great reminder to get outside and get moving, no matter your exercise of choice.  Your heart will thank you for it.

 

Stressors – From Big to Small

We are constantly bombarded by life “stressors.”  From personal inconveniences, like traffic jams, to the more significant challenges of illness or injury, to the all too frequent and unwelcome news of tragic world events like school shootings.  While stressors differ for each of us us, we all typically respond to these stressors with the same basic physiological reactions. When we feel stressed:

  • Our bodies release stress hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol (hydrocortisone) so we can physically react with speed and strength. (This is the “fight or flight” response.)
  • At the same time, our blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar levels increase.

While small amounts of stress can be seen as beneficial (stress can be a powerful motivator) research has shown that long-term, high-level stress can be harmful—the harms include an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and depression.  Chronic stress can eventually weaken our immune system.

Too often, our stress response is in high-gear for too long as we stress about the weather, the future, the past, the housework.  We stress-out about things large and small. Right?meditate_woman2

So how do we get a grip and really start to manage our stress?  First, we can notice when we are feeling stressed and take action to alleviate the response.  Take time for relaxation; take time for activities that bring joy and laughter; take time every day to appreciate what is going right in your life.

If you can, do something about the things that are causing stress.  For many of us this means doing better daily and weekly planning, and saying “No” more often to miscellaneous demands on our time.  It may also mean confronting the person who is “pushing our buttons.”  One way to do this is by writing a letter to that person stating how you feel and how you would like to see things change.  You don’t have to send the letter, but then you will be clear about exactly what troubles you.

Sometimes we have to look a little deeper by asking, “Am I living and working in ways that support my values?”

Sometimes we feel stressed and unsettled because we are holding on to something from our past.  Forgiveness is a great stress management tool.  To forgive doesn’t mean that you condone or excuse someone or some behavior, it means that you intentionally let go of anger and resentment.

Whether you choose to make an effort to relax more or take action to tame your stressors, choose to do something today!  You will be doing your body a favor and you will be surprised at how good this will make you feel.