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There’s still time!

Gala Collage

There’s still time to purchase tickets to our 14th Annual Spring Gala on May 4th.  Please join us for a wonderful evening of hors d’oeuvres, music and dancing!  All proceeds from the Spring Gala stay in Wisconsin to support WWHF’s women’s health education programming, women’s health research scholarships and much more. 

You cannot buy tickets at the door, so click here to purchase individual tickets for $95. Or click here to purchase a table for 8.

Please visit our website to learn more about the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation and the Spring Gala.


“Oh thank you so much, you’ve made my day…no, you’ve made my week!”

This is not an uncommon reply from someone who learns that they are eligible to receive assistance from the Kohl’s Southeast Wisconsin Breast Health Assistance Fund.  For the past three years, the Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation has been administering a fund that offers financial assistance to people with breast cancer (men can get breast cancer, too).  The fund can pay co-payments/deductibles, prescriptions, transportation, childcare, health insurance premiums and for miscellaneous items like wigs and lymphedema sleeves.

This fund also assists individuals with obtaining mammograms, diagnostic screenings and biopsies.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure© Southeast Wisconsin Affiliate and the Kohl’s Corporation have collaborated to create this fund which is available to women and men of all ages from the 8 southeast counties of Wisconsin – Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha.  Income eligibility requirements apply: individuals can have a household income up to 400% of the Federal poverty level (for example, a household of 2 is eligible with an income of about $62,040.)

With a network of providers (Columbia St. Mary’s, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, ProHealth Care, Aurora Health Care and Milwaukee Health Services) the fund has assisted over 650 people in this grant year alone! The majority of people assisted do not have health insurance.

Since education and outreach for the prevention of breast cancer is one of the goals of WWHF, this fund has been a great complement to our mission.  We are grateful to be a part of this worthy effort.

Have you had your mammogram?  Do you reside in our service are?  If you would like more information about the assistance fund, contact us at 877-910-PINK (7465).

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Don’t live in our service area?  Contact the Wisconsin Well Woman Program in your area.  The Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP) provides preventive health screening services to women with little or no health insurance coverage.  Well Woman pays for mammograms, Pap tests, certain other health screenings, and multiple sclerosis testing for women with high risk signs of multiple sclerosis.  The program is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, and is available in all 72 Wisconsin Counties and 11 tribes.

The Benefits of Journaling

There are probably several of you who are reading this and can remember keeping a diary when you were younger, recording events in your life: where you went, who you were with, what happened. It may have had a lock on it and you would have been horrified if any one read it.

Journaling is similar to a diary – recording events and experiences to help us remember later. But it also allows self-reflection so that we can give ourselves feedback. Some other benefits include:

  • Helps work out issues and developing solutions by writing them down.
  • Allows us to “vent”, writing things we wouldn’t say or do in person.
  • Helps us find the appropriate words to communicate with others.
  • Allows us to dream and put ideas down in writing with no judgment.
  • Gives us some quiet time to slow down our pace and reflect on life.
  • Helps us set goals – thinking about doing something is one thing, but putting it on paper gives it a whole new meaning.

 iStock_000003666768MediumFor example, write a list of 100 things you want to do, a “bucket list” if you will. It may sound silly, but writing them down gives you the opportunity to look at the list and think. What do I need to do to accomplish that? Writing down 100 makes you think outside the box and challenge yourself.

EveryWoman’s Journal is an education outreach program that teaches women how to use proactive health journaling techniques. To learn more about the program and scheduled workshops please visit our website.


Debunking 3 Myths of Strength Training

Myth 1:  Building muscles will make me gain weight or appear “bulky”.

False.  In fact, building muscle will actually help control your weight because as you gain muscle, your body gains a bigger “engine” to burn calories more efficiently – which can result in weight loss.  And while strength training can result in muscle enlargement, with regular weight-bearing activity, you will notice changes resulting in a lean, toned appearance.

Myth 2:  You have to have big, expensive equipment to strength train.

False.  You can use equipment to strength train however, body weight is a highly effective method as well – especially if you’re just starting out!  You can use your own body weight to do many exercises.  Try push-ups, pull-ups, abdominal crunches and leg squats.  Check out this video for a few tips.  Still looking for ideas?  Try these:

    • Resistance tubing.  Resistance tubing is inexpensive, lightweight tubing that provides resistance when stretched.  You can choose from many types of resistance tubes in nearly any sporting goods store.
    • Free weights.  Barbells and dumbbells are classic strength training tools.
    • Weight machines.  Most fitness centers offer various resistance machines.  You can also invest in weight machines for use at home.

Myth 3:  Strength training is too complex.  I’ll need a personal trainer to get started.

False.  Strength training occurs every time your muscles experience resistance.  For example, carrying your groceries, or your children are strength training exercises!  If you’re looking for something a little more challenging than groceries, here are a few suggestions:

    • Practice a three-step progression:  First, learn to do an exercise using only your body weight.  Second, stick to one set with light weights for two weeks or until you feel comfortable with the exercise.  And finally, when you can complete nearly all of your reps with proper form, add another set or more weight (increase weight by roughly 10% each time).
    • Form is important:  Remember “SEAK”

S – Stand straight (head over shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over feet)

E – Eyes on the horizon (looking down encourages your shoulders to round and your chest to lean forward)

A – Abs tight (as if you’re about to be punched in the gut, but without holding your breath – this helps stabilize your pelvis)

K – Knees over your second toe (women’s knees have a tendency to turn in because of the angle created by wider hips)

    • Think total body:  For every exercise that works the front of the body (chest, biceps, quads), be sure to do an exercise that targets the rear (back, triceps, hamstrings).

 Woman in her Forties Exercising with Handweights

Why devote an entire blog post to strength training?  Because in addition to a more trim physique, strength training has several other health benefits including:

  • Develop strong bones.  By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Reduce your risk of injury.  Building muscle helps protect your joints and contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.
  • Boosts your stamina.  As you get stronger, you won’t fatigue as easily.
  • Manage chronic conditions.  Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, back pain, depression, diabetes, obesity and osteoporosis.
  • Sharpen your focus.  Some research suggests that regular strength training helps improve attention for older adults.

Click here to learn more about strength training.  And remember to consult your health care provider before you begin ANY exercise.

Have You Registered for our 14th Annual Spring Gala?

Don’t forget to register for our biggest fundraiser of the year!  Support a great cause while enjoying yourself with a live band, gorgeous decorations, hosted bar, Starbucks coffee, hors d’oeuvres, and desserts.  Visit the beautiful State Capitol Rotunda and see it transformed into a festive spring party to celebrate women’s health in Wisconsin!  We are expecting over 900 supporters at the Spring Gala, so join us for an elegant evening of fun!
 Gala Collage

14th Annual Spring Gala

Saturday, May 4, 2013


State Capitol Rotunda


Click here for individual tickets. 

Or here for a table of 8.


Congratulations to this year’s Everyday Health Heroes!

The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Everyday Health Heroes contest:
Mary Anderson, Tammy Andries, Sara Pickard and Jonelle Secard!

Thank you to all who voted in our first Everyday Health Heroes event – we received nearly 7000 online votes! All of the Everyday Health Hero nominees have clearly inspired many with their commitment to the health of women and families in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Women’s Health Foundation thanks all the Everyday Health Hero nominees for their work to make Wisconsin a healthier place!

Mary, Tammy, Sara and Jonelle will be recognized at WWHF’s VIP Pre-Gala Auction on Saturday, May 4th at the Madison Concourse Hotel.

Mary Anderson
By day, Mary is a database specialist at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. By night and weekend, she is a tireless breast cancer advocate, community volunteer, and caregiver for elderly family members and neighbors. Mary and her son, John, created the “Bowling for a Cure” event that has raised over $21,000 to support breast cancer research. She also goes out of her way to support women who are cancer survivors. For example, in December, Mary popped into a co-workers office with a package wrapped in pink saying, “your sister-in-law is a survivor, right? Give her this when you see her for the holidays.” Mary is also active in the Luke House Community Meal Program. In 1986, she spearheaded her church’s involvement with the meal program and her efforts have resulted in nearly 30 years of meals on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Mary is kind, generous, and always gracious.
Tammy Andries
Since diagnosis with a rare form of pancreatic cancer 8 years ago, Tammy has been the catalyst behind an effort to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer. She lobbies Congress and the NIH, raises funds for research, and holds the hand of those losing their battles with the disease. She uses personal time and energy to fight hard to combat this under-recognized and under-funded cancer, reaching out to families via phone, email, flowers, and lunches. Tammy’s courage and willingness to share about her diagnosis and battle with cancer has served as an inspiration for countless other women and families in Wisconsin. Tammy was nominated by the NET Alliance for the work that she has done raising awareness.
Sara Pickard
Sara has led the explosive growth of Girls on the Run of Dane County for the last six years, reaching over 4,000 girls in the process. Sara is an enthusiastic and passionate leader, helping build the next generation of women leaders through healthy lifestyle programming, curriculum and exercise. Girls on the Run addresses many aspects of girls’ development – their physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being. The lessons that Sara and her coaches provide teach girls how to make healthy choices and avoid risky adolescent behaviors. Girls on the Run unleashes confidence through accomplishment, while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness. Sara’s professional skills are outstanding and her leadership supporting girls’ wellness is inspiring.
Jonelle Secard
Jonelle is the Executive Assistant/Webmaster for Attic Angel Association and, every day, she helps her colleagues make healthier choices through leading by example. Jonelle is a member of the Wellness Committee for the community. She and Lisa McGlynn offer weekly meditation classes to the employees and, when time and space become available, she plans to offer classes to the residents and Attic Angel volunteers as well. Jonelle invites co-workers to attend yoga class with her and offers nonjudgmental suggestions for healthy eating, not to mention tantalizing colleagues with her delicious looking lunches! Jonelle shares her enthusiasm for fitness and shares new ideas or challenges that she enjoyed. She also readily shares her amazing laughter and encourages a healthy work/life balance. Jonelle is a “great guns” rock star at Attic Angel and all of her colleagues appreciate her efforts to keep them thinking and living healthy!

Click here to view all the Everyday Health Hero semi-finalists.

The Laughter Epidemic

On January 30th, 1962, in the village of Kashasha, in what is now Tanzania, an epidemic struck the students of a boarding school for girls. So many of the girls were affected that the school was forced to close down.  Then the epidemic spread, infecting local communities until all in all, over 1000 people were affected and fourteen schools were forced to close down over the next six months. What was it that was so contagious?  Not a virus or bacteria, but the uncontrollable act of laughter.  Three girls started laughing, and then couldn’t stop.  Hearing the laughter, other students began laughing in response.  The resulting mass hysteria of emotions will forever be remembered as the 1962 Laughter Epidemic of Tanzania. 


Laughter is a social response which seems to have a plethora of effects on our health and wellness.  For one, laughter sets a positive groundwork for relationships and builds a connection between people.  One researcher looking into laughter and relationships found that among couples, the laughter of the female was an absolutely critical aspect to a healthy relationship.  Lesson for men, the best way to keep your lady happy is to keep her laughing.

In addition to the impact on our social lives, laughter may also hold potential health benefits.  Preliminary research shows that laughter may help improve your blood flow, increase your immune response, manage your blood sugar and improve your sleep.  Because of the unique nature of laughter, researchers are unable to eliminate the possibility that it is the situation or circumstances which leads to these health benefits, and not the laughter itself.  At the end of the day though, whether it’s the situations that bring about laughter, or the laughter itself, the health benefits seem to remain the same.

Just another reason to brush up on your knock-knock jokes, or pick the romantic comedy instead of the serious drama when you go out to the movies next time.


Health Literacy

So much about our health and wellbeing is dependent upon the massive amount of information we receive every day; from our health care providers to news media; from friends and relatives to social marketing from different organizations.  We want to be empowered with information to make informed choices, but that can be a very difficult task when the information provided  is numerous, confusing, conflicting and just plain difficult to understand.

iStock_000008003914LargeHealth literacy is the ability to understand health information enough to make informed choices.  Not to be confused with illiteracy, which affects 21-23% of Americans (National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), 2003); low health literacy affects nearly 88% of us, costing the health care system billions of dollars a year.

Even a college-educated adult can have trouble understanding medical information, especially when faced with a new diagnosis, when in pain, or distracted by worry for a loved one.  Not having the correct information can lead to medication mistakes, readmissions, and if already faced with a chronic disease such as diabetes, asthma or high blood pressure, low health literacy can increase the risk of complications.

So what can be done? The answer lies with everyone.  Health care professionals and organizations have a responsibility to communicate in ways that people can understand.  This means simpler, easy to read documents and websites that do not contradict each other, clear signage, and slowing down their rate of speech.  For patients, they should come to their health appointments prepared to ask 3 questions: 

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is this important to my health?

(National Patient Safety Foundation’s Ask Me 3)

To be the healthiest we can be, we need information.  And we need that information communicated to us in a way that we can understand it and act on it. Low health literacy is an epidemic that affects every one of us.  The more we know, the healthier we are.

Recommended links:  www.wisconsinliteracy.org; http://www.npsf.org/


The Sandwich Generation and Caregiving….Don’t forget about yourself!!!!

Me-time is very important and frequently over looked during hectic times of life.  While caring for children of your own or caring for aging parents, self-care is often forgotten.

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Here are four ideas to help re-center and re-energize yourself while getting some precious ME time:

  • Stay fit. It’s not easy when you’re stressed, but try to eat with moderation.  Activity is important for physical and mental health.  If you have the time, take a hike or a yoga class.  If you can’t, just squeeze in 20 minute walks or an at-home exercise program.
  • Get away.  Spontaneous get-togethers with friends are great, but they may be hard to pull off. So, plan.  Get someone to watch the kids while you go out for lunch, a shopping trip, or a night at the movies.
  • Create a sanctuary.  Set aside a room in your house — or some part of a room — as a place to get away from the demands of your life for a few minutes every day.
  • Get emotional support.  On top of your caregiving chores, you may also feel terrible grief as you watch a loved one slip away from you.  Don’t ignore those feelings.  Talk to family and friends. Call a hotline or schedule an appointment with a therapist. Look into local support groups for caregivers

While it does take planning, scheduling breaks and following through on them, can make navigating these hectic “sandwich years” a much smoother voyage.

~Susan Richards, RN


Laughing…..just for the health of it!

women-laughingWay back in the 60’s a man named Norman Cousins contracted a painful illness in which he had only a 1 in 500 chance of surviving. In his book about his recovery, “Anatomy of an Illness,” Mr. Cousins states that the “humor therapy” he credits with saving his life included several hours watching funny movies, reading funny stories and listening to comedians……anything to get a good belly-laugh.

Since that time, research has shown many things about the benefits of a hearty  gut-wrenching laugh. Not only does laughter relax your entire body while promoting the formation of your immune cells, but it burns 78 times as many calories than you burn while at rest!

Start by laughing at yourself….never take life too seriously.

Heard a good joke lately?  Pass it along.

Here’s a funny one about pizza—oh, never mind, it’s too cheesy!

How about this one: When the chicken was asked “Why did you cross the road?” She replied “Can’t a chicken take a short walk without her motives being questioned?”

According to some statistics, small children laugh up to 400 times per day, but as we “mature and grow up” our average number of spontaneous outbursts drops to only 15 per day!  We are missing out on so many opportunities for daily doses of healing.  So don’t delay, start laughing today!