Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Doctor: With Cancer, Patients Are First Line of Defense PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:49
Early Detection Makes a Big Difference
for 6 Common Complications

Often, it’s not cancer that kills; it’s the complications of cancer, says physician Stephen Garrett Marcus, a senior biotechnology research executive.

Complications are common and become more frequent and severe if cancer progresses or spreads, he says. Spotting them early and treating them quickly can lessen their impact and save lives.

“Patients and their families are the first line of defense; they need to know what to watch for and seek treatment immediately,” says Marcus, author of a comprehensive new reference, Complications of Cancer ( “Many can be successfully treated if they’re addressed at the first signs of trouble.”

What to watch for? Marcus describes the symptoms of six common complications:

• Malignant spinal cord compression: Compression of the spinal cord is caused by a malignant tumor or by bones in the spine damaged by cancer. Symptoms may include pain in the neck or back and weakness in the arms or legs. This is a medical emergency and should be promptly treated, or patients risk paralysis. Cancers of the lung, breast, and prostate, commonly spread to the spine and are the most likely cancers to produce spinal cord compression.

• Neutropenic sepsis: This condition often occurs during chemotherapy. The most common signs of infection are fever, chills, difficulty breathing, a new persistent cough, a sore throat, or a change in mental clarity. An easy way to lower risk is to keep hands clean. If there is an intravenous access line in place, it is important to keep the area clean.

• Pulmonary embolism: Symptoms usually include sudden, severe shortness of breath associated with pain in the chest area. Treatment may include supplemental oxygen and blood pressure support, if necessary, and administration of blood thinning “anticoagulant” medications.

• Bacterial pneumonia: Cancer or treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation and steroid medications can diminish a person's ability to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria in the lungs and increase the risk of pneumonia. Symptoms can include cough, fever and chills. Antibiotics will generally cure pneumonia caused by the most common types of bacteria. If the person also is having severe difficulty breathing or low blood pressure, hospitalization and intravenous antibiotics may be required.

• Intestinal obstruction: The most common first symptom is bouts of severe pain in the middle of the abdomen. Treatment includes intravenous fluids and along with a tube passed into the stomach to decompress the intestine by withdrawing excess fluid and air. Emergency surgery may be necessary to relieve the obstruction.

• Delirium, stupor, and coma: The most common causes of these symptoms in people with cancer are problems with blood chemistry, spread of cancer to the brain, side effects of medications and infections. These complications have various treatments after the cause is identified.

“Attitude is the great wild card for surviving cancer,” Marcus say, “both in vigilance for possible complications, and the courage to keep fighting.”

About Stephen Garrett Marcus, M.D.

Stephen Garrett Marcus, M.D. received his medical degree from New York Medical College and completed a medical oncology fellowship at the University of California in San Francisco. As a senior research executive in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry since 1985, he played a lead role in developing Betaseron as the first effective treatment of multiple sclerosis, and has led multinational research teams for other treatments. Marcus is the president and CEO of a biotechnology company developing new treatments for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

American Red Cross Issues Emergency Call for Blood Donors Now PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ben Corey   
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:45
Blood and platelet donors of all types needed

PEORIA, Ill. (June 25, 2012) – The American Red Cross blood supply has reached emergency levels with 50,000 fewer donations than expected in June. This shortfall leaves the Red Cross with half the readily available blood products on hand now than this time last year.

The Red Cross is calling on all eligible blood donors – now more than ever – to roll up a sleeve and give as soon as possible. All blood types are needed, but especially O positive, O negative, B negative and A negative in order to meet patient demand this summer.

An unseasonably early start to spring may be a contributing factor to this year’s decrease in donations. Many regular donors got an early start on summer activities and aren’t taking time to give blood or platelets. In addition, this year’s mid-week Independence Day holiday has reduced the number of scheduled Red Cross blood drives. Many sponsors, especially businesses, are unable to host drives because employees are taking extended vacations.

Unfortunately, patients don’t get a holiday from needing blood products. The need is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Blood and platelets are needed for many different reasons, including accident and burn victims, heart surgery patients, organ transplant patients, premature babies – when there are complications during childbirth – and for patients receiving treatment for leukemia, cancer or sickle cell disease.

“Every day, the Red Cross must collect more than 17,000 pints of blood for patients at more than 3,000 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. Of that, the Heart of America Blood Services Region must collect approximately 500 pints per day,” said Shelly Heiden, CEO of the American Red Cross Heart of America Blood Services Region, serving Illinois, Eastern Iowa and parts of Missouri. “We need donors to make appointments in the coming days and weeks to help us ensure that all patient blood needs can be met. Each pint of whole blood can help save more than one life.”

“There is always the chance that a physician could postpone an elective surgery if the needed blood products aren’t readily available or, in a worst case scenario, have to forego a more serious procedure because of a shortage of blood,” Heiden added. “Our goal is to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

Call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters;
supplies more than 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides
international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross
is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American
public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or join our blog at

The American Red Cross’ Live Life. Give Life. summer-long campaign is helping to raise awareness
about the constant need for blood and encourage regular donations. Presenting donors between May
21 and September 5, 2012 will be entered automatically into the Live Life. Give Life. promotion for
a chance to win prize packages from And, from June 29 to July 8, presenting
donors will be entered to win additional prize certificates to thank them for giving blood around the
Independence Day holiday. Visit to learn more.

Upcoming Blood Donation Opportunities:

6/29/2012, 12:00 pm- 6:00 pm, United Methodist Church, 405 E. Locust, Lanark

7/13/2012, 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm, American Red Cross, 1220 13th Avenue North, Clinton

6/25/2012, 1:00 pm- 4:00 pm, Courtyard Village, 860 Sunset Dr, Kewanee

6/27/2012, 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm, First Christian Church, 105 Dwight St., Kewanee

7/2/2012, 12:00 pm- 6:00 pm, First United Methodist Church S Campus Bldg, 224 N. State, Geneseo

7/2/2012, 12:00 pm- 6:00 pm, St. John's Church, Route 17, Woodhull

7/9/2012, 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm, St John's Vianney Church, 313 S West Street, Cambridge

7/11/2012, 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm, First Christian Church, 105 Dwight St., Kewanee

7/2/2012, 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm, Alexis Community Center, 204 W. Palmer Ave., Alexis

6/26/2012, 1:00 pm- 5:15 pm, Old Fulton Fire Station, 912 4th Street, Fulton

6/27/2012, 10:00 am- 2:00 pm, Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St., Rock Falls

6/28/2012, 4:00 pm- 7:00 pm, Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St., Rock Falls

7/3/2012, 2:00 pm- 6:00 pm, Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St., Rock Falls

7/3/2012, 8:00 am-11:00 am, Old Fulton Fire Station, 912 4th Street, Fulton

7/10/2012, 1:00 pm- 5:15 pm, Old Fulton Fire Station, 912 4th Street, Fulton

7/10/2012, 10:00 am- 2:00 pm, Carlson Acupuncture & Chiropractic, 2317 E. Lincolnway, Sterling

7/11/2012, 10:00 am- 2:00 pm, Rock Falls Blood Donation Center, 112 W. Second St., Rock Falls

7/11/2012, 10:00 am- 2:00 pm, Halo Branded Solutions, 1980 Industrial Drive, Sterling

7/12/2012, 3:00 pm- 8:00 pm, Tampico United Methodist Church, 202 Lincoln Ave, Tampico

7/14/2012, 6:30 am-12:00 pm, CGH Medical Center, 100 E. LeFevre Road, Sterling


Caregiving with Love: Five Tips to Better Healing PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 25 June 2012 08:53
By: Guy Magar, Hollywood Director

Whether it’s your wife or husband or child, or a relative or close friend you are caring for, it is paramount that you become the best caregiver possible for your loved one. As a caregiver for my wife Jacqui during her brave journey to beat aml-leukemia, here is what I learned and can share as I honor and applaud caregivers everywhere.

1. Be the trusted advocate. No matter the illness, the medical journey to heal is lengthy and complicated especially if the battleground is cancer. It is important to make sure that you - the caregiver - understands the treatment that your doctor has initiated, no matter how complex, and that all questions have been answered including the many what ifs and whens. If you need to research various options or get second opinions, make it happen. If you need a clinical trial, find it. If the patient is overwhelmed or can’t focus, they must feel and know the caregiver is the responsible advocate and is knowledgeable of the best possible medical journey. If they do, they will feel protected and loved, and thus empowered to just focus on their part: the healing.

2. Become the cocoon around your loved one. Every day I’d get into Jacqui’s bed and we’d hug tightly as she’d wrap herself around me while we chatted or napped. I always made sure she felt totally surrounded, completely cocooned, by my love, my strength, and my positive attitude. As a caregiver, you have to supply that grounding, that safety net. No matter how bad or creepy or doubtful a patient may feel, you have to provide an unconditional, unbending, concrete tower of absolute certainty about positive progress, as well as an ocean of love that will not allow anything to happen but the very, very best that can be. As caregiver, you must be the unmovable rock of strength and security. A granite-strong cocoon!

3. Don’t just be present, be a partner. You work as a team, in partnership with the patient; to be there and support them with any and all treatments from MRIs to IV line cleanings. Whether double-checking with the nurses the drugs they’re hooking up, making sure the bed is made or freshened while the patient is in the shower or bathroom, scheduling the physical therapists to keep your partner active and limber, dealing with the three meals and snack orders, you are there to deal with the many details that make up daily hospital life. An unspoken team partnership is crucial for caregivers to bring to the table and for patients to rely on. It was my commitment to make sure Jacqui felt her partner was engaged with the journey 24/7. She knew it, she felt it, she counted on it.

4. Keep them active and involved. Sometimes it’s just being there to open the shades and point out how beautiful the sunrise is that morning. Sometimes it’s sharing an important front-page story in the news, or breaking out a favorite game like yahtzee to encourage their competitive spirit to win. Sometimes it’s playing a CD of oldies but goodies and getting up to do some crazy dance steps to get a laugh or better still to get them to dance even if it means they’re standing on your feet because they are too weak to stand on their own. When you’re ill, the world feels like it’s closing in on you. It’s important for the caregiver to keep enlarging the boundaries and keep the patient involved with the outside world. Jacqui, who worked in women’s retail and was not familiar with daytime TV, really enjoyed watching Ellen when I started putting it on as she saw women celebrating life…laughing and dancing every day. The will to live and being active with the outside world is crucial therapy.

5. Arrange for small doses of one on one time with special friends and family. Your loved one values friendships, and some concentrated time with a dear friend or family member can be restorative. Have a special friend come over for ten minutes to an hour (depending on how your loved one is feeling that day) and occupy yourself with a task nearby. This way you can be summoned easily if needed, but they still have some privacy and a small sense of normalcy. And if you need to regroup, grab a coffee with a friend or get on the phone with a college buddy. Do whatever it takes to remain strong, clear-minded, and balanced. Your own good mental outlook is crucial to your partner.

The caregiver must become the dependable all-around partner for the patient, and if you can do that effectively and incorporate these five tips, he or she can relax as they heal and know the train has a co-driver and all is well with the arduous journey. The more you take on your shoulders, the less remains on the patient’s. Needless to say, this includes everything else going on with your home, financial concerns such as paying monthly bills, and keeping family and friends informed.

I was busy, as all caregivers are. And every single day, I am deeply grateful for Jacqui’s healing.

About Guy Magar: TV and film director/writer/producer Guy Magar has worked for more than 30 years in the motion picture industry. His credits include Battlestar Galactica, The A-Team, La Femme Nikita and Children of the Corn: Revelation. Guy is the author of Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot: A Filmmaker’s Journey into the Lights of Hollywood and True Love (

Governor Quinn Signs Law to Preserve Health Care Benefits for State Retirees PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Nafia Khan   
Monday, 25 June 2012 07:26

Senate Bill 1313 a Step in Restoring Fiscal Stability to Illinois

CHICAGO – June 21, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law to help ensure that state of Illinois retirees will continue to receive access to quality health care, while also lowering the cost to taxpayers. Illinois currently offers free health insurance to retirees after 20 years or more of service, at a time when no other state offers a healthcare benefit of this size.

“Those who have faithfully served the state deserve access to quality health care, and insurance costs should be more balanced and based on actual retirement income,” Governor Quinn said. “We also have a duty to taxpayers to ensure these plans are cost-efficient and put Illinois on the path to fiscal stability.”

Introduced at the request of Governor Quinn, Senate Bill 1313 passed the General Assembly with bi-partisan support. Sponsored by Sen. Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), SB 1313 was also supported by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego).

The purpose of the new law is to increase fiscal responsibility by requiring all state retirees to help with the cost of health care based on their ability to pay. Currently, retired legislators receive free health insurance after four years, retired judges after six years, and retired state and university employees after 20 years of service. The result is that approximately 90 percent of retirees are not contributing anything for the cost of their health insurance. The annual cost to taxpayers is nearly $800 million. This law ensures the state will be able to continue offering quality healthcare coverage for retired employees, while making healthcare benefits more affordable for taxpayers.

Many Midwestern states, including Iowa and Minnesota, do not provide any subsidy for retired employees. Instead, they provide access to their plans and leave the entire cost to be paid by the retiree. Other states offer a very limited subsidy. For example, Florida offers retirees a monthly subsidy of $150, while the retiree covers the remaining cost. While some states utilize a formula similar to Illinois’, where the amount of the subsidy is based upon years of service, no comparable state offers free health insurance after 20 years. This law allows Illinois to continue offering affordable health insurance that is based on a retiree’s ability to pay and length of state service.

While the bill goes into effect July 1, final decisions on rates will be made following labor negotiations and approval by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. Please see the attached document for quotes from the bill’s sponsors, as well as General Assembly leadership.



Legislator Quotes

“This is a year for difficult choices, and passing this bill is the first of many. While I take no joy in the loss of a benefit for hard working retirees, I am proud of our efforts to stabilize the state budget for now and the future,” said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

“I have a lot of compassion for those people who retired anticipating a certain benefit that now may be changed somewhat,” said Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont). “Having said that, this is a step Illinois must take to right the financial ship. Without critical reforms, the current structure is unsustainable, and taxpayers are on the hook for programs they cannot afford. Senate Bill 1313 is critical to accomplishing the goal of fiscal stability.”

“This important step was absolutely necessary to protect the quality and affordability of health insurance for retirees from public employment, particularly those living on fixed incomes who have no other coverage,” said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston), who was the sponsor of SB 1313.

“Close to 80,000 state retirees do not pay a premium for their healthcare; we simply cannot afford that anymore,” said Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego). “I commend the Governor and other leaders in the General Assembly for supporting this important reform that will bring more fiscal stability to the state. These new premiums will be negotiated by the administration and labor unions, who will come to an agreement that is fair for the taxpayers and the retirees.”

Center for Rural Affairs prepared to Comment on U.S. Supreme Court Affordable Care Act Ruling PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Elisha Smith   
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 14:02
Lyons, NE - Either Thursday, June 21st or Monday, June 25th the Supreme Court will likely release their ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.

Rural policy experts with the Center for Rural Affairs will be available for comment on the outcome of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Since 2008, the Center for Rural Affairs has become the leading voice for health care reform in rural America. The Center played an instrumental role in winning support for the Affordable Care Act from key swing votes in the Midwest and Great Plains region.

The Center has authored a series of 16 reports dealing with how health care reform and the Affordable Care Act is impacting rural America. Visit to review or download earlier Center for Rural Affairs health care reports.

WHO: Center for Rural Affairs rural health policy experts will be available to comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling when the Court issues its decision.

WHEN: Either Thursday June 21st or Monday, June 25th.

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