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ARCHIVES: November is…History of Thanksgiving Celebration…Stomach Cancer Awareness..









In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. READ MORE>>



Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer

“Important information about stomach cancer, including prevention steps and warning signs, is available on the website  Click on the link to read all about it during National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month in November!”


Gastric cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the world. View more statistics.

The American Cancer Society estimated that 21,500 new cases of stomach (gastric) cancer would be diagnosed in the United States in 2008.1 Because gastric cancer is difficult to diagnose, it is often discovered in patients at a late stage with a poor prognosis. The treatment for gastric cancer is surgery and chemotherapy;2 however, the overall 5-year survival rate is low, at 24.3%.1

It is estimated that 1-3% of cases of gastric cancer are caused by Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer.2 Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) is an inherited cancer syndrome that leads to an increased risk for both diffuse gastric cancer and lobular breast cancer in women. Patients who inherit the genetic mutation for HDGC are at high risk for developing gastric cancer at a young age.3

History of HDGC

A familial pattern of gastric cancer actually dates back to 1821, when Napoleon Bonaparte died at age 52 of gastric cancer. His father, grandfather, brother and 3 sisters had all died of gastric cancer.4 In 1964, familial gastric cancer was noted in a Maori tribal family in New Zealand, following an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance.4 A specific type of gene mutation called a CDH1 mutation was first described in patients from three Maori families in 1998. It was then that the International Gastric Cancer Linkage Consortium (IGCLC) was formed, and the name “Hereditary Diffuse Gastric Cancer” was introduced.


The CDH1 gene, located on chromosome 16, normally encodes for a protein called E-cadherin. The normal function of E-cadherin is to allow cells and tissues to adhere to one another in a normal fashion. 4


The structure of the E-cadherin protein chain bends and turns. The normal function of E-cadherin is to allow cells and tissues to adhere to one another in a normal fashion.

When there is a mutation in the CDH1 gene, the function of the E-cadherin protein is disrupted, and cancer often results.3,4 The exact mechanism by which this mutation ultimately causes gastric cancer is not entirely known. 4

Inheritance of the CDH1 gene mutation follows an autosomal dominant pattern, meaning that offspring of mutation carriers have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutant gene.3,4,5 It has been estimated that three out of every four CDH1 gene mutation carriers will go on to develop gastric cancer,3 with an average age at diagnosis of 38.6,7  


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  • When Debbie Zelman was diagnosed in April 2008 with advanced Stage IV stomach cancer, she was 40 years old, the mother of 3 young children, and owned her own law firm.  Her doctors told her that her cancer was inoperable and incurable and that she would need chemotherapy for the rest of her life.  At the time of her diagnosis, Debbie was told that there were very few effective treatment options for advanced stomach cancer because it was an uncommon cancer in the United States and that her chances of being alive in 5 years were less than 5%.

         However, as she began to respond to treatment, Debbie hoped that she could make a difference in the treatment options for stomach cancer patients by using her education, experience and contacts in the community. Debbie received her Law Degree from the University of Miami and her Bachelor of Arts from Emory University. In addition, she has previous fundraising experience and business experience from running her own law practice for 10 years. In 2009, Debbie started Debbie’s Dream Foundation (DDF) with the mission to aggressively and immediately fund research into innovative, progressive and cutting-edge treatments for stomach cancer.  It is Debbie’s dream that with increased funding more treatments for stomach cancer will become available sooner and a cure will be found.

         There is a sense of urgency for the person living with incurable cancer. Cancer also takes a huge toll on the cancer patient’s family. These factors motivated Debbie to begin her work to raise funds for stomach cancer research. Debbie lives in Florida with her husband Andrew, her 12 year old twins, Rachel and Zachary, and 5 year old daughter Sarah.


    Stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death

    in men and fourth among women worldwide.  Each year nearly

    930,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with stomach cancer  and approximately 700,000 die of the disease.  Approximately  22,000 Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer each year and over 10,000 will die.  However, there are very few places to turn for help when a patient is diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer.  There is very little research being conducted on stage IV advanced stomach cancer for a variety of reasons, including a lack of funding and a limited number of doctors specializing in stomach cancer.

         To accomplish these goals, Debbie’s Dream is using the following strategies:

             (1)    Uniting the best and brightest minds in stomach cancer research;

             (2)    Encouraging the sharing of information among medical professionals, research professionals,           and pharmaceutical companies;

             (3)    Educating stomach cancer patients and their families about stomach cancer and available treatment options;

        For the person living with incurable cancer, there is a sense of urgency.  Cancer also takes a huge toll on the cancer patient’s family.  Debbie’s Dream Foundation seeks as its ultimate goal to make the cure for stomach cancer a reality.  Debbie’s Dream also seeks to fund research, facilitate enrollment in clinical trials, and help patients and families of those diagnosed with stomach cancer.

             (4)    Educating stomach cancer patients about enrollment in clinical trials for new and experimental therapies and treatments; and

    1.     Aggressively and immediately funding research into innovative, progressive and cutting-edge treatments for stomach cancer. READ MORE




 … in honor of my dad

With October being breast cancer awareness month, I was pondering over what health issue I wanted to share with you in November.  I accidentally found that November is deemed pancreatic awareness month.  Because my dad had pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cancer is related to breast cancer via the BRCA2 gene, here’s the topic for this month.

Whenever someone is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer people tend to think that person does not have long to live.  Well that was the case with my father. By the time he was diagnosed the cancer had spread all over his liver.  Surgery was not recommended and chemo could do little to control or shrink the tumors. He passed away in 5 months at 56 years old. That was in 1994.

 Much has been found out since then.  Pertaining to hereditary cancer there was the discovery of the BRCA2 (the breast cancer gene) in December of 1995.  I did not know about the possibility of inheriting this gene until I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Most attention in the media has been given to the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.   Carriers of the BRCA2 gene mutations also have a tenfold increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.  My father was the only one in his family ever diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  His mom had breast cancer at 66 (she did not pass on from it and lived until 81).  His dad had prostate cancer at 60 and survived it until 74.  Since my grandparents weren’t below the age of 50, the cancer history in my family seemed to be from aging not from inheritance.

  Low and behold one can carry the BRCA2 gene and never develop cancer of any kind. These people who never develop cancer are not represented in the statistics pertaining to occurrence.  Most likely the occurrence in the general population is higher than current studies show.    Every cell in the human body has 2 copies of the BRCA2 gene, in my case and my dad’s case we have one mutated BRCA2 gene and one “normal” one. This means that some lifestyle factor and chance caused us to develop our cancers.  Scientists say we will see more cancers caused by inherited BRCA2 mutations as our population ages.  Most of the information about BRCA2 is related to the Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. That’s the group that scientists have found the gene to be most prevalent. The mutation occurred approximately 3000 years ago.  My dad and I do not have that specific mutation.  I initially thought there must have been an impostor Italian catholic in the family years ago.  I found out quickly that was inaccurate. Our gene is 8475delGA.The Jewish one is 6174delT. There are many others.

When you see percents of occurrence even one percent is significant.  BRCA2 carriers have a 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 chance of developing pancreatic cancer by the age of 80. In the big scheme of things these chances may not seem significant.  One may have greater chance of being in a fatal car accident so why should I think about cancer.  The reason we all need to think about cancer is that it can sneak up on any one of us without warning and if it is not caught early enough chances of survival decreases.

So know your family history and lifestyle risk factors and advocate for screening tools for all types of cancer not just breast cancer.

outRisk Factors for pancreatic cancer

The exact causes of pancreatic cancer are not yet well understood. There are certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood that an individual will develop pancreatic cancer. Research studies have identified some of the following as potential risk factors:

Risk Factor



Smoking is a significant risk factor and is the cause of about 25% of all pancreatic cancer cases. People who smoke cigarettes are 2 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people who do not smoke.


The chance of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age. Most people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are over the age of 60.

Family History

If a person’s mother, father, sibling, or child had pancreatic cancer, then that person’s risk for developing the disease increases by 2-3 times.dThe risk increases if a greater number of family members are affectedAAlso, the risk of pancreatic cancer increases if there is a history of familial breast or colon cancer, familial melanoma, or hereditary pancreatitis.or Approximately 10% of pancreatic cancer cases are related to a family history of the disease. Individuals who smoke and have a family history of pancreatic cancer are at risk of developing pancreatic cancer up to 10 years earlier than their previously diagnosed family member(s).

Chronic Pancreatitis and Hereditary Pancreatitis

A person, who has been diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, particularly at a younger age, has an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Chronic pancreatitis is usually diagnosed in individuals 35-45 years old and often in individuals who consume large amounts of alcohol for many years. In addition, the mumps virus and various autoimmune disorders can cause chronic pancreatitis, which may lead to pancreatic cancer.

Race (Ethnicity)

African-Americans have a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer compared to individuals of Asian, Hispanic or Caucasian descent. There is also a higher incidence of pancreatic cancer among Ashkenazi Jews, possibly due to a mutation involving the breast cancer (BRCA2) gene that is found in about 1% of individuals of this background.


Slightly more men are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer than women. This may be linked to higher smoking rates in men. With increasing smoking rates in women, the incidence of pancreatic cancer in women may soon equal that in men.


Pancreatic cancer is 2 times more likely to occur in people who have diabetes than in people who do not have diabetes. In pancreatic cancer patients who have had diabetes for less than five years, it is unclear if the diabetes contributed to the cancer or if the precancerous cells caused the diabetes.


The association of diet and the development of pancreatic cancer are still unclear. A diet high in red meats, animal fats, processed meats, and carbohydrates is thought to increase the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. A diet high in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk. There may also be a risk associated with eating meats that are very well-cooked, especially those that are charred, foods that are high in salt and refined sugar, or foods that have been smoked, dehydrated or fried.


For people who are considered clinically obese, there may be a significantly increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. In those who are overweight, the risk may decrease with increased physical activity.

Physical inactivity

Lack of physical activity or exercise has been associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer in a large epidemiologic study.  This is independent of the effects of obesity, as obese patients who exercise regularly have a lower risk than those who do not.

For more information on Pancreatic Cancer visit this site:

Learn about the rare form of pancreatic cancer Steve Jobs battled for 7 years.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, also known as islet cell tumors, are a rare form of pancreatic cancer compared to the more common, and aggressive adenocarcinoma. Click to learn more.

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   American Diabetes Month



Join Bret Michaels this November and become involved in American Diabetes Month®.

This year, the American Diabetes Association is asking:

How will you Stop Diabetes®? The future is in your hands.

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Last November, the American Diabetes Association launched the Stop Diabetes movement,

with the audacious goal of having 1 million people join in the first year

.  So far, more than 814,000 people around the country have raised their hand and pledged to join the fight.

There are plenty of ways you can become involved in American Diabetes Month

and the Stop Diabetes movement this November.

There is no time to waste. Diabetes is a disease with deadly consequences.

Drastic action is needed.  From everyone.

Tools are available to help spread the word for companies,

community organizers and health care professionals.

You can discover more ways to become engaged in American Diabetes Month

by visiting

calling 1-800-DIABETES or texting JOIN to 69866 (standard data and message rates apply).

American Diabetes Month Tools

American Diabetes Month 2010 Fact Sheet (PDF)

American Diabetes Month 2010 Newsletter Insert (PDF)

American Diabetes Month 2010 PowerPoint

Blog 30 Days of Diabetes for November – and Beyond!

Blog about diabetes each day of November and we could put you on the blogroll for our blog,

Diabetes Stops Here℠: Living with Diabetes; Inspired to Stop It.

To honor National Blog Posting Month,

bloggers around the country will blog every day in the month of November.

You could blog about diabetes and help create awareness

about the disease all month long. Need ideas? Click here for more information.


Military Family Month

2011 MFM Poster

Military Family Month was established in 1993 by the Armed Services YMCA, with the U.S. Government recognizing the occasion every year since.President Barack Obama proclaimed November 2009 as Military Family Month, calling on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in the support of our service members and our Nation.

Each November, ASYMCA celebrates Military Family Month to demonstrate the nation’s support and commitment the families of military personnel. With hundreds of thousands of service members deployed overseas, recognizing the daily sacrifices made by military families has never been more important.



Celebrating Military Family Week at Installations Worldwide

  • Each year during Military Family Month in November efforts are made to organize special community-wide events to recognize our military families. Look at how installations celebrated and honored military families during past years.
  • Some bases held different event(s) for every day of the week
  • Bases publicized family services and programs during their activities
  • Base MWR agencies (i.e., Outdoor Recreation Center, Bowling Center, Movie Theater, and Clubs) provided special family events with reduced prices. For example, an Outdoor Recreation Center sponsored a Family Florida Everglades Ecotour.
  • Base family programs (i.e., Family Center and Children Development Center) provided special family events. For example, a Children Development Center hosted a Family Fun Festival.
  • Special family events including free lunch, magicians, horse rides, jumping booths, climbing wall, disc jockey, and prizes were held at AAFES
  • Sales were offered at BXs and Commissaries
  • Ecumenical services were held at the chapel
  • Information was sent to commands to recognize and celebrate the contributions of military families
  • “Lunch and Learn” educational forums for military personnel and their families were held
  • Military Family Week booths were set up
  • Relevant articles appeared in base newspaper
  • A base offered “Operation Informed Spouse” to provide information on available family services/programs and installation tour
  • Several organizations at a base invited families to tour their work centers
  • Commanders held open houses in their units
  • A Military Family Partnership (USAFA FSC, Peterson CSC, Ft. Carson ACS, Pikes Peak region ASYMCA, and the Falcon Wanderers Volksmarch club) sponsored an annual 10K Volksmarch
  • A local ASYMCA sponsored the Annual Five Star Military Family Recognition Program
  • A local high school hosted Tops in Blue stage performance
  • A Family Talent contest was being hosted at a base for: (1) parent – child, (2) husband – wife, (3) children age 3-7, (4) preteens age 8-12, and (5) entire family
  • Commanders and First Sergeants served meals to military members and their families in the dining hall
  • Thanksgiving dinner was served to families of deployed, remote and single members
  • Thanksgiving Day gift baskets were distributed

Information and Resources

For information and resources regarding Military Family Month please go to the Armed Services YMCA Military Family Month site.