Archive for the ‘WOMEN’ Category


Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Newcastle Private Hospital.image

Newcastle Private Hospital.NSW.Australia. Photo: Fiona Morris

Colleen Stefanyszyn, of the Newcastle suburb Merewether, vomited faecal material for several days before her death following surgery at Newcastle Private Hospital in December, 2008.

It was “the worst red flag that a surgeon would see”, a medical expert said during a NSW Supreme Court hearing that resulted in negligence findings against her gynaecologist and the hospital, and the possibility of contempt action against the hospital relating to the Supreme Court proceedings.

Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death was preventable, NSW Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt found in a decision on Tuesday that was highly critical of the hospital and its breaches of duty of care that contributed to Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death.

Justice Schmidt accepted Newcastle gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Oliver Brown’s admission that he breached his duty of care to Mrs Stefanyszyn and that it had resulted in her death.

Mrs Stefanyszyn’s death “could have been prevented, had available surgical steps been taken”, Justice Schmidt said.

Mrs Stefanyszyn, 61, had vaginal hysterectomy elective surgery at the hospital on December 1, 2008.

During the operation a loop of suture material “inadvertently looped around Mrs Stefanyszyn’s bowel”, resulting in a blockage, Justice Schmidt said.

She lived for just four days after the surgery, vomiting faecal matter from the third day, starting with a “coffee-coloured fluid” on the night of December 3.

While Dr Brown’s response to Mrs Stefanyszyn’s symptoms until the third day was reasonable, it was the medical experts’ common ground that his approach to her subsequent care “was not only wrong, but inexplicable, given her deteriorating condition” that included continued faecal vomiting, Justice Schmidt found.

“Despite Mrs Stefanyszyn not recovering from the surgery as was expected and her deteriorating condition, the cause of her symptoms was not investigated, the blockage was not identified and surgical steps necessary to remove it were not taken, with her death the result,” Justice Schmidt found.

“The result was that the blockage was not identified or addressed; infection set in; she repeatedly vomited faecal material; she inhaled some of that material with resulting pneumonia; her electrolytic balance became disordered; her oxygen levels deteriorated; and finally, she suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.”

Justice Schmidt was highly critical of the hospital, its breaches of duty to Mrs Stefanyszyn which were “more extensive than it finally admitted”, the failure of its staff to record observations of Mrs Stefanyszyn on the three days before her death, and the hospital’s decision not to call evidence to address issues of its breaches.

Dr Brown’s “failure to give evidence in support of his own case and the hospital’s failure to call evidence in its, is that such evidence would not have assisted their respective cases”, Justice Schmidt found.

The hospital’s failures “did not give rise to a mere possibility of injury, but actually materially contributed to the death which resulted from both its failures and those of Dr Brown”, Justice Schmidt found.

The matter returns to court on Friday where Justice Schmidt will consider whether the hospital should face contempt proceedings over aspects of the court case.

Justice Schmidt noted the hospital, Mrs Stefanyszyn’s husband Walter and daughters Leigh and Megan had settled a compensation case.

In a notice in the Newcastle Herald on the second anniversary of his wife’s death Mr Stefanyszyn wrote: “I have lost my soul’s companion, a life linked with my own. Day by day I miss you more, as I walk through life alone. Forever Wal.”

Her daughters wrote: “What is home without a mother? All things this world may send, but when we lost our darling mother, we lost our dearest friend. Love Leigh and Megan.”

Newcastle Herald


Henry Sapiecha

Australia Queensland Gold Coast mum’s small red lump almost cost her life

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Palm Beach mother Kate Dwyer is recovering from a mysterious skin condition that could have been fatal.image

Palm Beach mother Kate Dwyer is recovering from a mysterious skin condition that could have been fatal. Picture: David Clark

IT started off as a small red lump but in just a day it grew to the size of a frisby and nearly cost Kate Dwyer her life.

The Palm Beach mother-of-two’s left buttock has been ravaged by a mysterious skin condition that has doctors and scientists baffled.

Debate rages over the origin of her growing wound which could have been caused by anything from bacteria to a flesh-eating spider.

Kate Dwyer recovering at home image

Ms Dwyer, who has spent the past six weeks in and out of hospital, said she thought she was bitten by a white- tailed spider.

“I didn’t feel anything, I had no idea that I’d been bitten by something,” she said.

“It just noticed a little red dot on my left buttock, a bit like a pimple.”

The 35-year-old then started having bad body aches, a high temperature and she was vomiting every 10 minutes as the intruder took over her body.

“I was so unwell and everything hurt so I didn’t think much of the little dot and I just put antiseptic on it,” she said.

“I kept thinking it was nothing and that it would ­disappear.”

White Tailed Spider could be responsible for Ms Dwyer’s bite.CSIRO image

A White Tailed Spider could be responsible for Ms Dwyer’s bite. Picture: CSIRO

Ms Dwyer said the little dot on her buttock quickly grew to the size of a golf ball and eventually to the size of a frisby within half a day.

“It was hard as a rock and really sore to touch,” she said. “The doctor said to go straight to hospital so I went to John Flynn Private ­Hospital.”

Doctors took one look at the wound and wheeled her into surgery where they tried to remove dead and unhealthy skin tissues.

Ms Dwyer has spent nearly two weeks in hospital where she underwent a second surgery and was told if the wound was left untreated it could have been fatal.

Ms Dwyer said she can’t recall feeling the near fatal bite.image

Ms Dwyer said she can’t recall feeling the near fatal bite. Picture: David Clark

The photos of her buttock, which are too gruesome for publication, show the extent to which the poison ravaged her skin and flesh.

“It basically poisons your bloodstream,” she said.

“It was excruciating … it looks like it has been burnt.

“Skin is peeling off and there are blisters.”

The head of Queensland Museum’s arachnological division, Dr Robert Raven, said it was “impossible” for a white-tailed spider to cause such a reaction.

“There are only a couple of spider bites that can be recognised easily from the bite,” he said.

“The first one is the funnel web … and the second one is a redback.

“No other spider bites are diagnosable by the bite.”

White-tailed spiders are commonly found in homes throughout Australia and they tend to hide in bedding or within clothes left on the floor. Ulcers and necrosis have been attributed to the bites but a scientific study showed these were caused mostly by infections.

Ms Dwyer had to visit a nurse every day to rebandage her wound since leaving hospital and doctors have hooked her to a V. A. C therapy machine to continue healing her wound.

“I haven’t worked in six weeks,” she said. “I’m a single mum so I’ve had to ask for a lot of help.”

Ms Dwyer is expected to make a full recovery.

Originally published as Mum ravaged by mystery flesh-eater


Henry Sapiecha

Mum with terminal cancer writes a lifetime of greeting cards for her daughter.Video story here.

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Mum with terminal cancer writes a lifestyle of greeting cards for her daughter image

Mum with terminal cancer writes a lifestyle of greeting cards for her daughter. Photo: Facebook

Heather McManamy has written a letter to her four-year-old daughter for every milestone she will miss.

The wife and mother of one, has terminal cancer but she is determined to stay in her family’s life long after she is gone.

“I did them from when she’s older or younger — random encouragement, bad day, wedding, driver license, even first breakup,” Heather, 35, of Wisconsin, told ABC News.

“Every one of these that I get to hand out in person will be an accomplishment.”

In 2013 Heather was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer, but received a terminal diagnosis in August 2014.

Despite this, Heather says she will do anything to be here a little longer for her daughter Brianna and her husband.

“I’m in my fourth round of chemo — nine in total,” she said.

“I guess I still have hope. I’m just not ready to say goodbye yet. It’s really painful to know that they’re going to be sad and I won’t be there to comfort them.”

Heather and her husband have been together for 13 years, in what she calls a “really special relationship”.

For the last few months Heather has been raiding stores looking for greeting cards to leave behind for her daughter – she has 40 in total, the ABC reports.

“They’re like this physical representation of ‘this is all of the stuff I’m going to miss,” she said.

“I’m going to miss everything and I never like missing anything. I’m always the last one to leave the party.”

Despite growing up with a mum who has cancer, Heather says her daughter is “so happy and hilarious.”

“She’s a special, empathetic kid and she really cares for other people.”

“I don’t care what she does in her life,” Heather said.

“I just want her to find her happiness. Life it short. If she’s true to herself, everything will be OK.”

Watch the full story here below.


Henry Sapiecha

The new frontier in treating cancer

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Dr Kylie Mason, who survived leukaemia as a teenager, now treats and researches blood cancers image

Dr Kylie Mason, who survived leukaemia as a teenager, now treats and researches blood cancers. Photo: Justin McManus

Ask a medical researcher if we will ever find a cure for cancer and the answer will likely come cushioned with a gentle smile and shake of the tilted head before it’s verbalised – no.

“It’s an infinite number of diseases, it’s not just one disease,” says leukaemia researcher and scientist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Melbourne University Kylie Mason. “The more we know the more we realise what we don’t know.”

Progress, helped by advances in everything from supercomputing to immunotherapy and genomics, is nevertheless being made.

In Dr Mason’s field alone, researchers have gone from believing that there were just two kinds of non-Hodgkin lymphoma to having identified more than 60 types. And that’s not including the subtypes that have been documented.

According to the Cancer Council, the five-year survival rate for all cancers has improved from 47 per cent between 1982-87 to 67 per cent in 2007-11.

And there is more improvement to come, thanks to the advent of what is called personalised medicine which tailors treatment to the individual’s profile, not the cancer.

“Every patient is an individual,” said Dr Mason, who herself survived leukaemia as a teenager. “They are going to respond differently to somebody else with the same named diagnosis. We’re not treating a cancer, we’re treating a patient.”

Bowel cancer clinician-scientist Jayesh Desai from The Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will join Dr Mason and colleagues to discuss the question of curing cancer at the Science in the Square Festival on Wednesday, as part of National Science Week.

For Dr Desai, personalised medicine is the new frontier.

“The breakthroughs will come and the progress will be made by having more of an in-depth understanding of how a particular patient’s cancer behaves,” he said.

This means understanding at a molecular level the changes that occur in an individual, allowing it to grow and divide, rather than treating all kinds of bowel cancer in the same way.

“To be able to do molecular and genomic tests allows us to much better understand what makes a patient’s cancer behave in a particular way and that will allow for more tailored treatments,” Dr Desai said.

He said while a cure for cancer would likely remain elusive, improving treatment and the quality of life for patients would be where progress was made.

Immunotherapy drugs, which stimulate the immune system to overcome the resistance put up by cancer cells, are having an impact, particularly with melanoma.

“It’s arguably the most exciting thing that’s going in cancer at the moment,” he said.

Generally treatment falls into two categories: targeting the immune system or targeting the cancer. Dr Desai said the next phase could be combining the two.

“The solutions won’t be simple because the problem isn’t,” he said. “What we’re trying to do with many cancers is to turn it into a chronic disease.”

More than 131,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, according to the Cancer Council.

Chief executive of Cancer Council Victoria Todd Harper said while there had been an improvement in survival rates for common cancers such as breast, bowel and cervical, survival rates for less common cancers such as brain, stomach and kidney had barely increased in recent decades.

“We still don’t know enough about less common cancers,” he said.


Henry Sapiecha

Australian biomedical engineering team builds Google Maps for the body as this video report reveals

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

Biomedical engineer Melissa Knothe Tate's team have invented a Google Maps for the body.

Biomedical engineer Melissa Knothe Tate’s team have invented a Google Maps for the body.

Google’s mapping technologies quite literally open our eyes to the whole world. With the click of a mouse, you can zoom from a view of the world to a view of a country, then a city, a street, even a house.

Now the same kind of mapping can be achieved on the human body.

On Sunday, UNSW biomedical engineer Professor Melissa Knothe Tate announced at a conference in the US a new imaging technology that allows researchers, and eventually clinicians, to view an entire organ or bone before zooming down to an individual cell in that tissue.

“This is the first Google Maps of the human body,” she said.

Many diseases can start with damage to individual cells.

“It all starts with a single cell and then through the confluence of events we get global disaster,” said Professor Knothe Tate, the Paul Trainor Chair of Biomedical Engineering.

Her team have used the new technology to explore the human hip joint and the development of osteoarthritis, the leading cause of disability in ageing adults.

For the first time they were able to tie malfunction in individual cells to the condition. Other research teams at Harvard University and Heidelberg University in Germany are using the imaging to map neural paths in mice brains.

The technology offers several medical advantages: clinicians will be able to identify damage to an organ earlier and potentially prevent further progression of the condition.

Future research could also reverse the deterioration of tissues, said Professor Knothe Tate.

“This could open the door to as yet unknown new therapies and preventions,” she said.

The imaging technology was originally invented for the computer industry by German optical and industrial measurement manufacturer, Zeiss.

In 2011, while working in Germany, Professor Knothe Tate sat next to a Zeiss worker while on a bus home from a scientific meeting. When she explained her work the man mentioned his company’s “top secret” technology – known as the rapid throughput electron microscopy imaging system – that had been developed to quickly assess the quality of silicon wafers widely used by the electronics industry.

“He asked me whether I could imagine some applications [of this technology] in the life sciences sector,” she said.

“I answered immediately that I could think of about 10.”

From there the company teamed up with Professor Knothe Tate and other international researchers to apply this sophisticated microscopy to produce images over different length scales, from centimetres-long human joints to nanometre-sized molecules inside a single cell inhabiting the tissue. Using Google Maps algorithms the team then crunches enormous data-sets to allow researchers, and the public, to zoom in and out of the images.

“This is something we’ve dreamed about doing,” she said.

Previously, visualising body parts over different length scales meant using different imaging techniques and bridging them together.

Professor Knothe Tate presented the new technology at the Orthopedic Research Society meeting in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, December 11th, 2014

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Just a kind word to the great courteous talented staff of the Maryborough hospital Queensland Australia.

Yours truly went there today for a foot repair after getting stabbed by a dangerous stick

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Despite my earlier efforts over the last several days to do the Moucho thing & fix it myself

it became infected & I sought the hospitals help.

Not only did I get swift attention but the women medical staff surrounded me with kindness & care.

I should get damaged more often. They had gave me a local & cleaned up the wound, took my blood pressure

then put a antibiotic drip feed into me & gave me some painkillers to take away the shakes & pain that the infection was creating.

They said my temperature was over the top & I had a fever.

The outcome was great as the painkillers took away the edge of the pain with some relief for me

Perscribed me some anti b’s with pain killers & asked me to come back tomorrow for an ultrasound

to ensure other remnants of the offending stick were not lodged within the crevice of my foot

NOTE UPDATE..The ultrasound was done the next day & there was still a stick about 20mm long still imbedded deep in my heel.

That was removed the next day & I was deeply relieved it was all out finally.

naughty-nurse-costumenaughty-nurse-sexy-costumeNURSE SEXY IMAGE

NOTE-If anybody ever complains about the service at Queenslands hospitals, they are mad.

I have nothing but praise for the facilities & staff.

I have had similar experiences over 4 times now in the last few years.

Words are not enough girls. Keep up the great work. We are proud of you & value your services.

Thank you

*[A special thanks to Leah who is an apprentice chef & was entertaining me in the waiting area]

Henry Sapiecha



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Sarah Wilson personal issues with auto-immune disease and what came of it.

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Sarah Wilson auto-immune disease image-3

Sarah Wilson is well known for her ‘I Quit Sugar’ movement. 

I’VE wrestled with an auto-immune disease for half my life.

I got Graves disease (an overactive thyroid which saw my hair fall out and 15kg drop off my quite slight frame in less than four weeks) when I was 21. I “cured” myself via diet and rest. At 27, I then got Graves disease in my left eye. Random, yes. I had that Jeff Goldblum bulgy-eye thing going on …in one eye. Again, I “cured” myself, this time with diet and acupuncture, in the time it took for me to get to the top of the operation wait list (three month).

Then, five years ago, I was stopped dead in my tracks with Hashimoto’s, or underactive thyroid. I was the editor of one of the biggest magazines in the country at the time. But wound my health down until I was left infertile, unable to walk or work. Since then I’ve been on a slow slog of a mission to “cure” myself again.

I looked into gluten, cosmetic toxins and, of course, sugar as causes. I investigated hereditary factors, too. My grandmother had both Graves and Hashimoto’s. Of course, all such factors contribute to the knotted ball of wool that makes up my illness. But try as I have, I’ve not been able to extract the start of the thread. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the original physical cause. Was it from being raised on my poor family’s diet of day-old bread (pretty much a staple of my childhood; Mum bought it using a pig farmer’s licence for 10 cents a loaf)? Was it my insomnia that I developed aged 8? Was it the mercury I played with in the tool shed as a kid? Am I a canary down the mineshaft for our toxic planet? All questions I know pretty much all 23 million (and growing, fast) auto-immune disease sufferers in the US ask daily. (Australian figures are at one and a half million … and rising.)

Over 20 years of wrestling and putting on a bright face and having “thyroid days” that leave me unable to leave a dark room, I’ve come to learn if there is such a cause, it’s definitely got an emotional basis.

Sarah Wilson auto-immune disease image-2

Sarah Wilson was the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and has been the host of MasterChef. Source: Supplied

When I’m asked, as I often am, “What caused your disease?” I have to be frank and say – once all angles are ironed out – everything points to … anxiety. Or as I like to put it, a profound, visceral, itchy dis-ease with myself.

I always say that I can spot an “auto-immune type”. They have an intensity about them, a desire to impress. They’re always the ones at the front of my lectures, frantically taking notes. They have an air of ‘I’m not good enough as I am’. I know as I write this, many heads out there are nodding.

A while back I watched TED talk by Dr. Habib Sadeghi, an American “healer to the stars”, in which he cites self-hatred as the real cause of chronic disease, particularly in women.

It rung loud and true for me. Singling out women might strike as you odd. But the US National Institute of Health estimates 75 per cent of auto-immune sufferers are women.

The disparity between men and women is even worse when you look at Hashimoto’s (10 women have the illness for every one man).

The occurrence of auto-immune disease is so prevalent among women that a study published in 2000 declared it the tenth leading cause of death for all women, across all categories, between the ages of 15 and 64.

The gist goes like this…

* Illness is what happens when women, the nurturers of humanity, forget how to nurture themselves. Word!

* He draws parallels to dirt. Excessive ploughing and unmindful practices by farmers ruins the grass that keeps our soil grounded and healthy. Land is then left barren, exposed, degraded and stripped of its life-giving power. Which means when hard times strike – like a severe drought – the once-nutrient rich soil becomes lifeless dirt, devoid of any nourishing or nurturing capabilities. There’s no resilience. And humanity starves.

Got the parallel with self-care?

* So, when we don’t have the proper tools to nurture our grassland – our spiritual ecosystem, if you will – the soil of our soul becomes exposed to negative stuff. And humanity starves.

“It dries up, loses its nourishing capabilities and blows away, leaving us completely ungrounded. How many people do you know who are flighty, scattered or addicted to drama? They’ve lost their resilience, the ability to nourish and nurture their soul through the ups and downs of life.”

* What does it mean to nourish our grassland? My take is this: not constantly doubting and putting the breaks on emotions, innocently and authentically responding to things, being able to cradle and accommodate our own (sometimes extreme and erratic etc) emotional responses rather than relying on external things (other people, drugs, gurus). So that we don’t “end up living in a spiritual dustbowl of self-judgment, hopelessness, and cynicism”

Sarah Wilson auto-immune disease image-1

Sarah has tried to heal herself with healthy eating but believes the real cause of her illness is anxiety.

* Self-hatred is the biggest impediment to cradling ourselves, especially in women. This self-hatred emerges from thinking we’re not adhering to the ideals set out for us.

“We’re constantly putting women up against standards they can’t possibly meet. When you can’t be the ideal wife, mother, girlfriend, teacher, cook, church volunteer, corporate executive and activist at 20 pounds below your healthy body weight, what’s left but to silently (and subconsciously) hate yourself because you’re not perfect?”

And so … self-hatred causes auto-immune disease, which, boiled down, is the body attacking itself.

So how to heal?

With self-love. I rarely know what this means and it mostly seems a bit “motherhoody” to me. But I can see how key it is. You can do all the tests, elimination diets and treatments you like, but, boil it all down, there’s always a sneaking feeling that it’s more than the gluten or the toxin or the hereditary predisposition. Right?

Sometimes I sit and really feel what’s behind a flare up. The only feeling there, behind the pain and shittiness, is a cringy, self-flagellating, forward-lunging anxiety. It’s always there, whatever the flare. The same feeling.

So in some ways the solution is really much simpler and life-enriching than constantly seeking a cure, a fix.

As one of my favourite quotes reads: “There’s no need to fear the future because we know that so long as constant change is life’s nature, survival doesn’t go to the fittest, but to the most resilient—and resiliency always resides in the richest soil.”

Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Inspired by a desire to sleep indoors rather than on a park bench, I called her. By some twist of luck, she had a brother who was out of town, who happened to have an empty apartment near the Bastille. I could have the apartment for three months if I wanted. At once I viewed this as both a miracle and a warning: it was the end of the list that had, in my mind, kept me alive – and perhaps the end of me.


I set off at sunrise the next morning, fed by a warm baguette and the subtle light of the city, grey turning to lemon yellow to gold. With light rain as my only company, I walked through Paris until I reached the famous pyramid, splashed with water nymphs in the form of diamond-coloured drops, surrounded by Japanese tourists holding candy-coloured umbrellas. Rain mixed with tears as I sobbed, finally allowing myself to cry for the first time since I’d forced myself off my living room floor all those years ago.

There was no need for a tour, plan or guide. Unlike the rushed tourists who had to chase down the usual suspects in between flights, I had the extravagance of time. That first day I spent with the first sculpture I saw, the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Gazing at this human figure with wings, perched on the edge of a boat, I imagined her taking flight each night after the Louvre closed. And as I sat on the stairwell looking up at her, I realized that this was not the end of me, but rather the beginning of me.


The month went by slowly, like a painting as it takes shape under the hand of a painter with only one canvas and 1,000 ideas, each day layered with new colours and textures.

For 30 days, each morning I would walk through the city, stopping to buy my baguette and coffee, pretending to be offended when the waiter laughed as my grim attempt at French was replaced by sign language. Further on I’d dodge the rubbish trucks and the early morning graffiti artists to get a place in line at a bakery hidden in an alley, where I’d buy a warm croissant from a baker who smelled like cherry pie. When I’d finally arrive at the square of the Louvre, the pickpockets would smile at me in greeting, while the flower seller pushed a nosegay of bruised violets or tiny pink roses into my hands. At the entrance to the Louvre, the staff would wave me in as they squabbled in furious French with the illegal ticket-sellers just outside the doors.

After a few weeks, I could walk into the museum with my eyes closed. I knew the feel of the handrails, slightly worn yet smooth and cool. I heard the sound of the security guards shifting their feet, the hum of vented air, the sigh of shoes walking on marble. Each painting and sculpture seemed to have waited for my arrival, dressed in their finest draperies and gilded frames, like flags in an endless procession of gladness.

The women of the Louvre invited me to walk past the crowds into their private chambers. Teasing. Whispering. Welcoming. The Mona Lisa, small and stained green, her plucked eyebrows raised quizzically at the crowds who came to admire her. Gabrielle d’Estrées caught forever fondling one of her sisters, no doubt wishing she hadn’t. The Marquise de Pompadour, impossibly coiffed and powdered, permanently poised in pastels. La Grande Odalisque, her body stretched before the world, waiting for gossip and visitors. Here were women unapologetic about being women: whole, incomplete, messy, divided, fertile, plump, merchant, slave, prostitute, servant, old, nubile, lost, found, owned, free. I sat before them, held their gaze evenly, without blinking. Our stories were not the same, yet I found myself in each one of them.


On my last day at the museum, I said goodbye to these painted women, who at first had seemed two dimensional and flat but had come to life and become friends. Then I took a different route back to the apartment, and found myself on the banks of the Seine. I walked along the river, my thoughts on that woman who, many years ago, sat in a field and wrote out a list to save her life. I’d carried her list with me around the world, and as I took it out of my bag, my hands shook so badly it seemed as though the paper would take flight.

One last gesture, one last goodbye, one last promise made to that woman who was me so long ago. Her list was finished, and somehow I felt her end had come as well. I held the journal tightly and tore out that final page of my past. I folded it into a small paper boat, and set it on the Seine. It floated, small and white, like a dove, a peace offering to my old self. My eyes followed the little white boat as it moved down the river, past the barges, until it was gone. She was gone, too.

She finally got what she had wanted the whole time: to be free and not defined by cancer.

And I, too, was free. I still am.

Henry Sapiecha


Thursday, July 4th, 2013



(Reuters Health) – Postmenopausal women who work tend be in better health than their unemployed counterparts, according to a new study from South Korea.

Researchers found that employed postmenopausal women were about 34 percent less likely to have so-called metabolic syndrome – a collection of obesity-related conditions that raise heart disease risk – compared to unemployed women of the same age.

But one expert pointed out that it’s hard to know whether jobs make women healthy or if healthy women are just more likely to have jobs.


“You wonder if healthy women get hired and less healthy women get fired. You just don’t know,” Dr. Melissa Wellons, who was not involved with the new research, told Reuters Health.

Previous studies have found that people who work tend to do financially better and are more physically active, and that may influence their risk of metabolic syndrome – which includes high blood pressure and high cholesterol, a large waistline and insulin resistance.

Together, the risk factors that make up metabolic syndrome are linked to a heightened risk of heart attack and stroke.

Menopause may also influence a woman’s risk for metabolic syndrome, because hormone changes make women susceptible to excessive weight gain, Yonsei University’s Dr. Hee-Taik Kang and colleagues write in the journal Menopause.

For the new study, the researchers used data from 2007 through 2009 on 3,141 premenopausal Korean women and 2,115 postmenopausal women to investigate the potential link between employment status and metabolic syndrome.

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Among postmenopausal women, whose average age was between 59 and 65 years old, about 55 percent of unemployed women met the criteria for having metabolic syndrome. That compared to about 42 percent of employed women.

There was a similar trend among premenopausal women, whose average age was about 35 years old.

About 15 percent of unemployed premenopausal women met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, compared to about 13 percent of employed women. That small difference, however, could have been due to chance.

“Several mechanisms could explain the significant relationships between employment status and (metabolic syndrome),” write the researchers.

One possible explanation, according to Kang and colleagues, is that employed postmenopausal women in their study were more active than the unemployed women.

But Wellons, an assistant professor of endocrinology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said it’s hard to know exactly why employed postmenopausal women are healthier and if the results would apply to women in the U.S.

“I’ve seen studies that show working women in America weigh less, but again, you just don’t know. Does work keep you busy, keep you from gaining weight, and do healthy women get hired more?” Wellons said.

“It’s an interesting observation and I hope it’s true because I’m working,” she said.

SOURCE: Menopause, online June 10, 2013


Henry Sapiecha

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Sunday, December 30th, 2012


Jiroemon Kimura, a 115-year-old Japanese man born when Queen Victoria still reigned over the British Empire, became the oldest man in recorded history on Friday, Guinness World Records said.

Kimura, of Kyotango, western Japan, was born April 19, 1897, in the 30th year of the Meiji era, according to London-based Guinness. That makes him 115 years and 253 days as of today, breaking the longevity record for men held by Christian Mortensen of California, who died in 1998 at the age of 115 years and 252 days. The oldest woman in recorded history, Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, died in 1997 at the age of 122.

“He has an amazingly strong will to live,” Kimura’s nephew Tamotsu Miyake, 80, said in an interview. “He is strongly confident that he lives right and well.”

Kimura is among 22 Japanese people on a list of the world’s 64 oldest people compiled by the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, highlighting the challenges facing Japan as its population ages. A combination of the world’s highest life expectancy, the world’s second-largest public debt and a below- replacement birthrate is straining the nation’s pension system, prompting the government to curb payouts, raise contributions and delay the age of eligibility.

Japan’s average life expectancy at birth is 83 years, a figure projected to exceed 90 for women by 2050. The number of Japanese centenarians rose 7.6 per cent from a year earlier to 51,376 as of September, and there are 40 centenarians per 100,000 people in the country, which has the world’s highest proportion of elderly, according to Japan’s health ministry.

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Oldest living person

Kimura became the world’s oldest currently living person on December 17, when 115-year-old Dina Manfredini of Iowa died, according to Guinness and the Gerontology Research Group. Manfredini was born 15 days before Kimura.

Kimura was in a hospital this morning, Yasuhiro Kawato, head of the section for elderly welfare at Kyotango’s city hall, said by phone.

“His condition has improved, and we’re not worried, but the doctors said it would be best if he stayed in the hospital into the new year,” Kawato said.
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The world’s second-oldest living person, Japanese woman Koto Okubo, turned 115 on December 24.

Kimura is only the third man in history to reach 115 years of age, Guinness said in a statement today. He’s one of just four male super-centenarians, or people aged 110 or more, currently known to be alive, the organisation said.

“To be able to present Mr Kimura his second Guinness World Records title is truly an honour,” Guinness Editor-in- Chief Craig Glenday said in the statement. “Kimura-san is an exceptional person.”

Kimura lives with his grandson’s widow, Eiko Kimura, in a two-story wooden house he built in the 1960s. Eiko wakes him up every day at 7:30 am and takes him by wheelchair to a dining room for breakfast consisting of porridge and miso soup with potatoes and vegetables. He has never suffered from serious diseases, can communicate and spends most of his time in bed, Eiko said.

“Grandpa is positive and optimistic,” she said. “He becomes cheerful when he has guests. He’s well with a good appetite. Even when he falls ill, I can tell he’ll recover.”
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Sino-Japanese War

Kimura, the third of six children, was born as Kinjiro Miyake in Kamiukawa, a fishing and farming village sandwiched between the mountains and the Sea of Japan. His parents, Morizo and Fusa Miyake, were farmers who grew rice and vegetables.

Only two years earlier, Japan’s success in the First Sino-Japanese War had established the nation as the dominant power in East Asia. Less than a year after Kimura was born, the sinking of the US battleship Maine in Havana Harbour would trigger the Spanish-American War.

According to Kimura’s nephew Tamotsu, the 115-year-old’s birthday is actually March 19. Records say he was born April 19 because an official misprinted the month when records from merging towns were consolidated in 1955, the nephew said

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After finishing school at the age of 14 as the second-best student in his class, Kimura worked at local post offices for 45 years until his retirement in 1962 at the age of 65. He also worked at a government communication unit in Korea in the 1920s, when the peninsula was under Japanese rule, and returned to marry his neighbour Yae Kimura.

As his wife’s family didn’t have a male heir, he changed his name to Jiroemon Kimura, making him the ninth person in the family to bear the name. Since retiring, he has enjoyed reading newspapers and watching sumo wrestling on television. He sometimes helped his son farm until he was about 90 years old, Eiko Kimura said.

Kimura was a disciplined, serious man when he was younger, Miyake said. Even when he drank with his brothers, he would sit straight and keep quiet, Miyake said.

His wife, Yae, died 34 years ago at the age of 74. Four of Kimura’s five siblings lived to be more than 90 years old, and his youngest brother, Tetsuo, died at 100, Miyake said. Kimura’s living descendants include five children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha