Breast cancer screening: What to expect

From the fear of being diagnosed with cancer to anticipating a painful experience, some women may have concerns about having a mammogram. Understanding the process and the importance of breast cancer screening can help to ease your mind.

Breast cancer is one of the top 5 cancers affecting women in South Africa. Mammograms can help detect breast cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mammograms can find signs of cancer up to three years before lumps can be felt.

Here’s what to expect and how to prepare.

Who should have a mammogram?

  • Women aged 40 to 44 should consider having a mammogram annually.
  • Women aged 45 to 54 are advised to have a mammogram annually.
  • Women who are 55 and older may continue with yearly screenings, based on their doctor’s recommendations.

It isn’t recommended for women under the age of 40 to have mammograms, but if you have an increased risk (e.g. a family history of breast cancer), talk to your doctor.

How does a mammogram work?

A mammogram may be uncomfortable, but any discomfort or pain won’t last long. Depending on the size of your breasts, the process usually takes less than 30 minutes.

If you are especially uncomfortable during the procedure, tell the radiologist. If you would be more comfortable with a female radiologist performing the procedure, you can request this.

Here’s what to expect:

  • You’ll have to undress from the waist up and will stand in front of a specialised X-ray machine.
  • A radiologist will place your breast on a plastic plate, while another plate presses it from above. Spreading your breast out will ensure the most accurate pictures.
  • You will feel pressure for a few minutes while the X-rays are being taken.
  • These steps are repeated to get different views of each breast. There are usually two views for both of them, so you’ll change positions in between X-rays.
  • Once your mammogram is completed, the radiologist will assess whether more images are necessary.
    If you have large or dense breasts, you may need to have an ultrasound too. This is not cause for concern, it’s just to ensure any abnormalities are detected.

How can you prepare?

  • If you have any concerns before your mammogram, talk to your doctor. Prepare a list and have them take you through the process.
  • Avoid scheduling your mammogram a week before your period, as your breasts may be more sensitive or swollen.
  • Since you need to undress from the waist up, consider wearing a skirt or pants and top combo.
  • Don’t wear any deodorant, perfume or powder on the day of your mammogram. These may show up as white spots on an X-ray.

What happens afterwards?

Most women don’t experience any lingering pain after the procedure. If you feel any discomfort, consult your doctor. You should receive your results within 30 days of your mammogram. The X-rays will be assessed by your doctor before any other steps are taken.

If anything abnormal is found, you may need to go for another X-ray or other tests based on your doctor’s recommendation. If nothing is found, you should still go for your next mammogram and do regular breast self-exams.

For more advice related to cancer, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:


How to attain financial enlightenment

There is no shortcut to financial success. It is a journey. This implies that substantial time and iteration is needed to get there. But if you stay the course, you’ll reach financial enlightenment. Here are practical steps to get you there.

We can be enlightened in many ways; emotionally, spiritually, and even financially. Often described as
having advanced information or knowledge on a topic, enlightenment dispels confusion and provides certain clarity on a matter. The end result is the confident ability to make good financial decisions. When managed properly, money can be a useful tool. The following steps are commonly recommended by financial advisers.

Avoid Financial Confusion

Most people feel confused, uncertain, afraid, or even unaware of their financial state. This results in their low financial confidence, where they simply don’t feel in control of the situation, or confident enough to handle it. Thankfully, this can be remedied.

TIP: Prepare yourself for the transition

To reach financial enlightenment, allow yourself to go through the process. Alexandre Riley, Chartered Financial Planner, refers to this transition as The 7 Stages of Financial Enlightenment.

Educate yourself

Information and knowledge are key to enlightenment. By improving your financial literacy you can avoid costly pitfalls. You can start by reading our monthly communications, watching our short videos, and reading our financial tips and articles.

TIP: Seek professional advice

Don’t make expensive mistakes. Your interface financial coach can provide you with an array of financial information from budgeting, banking, savings and insurance, to buying a home or saving for your child’s education.

Learn the difference between needs and wants

It’s all about balance. Think about it: beyond basic needs like food, clothing and shelter, how much do you really need? Don’t allow unnecessary things to throw you (and your bank statement) off balance.

TIP: Keep money in its place

Having a budget can give you a sense of where your money goes. It is the only practical way to monitor, control, and reduce your spending.

Build your financial confidence by doing and practicing

As Dale Carnegie advised: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.” Know what is important to you. That way, you take setbacks in your stride and can better manage your expectations.

TIP: Spend less than you earn

Understand the value of money. Make it a habit to set money aside. As soon as you get paid, deposit an amount into a bank for safekeeping. That will help you to fight any temptation to spend those funds.

Invest in yourself

You can do this by acquiring skills to take care of your financial health. Make financial learning a lifelong habit. Apply practical wisdom and thinking ability – and keep on developing them. This investment will pay you back.

TIP: Be diligent and plan

Carefully consider your future needs. When managed properly, money can provide you with the freedom to pursue the more important things in life. Consider your needs for the future, like planning for your retirement.

October Challenge

We live in a world of instant gratification where waiting five minutes for anything seems five minutes too long. The problem with instant gratification, however, is that it often comes at a cost. For October, we challenge you to resist instant gratification and steer toward financial enlightenment. Remember, good things are worth waiting for.

Your financial coach is on hand to provide you with all the information to make better, informed financial decision. Simply contact your financial coach for support.

For confidential assistance, contact Life EHS. SMS your name to 31581 and the Care Centre will call you back.

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE.

References:


3 Ways to cultivate gratitude in the workplace

Practising gratitude sometimes seems out of place, for example during a time of loss, but gratitude promotes kindness, generosity and appreciation during difficult times. It can also be a powerful way to improve satisfaction in your personal and work lives. Here’s how to cultivate gratitude at work and reap the rewards.

1. Compliment a colleague

Working without validation or praise can be demotivating. When you’re busy, it can be difficult to keep up with a colleague’s accomplishments. Compliments are a great way to show appreciation, and they benefit both the giver and the receiver. Some of these benefits include motivation, adding value to work projects and recognition.

How to do it: Try to acknowledge colleagues when they’ve performed well. If you have direct reports, it’s important to give credit where it’s due. This recognition boosts self-esteem and makes an employee eager to take on new challenges. Send an email, write a note or give a public ‘high five’ in a meeting.

2. Celebrate the small wins

Waiting to reach major milestones such as completed projects and promotions can become disheartening if
they don’t happen as quickly as anticipated. While you’re waiting for a big win, you may overlook all the things you manage to do every day. Acknowledging your hard work can motivate you to keep going and help you see the value of your contribution.

How to do it: List your achievements of the day. This could include finishing important tasks on your to-do list, getting through a difficult meeting or finally clearing your email inbox. Give yourself a small treat, like going for a manicure, over the weekend.

3. Store up your accomplishments for a rainy day

When things are tough at work, it can be hard to remember previous successes. Create a portfolio of noteworthy accomplishments, like positive reviews from colleagues and projects you’ve successfully finished. This is a reminder of your capabilities and it can serve as motivation during performance reviews or when starting a new project.

How to use it: Whenever you receive positive feedback or have completed a project you’re especially proud of, place it in your portfolio so you can look back on your accomplishments when you need a boost.

For more advice related to work, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a professional. E&OE..

References:


5 Foods and their impact on your mental health

Reading time: ±2 min.

Food provides you with the nutrition you need to function effectively. But did you know that what you put into your body impacts both your physical and mental health?

According to research published in The British Medical Journal (The BMJ), poor nutrition, and specific foods and food groups impact your mental health and may even increase the risk of conditions such as anxiety and depression. Conversely, a balanced diet is associated with positive effects on mental health and mood.

Here are 5 foods and how they affect your mental health.

1. Coffee

If you need a quick pick-me-up, coffee is your best bet. It contains caffeine, a stimulant that can help you to feel more energetic and alert, and, as a result, more productive. However, if you’re experiencing chronic stress, too much caffeine may worsen your condition.

Since caffeine elevates cortisol, the stress hormone, elevated levels of caffeine in the body may cause similar symptoms to anxiety, including nervousness (the jitters), trouble sleeping, an increased heart rate and restlessness.

Serving suggestion: Drink three to four cups of coffee per day or a maximum of 400mg of caffeine. Keep in mind that the amount of caffeine varies between different coffee brands, so always check labels.

2. Dark chocolate

Serotonin is a mood-boosting hormone, and when levels are low, you may experience cravings for foods like dark
chocolate. This snackable indulgence contains high levels of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to produce serotonin.

Magnesium, which plays a role in mood regulation, is also found in this sweet treat. Elevated levels of serotonin have been shown to help ease anxiety while magnesium deficiency, on the other hand, may increase the risk of depression and anxiety.

Serving suggestion: Dark chocolate contains 50–90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Try to have a maximum of 20g of dark chocolate per day.

3. Fatty fish

Salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for brain health. Omega-3
fatty acids may also be involved in mood regulation and could even help lower the risk of mood disorders. For example, research published in the National Library of Medicine examined the link between fatty fish and depression.

It was found that eating more fish is associated with a lower risk of depression. This may be because omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, which may relieve symptoms of depression.

Serving suggestion: Eat at least two servings of fatty fish per week when possible.

4. Nuts

This nutritious snack option is rich in magnesium. Cashews, brazil nuts and almonds are particularly high in this mineral. Research has shown that a magnesium deficiency may increase the risk of conditions such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, irritability and frequent headaches. Magnesium may also help you recover from these conditions.

Serving suggestion: Have a third of a cup or a handful per day.

5. Bananas

If you need a quick energy boost, reach for a banana. High in complex carbohydrates, fibre and vitamin B6, bananas deliver powerful and sustained energy. Vitamin B6 plays an essential role in mood regulation, boosting the production of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine. If the body has insufficient vitamin B6, it could result in irritability and poor memory, and in severe cases, an increased risk of depression.

Serving suggestion: One to two bananas per day.

For more advice related to nutrition, read these helpful articles:

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice  rom a professional. E&OE.

References:


Recipe: Skinny citrus fish tacos

Skinny citrus fish tacos

This popular dish is enlivened with a bright citrus rub that adds an extra zing to the fish. For best results, make the coleslaw at least four hours ahead for the flavours to mature. Serve this dish for lunch or as a light supper.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 cups fat-free yoghurt
  • 3 tbsps low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 cups shredded white or red cabbage
  • 4 white fish steaks such as hake or dorado, about 110g–150g each
  • 2 tbsps lemon zest
  • 2 tbsps orange zest
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • Salt and black pepper

To serve

  • 8 corn tortillas, warmed
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh coriander

Method

  1. To make the coleslaw, combine the yoghurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice and salt in a bowl. Toss in the cabbage and evenly coat with the dressing. Let it stand for 4 hours if possible.
  2. Slice each fish steak into 4 pieces.
  3. Combine the lemon, orange, and lime zest with the paprika and oil.
  4. Season with salt and black pepper. Rub all over the fish and let it stand for at least 30 minutes or up to hours in the fridge.
  5. Preheat the grill. Line the baking tray with foil and lightly cover with low-fat oil spray.
  6. Place the fish on the foil, skin-side down, and grill for 4–6 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  7. Transfer the fish to a warmed plate and cut into large chunks
  8. Fill each tortilla with 4 chunks of fish and top with coleslaw, chopped coriander, and tomato.

Recipes are shared with the understanding that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from their doctor or dietitian as to the suitability of the recipes, ingredients, quantities or portion sizes, especially if they have a pre-existing medical condition or are on a strict eating plan recommended by a qualified medical professional. E&OE.


How to support your hearing-impaired colleagues

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How to declutter your mind

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5 daily habits to help your heart work most effectively

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