The University of Kansas Health System reports a slight drop in the number of COVID patients today. 20 with the active virus are being treated, down from 22 yesterday. Seven patients are in the ICU, up from six yesterday. Two are on ventilators, the same as yesterday. 31 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, up from 30 yesterday. That’s a total of 51 patients, down from 52 yesterday.
On today’s Morning Medical Update, a mother and daughter discovered a gene that means breast cancer runs in their family. We looked at how the survivorship and high risk program at The University of Kansas Cancer Center helped save their lives.
After answering reporter questions, we were introduced to Libby Sinovic and her mom Kathy Ritz. Kathy was first diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago. Because it was at a young age, she underwent genetic testing and found she was a carrier for a cancer-causing gene. She also had a sister who died from breast cancer. Armed with that knowledge, her daughter Libby knew she would also need to start breast cancer screenings early, since the disease often runs in families. Sure enough, just three months after her wedding, Libby was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32. Even though she knew it was a possibility, she was shocked, and her mom, Kathy calls it “the worst day of my life.” But that wasn’t all. Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer again on her 60th birthday. This time it was caught early thanks to the Breast Cancer Survivorship Program at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. She had a double mastectomy, was able to skip chemo and radiation and is feeling fine. Libby had a little longer road, going through chemo and an anti-hormone regimen, but today says, “I feel pretty good and pretty normal.” Both say they are leading healthier lifestyles, exercising, eating well and limiting alcohol. Libby is grateful she was finished with her treatment before the COVID pandemic started, and both she and her mom are vaccinated. They both anticipate getting a booster soon. Libby advises women to be their own health advocate. “Know your body and your family history.” She says early detection saved both of their lives. Kathy says their mantra all along has been, “Knowledge is power. Know your body and don’t be afraid to take preventive measures.”
Lauren Nye, MD, is a medical oncologist at The University of Kansas Cancer Center, and doctor to both Libby and Kathy. She explained the genetics of breast cancer and some of the different genes that can be inherited. If you have a family history of breast cancer or a personal history of the disease under the age of 50, she says you should talk to your doctor or see a genetic counselor for testing, which is mostly covered by insurance. She said breast cancer is not as common in men, but it still happens, especially if they had a relative with the disease. She warns that alcohol is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, and suggests no more than three to seven drinks a week. The best diet is what many consider the Mediterranean style, high in fruits, vegetables, legumes and low in red meat and processed food. She’s noticed more women coming in with advanced stages of breast cancer because they skipped their mammograms during the pandemic, but she’s seeing a high percentage of her patients who have been vaccinated. She advises treating this Breast Cancer Awareness Month as Breast Cancer Action month. That includes collecting your family history, writing it down, sharing it, asking about genetic testing in your relatives, and getting a mammogram. She says, “Take an action this month for your own health.”
Dana Hawkinson, MD, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control, says from a purely medical point of view, letting mask mandates expire, with so many unvaccinated people, will help spread COVID. He feels it’s too soon to tell if we need to worry about another uptick in COVID numbers and the best indicator is the 7 to 10 day average, which is trending lower. As for getting a different booster from your original shot, he says right now the formal guidance is to stick with the same kind you got. But he says there is good data showing mixing can be effective. He expects the FDA to have more information on that soon. He believes those with diabetes should be included in the list of people with high-risk diseases recommended for a booster.
Wednesday, October 20 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Open Mics With Dr. Stites. Imagine you beat COVID but there are lingering health effects months later. We’ll hear from one COVID long hauler and how it's impacting her life with her children.
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