Friday, December 28, 2012

The Power of Music

     Music has a powerful ability to inspire, energize, and move people.  Your favorite melody or lyrics can affect your mood so that the tone of your day totally shifts.  We are not able to comprehend the full and far reaching scope that music has on our psyche, memory, and development.  On going studies have been tried to decode music's impact on people over the years.  There is little doubt that the power of music can influence and possibly even "activate" individuals suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's .  Watch the video below for a cool look at the power of music on a nursing home patient who appears to be often unresponsive due to dementia.

    This video is a clip from the documentary "Alive Inside".  Read more about the project by clicking here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Pink October

A Pink October.

Lipstick, cleats, cookies, and guns - they have all been covered in pink!

Throughout the month of October you may have been exposed to the growing Breast Cancer Awareness movement washing pink over the country.  You would be hard pressed to ignore this color soaked initiative - from shopping malls and grocery stores to your favorite websites and sporting events.  A saturation of pink pop culture could be found in advertisements, food packaging, and everything in between, all in the name of a cure .  It would seem every organization and company under the sun is a champion of the cause with intentions of raising funds for research of the disease that is estimated to kill 39,510 women this year with an estimated 226,870 being diagnosed.

In evaluation of these numbers, you can see breast cancer's impact is wide spread in the United States.  Yet other illnesses are more deadly in women.  For instance, heart disease kills the most women each year of any disease.  Still it fails to garner the same far reaching scope of promotion and awareness.  Breast cancer has spurred a giant industry of profits and donated millions in charitable funds each year, but why the mass marketing of this particular cause?  The reasoning can likely be attributed to Susan G. Komen Foundation's monumental efforts to find a cure and the creation of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by a pharmaceutical company now named AstraZeneca.

Where ever people can take sides, controversial debate will soon ensue.  The topic of breast cancer awareness is no different.  Cancer advocates have come out against all the warm and fuzzies of a Pink October, criticizing the methods used to raise awareness.  Most notable of these groups are those diagnosed with breast cancer.

The ribbon is designed to prompt a cheery response, a dire contrast in feelings compared to those whose lives are fading to black because the cancer has ravaged their bodies.  These people are seriously ill.  It is a daily struggle for them.  Curative treatments such as chemotherapy can break down the ravenous cancer, but may cause great pain and hardship.  Patients can lose the simple freedoms of eating, drinking and many other routine activities often taken for granted.  Some feel they do not have permission to experience their own feelings of grief and pain.  They are encouraged to "fight" cancer, be a "solider" against the disease, stay strong, and become a "survivor".  Being bombarded with positivity can be draining.  It can make individuals suffering feel obligated to paste on a happy face, bottling their emotions in the midst of difficult circumstances.  Grief is a natural reaction to such traumatizing situations of lose and hurt.

Some say the disease has been romanticized into a cutesy affair of "feminity" rallying for support with pleasant pink ribbons while avoiding the harsh realities of pain and death that come along with diagnosis.  Also, critics contend measures to prevent the cancer are not discussed enough among awareness promoting companies.  These same companies marketing pink products at times allegedly sell products that actually cause cancer or the companies pocket much of the profit rather than donating to charity.  "Save the boobies!" we proclaim.  It is all in good humor and an approach to getting the conversation on breast cancer awareness started, but the tactics and intent of "pinkwashing" are more frequently being called into question.
Dozens of rip-roaring articles, voices defending or antagonizing the cause, have washed over the internet.  According to this Huffington Post article by AP journalist Kevin Begos, the Susan G. Komen Foundation began the first association of pink ribbons with breast cancer at a New York City race for cancer survivors.  Flashy pink displays have increasingly flooded the market since that time and proved nothing less than a smashing success in expanding of the brand.

Since its founding in 1982, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has given $685 million to research and $1.3 billion to community programs geared toward helping people get mammograms for early detection of the disease.  The spokesperson of Susan G. Komen has voiced an opinion unapologetic to criticism from detractors.  The organization maintains the stance that research costs lots of money and money is what is required to solve this problem.

Creators of these campaigns have engineered clever ways of incorporating pink into their marketing efforts, furthering the reach of "pinkwashing".  See the photos below for more examples of pink ads that spread awareness.

Though bizarre in some eyes, supporters have said that some advertisements has helped reach new audiences, potentially saving.  This Forbes article by Amy Westervelt demonstrates each side to the breast cancer argument.  It also relates a story of a family eating dinner around a pink KFC bucket promoting breast cancer awareness in which a mother's children saw the bucket and encouraged her to go to the doctor for a check-up.  Stories such as this demonstrate some marketer's reasoning for pushing the pink agenda.  Put plain and simple: it has an impact

What do you think?  Has pink washing gone too far?  Is the out pouring of support well meaning, but misplaced?  Are critics who say we are over looking more dangerous diseases making a valid point?  Or are the millions donated to fight this disease going to a good cause, where a quality marketing approach is only assisting in the search for a cure?

Let me know what you think!  Check out more links below for further reading!  And while you're at it, if you would like to have a real impact on patients with cancer and other terminal illnesses by visiting them as a hospice volunteer, please contact our office, Medi Home Health & Hospice at (804)732-0108 to find out more.

Barbara Ehrennreich - Welcome to Cancerland

Breast Cancer Advocates Reject "Pinkwashing"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Make A Commitment to Life

Volunteer for Hospice

The philosophy of hospice is a simple one based upon comfort and care.  Rather than curing a disease at all costs, the hospice team seeks to make a patient as comfortable as possible by relieving the pain associated with life-limiting illness.  The hospice team typically consists of personal care physicians, registered nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, speech and physical therapists, and trained volunteers, all of whom play integral roles in helping make the patient's life more enjoyable.  Treating the patient in the comfort of their residence is also a defining characteristic of hospice treatment.

A trained volunteer pays visit to their patient on a regular basis.  These visits can include simple activities such as reading, walking, and talking.  Often times, a patient experiencing an end of life illness only needs someone to sit with them perhaps even in silence.  At times just the warm feeling of someone's presence, of someone who cares, can make all the difference in a patient's life.

Volunteers often describe their experience visiting Hospice patient's as life altering.  Serving as a companion to someone who suffers from terminal illness can not only help the patient's comfort, but it can also frame a volunteer's life in a new, more humbling perspective.  Do not simply take my word for it.  Check out a first hand testimonial from Johanna, one our long time volunteers:

Johanna visiting a patient.

 "Sometimes people (including my husband) have asked me if being a hospice volunteer isn’t a little too depressing. I must say it is truly a blessing to have the opportunity to serve families and patients during hard times. Being a hospice volunteer is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done. As a hospice volunteer, I not only help patients and families by making their lives a little easier a few of times a month, but I also feel I’m making a difference in people’s lives by giving back to a community that has offered me so much."
- Johanna, Hospice Volunteer

No joy can equal the joy of serving others.” 
-Sai Baba

Medi Home Hospice welcomes all compassionate, caring individuals to become volunteers!
If you would like to find out more about becoming a hospice volunteer please contact the Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, Travis Kennedy at 804-732-0108 or via e-mail at