The Lives You Could Save

The Lives You Could Save

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June 14 is World Blood Donor Day. Donate Blood, Save Lives.

She was a two-year-old with leukemia and lymphoma who needed frequent blood and platelet transfusions while she was being treated for her illness—three bone marrow transplants, seven rounds of chemotherapy, and surgery to remove her spleen. All told, she received 77 units of blood from over 70 strangers. Today, she is happy, healthy, and at times, according to her mother, mischievous. But neither she nor her parents will ever forget the impact that strangers  can have. “They saved her life,” says her mother. “It’s as simple as that.”

He was a 31-year-old who nearly died in a motorcycle accident. 200 units of blood later, he is thriving and now the father of two. His kids are too young to know this, but without the 43 strangers who donated blood, their father would not have survived and they would never have been born.

She was a young mother who needed a high-risk emergency cesarean to deliver her premature son. Uterine hemorrhaging threatened her life when she lost half of her blood after giving birth to her third son. After receiving nearly 30 units of blood, platelets, and plasma, this young mother was able to return home and raise her sons.

4.5 million Americans will need a blood transfusion this year. In fact, every two seconds, someone will need blood. The demand is high, but less than 10 percent of Americans donate blood annually. There are millions of other sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers out there who will need blood because of an accident or an illness.

Kindness and generosity always have a ripple effect. But the effect of donating blood is immeasurable. In honor of World Blood Donor Day (June 14), the SimpleFill team would like you to consider donating blood and saving some lives.

Are There Health Benefits To Donating Blood?

Absolutely! Not only do you do good for others, but you also do good for you. Read on to learn how you can benefit while saving lives.

  • Peace of mind. You get a mini check-up when you donate blood. Your blood is tested for 13 different diseases including West Nile and HIV. If you test positive, you’ll be notified immediately. This is no reason to skip your annual exam, but you can gain some peace of mind about your health
  • Altruism is good for your health. A study in Health Psychology found that people who volunteered for altruistic reasons has significantly reduced risk of mortality four years later than those who don’t exercise altruism.
  • Helps prevent heart and liver ailments caused by iron overload. Donating blood can help regulate your iron levels.
  • Reducing iron levels in the body can reduce the risk of developing cancer.
  • After donating blood, the body works to replenish the blood loss. This stimulates the production of new blood cells and, in turn, helps in maintaining good health.

About Donating Blood

  • It’s a simple process and you can either donate through your local Red Cross chapter or a local hospital.
  • The Red Cross supplies nearly 40 percent of the nation’s blood supply.
  • Eighty percent of the blood donations given to the Red Cross are collected at blood drives set up by community organizations, companies, high schools, colleges, places of worship or military installations. The remaining 20 percent are collected at Red Cross blood donation centers.
  • Blood donation is a four-step process that, from start to finish usually takes just over an hour: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation, and refreshments. The actual donation part takes about 15 minutes.
  • The average adult has 10 pints of blood; roughly 1 pint is given during donation.
  • There are four types of transfusable products that can be derived from blood: red cells, platelets, plasma, and cryoprecipitate. Each pint donated usually yields two or three of these products meaning that your donation can save up three lives.
  • A healthy donor may donate every 56 days.

O! The Lives You Could Save!

  • Type O blood is the universal blood type (meaning it can be given to any blood type), and is needed in emergency situations before a patient’s blood type can be determined. Only about 7 percent of Americans have Type O blood.
  • Type AB blood is the only universal plasma type and only about 4% of the population has Type AB blood.

Why is Plasma So Important? Lives depend on plasma protein therapies.

Plasma can help people with bleeding disorders whose blood will not clot properly. A minor injury for these patients can result in internal bleeding, organ damage, and death.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy or IVIG—There are more than 150 primary immune deficiency disorders (PID) and people suffering from these diseases need IVIG to fight off infections because they have improperly functioning immune systems, and they do not respond to traditional antibiotics. Without IVIG, they are exposed to frequent and often serious infections.

People with the following conditions benefit from IVIG treatments that depend on plasma.

 

You may know someone who has needed blood. Or someone who loves a person who has needed blood. You may need blood someday. Either way, it only takes an hour of your time and the good you can do is limitless. Be a hero and donate blood.

To learn more about blood donation and the Red Cross, please visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Living With A New Reality

Living With A New Reality

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Written by Ryan Waterfield

After the Parkinson’s Diagnosis

My family is living with a new reality and it looks something like this:

Two years ago, my 72-year-old father and I were hiking 3,000-foot mountains together. One year ago, my dad was having trouble with his balance. Instead of hiking trails, we were taking long walks out dirt roads. Today, my father can’t walk without a walker, and even when assisted, he goes no farther than from the bed to the bathroom—that’s about 15 shuffling steps if you’re counting.

My father—the CEO of a public company, a beautiful public speaker, a community leader, a hands-on father of four and grandfather of eight, the man who taught my three siblings and me how to shoot a basketball, how to play defense, and how to make a mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwich—can’t bathe himself, or dress himself, or put on his own shoes. His speech is slurred. His facial expression is flat.

The reason behind this decline? Parkinson’s Disease. But we didn’t figure that out until the disease had taken its insidious hold; we operated for too long under the impression that his problems had to do with his back, and he went in for back surgery. After the surgery, my dad’s mobility and ability to take care of himself sharply declined and he has needed 24-hour care since.

Now that we have the accurate diagnosis, we are told that, with dopamine-boosting medication such as Levodopa or Ropinirole, he might improve. We’re told that, with the right sort of physical therapy, he could gain some of his mobility and some of his independence back. But we’re just getting used to this. The diagnosis is only a few months old.

Since the diagnosis, my family and I have been in a crash course in elderly care, patient advocacy, and self-awareness. Since the diagnosis, we’ve been learning to live with a new reality, and we’ve been trying to help my father learn to live with it as well. Part of that new reality is a regimen of pills, some for pre-existing conditions, and some to deal with the dopamine deficiency, the anxiety, and the depression that often comes with Parkinson’s. Not only can being dependent on so many medications overwhelm the patient and the caretakers, it can overwhelm the wallet. SimpleFill’s prescription assistance program helps us manage the stresses of this new reality.

After the diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease like Parkinson’s,  it’s only natural to second guess the doctors. To run back over all the signs that we—his family, his doctors, and his physical therapists—missed for months, for years. It’s only natural to want to place blame on someone including ourselves. After we got past the what-if’s, we learned to arm ourselves with knowledge; we have become frequent visitors to sites like the Michael J. Fox Foundation  and the National Parkinson’s Foundation  in an effort to become an expert on something that prior to the diagnosis we only had a passing familiarity with.

According the doctors and the websites, the progression of Parkinson’s varies from individual to individual. But there are some factors that can accelerate the disease. My father experienced all of them: psychological stress, physical traumas (like back surgery), and going under general anesthesia.

We’ve also learned that there are significant non-motor symptoms that go along with Parkinson’s even though it’s mostly known for its impact on a patient’s motor functions. These non-motor-related symptoms include depression, anxiety, sleep behavior disorders, constipation, loss of a sense of smell, and cognitive impairment. We’re learning that the depression and anxiety can be as debilitating as the motor symptoms.

The doctors we have talked with have emphasized how hard this disease is to diagnose; especially the early stages of Parkinson’s. My father’s physical therapist says that she sees many patients whose first signs of trouble presented as back issues. There are some key physical signs to watch for. If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these, please bring it to the attention of a doctor.  The earlier you can start treating Parkinson’s, the better.

  • Tremor, mainly at rest and described as pill rolling tremor in hands. Other forms of tremor are possible.
  • Slowness of movements (bradykinesia)
  • Limb rigidity
  • Gait and balance problems. Doctors have coined the term “Parkinson’s Gait” to describe the shuffling walk that many Parkinson’s patients, including my father, develop.
  • A “flat” face or slack expression
  • Slurred speech

Because my father’s symptoms generally affected one side of his body, we thought he’d had a stroke. Once he was cleared from that possibility, we didn’t ask the next question before going ahead with his back surgery. We didn’t ask what else could be causing all of these symptoms if not the back issue and if not a stroke. That was our first hard lesson in the importance in advocating for the patient and empowering the patient to advocate for himself. Trusting your doctors does not mean relinquishing all responsibility. I’ve learned that it’s important to trust your own instincts and educate yourself.

Parkinson’s by itself is not fatal. But finding a way to help my dad get back a life he recognizes is key to his survival—and ours. We’re two months into it and we’re just learning what it means to live with Parkinson’s. Working  our way to the right doctors and physical therapists. Learning the right questions to ask, the right strategies for coping.

If we can help my father feel engaged rather than isolated, relevant even though he can’t contribute in the ways he used to, and independent even though he has to ask for help, I think we’ll be on the right track. My dad and I can’t spend our time on the trail together anymore, but we’re certainly climbing another sort of mountain now.

Are you an Informal Caregiver?

Are you an Informal Caregiver?

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What is an Informal Caregiver?

When a disease or disability makes it impossible for a person to live on their own, they require round-the-clock assistance for their health and safety. The people that provide this assistance are called caregivers. While some people opt for formal caregivers — trained professionals hired to help with day-to-day assistance — most people cannot afford such care. Most rely on a spouse, partner, family member, or friend to provide informal caregiving. In order to be there in case of emergency day or night, many informal caregivers either move in with their loved one or bring them to their own home.

You Are Not Alone

According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, in 2015 approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child while about 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. The value of services provided by informal caregivers is more than $470 billion annually — almost as much as WalMart makes in a year.

Caregiver Stress Syndrome

The terms “caregiver syndrome” or “caregiver stress” refer to the exhaustion, anger, rage or guilt that result from unrelieved caring for a dependent. Illness and injury have a way of making a person feel out of control of a difficult situation. The demands of caring for someone dealing with a serious illness or injury can quickly grow overwhelming. Eventually, some people experience extreme burnout, leaving them unable to care for themselves, let alone another person.

Signs of caregiver stress syndrome include:
  • Uncontrollable irritability
  • Overreacting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Depression
  • Issues with concentration
  • Growing feelings of resentment
  • Becoming withdrawn
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Destructive behaviors
  • Poor eating habits
  • Loss of interest in leisure activities
  • New or worsening health problems
Self-Care for Preventing Burnout

Taking time to care for yourself is the best way to prevent burnout. It may seem selfish to put your needs first when your friend or loved one is sick, but if you work yourself into the most extreme symptoms of caregiver stress syndrome, you won’t be able to help anyone. Prioritizing your health and wellbeing isn’t selfish at all– in fact, it’s necessary for the both of you.

Here are just a few ways caretakers should practice self-care.
Reduce Clutter, Reduce Stress: We can’t always help the ways life stresses us out, but we can control our environment and align it in a way to reduce things we recognize as triggers. If you want to reduce stress in your household, go through room by room and throw out all the excess items and trash. Clutter is a significant source of stress in life. It bombards the senses, distracts, and inhibits mindfulness. Throw out things you don’t use or need — only keep things you can tuck in places out of sight and out of mind.
Ask for Help: Caregivers are just that, giving. But giving people often make the mistake of thinking they have to do everything on their own. Don’t get caught in the thought that you don’t deserve help in areas where you need it. If it costs a little bit of money, it is worth it if it contributes to the preservation of your sanity. Look into services that can provide household help with chores from dusting to dog walking. When you outsource daily chores, use the free time to do something simple for yourself.  
Spend Time Outdoors: Being cooped up indoors all the time is incredibly stifling for both the body and mind. Humans need fresh air and sunshine. Just being outside helps to regulate blood pressure, reduce cortisol in the body and clear the mind. Make time in nature a priority for both you and the loved one you are caring for. Reap the physical and mental benefits of the outdoors.

***

When disease or disability leaves a person unable to care for themselves independently, they often turn to a friend or loved one to become an informal caregiver. Caregiving is a noble thing, but it can cause a lot of stress and health problems that accompany stress. That’s why it is so important for these caregivers to practice self-care by doing things such as reducing stress in their life, asking for help and being proactive about spending time outdoors.

This blog post was written by Harry Cline, creator of NewCaregiver.org and author of the upcoming book, The A-Z Home Care Handbook: Health Management How-Tos for Senior Caregivers. As a retired nursing home administrator, father of three, and caregiver to his ninety-year-old uncle, Harry knows how challenging and rewarding caregiving can be. He also understands that caregiving is often overwhelming for those just starting out. He created his website and is writing his new book to offer new caregivers everywhere help and support.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although Breast Cancer can be found in men as well, it is the most common cancer in Women. About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. Breast cancer is a disease I am familiar with. I have had 6 people in my life diagnosed with breast cancer at all stages and are all survivors and cancer free today! However, although they won that battle, watching what they had to endure was terrible.

Simplefill is made up of almost all woman and we feel passionate about doing our part in spreading the awareness of this disease.

Let’s first start with the facts.

• In the US, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

• The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are being female and aging. About 95% of all breast cancers in the US occur in women 40 and older.

• Getting a mammogram can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer by 30 to 40% among women ages 40 to 70.

• Breast cancer deaths have been declining since 1990 thanks to early detection, better screening, increased awareness, and new treatment options. Contact Simplefill if you have been prescribed a medication you cannot afford.

• Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die.

• Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.

• In the US today, there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors — the largest group of all cancer survivors.

• One woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes in the US.

• Every 19 seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with breast cancer.

• A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Take a minute to read through these protective steps you can take that can help keep your risk as low as possible.

Limit alcohol. The more you drink, the higher the risk. The general recommendation is 1 drink per day.

• Don’t smoke. C’mon people, you know this! Don’t smoke. If you are having a hard time beating this habit. Contact us about getting help with Chantix – a medication proven to help patients kick the habit. APPLY HERE

• Control your weight. Again, you know this! Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer and can cause many other negative health factors.

• Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength training at least twice a week.

• Breast-feed. If you can do this, then I would recommend it. However this is a touchy subject since there is a lot of unnecessary pressure put on moms and if this is not an option, don’t stress yourself out. Like you don’t have enough on your plate already!

• Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for over three years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options. If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you.

• Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical-imaging methods, such as computerized tomography, use high doses of radiation. Some research indicates a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary.

• Be vigilant about breast cancer detection. If you notice any changes in your breasts, such as a new lump or skin changes, consult your doctor. Also, ask your doctor when to begin mammograms and other screenings based on your personal history.

Simplefill is a full-service prescription assistance company that is dedicated to making prescribed medications affordable for our members. We have been able to help many of our patients afford their treatments.
The following is a list of medications that we can help with. If you need help with a medication that is not listed on here, Contact Us to find out if we can still help.

Drugs Approved to Prevent Breast Cancer

• Evista (Raloxifene Hydrochloride)
• Keoxifene (Raloxifene Hydrochloride)
• Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate)

Drugs Approved to Treat Breast Cancer

• Abitrexate (Methorexate)
• Abraxane
• Afinitor
• Arimidex (Anastrozole)
• Aromosin
• Cabectabine
• Cytoxan (Cyclophosphamide)
• Faslodex
• Femara (Letrozole)
• Gemzar (Gemcitabine Hydrochloride)
• Herceptin (Trastuzumab)
• Ibrance (Palbociclib)
• Megestrol Acetate
• Nolvadex (Tamoxifen Citrate)
• Taxotere (Docetaxel)
• Tykerb (Lapatinib Ditosylate)
• Xeloda (Capecitabine)
• Zoladex (Gosereline Acetate)

Call Simplefill today to learn how we can help. 1-877-386-0206 Ext. 1

My Brother, Fabrice.

My Brother, Fabrice.

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A letter from Simplefill’s co-founder, Brigitte Steibel.

On July 30, 1998, my brother Fabrice died from the AIDS virus. He was a fashion designer and artist.
At the age of 25 Fabrice had already started his own design company. Worldwide recognition came in the 1980’s when he was named Essence magazine’s Black Designer of the year, honored with the Coty Award as well as the CFDA. In 1985 the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre awarded his achievement for creating provocative, seductive and dazzling evening gowns. Fabrice’s creations were featured in fashion magazines, books, record and CD covers, TV shows and movies. The media declared his designs as wearable art!

When Fabrice died The New York Time wrote half a page Obituary honoring his accomplishments.

I was my brother’s caretaker. I would watch my brother take up to 35 pills a day. It was called a cocktail and it did a poor job controlling the progression of the HIV virus. Today the HIV virus can be treated by taking 1 pill a day.

Due to medical research and a much better understanding of the syndrome, many patients who are inflicted with the HIV virus can live a very long and happy life. The FDA recently approved Prezcobix and Genvoya. Both of these are combination drugs that have seen positive results in the treatment of HIV infection. There is still no cure for AIDS, but strict adherence to anti-retroviral regimens (ARVs) can significantly slow the disease’s progress and prevent secondary infections and complications.

This is all fantastic news but there is still a high price to the available medications. Many patients find it unaffordable.

I am dedicated to making sure I do whatever I can to help patients find ways to afford their treatment. Whether that be patient assistance programs or funding through available foundations. It is too late for my brother, Fabrice, to benefit from the new approved drugs, but it’s not too late for you.

Give Simplefill a call if you are having difficulty affording your co-pays. We truly understand what you have been through.

1-877-386-0206

Chronic Disease Series: Heart Disease & High Cholesterol

Chronic Disease Series: Heart Disease & High Cholesterol

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Our heart pumps a reliable 100,000 beats every single day. While we might not think about each beat, the health of this organ dictates the wellbeing of our entire body. If you’re living with chronic illnesses that can jeopardize your heart, it’s important to take action. Get the facts with Simplefill:

What is heart disease?

Heart disease is an umbrella term to describe conditions that affect the health of your heart. Blood vessel diseases, heart defects, and heart rhythm or valve issues all fit into this broad category.

What causes it?
Since heart disease is such a broad term, there is no single trigger. Some common types and causes of heart disease are:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Caused by blocked blood vessels
  • Arrhythmia: Caused by an abnormal heartbeat
  • Cardiomyopathy: Caused by thickened or stiff heart muscle
  • Valvular heart disease: Caused by leaking or narrowed valves

When should I see a doctor?
If you experience any of the following heart disease symptoms, you should seek emergency help immediately:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting

How does high cholesterol contribute to heart disease?
Cholesterol is found in the fat in your blood. Our body needs cholesterol to build cells, but too much of it increases the chance of getting heart disease. There are no visible symptoms of high cholesterol but your doctor can perform a simple test to help you understand your level.

How can I treat heart disease?
A combination of medical treatment and lifestyle choices can lower your cholesterol and mitigate the effects of heart disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommends:

  • Regular exercise: At least 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week
  • Healthy diet: Low-sodium and low or fat-free foods, limited alcohol consumption, and no smoking
  • Medication: Heart disease medication is tailored to your specific type of heart disease.

If you’re living healthfully and still have high cholesterol, your doctor will recommend medication to lower it. Common prescriptions include statins, cholesterol absorption inhibitors, band bile-acid-binding resins.

If finances are standing between you and a healthy heart, Simplefill is here to help. We provide medication assistance to help you take care of your most important organ, so you can rely on 100,000 healthy beats per day. Apply today and take control.

Sunscreen 101: Save Your Skin for UV Safety Month

Sunscreen 101: Save Your Skin for UV Safety Month

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Some might say sunscreen is a necessary evil. After all, who doesn’t like how they look with a bit of a sun tan? Yet the evidence overwhelming demonstrates just how damaging UV rays are to our skin.

What’s more, it’s hard to know just how much protection you need. Is SPF 15 enough to do the trick? Do you really need to reapply throughout the day?

We make it our mission to help others live their best life by encouraging a holistic approach to health. Each month we tackle different health topics at our blog. This month we’re setting the record straight about sun protection. Continue reading

Relax and Recharge for National Stress Management Month

Relax and Recharge for National Stress Management Month

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The stress of having a chronic illness infiltrates all aspects of life. Contrary to popular belief, stress isn’t just an unpleasant emotional state, it affects you right down to the cellular level. As a result, when you’re suffering from unchecked stress, your body isn’t as able to do its best at fighting illness. Continue reading