Author: Vlad Lemnaru

Thyroid Awareness Month

The vital importance of thyroid health.

Unless you’ve already been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, odds are that you never gave your thyroid a second thought today. But maybe you should, if only to appreciate the tremendous impact of this little, butterfly-shaped gland that sits near the base of your throat. That’s because the thyroid is essentially the control room for most of your vital organs — your brain, heart, liver, skin and kidneys.

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The Holidays, COVID-19 and emotional wellbeing.

Traditionally, the holidays have been a time of family gatherings, office parties, friendly get-togethers, kids’ sports tournaments… and unfortunately, a time of stress, anxiety and feelings of sadness for many. This year, COVID-19 is curtailing much of the former, and in so doing is exacerbating the latter.

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Never take a single breath for granted.

“COPD” may be a term with which you’re not overly familiar. But if you’ve heard of emphysema or chronic bronchitis, you’re more aware of COPD than you may have thought. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella name for a group of lung diseases, and emphysema (when air sacks in the lungs are damaged) and chronic bronchitis (when the lungs airways become inflamed) are the two most common conditions covered by the term.

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Michael Bayens: The fight of his life

Michael “Mike” Bayens has sparred with Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, and he will never forget the power and speed that these two formidable athletes possessed. Bayens, of Dormont, is a former amateur boxer who fought in the Golden Gloves in 2002 and once won a match in 32 seconds. He is also a boxing coach for the Pittsburgh Boxing Club, the founder of the Brookline Boxing Club, and well known among local boxing fans. He loves boxing, has expert knowledge of it, and possesses a rather surprising view of it. “Boxing is an art form — it’s the purest form of the martial arts. It’s actually human chess at its finest. It isn’t just about throwing punches; it’s a problem-solving sport and a thinking man’s game, just as chess is. In boxing and in chess, you have to study your opponent and calculate every move. It’s one-on-one competition.”

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Tom Sinton: On the road again

For Tom Sinton, 45, of South Fayette, the diagnosis of rectal cancer came as a complete surprise. A software developer, Virginia Tech graduate and husband of 19 years to Amanda and the father of three (Nate, 15; Emily, 14; and Luke, 12), Sinton was living a fulfilling life, with work he enjoyed and a thriving family. His cancer journey began with subtle changes in his bowel habits, in the spring of 2019. “It was just a change in frequency, not a big deal at all,” he recalls. “Then I saw blood in August. I had a colonoscopy which revealed a tumor in my colon.”

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Christopher Babirad: Back on patrol

Christopher Babirad, 49, is a strong and athletic man who has served as a Pennsylvania State Trooper for 21 years. A former college football star at Washington and Jefferson College and a father of three (Ryan, 26; Alex 23; and Noah, 18), Babirad lives in McDonald. He is attentive to his health and fitness, so it was a bit out of character for him when he delayed telling his primary care physician, Kamlesh B. Gosai, M.D., that he was passing blood with bowel movements. “At first it was just occasionally, but it became more consistent,” he recalls. “I was worried: I knew it might mean cancer, but I kept looking for other explanations. I did a lot of Internet research – maybe it’s this condition or that one. It was nearly a year before I finally told Dr. Gosai. His physician assistant ordered a colonoscopy and when I woke up in recovery they told me I had a mass the size of a lemon right at the bottom of my colon. The gastroenterologist, Nicholas A. Bellicini, D.O., said it’s most likely cancer and then the pathology confirmed that. This happened last year on Christmas Eve.”

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Vaccines, Flu Shots and COVID-19

Normally this time of year puts us on the doorstep of back-to-school season — which means making sure that kids’ vaccinations are up-to-date, and starting to plan for getting everyone their annual flu shot. But since this is 2020, and COVID-19 has thrown everything into chaos, back-to-school is up in the air.

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John Lieberman: A superhero makes a comeback

For John Lieberman, 84, of Bridgeville, the spring of 2019 was a period of heartbreak, illness and pain. In March, he lost his beloved wife of 64 years, Mary Ann; he developed near-fatal gastrointestinal bleeding; and he struggled with worsening aortic stenosis that left him weak and short of breath. A plumbing contractor who has never quite retired, John could no longer drive, had no appetite and was barely able to walk. He needed help, but his advanced age and a previous open heart procedure meant that he was not a candidate for surgery.

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Josephine Schultz: Mending a kind heart

Compassion and kindness flow freely from the heart of Josephine “Josie” Schultz. She is an active 83-year-old retiree who keeps busy caring for her husband Thomas, her expanding family, and her community. Her volunteer activities are never-ending: she volunteers with Thomas at the St. Vincent DePaul Food Pantry at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Carnegie twice a week and has been doing so for 18 years. She helps run the bingo program at the senior living community where she and Thomas live. She is a member of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Christian Mothers chapter and helps out with the annual Lenten Fish Fry. Wherever there is a need in her community, Josie is likely to be there, eager to help. In 2002, she retired from a longtime job with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, but she never slowed down.

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Reyne Mitchell: Positive long-term benefits

Oncoplastic breast surgery is a compassionate and innovative approach to breast cancer that considers the whole woman, beyond the cancer diagnosis, with an eye to her total well-being and long-term recovery. Reyne Mitchell, 57, of South Fayette, had oncoplastic surgery in January 2019 and she is grateful that her St. Clair Hospital physicians were always cognizant of the broader, lifelong impact of her experience. “I just wanted the cancer to be gone,” she says. “Thankfully, my doctors were looking at the big picture and wanted more for me. They wanted to give me an outcome that would truly put the cancer behind me in a more complete way. They didn’t simply treat me, they healed me because they saw me as a person, with life ahead of me.”

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