September 30, 2020, is National Women’s Health and Fitness Day. At the John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, we want to help women across the country understand the importance of being aware of your own health and wellness. Today we review wellness resources, cancer prevention, nutrition, and exercise tips to help you take control of your health. 

Women’s Health Tips

Be sure to stay on top of women well visits and health screenings. 

Well visits

Make an appointment for your annual wellness visit even if you are feeling well. It’s important to have an annual exam with your health care provider. An annual exam may be the most important proactive measure you can take for yourself. 

Breast Health and Cancer screenings

Screening tests such as mammograms are extremely important to find breast cancer early. A mammogram can detect breast cancer early, before any symptoms begin and when it is easiest to treat. At the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, we have the ability to fully evaluate any breast problems in one day. Radiologists are on site Monday through Friday to review mammograms and ultrasounds. If a biopsy is needed, we can perform that on the same day or as soon as possible.  Breast experts will then determine the next steps quickly. Make your appointment today using the following link: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/breast/breast-health/ 

Cervical cancer screening

Cervical pre-cancer and cancer can be detected using PAP smear screening. It is important to visit your healthcare provider to determine how often you should be screened. Learn about your risk factors and things you can do to decrease your risk of cervical cancer: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/gynecology/conditions-we-treat/cervical-cancer/   

Ovarian cancer screening

Ovarian cancer is most often detected in later stages using a biopsy. Learn about symptoms to watch for and when to call your healthcare provider. Schedule an appointment to discuss your risk factors and any symptoms you may be experiencing: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/gynecology/conditions-we-treat/ovarian-cancer/ 

Colorectal cancer screening

The American Cancer Society suggests screening for colon cancer at age 45, or earlier depending on your risk factors. Colon cancer can grow slowly over a number of years, so it is important to be screened and learn about red flag symptoms. Please schedule your appointment today for your colonoscopy and to meet with one of our physicians to discuss your risk factors: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/gastrointestinal/conditions-we-treat/colorectal-cancer/ 

Thyroid checks

Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer in women under 30 years old and the second most common cancer in women 30-45 years old. Thyroid cancer is usually very slow growing which means it is usually confined to the thyroid gland. Most types of thyroid cancer are very treatable and patients go on to live long, healthy lives. Talk with a physician to discuss any concerns you may be having with your neck such as breathing, swallowing, or if you notice a protrusion on your neck: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/endocrine/conditions/thyroid-cancer/  

Lung cancer screening

Unfortunately, lung cancer is usually found at an advanced stage when it is not curable. Whether you are an active smoker or quit years ago, lung cancer screening can help in its early detection when it is most treatable. Lung cancer is also on the rise for women who have never smoked. If you are worried about lung cancer or think you may be at risk, please schedule an appointment to discuss it with one of our healthcare providers: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/thoracic/treatments/treatment-for-lung-cancer/lung-cancer-screening/ 

Annual skin check

Everyone should have their skin checked yearly. A dermatologist will look for changes or any abnormal growths. Learn about the ABCDEs of skin cancer and discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Please visit the following link for additional information and to schedule an appointment: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/melanoma/conditions/ 

Women’s Nutrition and Exercise

Maintain a healthy weight

BMI is a way to determine the correct body weight for your height. The higher the number, the higher your body fat. BMI is often used as a screening tool to decide if your weight might be putting you at risk for health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. See the American Cancer Society’s information on Normal Weight Ranges: Body Mass Index (BMI). 

Eat a heart healthy diet

Eating a heart healthy diet will help you maintain a healthy weight while protecting your heart health. Women have different nutritional requirements during different stages of life. Try to choose nutritional food most of the time and limit unhealthy food. It is important your body gets the essential vitamins and minerals needed for you to stay alive and healthy. Visit our nutrition department to learn more: https://www.saintjohnscancer.org/cancer-support/nutrition/ 

Exercise on a regular basis

Being active is one of the most important steps you can take to maintain your health. 150 minutes of physical activity each week is recommended to help lower your risk of many diseases. That sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not. You can spread out your exercise during the course of a week, 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  

Stress management

Stress is a reaction to a change or a challenge and in the short term, stress can be helpful. On the the other hand, long term stress can lead to serious health problems. Womenshealth.gov has some strategies for how to decrease stress. It’s important to share with your doctor how you are feeling not only physically, but mentally as well.  

Get a good night of sleep

Sleep affects your mental and physical health. Getting good sleep helps boost your mind, mood and can help prevent health problems. Women are more likely than men to have insomnia and other sleep problems. Contact your doctor if you are having trouble sleeping. 

How to Observe and Spread the Word about Women’s Health Day

Socially distant ways you can get involved to help spread the word about Women’s Health Day. 

Remember to wear a mask if you cannot maintain 6 feet apart!

  • Join an outdoor walking group
  • Attend an outdoor exercise class
  • Join an online fitness class from your own home
  • Sign up for a nutrition webinar
  • Attend a webinar for ways to help reduce stress
  • Learn how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life 
  • Get your family or friends together for a workout and use the hashtag: #WomensHealthFitnessDay to post health or exercise related information or pictures on social media. 

Questions or need to schedule an appointment?

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding new symptoms or your health. Telemedicine (virtual doctor visit) is also available when appropriate. 

Schedule an Appointment

 

About the Authors

Ana Rocha, M.S.N., A.G.N.P.-B.C., R.N., O.C.N.

Ana Rocha, M.S.N., A.G.N.P.-B.C., R.N., O.C.N.

Ana is a Nurse Practitioner, nationally board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with special certification in Adult Gerontology. She provides comprehensive assessment and survivorship care plans (SCPs) to patients after a diagnosis of cancer. Learn More About Ana Rocha, M.S.N., A.G.N.P.-B.C., R.N., O.C.N..

Caroline, M.S.W. Sarafin,

Caroline Sarafin, M.S.W., is an outpatient social worker at Providence at Saint John’s Health Center. Her clinical interests involve applying modalities of cognitive behavioral therapy, direct practice with individuals, families, and groups, and providing other forms of supportive therapy. Learn More About Caroline Sarafin, M.S.W..

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