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Planning for death can ease family anxieties


Sophie Bomba, right, wanted to spend the last months of her life with her grandchildren, and did so in May 2007 as she watched granddaughter Stephanie Huston, center, graduate from University at Virginia Medical School. Dr. Patricia Bomba, left, urges all families to talk about end-of-life care to bring more meaning to moments like these. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Patricia Bomba)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

When it comes to death, we spend most of our time in denial.

How else would we get through our days?

That’s why a roomful of about 80 reporters got a jolt during a recent panel discussion on aging at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Denver. Session leader Dr. Joanne Lynn, director of the Alarum Institute, asked how we journalists would like to die:

  • Cancer? Four people raised their hands.
  • Organ failure? A few more hands went up, slowly.
  • Frailty – prolonged dwindling – was our last choice. Let’s just say the hand-raising across the room was less than enthusiastic.

Some of us will die in tragic circumstances. About 10 percent will die from cancer, at an average age in our mid-60s, Lynn said. About 15 percent will die from congestive heart failure or other organ malfunction, at an average age of 75.

Roughly three in four will die from frailty – in our late 70s or beyond – due to a combination of chronic conditions, Lynn said. On average, we will live three years in need of round-the-clock care, most likely suffering with dementia along with multiple other physical and mental health challenges.

"There is death in store for each of us," Lynn told the audience.


Ignorance of death may be blissful, but it does ratchet up the emotional intensity in even the most level-headed and understanding of families. Most of us don’t live in one of those.

That’s why Sophie Bomba backed up her daughter, Patricia, a geriatric doctor, on a Thanksgiving day about two decades ago, and insisted the family talk about their final wishes – then and there, and every Thanksgiving going forward.

Dr. Bomba, subject of today’s “In the Field” feature in WNY Refresh, encourages everyone reading this to visit a website she helped put together, and helps run – – to help your family start laying the foundation for the inevitable in a more thoughtful way.

End-of-life conversations are in the news this month because Wednesday, the day after income taxes are due, is National Healthcare Decisions Day, in which Americans are encouraged to create advance care plans so that their family members and close friends aren’t in the dark if called upon to help carry out final wishes for loved ones.

It's a story that's been in the news quite a bit lately, including a story in the Harvard Health Blog a few months back and on a New York Times blog earlier this week. 

Bomba encourages families to talk about end-of-life care at least once every year.

Peter Kates, Univera Healthcare spokesman in Buffalo, understands why.

"You have those death bed conversations with a loved one. I’ve had a few,” he said. “You always come away with, ‘Gee, I wish we had talked that openly and honestly before this moment.' That Thanksgiving conversation, is it preferable to have that discussion in an everyday setting than in a farewell setting?"

Bomba said those conversations – along with a health care proxy and, for some in their waning years, a Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment, or MOLST, form – “helps people to close their life.”

“One of the things that’s so important – and I’ve seen it over and over – is that people need to know that their life had meaning, that they did something, that they can be at peace, and frankly that’s what these conversations do. It allows people time to say what they feel and what they want. When people don’t have that opportunity, they struggle."

The conversations you have with family and loved ones help clarify things, Bomba explained.

As we age, the MOLST – a more specific “do not resuscitate” instruction guide – will become an important tool for many of us.

Who needs one?

• People who are in a nursing home.

• People who would be in a nursing home but are getting services at home.

• A provider or doctor wouldn’t be surprised if that person were to die in the next year;

• And people of advanced age who say, “There are things I want and don’t want if I get really sick and need to be hospitalized.”

Bomba speaks from experience. After years of Thanksgiving talk, her mother needed a MOLST form readied about a decade ago.

"She came to live with us 15 months before she died,” Bomba said. "She was having trouble repeating things and was staying with my sister.

"Her doctor knew MOLST and my mom had had so many advance care discussions, she had strong feelings about what she wanted and didn’t want.

The doc said, ‘I’d like to talk with you about this. What’s important to you now?’ And she said, ‘Frankly, not being here in Rochester, because what’s most important to me is my grandkids and my ability to see my grandchildren as long as I’m able to physically, and I know them, and can interact and be engaged in their lives.

“With that in mind, we went back through the MOLST.”

MOLST is a set of medical orders signed by your primary care doctor and rechecked during doctor visits. In Bomba’s house, her mother’s form was  on the refrigerator, or available in someone's purse in case of an emergency. Emergency Medical Technicians are trained to look for the forms, which are pink so they stand out.

Bomba said there are four key questions the form aims to answer for each of us:

  • How will treatment make a difference?
  • How is it going to help?
  • How is it going to hurt?
  • Is there hope of getting better, and if there is hope, what’s life going to be like?’

The answers to those questions can then help you and your health care proxy decide what life-sustaining treatments you’d like and under what circumstances you would prefer a natural death.

 “If my mom went out with us for dinner, we’d bring it with us,” Bomba said.

Sophie "Babci" Bomba got to see Bomba’s daughter, Stephanie Huston, graduate from the University at Virginia Medical School in May 2007 and got to see another granddaughter married in Pennsylvania later that year. She died that December, at age 82.

Here are some other excerpts of my recent interview with Bomba:

Talk about the New York State Family Health Care Decisions Act and what that means.

As of June 1, 2010, families were given a right to make decisions beyond resuscitation ... if a health care proxy has not been done. Why is that important? Without that legal guidance, families didn’t have that ability to make decisions about withdrawing life-sustaining treatment. There’s clinical standards for providers, physicians, to address, and there are standards for the surrogates, which are family members. They have to make sure decisions are consistent with what the (sick) person wants. The problem is, it doesn’t take the place of you making the (earlier) decision to say, ‘I trust you to be the decision-maker and it doesn’t take away the emotional burden from families thinking about it and having to make decisions when they are emotional.

So this allows you to work on the fly, but at the same time, you don’t have preparation time. I advocated for it because there were folks, particularly seniors, who had never regained the ability to make decisions and had never appointed someone, and it was important because without that you need clear and convincing evidence (of the person’s wishes) and were forced to recollect conversations about someone’s last wishes.

This doesn’t replace a health care proxy or decisions with a MOLST. A much higher standard applies…

It’s very important to put it in writing. Nobody else can do a health care proxy on your behalf. So if you think about this, and you think about these forms, we are in control of these documents. So before big events, you want to review them. If you end up in the hospital, you’re very sick and you end up on a ventilator, and you come off, it’s a good time to ask, ‘What’s important to you? How was the health care proxy? Did the health care agent do their job or have trouble? Did they struggle? Do you need to think about changing it?’

I look at the forms in my office once a year. Our family does it once a year, just to say, ‘Is it all the same? Have we changed over that life cycle? What’s important to me? Did that change dramatically?’ You have to start to think about what makes life worth living and has it changed since the last time we had a family discussion about this?

After you fill out a health care proxy, what do you do with it?

Make copies. You keep one for yourself, not locked up. You share with the health care agent (proxy) that you’ve chosen, the backup agents. You want to give one to your doctor. If you’re very sick and you go to the hospital, the hospital ought to have one. Your attorney ought to have one.

Who should start a discussion about how to handle these arrangements: parents, spouses or kids?

In terms doing advance care planning, all of us need to do it and it really is through a family dynamic. When you think about family, it’s not just biological family. Some people have outlived their biological family. Family for them may be close friends. ... If you think, ‘Who’s going to be at my bedside if something happens to me?’ those are the people you need to bring together for this discussion.

email: [email protected]

Twitter: @BNrefresh

Before taking your toddler on a plane, read these tips

The following story will run Saturday in the print version of WNY Refresh but I wanted to post it earlier for online readers who might be preparing to take their toddlers on a flight this weekend for Spring Break.

Here's hoping the story makes you're trip a bit smoother:

By Robert Nickell – McClatchy-Tribune

As a seasoned traveler, I know how stressful it can be to fly with toddlers. Don’t get caught up in the stress this year, follow these tried and true tips for ensuring easy travel with your toddlers.


• Buy some books about flying in a plane, so that your child will understand the whole concept. You also might buy a toy plane that you can talk about with your toddler. Discuss the people who work on the plane, where you enter the plane, where you sit on a plane. The goal here is to get children used to the idea of flying.

• Get a backpack or special travel bag that is just for the toddler, and discuss how the child can help pack their own bag, and talk about what items they’d like to bring with them to play with on the plane.

• Discuss with your child all the steps that come with flying on an airplane, such as: the ride to airport, checking bags, going through TSA, waiting to board, getting on the plane, looking out the window, so they’ll know what to expect when you arrive at the airport on travel day.


Estimate the time and length of the trip from beginning to end and make plans in 15-minute increments. For instance, if you’re planning for a five-hour flight you’ll know:

• The first 30 minutes, your toddlers will be excited, as they will have just boarded the plane; they’ll be looking out the window, watching the activity, seeing other planes, and watching luggage being loaded. Then you have the exciting take off to look forward to, too.

• Once the plane passes through the clouds, the show is over for the child and it’ll be time to start to calculate how to entertain your toddler for the remaining 4.5 hours left in the flight.

You’ll want about 16 different 15-minute activities with some backups in mind, too, that will keep your toddler entertained throughout a long flight. My suggestions include the following:

• Start with a book – while they are still excited to fly.

• Bring a favorite toy – doll or action figure.

• Playdough is always a good item to have on-hand.

• Scotch tape can be quite entertaining.

• Don’t forget to factor in snack time – bring a good assortment.

• You can add 15 minutes for a trip to the bathroom or a diaper change.

• Get out of your seats (if the seat belt sign is off) and walk around the plane.

• Coloring book and crayons are definite staples.

• Change seats with each other to get a fresh view of the surroundings.

• Talk to the seat neighbors if they’re friendly.

• Bring some toy cars, or play items that allow for imaginary play.

• Bring some magnetic blocks, or other creative building toys.


You might want your child to nap on the plane, but you need to be prepared because that won’t always happen.

• Parents should remain calm, and listen to the child’s excitements and fears.

• Make each activity last as long as possible. Take a diaper change, for example: walk slowly and explore on the way there and on the way back.

• Don’t rely on the airplane for a meal. Pack plenty of food for your child.

• Do not even think about yourself; consider yourself lucky if you get to glance at a magazine or close your eyes for a few seconds.

• Try to avoid taking out your computer, unless your child is napping.

• Always have a “Def Con 5” item at your fingertips. What I call the Def Con 5 item is a toy you can pull out when your child is reaching meltdown mode, and you still have 30 minutes trapped inside a plane.

• I try to keep our iPad hidden as a last resort, and not as a first choice item. I’ve used the iPad as a reward or something to look forward to.


• Upon takeoff and landing, children under 3 have trouble clearing their ear pressure. You can help by ensuring they over-exaggerate yawning, drink lots of water, or chew on some Goldfish crackers.

• If you’re able, I suggest wiping down your airplane area with cleaning cloths. Wipe down the trays, arm rests, front and back of seats and window shades to protect your child from harmful germs.

• Have your toddler wash his or her hands after going through TSA.

• If the child is under 2, bring a car seat that they’re already used to and comfortable in.

• If you are going to bring an iPad, make sure you also pack a pair of headphones that are comfortable and easy for the child to use.

The bottom line is the more relaxed and prepared you are, the easier it is for the child to learn to fly. The more you fly, the more comfortable everyone will become.

Robert Nickell is a father of seven. Read more parenting tips at


Open house for East High School nursing program set for Thursday

East High School’s Certified Nursing Assistant program will host an open house from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the school, 820 Northampton St.

Students in grades 7 to 9 interested in medical careers can learn more about the program, whose partners include D’Youville College’s Nursing program, the University at Buffalo Liberty Partnerships Program, and Say Yes Buffalo.

For more information, call 816-4520 or 308-8344.

Two new conspiracies on the Niagara Wine Trail are worth savoring
Freedom Run Winery will start labeling Conspiracy Red and White bottles as early as today. (Courtesy of Freedom Run Winery)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

The impending release of two new blends from Freedom Run Winery is shrouded in a bit of mystery – deliberately.

What would you expect from wines called Conspiracy Red and Conspiracy White?

The “wine design team,” made up of a half-dozen staffers, has spent the last couple years developing and nurturing the taste of the new wines, said Lawrence Manning, owner of the seven-year-old winery on Lower Mountain Road in Cambria.

“We don’t allow one person to make decisions here,” Manning said.

Conspiracy White combines Cayuga, Pino Grigio, Chardonnay, Reisling, Semillion and Sauvignon Blanc varietals.

“It’s good with roasted vegetables and garlic, great with chicken,” Manning said.

The red mixes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Pinot Noir and Syrah grapes. The combination gives the wine a smoky, leathery taste that pairs well with most meats, including barbecue.

“Try drinking some of the red wines with tuna,” Manning also advised.

Many of the varietals used in the blends are grown in the vineyard behind the tasting room, next to a historic barn that has been renovated and is used for weddings. Some of the grapes come from other sources in nearby wine regions.

Which ones, and what are the percentages of each variety in the pair of new wines?

Manning isn’t saying.

“It’s top secret. It’s a conspiracy.”

I spoke with Manning on Sunday at the winery, during a fundraiser for the Western & Central New York Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Why am I writing about wine?

Because it’s healthy, say researchers and doctors, some of whom helped me with this story last year on the health benefits of wine.

Manning looks to get the labels for the two new blends as early as today and start selling them in the winery for $14.95. The wines will be available at local wine retailers in the coming weeks.

My tip: Conspiracy Red is well worth the price. Manning is having second thoughts about that price point, understandably, but vows to stay with it during the first vintage.

He also plans to grow hops in a “hops hut” out back of the winery this summer, and maybe do a bit of beer tasting.

It’s all part of a growing Freedom Run operation on the growing Niagara Wine Trail.

email: [email protected]

Twitter: @BNrefresh

UB South campus to host film, talk on mental health

The Buffalo premier of “Hidden Pictures,” a documentary film about global mental health, will be showd at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday in Butler Auditorium, 150 Farber Hall, on the University at Buffalo South Campus.

A mental health fair will precede the film, at 3:30 p.m., and a panel discussion will follow, at 5:15 p.m.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is designed to bring the community together to talk about issues and solutions related to effective recovery-oriented services for people who live with mental health conditions.

See the film trailer here

For more info, contact David Merlo at [email protected] or 851-1312.

New medical techniques aim to limit use of painkillers

Dr. Leonard Kaplan and fellow doctors at Buffalo Spine and Sports Medicine use ultrasound and Botox in a variety of ways, including to relieve joint pain and muscle damage from stroke. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)

By Scott Scanlon – Refresh Editor

If it’s been a few years – or decades – since you’ve seen a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor, you might be surprised to get a feel for new techniques and equipment designed to keep people active, even after a substantial health setback, including a stroke.

Three weeks ago, when I wrote a cover story on getting prepared for the outdoor running season, Drs. Jason Matuszak and Todd Lorenc, of Excelsior Sports Medicine in Amherst, told me the meniscus I blew out on the inside of my left knee a few years back shouldn’t prevent me from running (It hasn’t, though I do most of my cardio work on a spinning bike and save the running for a few races each year, including the Corporate Challenge and Turkey Trot).

The latest optimistic news came during an interview I had recently with Dr. Leonard Kaplan, of Buffalo Spine and Sports Medicine, for today’s “In the Field” feature in WNY Refresh.

Kaplan, an osteopathic doctor with the practice that has offices in Batavia, Lockport, Orchard Park and Williamsville, and others in the practice look to help patients return to a full range of motion without pain medication, if possible.

They do so with the help of physical therapists, chiropractors, a yoga instructor and a mental health and wellness counselor. They also use Botox and ultrasound technology.

Combined, the possibilities allow folks to chase after treatment in a variety of ways before having to make the painful choice of controlled substance prescription medication, and the uncertainty that can come with it.

Here are excerpts of my interview with Kaplan when it comes to some of those treatment options:

You treat refractory painful conditions such as chronic daily headaches, cervical dystonia and neurological spasticity with Botulinum Toxin Injections. Why? How does the process work?

It’s a protein that was extracted from a botulinum toxin, which used to cause botulism. It’s purified in the lab, so it’s really a lab-made product, it’s not a natural product. This is why there’s a little misconception, even in some of the primary care offices where some people think we’re injecting the person with a toxin that causes people get to get sick. It’s a protein designed to do its job, which is to block some of the excess transmission of nerve signal to muscle ... which causes the muscle to contract and relax...

In a headache, I don’t know if it’s as well understood but the concept is similar. It’s blocking the release of pain producing chemicals from the nerves and it allows reductions in headaches. ... People would get Botox for wrinkles and they’d find that when they used it, their headaches would go away.

Do these shots last for a particular period?

They last three months. They get better with each application. For a lot of people, they do so well, it’s really just a 10- or 15-minute investment. Dystonia, spacity, migraine headaches, those are all covered by insurance.

Upper limb is the other one that’s very important, people who have strokes. Once they get released from nursing homes, they often end up in primary care offices and people don’t realize that the patient has ended up with a spasm of an arm, and recognize that there’s something that can be done for it.

We’re trying to spread the word that you can use this Botox and relax the muscles and it helps bathing and dressing, and reduces pain in the arm.

These really are mainstream treatments, but they’re off the radar. It’s not something doctors get trained on in residency.

How are you using ultrasound?

The ultrasound allows us to view the body in motion. This is why it’s so revolutionary. Up to this point, everything we ever had to view the body in motion was always a still picture. If you get an X-ray, you’re standing or laying down. If you get an MRI, you’re laying down. A lot of times the injured body parts don’t start bothering somone until they’re moving. The ultrasound gives you the incredible ability to see a knee or an elbow or a hip while it’s moving. See what the tendon is doing, what the muscle is doing, so something won’t get missed. It’s also an incredible tool for guiding procedures. If we’re going to put a cortisol steroid into an area to help decrease inflammation, we want to make sure it’s going into the right location, a safe location. It’s done live, so under ultrasound we can guide this medicine into an area, and be absolutely sure it’s getting where it’s supposed to go.

How long have you been doing this?

About six years. It’s become more common but there’s still just a few practices that use it. It takes a lot of work to learn.

Talk about your new tendon treatment procedure, TENEX Health TX.

That’s an exciting renovation driven by the ultrasound technology in two ways. It can only be done if you visualize a tendon with ultrasound, so you use an ultrasound to guide this procedure. This is a needle that was invented that uses ultrasound pulse waves that breaks down unhealthy tissue. Chronic tendon problems are an epidemic in this country. Because of obesity and deconditioning, people ultimately fall into problems with their tendons because their tendons cannot frequently withstand the weight. The weaker the muscles become, the more weight is transferred to the tendon, where the tendon inserts in bone, whether it’s your hip, your knee, your ankle. These tendons become thick. They scar. They lose their elasticity. They become very painful. And it’s a chronic condition. They can be hard to treat. They don’t (always) respond well to physical therapy, so what the equipment allows us to do ... we can see the tendon, we can see where it’s unhealthy, and we take the needle – it’s power operated – we have a pedal, a vibrating tip, and the vibration releases ultrasound waves and the vibration literally, as it goes through the tendon, breaks up unhealthy tissue, rinses it and takes it out. It’s incredible. ... It gets sucked into a bag, so sometimes we’ll show people what got sucked out. To get anything like that done in the past, you would need an open surgery.

We started doing this in December and had some really, really good results. It only takes two or three minutes. We always tell people if they have a lot of issues, they may need another one, but it’s meant to definitive. We’ll follow up with therapy and try to strengthen the area, as well.

Would the pain go away fairly quickly after one of these procedures?

More often than not, the pain will go away very quickly. I’ve have some patients come in on the third day after the procedure and feel better already.

After a treatment like this, what would happen?

There’s a reason why that elbow got in trouble. There’s a reason why that shoulder got in trouble. ... We go beyond treating the problem. We go to ‘Why did that happen?’ Did you have some trouble with your posture? Did you have some weakness in your muscles somewhere else, so you compensated for it? We look at the entire body, because if you fix that body part, but don’t figure out why it got in trouble, guess what? In another year or two, you’re going to get in trouble again.

What are some of the best forms of exercise to prevent back, neck and other nerve and joint injuries?

Functional exercises place the body into positions a person finds themselves in throughout the day – they’re standing, they’re sitting at work, they’re walking. Non-functional exercise places people in a position where they don’t often find themselves, like laying on their back – unless they’re sleeping or doing other things we’re not going to talk about today. Unless you’re a wrestler who needs power to push somebody off yourself to prevent from getting pinned, most exercises you should do should not be on your back. If you’re a gardener, you want to do exercises that look like gardening. Whatever the body part, whether it’s spine or limb, the exercise needs to look, feel and smell like the activity you want to go back to and have a problem doing, because you’re doing it to go back to that activity. This is what I call functional.

People ask me about pool therapy all the time. I love the pool, but you’re about 50 percent lighter in the pool. How do you feel when you go up the stairs in the pool? In the pool, you’re training your legs to carry 50 percent, but when you go up the stairs, you’re asking the legs to carry 100 percent of you. So where’s the training?

Can you throw some pool therapy into the mix? Sure, but you’ve got to do some land therapy to get the benefit of strength against the full weight of gravity.

What about some of the best foods?

We cover that. We try to partner with nutritionists, but we talk about the inflammatory load. We’re students like other folks are, and we’re starting to understand more about, let’s say, the role of gluten and how it can be very pro-inflammatory. Today, I think I advised three people to cut out gluten. My daughter is gluten insensitive, so we’ve learned a few things about it. Red meats are pro-inflammatory, so we talk about cutting out red meats. Lamb, actually, and chicken are good. Obviously fish. Fruits, nuts, salad.

And, of course, supplements. When the person comes to us, there have been some very specific recommendations for osteoarthritis. We’ve taken those recommendations and put ‘em in our handouts. At the end of that handout, there is a list of doses that have been shown to be effective: fish oil, primrose oil, glucosamine chondroitin – it’s a little controversial but it’s still advocated for arthritic joints. Those are the big ones. Krill oil. The omega-3s used to be believed to be antioxidants, so the role was believed to be anti-aging, anti-cancer. But now, it’s understood that they’re very much  anti-inflammatory.

email: [email protected]

Twitter: @BNrefresh

Roswell Park study finds smokers would benefit from CT scans

The majority of current and former smokers would welcome screenings for lung cancer if their insurance covered spiral computed tomography (CT) scans, according to research from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Medical University of South Carolina.

Those findings were and published online this week ahead of print in the journal Lung Cancer.

More than 1,200 adult current smokers and former smokers were surveyed about their attitudes toward lung cancer screening using spiral CT scans. Current smokers (78.5 percent) and former smokers (81.4 percent) said they would be willing to be tested, if advised to do so by their physician.

Reasons why smokers are not willing to be screened included: a lack of insurance coverage (smokers: 33 percent; former smokers: 25 percent) and a fear of being diagnosed with lung cancer (smokers: 33 percent; former smokers: 12.5 percent). Among former smokers, the most commonly cited reason for not having the screening was a belief that they did not have lung cancer.

Lung cancer often displays few systems until it’s in an advanced stage. The recent National Lung Cancer Screen Trial, a major study involving 53,454 current or former heavy smokers, reported a 20 percent reduction in mortality rate when lung cancer was diagnosed using spiral CT, compared to annual chest X-rays. Currently, only 17 percent of patients treated for lung cancer survive beyond five years, Roswell officials said in a news release.

Several professional organizations have recommended lung cancer screening with spiral CT, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Association of Thoracic Surgery and American Cancer Society, officials with the cancer hospital said.

Eggstravaganza takes place Saturday in Lewiston

The New York Power Authority will hold its annual its “Eggstravaganza” for kids and families from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Power Vista, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston.

Activities will include photos until 2 p.m., a scavenger hunt, food, crafts and face painting. Free safety ID packets will be made available to interested parents, guardians, college students and seniors. And State Parks will provide free rides on its Niagara Scenic Trolley, between Power Vista and the Gorge Discovery Center.

Admission and parking at Power Vista are always free.

Academy website points up tie between obesity, mental illness

Child obesity and the threat of mental health problems go hand-in-hand.

That’s the message the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry released today in a press report designed to shine a light on both challenges.

The message is timely because as many as one-third of children in the U.S. are obese or overweight.

To help address those challenges, the academy offers an online series, “Facts for Families,” that gives information on these health conditions, as well as ways to address them.

You can read that information here

Information includes conditions caused by the habits that lead to child obesity. They include high blood pressure, diabetes, breathing problems and trouble sleeping.

The series also includes information on what causes childhood obesity and mental health conditions.

To get a sense of the scope of the problem in Buffalo, you can read a story I wrote last month about Candi Possinger, a registered dietitian and manager of nutrition services with Catholic Medical Partners, the doctor arm of the regional Catholic Health System. Read a related blog post here

– Scott Scanlon

Sunday benefit to help paralyzed Clarence woman

Friends and family of a Clarence woman paralyzed last year by a spinal condition will host a benefit on Sunday to help with her ongoing needs.

The gathering on behalf of Helene Lumia, 22, will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. at Clarence High School, 9625 Main St.

During an emergency room visit last June, Lumia was told she had a cyst on her spinal cord where it connects to her brain stem. She lost the use of her limbs after several surgeries and procedures to address the damage caused by the cyst.

Lumia recently returned to her family’s home in Clarence after several months of intensive physical therapy in Atlanta. Her family describes her as “a loving daughter, sister, and friend, with an infectious laugh and a beautiful smile that has touched so many people’s lives.

"Her unyielding strength and spirit is an inspiration to all her family and friends," benefit organizers said.

Lumia has returned from Atlanta and is living in the familiarity of her family’s home. The benefit is designed to help cover some of the cost for travel, treatment and home remodeling so Lumia’s family can provide her with the care she will need.

Benefit tickets, which will be available at the door, cost $20 and cover food and drinks. There will be a silent auction, 50/50 raffles, door prizes and more. Donations also can be made to the Clarence Rotary Foundation (PO Box 157, Clarence, NY 14031). In the subject line please note “Helene Lumia.” For more information, contact Taunya Clarke at 713-7262 or [email protected]

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About The Refresh Buffalo Blog

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon

Scott Scanlon is an award-winning reporter and editor who has covered various topics in his quarter-century as a journalist in South Florida, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is aiming to pass along what he is learning these days about health, fitness, nutrition and family life.

@BNRefresh | [email protected]