Console & Hollawell Blog

Dismissive Doctors Give New Meaning to Medical Neglect

By Richard Console on April 24, 2015 - Comments off

Healthcare has become such an ordeal today that for many patients, doctors’ dismissive attitudes undermine whatever benefit they should get from going to the doctor. This trend isn’t just frustrating – it’s dangerous.

Doctor explaining test results to patientYour doctor should listen to your concerns and your account of your symptoms and explain to you what different diagnoses and test results mean. As a patient, you deserve nothing less. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Do You Trust Your Doctor?

It’s no surprise that many of us don’t like to go to the doctor. There are the long waits in lobbies, often surrounded by ill patients who could spread germs that make us sick (or sicker). There’s the cost – high prices if you don’t have medical insurance, and potentially high copays even if you do. Often, you spend far longer waiting for the doctor than you do actually getting any medical attention. Of course, there’s the uncomfortable nature of the appointment itself – needle sticks, skin exams, screening tests that are never quite as non-invasive as we would like.

However, the truly exasperating part for far too many patients is the central purpose of the appointment – their encounter with their doctor.

Doctors spend an average of just seven with a patient, according to The New York Times. It’s no wonder that you – and, for that matter, three out of five patients, according to National Public Radio – feel rushed when you finally do see your physician. You actually are being rushed.

Some patients find that it’s not only the clock that makes them feel dismissed, but their doctors’ actions toward them. Whether it’s because a physician doesn’t have time or simply isn’t interested, too many patients no longer feel listened to – and for good reason.

“Studies show that doctors will interrupt patients within 10 seconds after they begin speaking,” physician and patient advocate Dr. Leana Wen wrote in Everyday Health. That’s not much time to get your point across. That’s not much time to ask your questions or to summarize what happened in the time between your first symptom and the appointment. Honestly, that’s barely enough time to say “hello.” It’s certainly not enough time to build trust – something essential when you consider that you’re putting your health, and perhaps your life, in the hands of this physician.

Do you trust your doctor? I was surprised to find out how many patients don’t.

The Medical Neglect of Delaying a Cancer Diagnosis

When I began researching cancer for Cancer Control Month, I was shocked by the number of patients commenting on articles about the doctors who had ignored their symptoms or misdiagnosed their loved ones. There were people who lost their spouses, their parents, their children, all because a doctor ignored complaints of symptoms that – eventually – turned out to indicate cancer. These physicians dismissed patients’ reports of their symptoms, not bothering to order additional tests or refer patients to specialists, or they threw pills at the problem instead of trying to determine its true cause. Because of their failure to listen to their patients, these doctors missed common cancer diagnoses for weeks, months, even years.

Unsurprisingly, these patients felt more than a little bitter. They believed that doctors didn’t care. They distrusted physicians – not just their competency, but their motives, and not just individuals, but as a profession. Healthcare shouldn’t have to be this way.

Unfortunately, I know that there are plenty of stories of doctors misdiagnosing cancer in patients. Let me tell you a story.

Years before I met him, a patient that I once represented visited the emergency room after an assault. Among the tests and treatment he received at the hospital was a chest X-ray. By pure chance, the test results showed a small, cancerous nodule in this man’s lungs. The image was so clear that hospital staff actually noted the nodule on the patient’s chart.

The problem is that doctors neglected to tell him that he had cancer. They dismissed him from the hospital, and for five years, he was unaware of his condition while the cancer grew steadily throughout his body. By the time he developed symptoms and discovered that he had the disease, it was too late. Doctors had delayed his cancer diagnosis for so long that what had previously been a treatable condition with a high rate of survival had now become terminal.

Sadly, you find dismissive doctors in every type of facility – in emergency rooms, in primary care practices, and even in specialties like oncology. By ignoring and dismissing you, a doctor could be giving cancer time to grow and spread – perhaps with deadly results.

What You Can Do

You shouldn’t need guidelines on what you can do as a patient to prevent your doctor from misdiagnosing you. It’s not supposed to be your job to make sure your doctor does his or her job. However, there’s a reason this information has become the subject of numerous books and articles. If you ever find yourself ignored by a medical professional, knowing how to stand up for yourself could be the only way to get the care you deserve.

Here are some tips from patient advocate and physician Dr. Leana Wen, as reported by CNN, on what you can do if your doctor doesn’t listen to you.

  1. Tell your whole story – Concisely explain what happened, rather than just answering the doctor’s yes/no questions.
  2. Assert yourself in the doctor’s thought process – By asking what your doctor is thinking and sharing your thoughts, you can understand each other better.
  3. Participate in your physical exam – When you have questions, ask! Be an informed patient.
  4. Make a differential diagnosis together – Talk with your doctor about the list of possible explanations for your symptoms instead of making assumptions about what your condition is likely to be.
  5. Partner in the decision-making process –Work with your doctor to narrow down your list of potential diagnoses.
  6. Apply tests rationally – Know before you go what the purpose of a test is, as well as the benefits and risks.
  7. Use common sense – Have an idea of your likely diagnosis and the other possible diagnoses before you leave the doctor’s office
  8. Integrate diagnosis into the healing process – Find out from your doctor what to expect from your condition, your treatment options, and any warning signs that could indicate that what you’d decided is the most probably diagnosis isn’t actually correct.

Finally, if you try everything but can’t get your doctor to listen to your concerns, then it’s time to find a new doctor. Your health is the most important thing, and you have to do what’s best for you. If your doctor has already made a mistake and delayed your cancer diagnosis, then doing what’s best for you includes getting legal help as well as new medical care.

 

Most Owners Neglect Their Cars – Do You?

By Richard Console on April 23, 2015 - Comments off

If you’re one of the 84 percent of car owners whose vehicles need service right now, you’re putting yourself, your family, and everyone on the road at risk every time you get behind the wheel. The worst part is that you probably don’t even know that you’re in danger.

April is spring’s National Car Care Month, one of two months (the other is October) dedicated to promoting seasonal vehicle maintenance.

Car CareDuring inspections at two key points last year, the Car Care Council found that an overwhelming 84 percent of cars were in need of service – and less safe than they could have been. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Your Car Care Checklist

If you own a vehicle or drive someone else’s vehicle regularly, you need to know that the car is safe to drive. Here are the most important things you must check to make sure your car is well-maintained, according to the Car Care Council:

  1. Engine fluids
  2. Hoses and belts
  3. Battery
  4. Brakes
  5. Exhaust system
  6. Heating and cooling systems
  7. Steering and suspension
  8. Tires
  9. Wipers
  10. Lighting

MechanicIf you’re not comfortable checking these items yourself, get a trusted mechanic to do it, or look for a Car Care Month event in your area that offers free inspections. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Caring for Your Car Makes You Safer

Even seemingly small problems can have serious consequences on the road. After all, when you – and all of the drivers around you – are operating complex machinery that weighs literally tons of pounds, sometimes cruising at speeds of 65 miles per hour or more, any breakdown that causes a loss of control can lead to a disastrous crash.

According to the results of inspections completed by the Car Care Council, here are some of the most common vehicle maintenance offenses that owners commit.

Windshield Cleaning and Clearing

About 27 percent of cars needed washer fluid, and 16 percent had windshield wipers in bad shape.

Because neither issue is hard to fix, these might seem like minor problems – but if an unexpected condition suddenly reduced your visibility to near-zero behind the wheel, that lack of washer fluid or functioning wipers could prevent you from seeing a hazard in time to stop.

Engine Oil

One quarter of all cars had problems with low or dirty engine oil – which means the fluid flowing through their engines, responsible for keeping everything in working order, is inadequate.

Coolant

About 17 percent of cars had coolant issues. Some cars simply didn’t have enough of the chemical. In others, the coolant was dirty and needed to be changed. Still others had more serious problems, with the coolant leaking out of the vehicle.

In most cases, fixing this problem is as simple as adding the right amount of coolant – but failing to fix it could cause your engine to overheat.

Engine Fluids

It doesn’t take much technical knowledge to work out what power steering, brake, and transmission fluids do or why they’re important. However, 13 percent of vehicles didn’t have enough of these essential chemicals to keep their cars running safely. Get too low on any one of these engine fluids, and you could lose control of your vehicle.

Check engine lightThe check engine light should be an obvious clue that a car needs service, but 13 percent of cars still had this indicator on when inspected. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Belts, Hoses, and Filters

About 17 percent of cars needed at least one new belt. Eight percent needed a new hose. Air filters needed replacement in 18 percent of vehicles.

Battery

Is your battery in good working order? Great! However, just checking the charge doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. About 14 percent of cars had problems with the battery clamps, cables, and terminals, and another nine percent “were not properly held down.”

Lights

More than one in 10 cars had at least one headlight, brake light, license plate light, or other bulb out. It might seem like no big deal, but even one absent light could make it harder for you to see what’s on the road – or harder for other drivers to see you.

Tires

When was the last time you checked your tire pressure? What about your tread? The tires are what connect your vehicle to the roadway and control its movements. Improperly inflated tires, which appeared on 10 percent of vehicles, could put you at risk for a tire blow-out, decreased traction, tire failure, and decreased control over stopping and steering your car. Another 14 percent of cars needed tires replaced, not just refilled with air, because the tread was so worn.

Vehicle Maintenance Matters

Safety is the most important reason for maintaining your car, but it’s not the only one.

The Value of Your Time

Do you rely on your car to get your family to work, to school, to doctor’s offices and grocery stores, to sports practices and recreational activities, to the homes of friends and family members? Most car owners do – otherwise, why have the expense and responsibility of having a car in the first place?

If you don’t maintain your vehicle, the defects will make your car’s performance unreliable. It might not happen today, or tomorrow, or next week, but after a long enough spell of neglect, don’t be surprised if your car stops working the way you want it to and leaves you stranded. We all know what that means: you’re late for work, you miss a family dinner or Little League practice, and you can’t get to essential errands like appointments and shopping for basic necessities.

Your time is valuable. If you choose not to maintain your vehicle promptly, you’re gambling with that time – and you have no way of knowing when and where you’ll have to pay that debt. Sure, it could be a slight, relatively harmless delay during leisurely day out, but it could also be an hours-long crisis on the way to the airport that makes you miss an expensive, nonrefundable flight.

So, what kind of risk are you willing to take with your time?

The Financial Cost of Missed Maintenance

No one likes to shell out the money for car maintenance, but not investing in regular care for your car could cost you a lot more in the long run.

“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value,” according to the Car Care Council’s Executive Director, Rich White.

Let’s break that down a little. One of the most basic types of maintenance your car needs is a regular oil change.

Oil changeOil changes typically cost $39.99 or less at a mechanic’s shop, according to ABC News, or you could do it yourself if you want to. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

When your car is performing fine, it might feel like you’re throwing away the cost of the oil change. You don’t actually see any benefit from it.

Skip enough of these relatively low-cost services, though, and your car’s engine will suffer above-average wear and tear. It may take a while – “many thousands of miles,” according to HowStuffWorks – to reach the point of neglect where your car suffers catastrophic engine failure, but that’s the ultimate outcome if you ignore oil changes for long enough.

Not only is replacing the engine far more expensive than the cost of the oil changes you missed, but if you decide that the now damaged vehicle is too expensive to fix, you won’t be able to sell it or trade it in for much. The resale value is shot, because what good is any car without a working engine?

Avoid Accidents with a Well-Maintained Car

Being a responsible vehicle owner is essential for safety on the road, not to mention long-term cost-savings and efficient use of your time. You’ve got your life, the lives of your passengers, and the lives of unsuspecting fellow drivers in your hands. Any defect in your vehicle that reduces the amount of control you have behind the wheel is a serious risk. Use Car Care Month as a reminder to get your car serviced now – before a rundown part or lack of regular maintenance puts you in a dangerous situation.

 

The 5 Easiest Things You Can Do to Prevent Cancer

By Richard Console on April 22, 2015 - Comments off

With cancer so prevalent that it affects one in two men and one in three women during their lifetimes, preventing the condition before it develops has never been more important. Yet we still know relatively little about why cancer develops in some people but not in others. The risk factors and causes of cancer remain mysterious. A few of the known factors, like genetics, are beyond patients’ ability to change.

However, there are some habits known to be so closely associated with developing cancer that the link is too clear to ignore. Here are the top five easiest ways you can slash your cancer risk.

The 5 Easiest Things You Can Do to Prevent Cancer

1. Don’t Smoke

Prevent Cancer by Not SmokingWhile not smoking is a simple way to lower your cancer risk, quitting smoking isn’t “easy,” especially for long-time smokers. For help, check out the American Cancer Society’s Guide to Quitting Smoking. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Not smoking is one of the ways you can most drastically decrease your cancer risk. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of more than a dozen different kinds of cancer, including:

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Larynx cancer
  3. Esophageal cancer
  4. Oral cancer
  5. Pancreatic cancer
  6. Kidney cancer
  7. Bladder cancer
  8. Colon cancer
  9. Stomach cancer
  10. Liver cancer
  11. Cervical cancer
  12. Leukemia
  13. Ovarian cancer
  14. Nose and sinus cancer

An estimated 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and close to 80 percent in women involve smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

The good news is that even if you’ve been a smoker for years, you can decrease your cancer risk significantly by quitting today.

  • 5 years after quitting, your likelihood of developing oral, esophageal, and bladder cancer is half what it was when you still used tobacco, according to the American Cancer Society. If you’re female, your cervical cancer risk is no higher now than if you had never smoked at all.
  • 10 years after quitting, you’ve cut your likelihood of developing terminal lung cancer in half, and you’ve also reduced the risk of larynx and pancreatic cancer.

2. Drink Only in Moderation

Prevent Cancer by Drinking Only in ModerationEach year, about 70 percent of adults in the United States consume at least some amount of alcohol. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

For many adults, there’s nothing wrong with drinking in moderation. In fact, moderate alcohol consumption is even associated with some positive health effects, like a lower risk of heart disease, a certain kind of stroke, and diabetes.

However, too much alcohol consumption can put you at risk for developing:

  1. Breast cancer
  2. Colon cancer
  3. Esophageal cancer
  4. Kidney cancer
  5. Larynx cancer
  6. Liver cancer
  7. Lung cancer
  8. Oral cancer
  9. Throat cancer

Overindulgence in alcohol increases your cancer risk in a few different ways. It can damage cells, which then multiply within the body. Alcohol can also interact with other chemicals, from the hormones that increase the risk of breast cancer to the nutrients in the food you eat. The combination of alcohol and tobacco can be particularly damaging when it comes to cancer risk, the American Cancer Society reported.

Your best bet for reducing your cancer risk is to limit your alcohol consumption to moderate use, if you do drink. That means on average no more than one alcoholic beverage a day if you’re a woman or two if you’re a man, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

3. Wear Sunscreen

Prevent Cancer with Sunscreen“Most skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to the UV rays in sunlight,” the American Cancer Society reported. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed nationwide? Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can increase your risk of developing skin cancers, some of them deadly.

The link between sun exposure and skin cancer is pretty well known now, yet most of us have accidentally exposed ourselves to UV rays – as evidenced by sunburn – on more than one occasion. Sure, you lose track of time out on the beach, or you stay out in the sun longer than you expected. Sun exposure happens – but every time it does, it has the potential to raise your cancer risk.

Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher filters out most of the harmful rays of sunlight, so it’s a great place to start when it comes to protecting yourself form the sun. Slather it on liberally and reapply frequently.

Keep in mind, though, that sunscreen may not protect against all cancer-causing rays. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing whenever possible to keep UV light away from your skin. Artificial UV light like tanning beds and lamps create cancer risks like real sunlight does, so try to avoid exposing your skin to all sources of UV light.

4. Eat a Healthy Diet

Prevent cancer with a healthy dietThe American Cancer Society recommends eating at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables per day to reduce your cancer risk. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

When you hear the word “diet,” do you think automatically of ultra-restrictive calorie counts or fad eating plans that cut out whole food groups? You don’t have to commit to an unsustainable regimen to decrease your cancer risk – just make conscious choices to eat more of the foods with the most nutritional value and less of the calorie-dense junk foods that don’t support your health.

A big part of eating a healthy diet is about reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing breast, prostate, uterine, and colon cancers, according to the CDC. The extra body weight can result in increased production of chemicals that facilitate cancer growth. Even if you’re already at a healthy weight, making smart decisions about what you eat and choosing a balanced diet can help protect your health.

Here are some tips for a diet that can help you fight cancer:

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
  • Enjoy leaner meats, like poultry, chicken, and lean cuts of red meat, rather than high-fat sources of protein. If you consume dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt, opt for low-fat or fat-free versions.
  • Processed food items may be faster and easier to prepare, but they’re less healthy generally, especially when they contain added sugars, sodium, and other ingredients that don’t benefit your health. When possible, choose unprocessed foods to prepare yourself – that way you know what’s in your diet.

With research into cancer prevention constantly evolving, it’s hard to say definitively that one particular food is good or bad for you in terms of cancer risk. Researchers have found conflicting information about many foods – for example, a study just reported that butter, of all things, can fight breast and colon cancer, The Huffington Post reported. Be aware of new research, especially if you’re in a high-risk population, but don’t feel that you have to jump on every new fad. Eating a generally healthy diet can help you reduce your cancer risk as much as possible without going crazy over it.

Some studies are suggesting that it’s not just what you eat that affects your cancer risk, but also when, how, and how much you eat. Pay attention to portion sizes. Wash fresh produce before eating to get rid of any pesticide residue. One study suggested that women can decrease their breast cancer risk simply by fasting for a longer span of time overnight, even if they don’t actually eat less food, Science Daily reported.

 5. Exercise Regularly

Prevent cancer with regular exerciseIf you find a way to make exercise fun – by taking up a sport, exercising with a buddy, or listening to great music while you work out – you can easily make physical activity part of your routine. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Of course, a healthy diet is only part of the equation when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. Getting enough exercise is also a big piece of the puzzle, and it can help reduce your cancer risk.

Just how much exercise is enough? Adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, according to the American Cancer Society. Children and teenagers need more exercise than adults. An hour of moderate to vigorous exercise per day is good, especially if kids exercise vigorously at least three days a week.

Even if the thought of spending hours on end at the gym doesn’t appeal to you, this is a manageable amount of exercise. Split that 150 minutes of moderate exercise over the workweek, and you’re talking half an hour a day. Stretch it across the full seven days of the week, and you’re looking at just over 20 minutes.

The great thing about each of these ways to cut your cancer risk is that they’re all good for our general health, not just minimizing the likelihood of getting cancer. Instead of treating these guidelines as “all or nothing,” look at every tip as an opportunity to do more. Every little bit of extra exercise is better than none. Every time you make the choice to reapply sunscreen or hold off on one more drink makes you a little healthier than the alternative.

(If you’ve already been diagnosed with cancer, especially late-stage cancer, your doctor could be responsible for delaying your diagnosis. While it’s too late for you to prevent cancer, it’s not too late to have someone watching out for your legal rights and helping you and your family get through the stress of your cancer battle.)

 

How Common Is Childhood Cancer?

By Richard Console on April 17, 2015 - Comments off

If someone you love has ever faced a battle against cancer, then you already know that every case of the devastating disease is a sad one. However, few situations are as heartbreaking as childhood cancer. There’s something deeply wrong when a child who should be taking his or her first bike ride instead must endure a first chemo session or go under the knife for a third operation.

Childhood cancerThe average age of kids diagnosed with childhood cancer is five to six years old. Some pediatric cancers are more common in young children, while others strike teens and young adults. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

It’s hard to imagine something more frightening – for children or their parents – than a pediatric cancer diagnosis. But how common is childhood cancer, really?

How Many Kids Get Cancer?

Statistically, cancer in children is rare. Pediatric diagnoses account for just one to two percent of all cancer cases. Even though it’s relatively uncommon, it does happen. Every single hour of every day, a family gets the shattering diagnosis.

Some fast facts about pediatric cancer:

  • About 10,380 children age 15 and under develop cancer each year in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.
  • More children die from cancer than any other disease in the U.S., the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reported.
  • One in 330 kids worldwide will be diagnosed with cancer before they reach the age of 20, according to cancer research fundraising foundation Max’s Ring of Fire.
  • Every day, 43 children will receive a cancer diagnosis, nonprofit foundation CureSearch
  • About 1,250 children younger than age 15 will lose their battle with cancer this year.
  • Childhood cancer isn’t just cancer that exists in smaller or younger patients. Pediatric cancers are different from the types of cancer that strike adult patients.
    • Those differences can be a big deal when it comes to treatment. Teens and young adults have an estimated 30 percent better chance of surviving when they receive childhood cancer treatments instead of being treated as adults, according to Baldrick’s Foundation.

Are More Kids Getting Cancer?

The good news is that the rates of childhood cancer are not currently on the rise, according to the NRDC.

The bad news is that they’re not decreasing, either. Instead, they hover around the same levels as they did in the 1990s, after nearly 20 years of consistent increases put childhood cancer rates at the highest rate in decades. This means that while the rates aren’t actively getting worse, they’re still dramatically higher than childhood cancer rates of the ‘70s, the ‘80s, and the decades that predated them.

What Are the Most Common Forms of Childhood Cancer?

More than a dozen separate forms of pediatric cancer exist, according to fundraising organization St. Baldrick’s Foundation.  Add to that the fact that there exist “countless subtypes” of each of these forms, and you’ll see that childhood cancers are far from simple.

Most Common Childhood Cancers

The most common form of pediatric cancer is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that leaves victims without enough of the blood cells that fight off infections. Together with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), it accounts for 31 percent of all instances of childhood cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Every year, more than 3,000 kids (that is, patients age 20 and under) develop ALL, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital reported.

Tumors of the brain, spinal cord, and central nervous system are the next most common, making up a combined 21 percent of pediatric cancers.

Children may also suffer cancers of the adrenal glands, kidneys, lymph system eyes, bones, and skeletal muscles, as well as a number of rare cancers.

What Happens to Survivors of Childhood Cancer?

Suffering through a potentially deadly illness – and all of the pain, the loss, and the loneliness that entails – can be a frightening experience at any age. Studies have shown that as many as 20 percent of childhood cancer survivors meet the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when they become adults, according to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Even among those that didn’t have full-blown PSTD, between 45 and 90 percent of pediatric cancer survivors had at least one symptom. Parents, too, developed PTSD after the fearful ordeal of their child’s life-threatening disease.

A big problem for patients of pediatric cancer is that even surviving cancer is hazardous to one’s health. The surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, medications, and other medical interventions necessary to drive cancer into remission also affect other workings of the body.

For children, whose bodies and brains are still growing, this can be especially problematic. They will need lifelong checks for complications and side effects. The cancer could return, or another form of cancer could develop at any point during their lifetime – made more likely by exposure to radiation the first time around. Some childhood cancer survivors experience slower physical growth and development or learning difficulties. As adults, they may suffer heart problems, lung problems, and infertility because of the treatments the needed during childhood.

Despite the difficulties, though, survivors of pediatric cancer can and often do go on to life full, happy lives.

What about My Child?

As a parent, it’s hard not to get anxious thinking about the tragedy that is pediatric cancer. You might wonder if your child is at risk or what you can do to prevent childhood cancer or catch it early.

In many adult cancers, lifestyle factors play a role in determining risk. Not so in childhood cancers, the causes of which are still not understood in many cases. This makes it difficult to know if your kid is at risk or to prevent childhood cancers. Since cancer in children is so uncommon, there are currently no tests used to screen for cancer in children who are at an average risk, according to the American Cancer Society.

Perhaps the best thing a parent can do is know the symptoms of childhood cancer to watch for and get their child to a doctor right away if he or she begins showing those symptoms.

The most common symptoms of childhood cancer include:

  • Persistent pain in a region of the body
  • Limping
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy
  • Pale skin
  • Unexplained bruises, lumps, and swelling
  • Fever
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Vision changes

While pediatric cancer is certainly a tragic situation, remember that even if your child has some of these cancer symptoms, cancer isn’t the most likely cause. Visit a doctor to hopefully rule out cancer and, if the diagnosis does turn out to be serious, remember that the survival rate for kids with cancer is good. Catching the condition early and getting the right treatment for your child right away can make all the difference.

 

Your Doctor Is Likely to Miss These 2 Common Cancers

By Richard Console on April 15, 2015 - Comments off

You hear a lot about cancer awareness. There’s a practical reason for this focus: making people aware of the symptoms to watch for and the screenings that could lead to early detection. Survival rates are far higher when cancers are diagnosed early on, rather than after they have progressed to more serious stages.

Recently, I have seen a disturbing rise in medical malpractice cases in which doctors failed to diagnose two specific kinds of cancer: breast and colon cancer.

Mammogram resultsRegular screening can detect both types of cancer, yet somehow doctors still fail to diagnose the conditions promptly – leaving patients with poor prognoses and slim chances of surviving. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis

MammogramMammograms are just one of several tests doctors can use to detect breast cancer early on, while the survival rate is still very high. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

How Doctors Detect Breast Cancer

Doctors use a wide range of methods to diagnose breast cancer, from physical exams to imaging tests like ultrasounds and mammograms. High-risk patients might undergo MRIs, and patients who display symptoms like breast lumps might need a biopsy.

Screenings like mammograms clinical breast exams are intended to detect cancer even before the condition has begun causing noticeable symptoms. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for all women age 40 and older – even if they don’t have breast cancer symptoms – and regular clinical breast exams even for women as young as 20.

Survival Rate by Stage

When diagnosed at stage 0 and stage I, breast cancer patients have a relative 100 percent five-year survival rate, the American Cancer Society reported. At stage II, that rate still remains high at 93 percent. Even at stage III, 72 percent of breast cancer patients survive for at least five years.

When cancer progresses to stage IV, though, the survival rate plummets to just 22 percent.

Delayed Colon Cancer Diagnosis

Colonoscopy polyp removalA popular screening test for colon cancer can actually prevent cancer before it develops. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

How Doctors Detect Colon Cancer

Probably the most well-known screening for colon cancer is the colonoscopy, a test conducted in a clinic, physician’s office or hospital outpatient department in which a patient is sedated and medical providers use tubes, cameras, and other equipment to view the inside of the colon. In addition to detecting cancer, colonoscopies can also find and biopsy or remove polyps, noncancerous tumors that could later turn cancerous – in other words, the procedure can actually prevent colon cancer.

Physicians sometimes perform a sigmoidoscopy, a test similar to a colonoscopy. Doctors can also use X-ray tests and CT scans as well as various, noninvasive tests of stool sample specimens to diagnose colorectal cancer.

Though colon cancer could in theory affect patients of any age, the American Cancer Society generally doesn’t recommend regular colonoscopy or other screenings until patients turn 50. Patients with an increased risk due to family history, certain medical conditions, or other factors may need to undergo screening earlier.

If a patient goes for a regular colonoscopy or other test and gets a clean bill of health, he or she shouldn’t later be diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer. The screening should detect cancer in its early stages. A late-stage diagnosis could indicate that doctors neglected to perform procedures thoroughly or misinterpreted results of the test.

Survival Rate by Stage

As with breast cancer, colon cancer is a condition in which early detection makes a world of difference. At stage I, 92 percent of patients survive for at least five years, according to the American Cancer Society. For patients with stage IIIA colon cancer, the survival rate is 89 percent, while patients with stage IIA cancer have an 87 percent survival rate. Stage IIIB translates to a 69 percent survival rate, while stage IIB is similar at 63 percent.

When colon cancer reaches stage IIIC, patients have a 53 percent chance of living for at least five more years.

At stage IV, the survival rate drops sharply – to a dismal 11 percent.

How Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Cancer?

Knowing that there are clear guidelines and effective screening methods that allow doctors to detect breast and colon cancer early on, you might wonder how a doctor could possibly fail to diagnose cancer.

In some cases, the physician isn’t thorough enough in examining the patient. Other times, he or she neglects to order or perform a test that others in the medical community would find reasonable. For example, a patient might present with symptoms that could indicate breast cancer, but the doctor could dismiss the patient’s worrying signs instead of ordering a test to investigate the cause.

Perhaps the doctor orders the right test, but he or she never actually interprets the data, or makes a serious mistake in interpreting it. It’s even possible that the doctor will see that a test indicates that a patient has cancer, but won’t actually tell the patient of the finding, recommend a follow-up appointment, or refer the patient to a specialist. These patients go on with their lives, having no idea that they’re suffering from a serious condition until it’s too late.

No matter how a doctor failed to diagnose cancer – whether because he or she was busy, or distracted, or dismissive – this is negligence, and the consequences are severe.

The rise in failure to diagnose cases of breast and colon cancer is an alarming trend. However, misdiagnosis isn’t limited to one or two kinds of cancer. I’ve known cases of doctors failing to diagnose skin cancer, prostate cancer, and cervical cancer. One of the most memorable cases I’ve handled over the years was a failure to diagnose lung cancer claim, in which an emergency room X-ray of an injured man’s chest clearly showed a small tumor, but the hospital staff never bothered to inform the patient. By the time he learned about the cancer years later, it had progressed to a terminal illness.

If you were diagnosed with late-stage cancer of any kind even after you had undergone preventive screenings or seen your doctor for symptoms, you deserve to know whether or not a medical provider’s negligence is what put you in this situation. You and your family deserve compensation for all of the damages you suffered as a result. Give Console & Hollawell a call – the consultation is free and private, and we’ll help you understand your rights and options.

 

What You’ve Always Wanted to Know about Taxes and Your Claim

By Richard Console on April 14, 2015 - Comments off

With the deadline for filing your 2014 taxes with the IRS fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to answer a question that’s on the minds of many personal injury claimants: will they have to pay tax on their settlement or judgment?

Taxes and Personal Injury ClaimsThe IRS treats settlements and trial verdicts the same. Typically, most types of money damages you might receive from a personal injury claim are nontaxable, but there are exceptions. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

The intersection of income taxes and the legal system is so complex that the IRS has written a 30+ page guide on the subject. Fortunately, the answers you need are generally a lot simpler.

Dispelling a Myth

In the case of most personal injury claims, your damages are what we call compensatory – in other words, they’re meant to compensate you for something you have lost, whether that’s the money you’ve spent on medical expenses or income that you have missed out on because of your injuries.

“Generally speaking, most people view the term ‘compensatory’ to mean ‘nontaxable,’” the IRS reported, but that’s not entirely accurate. “The term ‘compensatory’ merely means that the payment compensated the taxpayer for a loss… determinations of the taxability of lawsuit awards cannot always be made by simply referring to the terminology used.”

So what does this mean for you? Let’s break it down.

Everything You Never Knew about Your Claim and Income Tax

Typically, any money you receive is considered income unless the tax code specifically excludes it. That’s why it’s important to know whether or not parts of the compensation you receive from pursuing a personal injury claim fall into an excluded category of income.

Physical Injuries

Section 104(a)(2) of the tax code specifically excludes “the amount of any damages (other than punitive damages) received (whether by suit or agreement and whether as lump sums or as periodic payments) on account of personal physical injuries or physical sickness” from an individual’s gross income.

In other words, the money you receive for your physical injuries in a settlement or judgment is not subject to income tax. Same goes for any compensation for emotional distress related to your injuries.

However, if you deducted medical expenses related to your injury from a previous year’s taxes, you may have to include this amount as “other income,” according to the IRS. Basically, you can’t get that money tax-free if you’ve already gotten a tax benefit from it once.

Pain and Suffering

You’ve probably heard the phrase pain and suffering, but you might not have a clear idea what it means. Compensation for pain and suffering means money to repay you for the physical and emotional distress you have suffered from the accident or your injuries, including how your injuries have affected your life. Like physical injuries, pain and suffering is another type of damages that is considered nontaxable. So is loss of consortium, or the loss of marital companionship between spouses, NOLO reported. While these damages are considered non-economic damages, meaning that there isn’t a set cost attached to them the way there is to medical expenses, they are still compensated monetarily – so it’s important to know that you won’t have to pay income tax on them.

Punitive Damages

Sometimes plaintiffs receive what’s called punitive damages, or money awarded as punishment for the wrongdoer rather than money awarded only for the purpose of repaying the victim. Not every claim involves punitive damages. They mainly come into play in situations in which (1) the defendant’s behavior was especially heinous or outrageous in some way, such as committing a hit-and-run, and (2) the case went to trial. In the (in)famous McDonald’s coffee case, jurors decided to impose punitive damages on McDonald’s for what the jury perceived as the company’s lack of concern for the more than 700 customers who had complained of burns from excessively hot coffee.

Punitive damages can be very high. McDonald’s, for instance, was originally ordered to pay $2,700,000 in punitive damages before the judge decided to reduce the amount. However, these damages are taxable – so if your case does include an award for punitive damages, don’t spend all of that money right away. Punitive damages are “always” taxed, Forbes reported, so expect the IRS to come after its cut. The same goes for any interest you are awarded at a trial, so take stock of what you might owe before spending that money.

No Tax Burden? What about Liens?

If your case didn’t involve punitive damages and you never took an itemized medical deduction for expenses related to your accident, it’s likely that your settlement is tax-free in its entirety. Even so, though, you should know about the other costs you might have to pay: liens. The simplest way to describe a lien is as money that you owe.

  • Health Insurance Liens: If your health insurance company paid your medical bills, even partially, the company might be able to demand that money back if the insurance contract allows it to do so. Our lawyers will often negotiate down health insurance liens so that you can keep more of your settlement.
  • Funding Liens: Naturally, being hurt and unable to work can leave you strapped for cash. Some claimants need money before their case is resolved, so they borrow it on a temporary basis. At the end of the case, they must pay back this money, which is then known as a funding lien.
  • Child Support Liens: If you owe child support payments, you will have to make any outdated past payments out of your settlement or judgement before you get your money. However, since this compensation isn’t considered income, it won’t raise the amount of money you must pay in the future.

When it comes to your claim, it’s important to know what expenses – whether taxes or liens – you will have to pay on a settlement or judgment. After all, you want to keep as much money in your pocket as possible – and you don’t want to find out too late that you owe money you have already spent.

 

Too Big to Care: How Insurance Companies Killed the Auto Repair Industry

By Richard Console on April 13, 2015 - Comments off

Imagine waking up as the villain in an industry where you’re only trying to do your job. Try as you might to produce quality work, all you seem to get are complaints, arguments, and regular visits from the bullies who are slowly strangling the life out of your bottom line. For Jim Pfau, general manager of Alan’s Collision, and thousands of other autobody shops across the country, doing battle with insurance companies is a daily process. He’s witnessed the slow, steady tightening of control that insurance adjusters exact on the repair process, dictating everything from the money he receives to pay his technicians, to the parts that go into a consumer’s vehicle.

“The direct repairs have given the insurance companies the muscle to influence the labor rate,” Pfau said. “And that’s pretty much suppressing the labor rate all across the board; across the country actually.”

Autobody shop ownersAutobody shop owners work long hours with many regularly logging 50 to 60 hours per week. They rarely take vacations or days off, and have experienced dwindling sales and labor rates as insurance companies gain more control of their market. Photo Credit: Flickr

The Direct Repair Model Kills Independent Shops

A direct repair facility is a business that has an active partnership with a given insurance company. Under that agreement, the insurer is able to set the labor rate, the work performed, and control which repair facilities receive their business. If a shop isn’t on their list, adjusters are quick to tell claimants that the work at an “independent” facility may not be guaranteed, and that they may have to pay for those repairs out of their own pockets – something no driver with an already-wrecked vehicle wants to hear.

“Insurance companies are trying to weed out the small body shops, unless you’re working with them,” said Dion Mason, owner of What U Need, Inc., an independent repair facility. “They govern your prices even more when you’re a [direct repair].”

Both Mason and Pfau explained that the desire to have freedom in repair options and pricing isn’t about raking in more cash; it’s about doing what’s best for the consumer. Adjusters rarely accept estimates for costs from independent shop owners at first blush and routinely request smaller repair windows, which shrinks the total time technicians have to install components and fix cars. What consumer wants to drive off with their car when their mechanic only had one business day to complete a repair job that’s supposed to take three? It wasn’t always so complicated, but it doesn’t appear there’s a way back as insurance companies take steps to control more repair shops. What Jim and Dion, and other auto repair professionals like them, fear most is the day when a consumer suffers a terrible tragedy because an insurance company tied their hands on repair quality.

Auto repair labor costsThink of ‘labor rate’ like ‘wages’ for mechanics. Notice how the red line (wages) appears stagnant? A repair shop must take that income and spread it out over multiple technicians and shop-related costs, which leaves very little, if any, leftover in profit. Source:  Car MD

Used Parts are the Hidden Danger of Auto Repair   

“I remember a time when insurance companies wouldn’t write for used parts,” said Mason. “But, they all write up for used parts now.”  

Used parts don’t just apply to steering wheels and mufflers. Insurance companies are reportedly compelling repair shops to install used components that could violate state safety laws. At least, that’s what Jim Pfau believes. He’s filed a complaint with Pennsylvania’s Attorney General and written multiple letters to the state insurance commissioner as part of an ongoing battle with one of the nation’s biggest insurance companies.

“State Farm wanted to put a used suspension assembly in the car [GT Mustang],” Pfau said. “That actually violates the Pennsylvania Appraisers Act. It’s a very simple law, not open to interpretation, yet the insurance commissioner signed off that it was an authorized repair…what’s next, a used tire?…State Farm is just so big, that the law just doesn’t apply to them. That’s my opinion.”

damaged suspension assemblyImagine a mechanic installing this used component as part of a worn suspension assembly in your vehicle because the insurance company said so. That doesn’t appear to be in the best interest of safety, but it sure saved the insurance company money on the repair. Photo Credit: Flickr

State Farm declined to comment on this article when reached for a statement.

Section 62.3 of the Motor Vehicle Damage Appraisers Act requires that:  “An appraisal for the repair of the motor vehicle shall be made in the amount necessary to return the motor vehicle to its pre-damaged condition. If the consumer wishes to repair the motor vehicle to a condition better than the pre-damaged condition, the appraisal need only specify the cost of repairing the vehicle to its pre-damaged condition.” How dangerous is throwing a used suspension into a vehicle and sending it out onto the road? The system of shock absorbers and springs that make up a car’s suspension controls everything from how the vehicle responds to road conditions to how well it protects passengers and cargo. If you’d like to take the chance that a car’s tires suddenly fall off, go right ahead. The term “catastrophic system failure” comes up often.

Mechanics in other states are experiencing similar issues. Ernie Wisniewski, owner of Mitchell’s Motors Inc. in Illinois, has fought through comparable difficulties with insurance companies. “They’re [insurance companies] not following protocols. They want you to buy a part at a junk yard and slam it in, and they’re relieved of all liability. I absolutely won’t do it.” He added: “I think there’s a big prejudice, not always deliberate, but there is, and we’re suffering for it…for being thorough.”

Insurance Adjusters Know Less about Cars Than You Do 

Ernie, Jim, and Dion have all been in business for long periods of time. Ernie leads the pack with 45 years of autobody repair business under his belt, and he’s seen adjusters come and go during that time. All three believe many insurance adjusters either receive poor training or know next to knowing about how the auto repair process works or the time that goes into making it all happen. Ernie takes particular exception to insurer Progressive’s methods.

“Their [Progressive’s] adjusters are what I’ll call poorly trained,” he said. “I read on one website where a person got a job as a Progressive adjuster and they were boasting how they didn’t know anything about cars, and after two weeks of training they’re experienced and can walk into a shop like mine with forty-five years’ experience and tell us what we’re going to do to fix a car.”

Damaged car repair guideConsumers feel the pain of insurance company tactics to lower costs just as autobody shops do. Photo Credit: Flickr

Dion Mason depicted much the same climate in the Philadelphia market: “We got a lot of adjusters out here [Philadelphia] who may have done body work at one time. The majority of adjusters I’ve talked to, they’ve never done body work to be able to tell what it entails or what needs to be done because no dent is the same. No car is going to get hit the exact same way.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum education requirement for adjusters, though many auto damage appraisers complete a two-year vocational training course in estimating motor vehicle repair costs.

Despite the apparent lack of knowledge on the part of adjusters, the repair climate requires mechanics to maintain positive relationships with these insurance company employees to ensure work keeps coming their way. Independent shops without direct-repair deals that garner reputations for being argumentative lose repeat business. In tough economic times, every dollar and every car are vital to keep an autobody shop open. As Dion put it, “If I rub him [the adjuster] the wrong way, he’s going to rub me the wrong way.”

Cautionary Tales: Reality of an Insurance Controlled Repair Industry

“At least six to eight repair shops are closing every two to three months.”

Joe Fischer, owner of J. Lee Automotive Industry Equipment USA, supplies auto repair parts to thousands of shops across the United States. He has keen insight into the insurance industry’s incursion into autobody shops because he’s seen the strategy play out before, in England. According to Fischer, the insurance companies in England have forced nearly 60 percent of independent repair shops to close, putting great strain on companies that supply auto parts, including paint materials. He knows this because he recently purchased an auto supply company from a businessman forced to return home to deal with his struggling parent company in his native England. The reason for that company’s downward trend? Lack of business due to the rash of autobody shop closings. Fischer believes the insurance industry in the United States has a similar takeover in mind, and the signs are already out in the open.

most common auto repairs The second-most common repair in the country is a damaged fuel cap, which costs about $0.10 cents to diagnose – down 90 percent from 2011. The drastic drop in price indicates may repair shops are now repairing the problem free of charge, according to Car MD. Photo Credit: Flickr

“The more and more [independent] shops they [insurance industry] eliminate, the more and more shops they get to be direct repairs,” he said. “They’ll eliminate as many independent shops as they can, then their excuse to get laws changed where the insurance companies can own body shops will be to say that they don’t have any shops to send our cars to be repaired at. We need to open our own shops. Then the insurance companies will control the body shop industry and everyone who’s bitching and moaning and complaining right now will have to go to work for the insurance company anyway.”

Imagine an environment where insurance companies send repair orders to auto repair facilities run for them and by their own employees. The Jim Pfau types of the repair industry would effectively be silenced, run out of business or forced to play ball with the insurance industry and conduct repairs however its adjusters see fit. Used suspension assemblies for everyone? How does it benefit consumers to be at the mercy of insurance companies that may put their own financial interests ahead of safety? Fischer sees a way forward, but wonders if the repair industry has the sense of urgency required to make it happen.

“…We need a new organization to be started, that’s the biggest thing,” he said. “…what we need is an organization that’s created by all bodyshop owners across the United States, and have eleven or twelve people that are actually voted in, and actually run the organization five days a week, just like the people they’re going up against, which are the insurance companies…it needs to be run as a business. Any other way is just plain stupidity.”

Without a united front on a national scale, Fischer believes the future for independent repair shops, and the industry as a whole, is bleak at best.

“If we do not organize…create this new group,” he said, “that is governed by owners only…then you will be working for the insurance company within five and at the most 10 years…if something isn’t done the insurance companies will own I would say 15 to 20 percent of the body shops that will be available.”

The plan may already be in action. Taken from the Sterling Autobody Centers website: “In 2001, Allstate Non-Insurance Holdings purchased Sterling Autobody Centers to offer consumers the option of a superior automotive claims experience with guaranteed high-quality repairs. Sterling Autobody Centers now operates over 60 vehicle repair facilities in 16 states, with a Store Support Center in Natick, Massachusetts.”

Yikes.

Posted in: Personal Injury

 

The 7 Most Bizarre Cancer Symptoms You’ll Probably Ignore

By Richard Console on April 9, 2015 - Comments off

There are some symptoms that we all – hopefully – know could indicate cancer: excessive tiredness and fatigue, the development of strange lumps on the breast or elsewhere on the body.  However, not every cancer symptom is obvious. Some are seemingly minor signs that you might chalk up to another, less serious cause. Others might be so mild that you don’t notice them at all.

The 7 most bizarre cancer symptoms you'll probably ignore

Knowing these symptoms and getting help for them immediately could result in early detection that saves your life. Don’t ignore these seven weird signs – see a doctor as soon as possible to find out if cancer could be causing them.

1. Persistent Cough

Cough cancer symptomSometimes you get over the rest of the cold but can’t seem to shake that nasty cough. This could very well be the case, but your cough could also be a cancer symptom. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Unfortunately, an ongoing, ever-present cough could indicate cancer of the lungs, larynx, thyroid, or lymphoma or leukemia – especially if you’re coughing up blood. If your cough hangs around for longer than a few weeks and doesn’t seem to improve with antibiotics or other medical interventions, your doctor may order diagnostic imaging of your chest to rule out cancer.

2. Mysterious Pain

Pain cancer symptomUnexplained pain could stem from a wide variety of cancerous causes. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Sometimes you know how you hurt yourself. Maybe you overdid it at the gym, leaving your muscles sore, or you walked into something in a moment of clumsiness that left you with a painful bruise. If you don’t know where this pain is coming from – or if you think you know, but it doesn’t seem to get better – then it’s time to see a doctor. Same goes for a bruise, sore, lump, or any swelling that doesn’t improve.

Frequent headaches could indicate a brain tumor. Back pain could suggest breast, liver, or lung cancer. Chest pain could indicate lung cancer or leukemia. Stomach pain could be a sign of pancreatic cancer. Bruising could result from leukemia. Sores and even itchy patches of skin that last for weeks could be signs of skin cancer.

3. Sudden Weight Loss

Weight loss cancer symptomUnexplained loss of 10 pounds or more could indicate cancer. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

Most of us associate losing weight with getting healthier, but if you’re dropping pounds rapidly without radically changing your diet or level of physical activity, it could be a sign that something is seriously wrong. That something could be cancer of the stomach, esophagus, pancreas, lungs, colon, or liver.

If you suddenly and unexpectedly gain weight, this, too, could be a symptom of cancer. Abdominal weight gain, bloating, and loss of appetite are common signs of ovarian cancer in women – but because cancer isn’t a cause of weight gain that immediately comes to mind for most people, this symptom often goes ignored. 

4. Changes in Bladder and Bowel Habits

Restroom cancer symptomNot to cross into disgusting territory, but if you notice persistent changes related to your bathroom usage, cancer could be the culprit. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Bladder and kidney cancers could result in blood in the urine, while colon cancer could lead to blood in the stool. Men with prostate cancer often experience changes such as difficulty urinating.

Bladder and bowel changes might be uncomfortable to talk about, but that’s a big reason why so many people ignore them. Don’t let embarrassment about these symptoms stop you from seeing a doctor.

5. Persistent Heartburn

heartburn cancer symptomMany of us suffer heartburn at one time or another, whether due to stress or overeating, but persistent heartburn could be a symptom of a more serious problem. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

If you consistently experience acid reflux that lasts for a couple of weeks and changing your diet doesn’t seem to make a difference, it’s time to see a doctor. Persistent heartburn could be a symptom of stomach, throat, or ovarian cancer.

Even more concerning, acid reflux may even cause the most common type of cancer of the esophagus, according to the Esophageal Cancer Action Network. In this case, getting treatment for your heartburn now rather than letting it continue long-term may actually reduce your future risk of developing esophageal cancer.

6. Fever

Fever cancer symptomIf you have a fever that doesn’t go away, it could be more than a raised temperature in response to a cold. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

 Leukemia and other cancers of the blood can harm your immune system and make it harder for your body to fight off infections. Sometimes flu-like symptoms accompany this fever, which can make you even more likely to ignore the sign because you attribute it to a noncancerous cause. If these symptoms linger or get worse instead of better, it could be a clue that you’re not just suffering from a cold.

7. Change in Appearance of Fingernails

Fingernail clubbingYou probably associate cancer with changes in your skin, but what about changes in your fingernails, like “clubbing”? Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Blue, brown, or black lines and dots under your nails could suggest skin cancer – possibly a deadly form. A change in the shape of your nail known as “clubbing” might indicate lung cancer. If your nails look pale or white, you might have liver cancer.

Don’t Wait to Seek Help for These Symptoms

Recognizing symptoms early on is one of the best ways you can control cancer. All of these weird symptoms have one thing in common: they’re all a departure from what’s typical of your body. By being familiar with your body well and paying attention to changes – even seemingly small ones – you’re more likely to notice problematic symptoms in time for existing cancer treatments to work as effectively as possible.

If you’ve seen a doctor about worrying symptoms like these and the physician dismissed your concerns, but you later were diagnosed with a late-stage cancer, your doctor could be responsible for failing to diagnose your disease earlier. Sadly, I’ve seen an uptick in cases like these. If this happened to you, then you should know that you have legal rights and my firm can help you.

If you haven’t seen a doctor yet for symptoms like these, don’t wait any longer. Get these symptoms checked out as soon as possible.

 

5K to Raise Funds for Autism Research

By Richard Console on April 8, 2015 - Comments off

You might know Christina Singh as a dedicated paralegal here at Console & Hollawell, but helping personal injury victims is just one of her passions. She’s a devoted mother of three, a constant presence in community organizations, and most recently, the driving force behind an upcoming 5K to benefit autism research. Her story was also recently featured in the Courier Post.

The Medford Lakes Miles of Hope 5K Run/WalkChristina and her son, Logan

Get Involved to Raise Autism Awareness

Medford Lakes Autism 5K
What: The Medford Lakes Miles of Hope 5K Run/Walk

When: 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 25, 2015

Where: 79 Tecumseh Trail in Medford Lakes, NJ

Why: To raise autism awareness and money for research. Proceeds will go to Autism Speaks of Southern New Jersey.

How: Sign up today to participate in the 5K run/walk. Can’t make it, but still want to help? Donate online to support the cause.

Cost: $25 for adults and $15 for participants under 18 to walk or run; $3 signup fee to sign up online. Donations can be any amount you choose.


The Cause

“Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in our nation, with New Jersey being at the top of the list,” Christina said. “Approximately one in every 48 children in New Jersey is on the spectrum, with 1 in every 28 being boys. The numbers are startling, and we, as a community, need to raise awareness for this. Our children are our future and we have a duty to preserve that.”

The Journey from an Idea to a Success

The idea for the race first occurred to Christina a couple years ago. She had always helped out in the community, coaching T-ball and track and serving as a committee chair for the Cub Scouts. She also has a personal connection to the cause, since her son, Logan, has high-functioning autism. As a frequent triathlon and race participant herself, Christina thought a 5K would be the perfect event to increase local awareness and research funding.

“I wholeheartedly believe in giving back to the community, and this is a great way to do that while raising awareness for autism,” she said.

Christina began work on the event six months ago, with the help of Simonne Hummel and Melissa Warren, both of whom are also mothers of autistic sons. She had originally hoped to raise $1,000 and sign up 100 participants. Already, the community’s response has been overwhelming. More than 125 people have signed up to take part in the race, and in race fees alone, Christina has exceeded that $1,000 goal.

Good thing, too – as Christina puts it, “more money, more research.”

It’s not too late to join the cause! To help Christina fund autism research and bring more awareness to Medford Lakes and the whole of South Jersey, sign up now for the 5K, or make your donation online. Every dollar makes a difference!

 

Cut Your Cancer Risk during Cancer Control Month

By Richard Console on April 7, 2015 - Comments off

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Directly or indirectly, cancer will impact the life of almost every individual in the nation. Some of us will suffer a devastating disease ourselves, while others will have to watch someone we love suffer from it. Due to the prevalence of the more than 100 different kinds of cancer, no one can afford to ignore the threat to our friends, our family members, and even our own lives.

Cancer patientStatistically, half of all males and one-third of all females in the United States will develop some form of cancer over their lifetime, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey reported. Photo Credit: Corbis Images.

April is Cancer Control Month, a national observance dedicated to the prevention, detection, and treatment of all kinds of cancers. It’s an opportunity for every one of us to learn more about our risks, the symptoms we should never ignore, and what we can do to prevent cancer or to detect the disease as early as possible.

Cancer in the News

All month long, I’ll share information that could help you and the people you love most slash your risk and make sure you don’t have cancer – or make sure that you catch the disease early on to maximize the benefits of treatment.

Cancer in the NewsUnsurprisingly, cancer is among the medical conditions that most commonly make the news. Photo Credit: Pixabay.

In the meantime, here are some health news stories you need to know:

  • Researchers are continually seeking new, better ways of treating cancer, but are the most innovative treatments too expensive to help the average patient? The deadly cost of life-saving cancer drugs could stand in the way of people with treatable cancers getting better.
  • Cancer treatments like chemotherapy are known to have horrible side effects. It’s hard to believe that any person would knowingly expose patients who don’t actually have cancer to such harmful procedures, but that’s exactly what authorities say happened in this stomach-turning instance of health insurance fraud.
  • It’s a frightening reality that some cancers are linked to certain medications. For example, long-term use of diabetes drug Actos could increase a patient’s risk of bladder cancer. If you or a family member developed cancer after taking a prescription drug, you might want to check our Pharmaceutical Injury Resource page to see if there’s a known link between the medication and type of cancer detected.
  • Early detection saves lives, but only if medical providers actually act on their findings. Delayed cancer diagnoses mean that people who could have survived with earlier treatment die needlessly. This is a form of medical malpractice, and it’s nothing short of tragic. If you were diagnosed with late-stage cancer even though you had seen doctors for regular screenings or for medical complaints related to your condition, you should know that you have legal rights.

Check back throughout the month for important cancer control information, and make sure you share the information with your loved ones. You might just save a life!

 

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