A young widow who had to pick up the pieces of her life after her husband died from cancer.
A lawyer who has successfully addressed depression.
A couple with a son who has autism who opened two gyms so all children could embrace their playful sides together.
These are among the hundreds of real stories, about real people in Western New York, that have been contained in WNY Refresh since it was launched five years ago this month.
The Saturday newspaper supplement out of the newsroom – focused on health, fitness, nutrition and family life – also has included stories from journalists around the world, as well as weekly columns from Drs. Mehmet Oz and Buffalo native Mike Roizen; Dr. Zorba Paster, a primary care doctor in Madison, Wisc.; pharmacologist Joe Graedon and his wife, patient advocate Terry Graedon; veteran New York Times health reporter Jane E. Brody; and longtime parenting guru and family psychologist John Rosemond.
The section also features a weekly calendar of healthy, helpful events.
All this valuable information comes at a newsstand price that can bring you nearly a half-year's worth of stories for about the cost of a single co-pay (Hint: a subscription is even less expensive).
The print section is filled with the kinds of stories you might want to cut out and tape on the fridge or share with loved ones. Local stories online, at buffalonews.com/section/health-and-fitness, can be passed along on social media.
People who care about health, wellness and family make WNY what it is. Below are excerpts that have helped give the section meaningful form.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
"Some colleagues have said of Dan, 'What is it he has to be depressed about? He has a good life, a good job. He’s well paid. He’s got a beautiful daughter, everything anybody could want. People don’t say that about people who suffer from cancer. ... One of the great contributions Dan has made is the work that he’s done over all of these years to try to put the lie to these false assumptions.” – Veteran WNY attorney Stephen Halpern, above right, about his friend Dan Lukasik, above left, who started the support group Lawyers with Depression; read a related story here.
"It seems to be diet and exercise. As the population became more and more obese, the incidence of diabetes rose. There was an endocrinologist who about 10 years ago showed a graph of the increase in the incidence of diabetes in Western New York and compared it to the incidence of the fast-food chains. They almost ran parallel." – Dr. Jeffrey M. Carrel, an Amherst podiatrist, when asked why diabetes percentages have increased; read a related story here.
"It’s not about money, it’s about going to work and loving what you do – but I have 30 years to pay a second mortgage, so I’m going to be one of those poor doctors for a really long time." – Dr. Amy Burke, right, a primary care doctor in Orchard Park who went through medical school as a single mom; read a related story here.
"Our core belief in setting this up is that drug prices are not going to come down unless patients stand up and fight for lower drug costs. One of the things we encourage people to do – after they figure out their own situation – is to share their story with us. That is where we can help them, and make sure that their local elected officials or federal officials or governor or policymakers understand that high drug costs are taking a toll on people right now, and that we need action." – David Mitchell, of Potomac, Md., who has multiple myeloma and founded patientsforaffordabledrugs.org. read a related story here.
"Your brain is a muscle – use it or lose it. That means reading, writing, thinking, doing, not sitting in front of a passive screen like a couch potato." – Dr. Zorba Paster, April 5, 2014, in a column about revisiting broken New Year's resolutions
"When I've called doctors, they were always sympathetic and encouraging. Sometimes, they were realistic. I think I'd rather deal with realism." – Steven Lisicki, of Williamsville, whose wife, Linda, is being treated for early stage dementia at the Center of Excellence for Alzheimer's Disease, based at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; read a related story here.
“Quitting is not just a matter of willpower. Nicotine is an addictive substance, and most people who started smoking didn’t know what they were getting into.” – Andrew Hyland, head of the Roswell Park Comprehensive Care Center Department of Behavior, Dec. 27, 2014. Roswell hosts the New York State Quitline (nysmokefree.com; 1-866-697-8487); read a related story here.
"Tim was Stage IV and he had five to seven months left. It was the most bizarre, nonsensical thing, because he really felt fine, pretty much. … And from there, it was a process of trying to balance these paradoxical ideas of how do you fight, give it everything you’ve got, refuse to accept what it is, and accept what’s happening to you and prepare for that? How do you do that? How do you handle both? How do we be realistic and yet fight?" – Darcy Thiel, mental health counselor in West Seneca, whose husband, Tim Colvin, died in 2010 from gallbladder cancer, during the first issue of WNY Refresh on March 9, 2013; read related stories here and here.
"There are days when you’re not going to feel like it, but try and maintain as positive an attitude as you possibly can, and to consider there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and that light will grow as you get closer and closer toward the end of your treatment. Cancer is not to be feared but it is to be respected. Thank goodness we’ve gone past the point where cancer was a death sentence as soon as it was mentioned. There’s still some sad cases, and there will be, but there’s not nearly the number that there were in the past." – Buffalo Sabres NHL Hall of Fame play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret, before he helped lead the inaugural Relay for Life of Buffalo at Canalside; read a related story here.
"I look at finding out I was BRCA positive as a gift. Knowledge is power and it gives you the power to control what you're outcome is going to be. You can be proactive. You can choose to do screenings or you can do more. Our passion for this foundation is you can give people the information they need to make those informed choices." – Dawn Sagerman, who had a double mastectomy five years ago after testing positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation; her mother and grandmother died from breast cancer. She and her daughter, Andrea Whitmarsh, both are leaders of the Familial Cancer Foundation of WNY (fcfwny.org); read a related story here.
"I believe in exercise and I love volunteer work. I never smoked. I like a martini every now and then. I’ve promised them over at the apartments when I’m able to walk without this walker, we’ll make Manhattans. I’ve always been a coffee drinker, strong coffee, four cups a day. Black." – Olive Beutler, above left, who, at nearly 102, remained a member of the Smallwood Garden Club Garden Therapy Program in Amherst. This photo was taken Aug. 13, 2016, as Beutler worked with then 90-year-old resident Angie Genovese at Beechwood Continuing Care in Getzville. Beutler died last October.
"If it’s not you that might have a diagnosis of anxiety or depression, it’s very likely to be someone in your family with an illness – diagnosed or undiagnosed. By not talking about it, we sometimes hope it will get better by itself, when the fact is, normally it doesn’t. Why would you wait? We wouldn’t take this approach with cancer or diabetes – maybe we’ll ignore it and it’ll go away – so why do people do that when it comes to mental health?" – Pamela Szalay, director of community education for the Mental Health Association in Niagara County; read a related story here.
"I had to leave the safety of treatment, start a life of recovery and redefine my life. It was scary, and also exhilarating in some ways, so I really relate to a place like this." – Stephen White, program director for BestSelf Recovery Community, a gathering place for those in addictions recovery to build a healthier life through computer training, fitness and nutrition classes, and peer-to-peer support; read a related story here.
"There are so many people out there, just waiting. … Some of them die while they are waiting. This is so important." – Maurilio "Mauri" Giannada, a retired Buffalo teacher and lung transplant recipient, about the importance of organ donation, April 1, 2017 (Find donor form at unyts.org/checkyes); read a related story here.
"It ain't rocket science: Apple or Twinkie, you take the apple." – Buddy Morris, above, NFL strength and conditioning coach for several college and pro football teams and former Clarence gym owner, now with the Arizona Cardinals
"Great abs are made in the kitchen and the gym. You can do exercises till you're blue in the face but you're not going to see results unless you burn the fat over the muscle by eating a healthy, disease preventing, body-shaping diet." – Robbie Raugh, Northtowns fitness trainer, nutritionist and author.
“Think of your colon as an ecosystem, a tropical jungle. … “Probiotics appear to be really helpful in making our colon happy. They protect us against diarrhea and constipation. They probably protect us against colon cancer, and we now think they have things to do with prevention of breast cancer, urinary cancer, pancreatic cancer and other cancers. So a healthy microflora is turning out to be an incredible thing.” – Peter Horvath, director of sports nutrition in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science at the University at Buffalo; read a related story here.
"I did try a lot of diets – the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers – but none of them worked as much as eating real food and exercising. That's basically the bottom line." – Rachel Miller, left, of Kenmore, a holistic health coach and owner of Reform with Rachel, who lost 120 pounds and has kept it off for more than a decade
"Bad food choices increase your risk for high blood pressure and diabetes, even while a statin keeps your lousy LDL cholesterol in check. But if you take a second or even third look at your plate, you can take advantage of the remarkable health benefits of statins. Try a meal makeover that adds more proven, heart-smart edibles while subtracting nefarious food felons that boost your risk for everything from ticker trouble and high blood sugar to dementia and a lousy sex life." – Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Buffalo native Dr. Mike Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic; read a related story here.
"Starting out, I never was concerned about how much butter you put into something, how much cream, or how many carbs were on one dish. It probably wasn't until I started hearing about healthy alternatives and I became a dad. It's very easy to eat better. It really is." – WNY chef Shea Zappia, discussing healthy dining options; read a related story here.
“The standard Western diet has a lot of inflammatory foods that a lot of Native bodies have not adapted to: the white flour, dairy, artificial sweeteners, sugars and starches. That’s wreaked havoc on a lot of our bodies. I thought, ‘There’s got to be another way than just medications and pills to improve our health.’” – Laticia McNaughton, above right, of the Town of Tonawanda, with Nancy Johnson. Both are among the indigenous food experts in WNY; read a related story here.
"Toast this news with a cool glass of H2O! In a recent University of Illinois study, people who drank one, two, or three extra glasses of water a day took in between 68 to 208 fewer calories–enough to lose nearly a half-pound a week. For the study, scientists looked at the drinking habits of 18,311 volunteers. Those who bumped up their plain-water intake not only dialed down the calories, but they also consumed up to a tablespoon less sugar daily. That’s very good news. Sodium intake was dialed back, a potential help for lowering high blood pressure, and they cut sat-fat intake, easing inflammation. Only plain water has this effect, not coffee, tea, soda, juice, or milk." – Drs. Oz and Roizen
"If I didn't do this I didn't think I would have lasted another two years." – WGR-550 AM Sports Radio Sabres beat reporter Paul Hamilton, on his decision to go through the intensive process of gastric bypass surgery; read a related story here.
“People today are living longer than ever. Since I was born, we’ve been given another 20 years of life. Still, a lot of people don’t know what to do with it.” – Richard Derwald, above center, 83, and leader of the Erie County Club 99 workout program for seniors; read a related story here.
“I couldn’t do any of the high-impact aerobics when I started. Zumba was great because it gave me the motivation of group exercise. There’s a certain energy that comes when you’re working next to other people. … Your body’s energized, your soul. You’re genuinely happy. I have more energy. I’m a better person.” – Laura Contreras, who lost 130 pounds in 2½ years after starting Zumba classes, inside and outdoors; read a related story here.
“If you go to the model of creating health in communities, you begin to see the role that workplaces play. We’re making a transformation from what has been treatment and cure to a balance model that includes prevention and health promotion. Until we start doing that, we’re going to be on that treadmill of costs continuing to escalate.” – Philip L. Haberstro, executive director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo; read a related story here.
“Life is stressful. Life is hard. It’s recognizing in those hard times that you are important enough to keep working and putting yourself first.” – Sarah Coburn, above right, owner of Power Fitness in North Tonawanda; read a related story here.
“It’s exercise in disguise.” – Alaina Zyhowski, of Lancaster, about dancing. She's a Tuesday night regular at Swing Buffalo, which gathers at the Polish Cadets hall; read a related story here.
"We are seeing girls who have never run, ever, and they’re completing a 5K. … We have never had a girl not be able to complete our 5K, and that’s due in part to the coaching and the encouragement and telling people, ‘It’s OK if you walk. All you have to do is get through that finish line. And that’s why they have that buddy runner. We had a girl in a wheelchair and she did the 5K. It was the best." – Meghan Cavanaugh, program director with Girls on the Run Buffalo
“You grow up in one place, but reading can really help you think about all the things that are out there in the world that you haven’t thought about or experienced yet. It can open you up to a lot of different goals. I don’t know if it sounds too lofty, but reading about characters in stories can help you develop empathy and understand people better. I notice a lot of good readers listen more and have more exposure to different ideas and people.” – Kristen Pastore-Capuana, of Kenmore, a Cheektowaga Central High School English teacher, with husband Mike and their children, Sophia and Michael, in 2014; read a related story here.
“Yoga and walking are the two most important exercises. It’s not starting something really radical, plus there are traditions that say, ‘Walk 5 miles a day and the baby just falls right out.’ We’re so sedentary as a society and normally walk in short bursts. When we’re walking longer distances, we’re helping to stabilize the pelvis as the body shifts. Walking in the third trimester can really help ease labor. You can get tired when pregnant. Take a walk first. Sometimes, it energizes you.” – Megan Callahan, mother of two and owner of Yoga Parkside; read a related story here.
"It’s 50/50, which is exactly where we want it. It allows us to teach other children, and their parents, about children with special needs. We work a lot on compassion, advocacy, patience, tolerance and working together as a team." – Jessica Sills, above, who with her husband, Jeffrey, owns We Rock the Spectrum kids gyms in Derby and Clarence. They're having fun with then 3-year-old Michael Hageman in the Derby gym in 2016; read a related story here.
"Authority is not about persuasion; it’s about communicating expectations unequivocally. That describes what I call “leadership speech”– a manner of communicating that reflects confidence in the legitimacy of one’s authority – in this case, the legitimate authority of a responsible parent over a child. Leadership speech is calm, composed, and straight to the point – using the fewest words possible without explanation." – John Rosemond column
"Nearly every child raised in the good old days of American childhood (and if you want verification of the fact that they were indeed good old days, go to the Internet and search child mental health and school achievement trends since the 1950s) was told, on occasion, that he was busting the seams on his britches, or was up on his high horse, or must think the world revolved around him, or couldn’t see past the end of his own nose." – John Rosemond column
“I think of it as navigating a rough river I’ve never navigated before. We got into some rough water but I’m still in the boat. We’re still afloat. And I figured, ‘Let’s get him to the best place we can.’ I love him so much and the love just grew. What kept me grounded is my faith. He is a gift God has given me for this time, for however long it is.” – Jacqueline Platt, above, of Buffalo, who moved her father, John Eaton, to the city in 2015 to care for him and, ultimately, arranged for nursing home care as his health worsened before he died; read a related story here.
“After you get your life in order – and it takes a good year to do that – you start to think, ‘What am I going to do? The house is clean. The wash is done. I have to find something.’” – Judy Brody, on her successful efforts to address social isolation; read a related story here.
"Just after the holidays, start thinking about the upcoming year: How much do you normally spend? I'm not encouraging people to spend less, just to be mindful and spend within your means. Right after the holidays have passed, and you've enjoyed them, look forward to the holidays next year, and how to commit some resources each month so you can enjoy them without stressing. Everyone thinks they're going to pay off their credit card bill with their tax refund, but they don't. They go on vacation because they're stressed out, or buy furniture." – Amy Jo Lauber, owner of Lauber Financial Planning in West Seneca; read a related story here.
“Parent role-modeling is really important, and very often parents will not eat some healthy foods in front of their kids. Understanding that parents are busy and juggling many responsibilities, as parents try to sort out what might work, actually trying to eat those foods in front of the children, with the children, is something that should be tried – with repeated and consistent effort. If the parents aren’t doing it consistently, the kids aren’t getting role-model exposure.” – Myles Faith, professor and associate chairman of counseling, school and educational psychology in the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education, for a story on kids who are fussy eaters; read a related story here.
Twitter: BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon