Category Archives: Health

Clean Water

In remote places throughout the world, people are getting clean water for the first time, thanks to the efforts of Rotarians in a district that spans from Palmetto to Marco Island. The Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch hosted a showcase before its regular meeting to show how clean water and sanitation projects are changing lives, reducing suffering for some of the 780 million people in the world who do not have access to clean water.

Rotarians from clubs in Bonita Springs, Estero, Sanibel-Captiva and Fort Myers South joined others from Sarasota and Manatee counties in promoting and learning about projects in Peru, St. Lucia, Guatemala, Haiti, the Philippines and Dominican Republic.

George Lewis, a four year Lakewood Ranch resident and club member, calls himself “The Waterman.” While still living in Oregon in 2006, he became involved in developing water projects. He figures he has helped 2 million people in 37 countries. “He’s always looking for ways to get people’s attention to donate to water,” said Ron Myers, the Lakewood Ranch club’s chairman for Clean Water Projects. The 81-year-old uses a palette knife to create original oil paintings. In exchange for $100 to pay his expenses, he gives them to Rotary clubs to then auction for higher prices to help fund charitable projects with an emphasis on clean water and sanitation. He is prolific. In 22 months, Lewis has painted 264 canvases, generating thousands of dollars. His name is known in Rotary circles. “I knew George before he was famous,” Myers quipped. The men, with Sandra Hemstead, of Bonita Springs, are the go-to people in planning, promoting, funding and executing projects that bring water filters, wells, latrines and hygiene education to the poorest of the poor living in Third World areas. They get help from volunteers such as Dr. Michael and Judy Berlow of Lakewood Ranch, who went up the Amazon in 2012 with Myers and follow club member John Freeman to the Iquitos region of Peru. Judy, a former Spanish teacher, said it was rewarding talking to the people in the village, teaching them the importance of clean water, sanitation and washing your hands. “They had a religious service before they turned the tap on,” said Michael Berlow, a retired radiologist. The children lined up to take the water home and the Rotarians noticed they carried unsanitary containers. Since then, the club supplied clean containers that have covers.

Sustainability for the projects is a key concern. The Rotarians work with the nongovernment organization Water Missions International to coordinate the projects, ensuring monthly visits continue for at least three years, residents are trained in equipment operation and the water is tested for quality. All of the work is not cheap. The Lakewood Ranch club has been involved in 26 projects since 2007. This year, the club committed to giving at least $55,000 toward clean water projects. That’s why Myers said it was important to honor his longtime friend, Carl Baldwin, and his wife, Kay. The couple live in Naples, but so believe in the Lakewood Ranch club’s water projects that they have made annual $10,000 donations since 2007. “They were not Rotarians,” Myers said. “Now they are honorary Rotarians. ”They also received a Major Donor Award on Thursday from District 6960 Governor Cyndi Doragh, of Fort Myers, recognizing their continued philanthropy.

It all comes down to numbers. Myers said 760,000 children die each year from diarrhea, which could be prevented with access to clean water. “That’s 2,000 children a day from water-borne diseases, and that’s too many,” he said. “That’s why we do what we do.”

Gift of Life

The Gift of Life program was designed to identify and qualify young children from impoverished areas of the world in need of heart surgery the chance to receive this surgery here in the U.S.

Each of these surgeries costs between $5,000 to $10,000, even with doctors and other medical professionals donating their time and talent. Although this program was highly successful, it was evident that the cost of these life-saving surgeries and money spent to bring these children and their families to the United States could be better used if facilities and medical training for doctors and other medical professionals were available closer to areas in need where more children could be helped through Gift of Life. Rotary District 6960 assisted 600 children in the last year and a half.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary presented a $5,000 check to Steve Agius for Gift of Life at a recent meeting.

Steve Agius

This $5000 donation will now provide 11 children with medical care under the new Gift of Life program.

Gift of Life

Every once in a while, a Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club Friday morning meeting speaker has a conflict that makes it impossible for them to attend our meeting to present their topic. This past week, Stuart Spoede from FISH & WILDLIFE had one of those conflicts and he had to reschedule. Therefore, our new club President, Chris DeCosta had to do some magical thinking and pull a rabbit out of a hat to keep us Rotarians engaged for more than fifteen minutes. Of course, we always have about fifteen minutes of club rituals after breakfast, from introductions to happy bucks – sort of our own club laugh-therapy session – and then proceed with the business portion of the meeting.

Chet Sadler

Luckily, an important mission report from Gift of Life in Haiti had just come out, which gave Rotarian, Past Club President, Sanibel-Captiva Rotary’s RI Trust Foundation representative , Chet Sadler the opportunity to bring us up-to-date on the Gift of Life program as a whole. This program was designed to identify and qualify young children from impoverished areas of the world in need of heart surgery and provide this surgery here in the United States giving thousands of children the Gift of Life. Each of these surgeries cost between $5,000 to $10,000, even with doctors and other medical professionals donating their time and talent. Although this program was highly successful, it was evident that the cost of these life-saving surgeries and money spent to bring these children and their families to the United States could be better used if facilities and medical training for doctors and other medical professionals were available closer to areas in need where more children could be helped through Gift of Life.

The report for Haiti Gift of Life is an outstanding example. Rotary International encouraged Rotary Clubs to financially fund the Gift of Life mission at St. Damien Hospital, Haiti supporting 7 medical missions treating 76 children along with 1 screening mission in 2014, where an additional 91 children were evaluated and placed on a National Cardiac Waiting List.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary proudly contributed to the funding of this project along with a dozen or more Rotary Clubs and these contributions were then graciously matched by Rotary International. Thanks also, for Rotary’s partnering organizations on the Gift of Life Haiti mission…OPEN HEARTS HAITI, HAITI CARDIAC ALLIANCE, and AKRON CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL.

Skin Cancer

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary has some of the smartest people I know as members. James Cardle Ph.D., J.D. Registered Patent Attorney is one of them with all kinds of prestigious academic achievements noted in his biography. As a Registered Patent Attorney his areas of expertise include the mechanical arts; medical devises; fluid mechanics; physical & chemical processes; semiconductors; thermal management of electrical devices; software; solar and alternative energy and more. That being well noted, unfortunately that didn’t really help much with the most important fight in his life, his diagnoses of stage four-melanoma skin cancer.

James Cardle, Melanoma 6-17-2013 8-12-02 PM 760x891

James really spoke to us as a warning, that no one is immune from a diagnosis like his. In James’s case he really only thought it was a skin irritation that had returned; might be just a little eczema or psoriasis. He was at the dermatologist for a checkup and the PA did a biopsy…just checking. Melanoma is sneaky. He had the biopsy, then a PET Scan…diagnosis Stage 3 Melanoma. Just wanted another opinion on treatment went to Mayo Clinic for this.

Warning here, know your body, check out anything suspicious, and get to the doctor for a skin biopsy.

What to look out for…a skin bump or irritation that might cause some concern. Use the ABCDEs observation method: A-Asymmetric, B-Brown or Black, C-Colors (plural), D-Diameter-bigger than a pencil eraser, E-Existing growths that changes or that ugly duckling thing that might just need watching.

Another warning from James, people of any skin color can get skin cancer. I bet most of us didn’t realize that Bob Marley died of Melanoma.

James was lucky enough to seek treatment at the University of Texas Health Science Center and Mayo Clinic. At Mayo his Melanoma was classified as Stage 4 and treatments started immediately with some of the newer treatment protocols for this type of cancer. Mayo Clinic-“The treatment of widespread melanomas has changed in recent years as newer forms of immunotherapy (known as immune checkpoint inhibitors) and targeted drugs have been shown to be more effective than chemotherapy.”

Now for me comes the tricky part…disclaimer here…I am definitely not a medical person, so to explain the treatments being used for stage 4 melanoma is extremely difficult; James even used a disclaimer at the beginning of his power-point presentation.

Bear with me here…The current treatment is-Cytokines used to provoke an immune response-Granulocyte Macrophage Colony Stimulation Factor (GM-CSF), Interleukin (IL-2) Interferon (IF-a). On one of James’s slides he presents this information…Discovery of Down Regulation of T-Cells…Tumor cells produce antigens (An antigen is any substance that causes your immune system to produce antibodies against it), Dendritic cells in the immune system recognize the antigens, Dendritic cells present the antigens to cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL’s), CTLs then should destroy the cancer cells, however, the Dendritic cells also present an inhibitor to the CTLs that down regulates the CTLs aborting the attack on the Tumor-the Tumor survives. Recognition of this mechanism allows for new-targeted therapies.

This treatment has been successful for some but there also have been side effects. New investigational treatments are being tried to find the right combination of drugs that provide a more effective and less harmful way to treat Stage 4 melanoma. This is not a one size fits all treatment. There are treatments that now use a combination of drugs.…Ipilimumab, Pembrolizumab, Nivolumab, Pidilizumah, and in clinical trials MEDI-4736, BMS-936559, and MPDL3280A. Combinations might be Ipilimumab(CTLA-4 block) with Nivolumab (PD-1Block), Ipilimumab with GM-CSF and various other combinations. Each drug used to produce an intended effect and produce antibodies…relieve the immune checkpoint, stimulate T cells, or inhibit T regs.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Although it comprises less than 5% of skin cancer cases, melanoma accounts for the great majority of skin cancer-related deaths.

James’s take-away…it all starts with self-examination…know your skin & body; if you notice anything get different get checked immediately. Metastatic melanoma is no longer an absolute death sentence-progress is being made. He is living prove.

Juvenile Diabetes

After his recent retirement as Client Advisor with SunTrust Bank on Sanibel, taking some well-deserved time off for travel and reflection about what he might want to do in the future, Rotarian, Jack Kuhn thought he might just want to continue and expand his role volunteering or possibly working for the JDRF-Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation headquarter in Naples. Jack has been part of the JDRF Foundation Family ever since his son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Just a little background on this, Jack’s son Alex was not diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes until he was twenty years old and away at college.

Jack Kuhn

As our guest speaker this week, Jack was representing JDRF and giving us an over-view of this non-profit organization that raises funding for research with focus on understanding Type 1 diabetes/T1D and its pathology laying the foundation for groundbreaking translational research that is being conducted globally. Jack told us that over 100 JDRF offices throughout the US and 6 affiliates abroad, have an unrelenting passion and commitment to remove the impact of type 1 diabetes from people’s lives. Although there is not yet a cure for T1D on the horizon, research and development has brought about many changes to the way this disease is being handled today improving the way people live with T1D. Approximately 1.25M individuals in the US are living with T1D-and nearly 40,000 youth adults are diagnosed with T1D in the US annually. Many of us only think that T1D is diagnosed early in life but that is not the case; many young adults are diagnosed in their 20s.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life-threatening autoimmune disease that is currently unpreventable. It has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. The fact is that the cause of Type 1 Diabetes is unknown. People with T1D aren’t able to produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps to convert glucose into energy, keeping blood-sugar levels in check. T1D occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks insulin-producing beta cells with the pancreas and begins killing them off. Eventually the pancreas isn’t able to produce enough insulin to control the blood-sugar spikes that happen after eating. Chronic high blood sugar causes damage to major organs like the eyes, kidneys and heart, and it will eventually lead to death if not treated.

Today, people with type 1 diabetes rely on insulin therapy to control their blood sugar levels. Insulin therapy is imperfect, however, and even with advances in care, most people with T1D still experience life-threatening blood-sugar highs and lows. There are no oral insulins available. It must be taken by injection or by using an insulin pump.

JDRF is the leading global funder of T1D research. Their work has led to the creation of the first continuous glucose monitor; new treatments for diabetic eye disease, artificial pancreas systems; and the first human clinical trial of encapsulated cell-replacement therapies, which have the potential to replace insulin treatment. JDRF is investing in key therapy areas that have the greatest and most immediate potential for better treating; preventing or curing T1D…they are artificial pancreas systems, encapsulated cell-replacement therapy, beta cell restoration, glucose control therapies, complication therapies, and prevention.

Today medical research is at a pivotal moment on the path of turning Type One into Type None. Clinical trials are providing research results that show distinct promise. The JDRF Complications Program supports development of therapies and prognostic tools that help prevent, treat, or reverse diabetes-related eye and kidney diseases. Their Restoration Program is focused on creating therapies that permanently enable people with type 1diabetes to produce a sufficient supply of insulin. The JDRF Prevention Program aims to keep individuals, especially those at higher risk, from every developing T1D.

Funding is essential to the success of T1D research. JDRF supports research to accelerate the discovery of life-changing therapies and supports regulatory and health care policies for discovery, development, and delivery of new and improved therapies. Eighty-Five Percent of all money raised by JDRF goes directly to research. Check out the JDRF Naples web site for more information.

March 20 Meeting – Physical Health

For most of us Rotarians, at this point in our lives, the body just says, “I need a nap”.  But our guest speaker on March 20th, Tony DiCosta owner of Tony DiCosta Fitness in Cape Coral and personal trainer at the Sanibel Health Club on the Island, has another idea.

Tony DiCosta, Personal Trainer

Tony DiCosta, Personal Trainer

His advice, “Now is the time to make an investment in your physical well-being with a guarantee for a full return by improving overall health.  Your physical investment portfolio should include a balanced program of cardio for your heart, strength (losing strength as we age is a problem many fail to recognize until it is too late), and flexibility training sometimes the missing element in personal exercise portfolios”.

Tony states, “Being out of shape as we age is a choice, not a biological imperative”.   Studies have proven that muscle mass declines with age, starting in the 40s and picking up speed after about age 50.  OMG, most of us Island Rotarians are passed the age of 40. So, what can you do to slow down the loss of muscle mass and possibly improve that muscle mass?  The answer …get up and get moving; the more effort in the areas of cardio, strength, and flexibility during these activities the better the results.