I have entered the world of dogs!

I was in San Diego last month attending to the needs of my elderly parents when I first encountered a foster mommy, her forever dog and the pup that she was taking care of that had been rescued from the streets of Los Angeles. I stopped and talking with her about the rescue organization and the circumstances regarding Millie’s need to be adopted.
The next day at a different time, in a different place I once again encountered Miss Millie, her foster mommy and forever dog. I asked if I could pick Millie up and I was told that’s what she lives for.
I scratched Millie’s face, she closed her eyes and leaned into my face. I was enchanted.
I have never had a dog as an adult. I was raised with a pet dog while I was growing up but it was clear that our dogs belonged to our father who took care of them, fed them, trained them etc.
I raised four children as a single mother. They were 2, 4, 6 and 8 when their father and I divorced. I used to say that I didn’t have time to potty train a dog because I was potty training children.
I’ve been ‘home alone’ for nearly 5 years since my 4th child went off to college. The resulting freedom, independence and solitude were luxuries to me and the thought of taking on another responsibility was not in my game plan.
However, after I returned to my home last month, I couldn’t stop thinking about Millie and her circumstances. I logged onto the rescue’s website, www.forgottenpaws.orgMiss Millie & chew toys - 2 and saw Millie’s picture as available for adoption.
I contacted the woman that founded the rescue and she told me that Millie was indeed still available for adoption.
I decided then and there that if I could raise 4 children, surely I’d be a good forever mommy to Miss Millie.
I drove back to San Diego to pick up Millie and we’ve been fast friends ever since!
Millie loves everyone she encounters and every four legged friend too. I take her to as many places as I can (that allow dogs) so as to incorporate her into her new life and make her as much a part of mine as possible.

Happy Chinese New Year 2015 – Year of the Goat

Chinese New Year GoatLet’s Celebrate the Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The Chinese year 4713 begins on Feb. 19, 2015.

Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. Those born in sheep years are often artistic, charming, sensitive, and sweet. It is known as the most creative sign in the Chinese zodiac. Jane Austen, Boris Becker, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Walters, Bruce Willis, and Orville Wright were born in the year of the sheep.

At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children “lucky money” in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The fireworks that shower the festivities are rooted in a similar ancient custom. Long ago, people in China lit bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits.

In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve. In the United States, however, many early Chinese immigrants arrived without their families, and found a sense of community through neighborhood associations instead. Today, many Chinese-American neighborhood associations host banquets and other New Year events.

The lantern festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon.

In many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon—which might stretch a hundred feet long—is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets. In the United States, where the New Year is celebrated with a shortened schedule, the dragon dance always takes place on a weekend. In addition, many Chinese-American communities have added American parade elements such as marching bands and parades.

Although most Americans know today’s holiday as the Chinese New Year, the Chinese have been calling it the Spring Festival since 1912. That is because in 1912, they adopted the Gregorian calendar and moved to celebrating the New Year on January 1st. To preserve the holiday, they changed the name to the Spring Festival.

This holiday is one of the most significant in China, and originally developed as an opportunity to celebrate deities and ancestors. It was celebrated by gathering family together to feast, and consequently became an important opportunity for family to reconnect each year.

Heart Health for Women & Men

Heart Month 2015
Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. It is also largely preventable. To bring awareness, the American Heart Association has declared February American Heart Month.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States. It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities. CVD costs the United States over $300 billion each year, including the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way. Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65. Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD.

Having a close relative who has heart disease puts you at higher risk for CVD. Health disparities based on geography also exist. During 2007–2009, death rates due to heart disease were the highest in the South and lowest in the West.

Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. Nearly 44% of African American men and 48% of African American women have some form of CVD. And African Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to have high blood pressure and to develop the condition earlier in life. About 2 in 5 African American adults have high blood pressure, yet fewer than half of them have the condition under control.

Many CVD deaths could have been prevented through healthier habits, healthier living spaces, and better management of conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.

You can control a number of risk factors for CVD, including:

Diet
Physical activity
Tobacco use
Obesity
High blood pressure
High blood cholesterol
Diabetes

As you begin your journey to better heart health that can last a lifetime, keep these things in mind:

Try not to become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!
Partner up. The journey is more fun—and often more successful—when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep—also important for a healthy heart—and do what you can tomorrow.
Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.

A healthy lifestyle can make all the difference for our hearts, so opt for healthy recipes like this one. To make it, you will need:

1/4 cup of orange juice
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
4 – 5 oz. salmon fillets with skin, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons of orange zest

Mix the orange and lemon juice in a large, shallow dish. Add the salmon, coat with the juice, and let marinate in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix the brown sugar, curry powder, paprika, salt, cinnamon, and orange zest.

Drain the fish and arrange the fillets skin side down on a baking sheet. Rub with the brown sugar mixture. Bake for about 14 minutes, or until the fish is done.

Enjoy this recipe! To catch up on the latest from The Maria Sanchez Show, download the latest podcast today.

Australia Day is January 26, 2015.

Aussie beach

This year, Australia Day falls on the 26th of January. This day is intended to support and spread the values of Australians as a whole.
My youngest child and my only daughter has been living in Australia since June 2014. She has enjoyed her time there tremendously and experienced an amazing array of activities, events, travel, friendships and terrific employment opportunities. This picture is one that she sent me recently.
The only time I traveled to Australia was with my daughter on a cruise that originated in Hong Kong and traveled south, eventually taking us to Darwin, Brisbane and ultimately Sydney.
We fed koalas, kangaroos, toured the world famous Sydney Opera House, walked across the bridge and enjoyed the sights and the people.
The cost of living is tremendous there so it is very expensive to eat and drink. I remember taking us to a restaurant for ‘happy hour’ and a Smirnoff cocktail was $22 and that was Aussie dollars, which at the time was even more expensive then US dollars.
It is almost surreal when I look at her photos because the colors are so vivid and lustrous. We chatted on the telephone yesterday and she told me about all of the festivities that are involved in celebrating Australia Day.
Whether you are Australian or not, there are a variety of ways in which you can recognize the holiday, including but not limited to:

If you are interested in holding a public Australia Day event in your community, allow the Australia Day website to broadcast and promote your event!
If you are Australian, take a moment to think about what makes you proud to be whom you are. The Australian of the Year Awards acts as a nationwide celebration of the achievements of Australians.
Australians living in America can partake in an Australian Citizenship Affirmation ceremony where they can affirm their commitment and loyalty to Australia.
Are you simply an #AussieFan? Share the word on all of your social media pages describing what makes you passionate about Australia.
http://www.australiaday.org.au/ for more information.

January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

cervical cancer

During the month of January, awareness and education of the disease is promoted in hopes of increasing early detection.

Cervical cancer is caused by a virus called HPV. HPV is short for human papilloma virus. This virus can cause changes in the cervix. HPV is not the same as HIV. HPV is not a new virus, but we are learning more about it. Most men and women who have ever had sex have had HPV at some time in their lives. HPV is spread through sex, and it can cause an infection in the cervix. The infection usually doesn’t last very long because your bodies are able to fight it.

HPV infection can change cervix cells into pre-cancer cells. Pre-cancer cells are not cancer, and they don’t cause changes that we would notice. Most cells with early pre-cancer changes go back to normal on their own. If they don’t, they can be treated. Sometimes, if they aren’t found and treated, the pre-cancer cells can turn into cancer. Cervical cancer can also be treated if it’s found. Very few HPV infections lead to cervical cancer. Because HPV is so common, any woman who has ever had sex can get cervical cancer. But, most women who get HPV do not get cervical cancer.

Women who get their tests for cervical cancer as often as they should are least likely to get cervical cancer. Some women have a greater chance of getting cervical cancer if they: have HPV and it doesn’t go away, have HIV or AIDS, smoke.

Most people will never know they have or had HPV. But if the HPV doesn’t go away on its own, it can cause changes in the cervix cells. These changes usually show up on Pap tests.

How is HPV treated?

There’s no treatment for the type of HPV that causes changes in cervix cells, but most HPV infections go away without treatment. There are no medicines to treat HPV. There are treatments for the cell changes in the cervix that HPV can cause. If your Pap test shows cervix cell changes, your doctor or nurse will talk with you about treatments, if needed.

If you are interested in spreading the word in your community and promoting the cause, try these ideas:

You can contact your local media and ask them to cover Cervical Cancer Awareness month.
Social media has such a heavy influence nowadays and many of us forget how simple spreading a message can be. Simply change your Facebook and Twitter status’ and pictures to Cervical Health Awareness and use the hashtag: #CervicalHealthMonth
Log on to http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/HPV

Most importantly, explain to everyone you know the importance of recognizing this special month. When more people are in the know, early detection is possible.

Join me in recognizing January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month!

January is Blood Donor Month

Donate blood

Will You Be Saving A Life And Donating In January?

January is Blood Donor Month, which means it is time for us to help change lives. There are a wide range of diseases and crises that call for the need for immediate blood. As a blood donor, we have the ability to transform an individual’s situation into a far less unpleasant one.

Donating blood on a regular basis is a very honorable habit, as it makes the world go round. There are a wide range of reasons why an individual would choose to become a blood donor, including knowing someone with an ailment that requires blood transfusions or simply believing it is the right thing to do. No matter what the reasoning is, our honorable efforts are greatly appreciated.

Blood is a liquid that circulates through the body via a pathway of blood vessels, arteries and veins, carrying nutrients, oxygen, antibodies and other necessities of life to every cell and tissue throughout the entire body. Blood is also the means by which waste and waste byproducts are removed from the cells. Think of the circulatory system as a transportation system consisting of vehicles, roads and highways, similar to how we move goods and products throughout the world!

Of course, we don’t have little vehicles speeding through our veins, so how does blood do this? Whole blood is made up of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, all which are suspended in a fluid called plasma. Each of these components of our blood has a very specific and important job.

Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, a type of protein that gives blood its red color, and are primarily responsible for carrying fresh oxygen throughout the body while removing spent carbon dioxide from the cells.

White blood cells are very important to our immune system; they protect us from foreign invaders such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Platelets are the smallest-sized components in whole blood, but they are mighty in importance. They are responsible for blood clotting, which helps stop bleeding should we suffer from a cut or other trauma to the circulatory system.

Plasma is the fluid protein and salt solution in which the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets are suspended. Plasma is 90 percent water and also contains several proteins that aid in blood clotting and the creation of antibodies. It is vital in providing blood volume, hydration, and mineral exchanges throughout the body, which are critical for proper cell function.

A whole blood donation can be separated into its different components and used for specific treatments for cancer or other illnesses, bleeding disorders or traumatic injury. In fact, since a single blood donation can be separated into components, your donation may help three different transfusion patients!

Medical advances and modern surgical techniques, (such as cancer treatments, organ transplants and open heart surgery), have increased the need for blood. In addition, the advancing age of the Baby Boomer generation has caused stress on the blood supply. Our national blood supply must be ready for everyday needs as well as the unexpected, such as accidents, natural or manmade disasters. Volunteer blood donors are needed year-round.

All blood is not the same! Different people have different blood types.

Rebecca Brightman, M.D., Hormone Replacement Therapy

Dr. Rebecca Brightman

Please join Maria and her conversation with Dr. Rebecca Brightman about Hormone Replacement Therapy and menopause. It is a very informative interview about the latest developments in the field.
Dr. Brightman is a Board Certified OBGYN in private practice in New York City since 1990. Her particular areas of interest include: the management of perimenopause, menopause, contraception, pre-pregnancy counseling and obstetrics. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) and is also a NAMS certified menopause practitioner. Dr. Brightman graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982 and received her Medical Degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in 1986. She completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Dr. Brightman is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is a Voluntary Attending at the Mount Sinai Hospital.

In addition to her clinical responsibilities, Dr. Brightman serves on the advisory board of Women’s Day Magazine and she has been quoted in other popular magazines and blogs for women. She has discussed women’s health issues on NBC-The Today Show, CBS-The Morning Show, CBS Evening News, Fox-The Morning Show, ABC-World News Tonight, Yahoo’s-The Shine and Katie’s Take with Katie Couric. She has spoken at the 92nd Street Y, has been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as in Letters to the Editor of the New York Times. She is on an Advisory panel for TEVA Women’s Health and JDS Therapeutics and is also a Women’s Health Expert for L’Oreal/Vichy Laboratoires and Proctor and Gamble. Dr. Brightman is also listed by Castle-Connolly as one of the top physicians in the New York Metro Area. She is married to an Ophthalmologist and has two sons. Her passions include: spending time with her family, friends, and her 3 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as well as fitness, reading and fashion.
Board Certification

National Board of Medical Examiners-1987
Certification-American Board of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ABOG), 1992
Recertification-ABOG, 2013

Privileges: Mt. Sinai Medical Center, ATTENDING, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science

Teaching Appointments: Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, ASSISTANT CLINICAL PROFESSOR, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science

Professional Education: Certified NAMS Menopause Practitioner, 2013
Residency and Chief Residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology-Mt. Sinai Medical Center, NY. 1986–90
M.D.-Mt. Sinai School of Medicine 1986
B.A., magna cum laude-University of Pennsylvania 1982

Society Memberships: Member of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), 2013
Fellow-American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 1993
Mt. Sinai School of Medicine Alumni Association
University of Pennsylvania Alumni Association