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New Year, New Beginnings: Kaiser Permanente Members Share Stories of Fresh Starts and New Lifestyles

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the Dow family, personalized care tailored to their health needs and life goals kept their New Year's dream afloat despite devastating back-to-back health crises. For many years, Ann Dow dreamt of sailing the world with her husband, Dan on the Morning Star, their 25-foot Coronado wooden sailboat. In 2006, they were forced to put that dream on hold when her safety line failed and she fell 55 feet, straight down to the deck, breaking her ribs, shoulders, back, hips and fingers.

After several weeks at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa (Calif.) intensive care unit, Ann began to regain some mobility, with great support from her care team and Dan by her side. Then one day, after dropping Ann off at a follow-up appointment, Dan visited his physician to check out a recurring sore throat. A few tests and biopsies later, it was discovered that he had Stage 4 throat cancer.

The Dows received full support from Kaiser Permanente. Upon learning about Dan's severe milk allergy, his care team placed a special order for soy-based feeding-tube food, which is typically made from milk, to ensure he received sufficient calories and nutrients while receiving his cancer treatment. During Ann's recovery, her physical therapists built an apparatus to help her move around the dock and get back on Morning Star, where she felt most at home.  

Now that Ann is fully mobile and with Dan's cancer in remission, the Dows have revisited their dream and their love of sailing. In the spirit of the new year, they have embarked on an adventure south toward the Panama Canal.

Watch Dows' story: http://bit.ly/133AhrR

New Beginnings
For many Americans, like the Dows, a new year signifies a new beginning. This month, Kaiser Permanente's Care Stories blog (kp.org/carestories) highlights stories of members who turned potential health challenges into catalysts for fresh starts and new, healthier lifestyles.

January's stories include:

When Stephanie Bedwell went in for a checkup in November, the receptionist at the front desk reminded her that she was overdue for a mammogram. Stephanie, a teacher, wasn't planning on getting her recommended screenings until summer break, but decided just to get her mammogram "over with." A series of tests later, her doctors discovered she had Stage 1 breast cancer. "If I had gotten my mammogram in the summer like I had planned to, my cancer could have been more advanced." Stephanie underwent a lumpectomy and radiation immediately, and while her body was responding well to treatment, she wanted to do more to feel like she — not her cancer — was in control. She began doing pilates, juicing and eating all-organic foods. She felt empowered, and mentally and physically stronger. For Stephanie, cancer was a blessing in disguise. "Breast cancer helped me reevaluate how I walk in this world," she said.

Watch Stephanie's story: http://bit.ly/Wb8COu

Gayle Miller recalls a time when she couldn't even walk from her building to her car without stopping several times to catch her breath. "I knew I was sick...I was scared," she admitted. Diabetes runs in Gayle's family and she was forced to face the facts: her health was headed in that direction. "I knew that wasn't my way to go," she said. Gayle decided to take control of her health and take the Total Health Assessment offered to her at work. She found that her blood- sugar levels were elevated and she was pre-diabetic. She knew it wasn't too late and took advantage of the program's online tools to learn about different exercises and recipes to help her on a path to better health. These days, Gayle is healthy enough to lead mile-long walks with her colleagues. In the course of six months, she has lost 56 pounds and is no longer pre-diabetic. "Taking the Total Health Assessment really turned my life around," she says. "I feel healthier — I am healthier, and I feel happier."

Watch Gayle's story: http://bit.ly/yVe1jZ

Launched in July 2011, Care Stories is a collection of first-person video narratives from Kaiser Permanente members talking about their own care in their own words, unscripted and uncompensated.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/newscenter.

For more information:
Farra Levin, [email protected], 510-267-7364

SOURCE Kaiser Permanente

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