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BT Book Club – 2 days left for Lucy

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2017

BTBookClub lucybook1

Hello Book Lovers!

We’re going to have our first BT Book Club discussion on Thursday, yes 2 days from now, about My Name is Lucy Barton! Allison Streit from the Calgary Public Library and I will have our regular book segment on Breakfast Television (we’ll chat romantic books in the spirit of Valentine’s Day) and then right after the show we’ll discuss My Name is Lucy Barton on Facebook Live.

Have you finished it yet? I have and I can’t wait to hear what you think!! Along with Allison and I, you’ll hear from several of our behind the scenes BT producers who’ve also read the book!

Also on Thursday’s segment on BT, Allison will reveal book number 2 for the BT Book Club… and here’s a hint: it’s about a heroic woman during the American Civil War.

See you on Thursday and as always, happy reading!

BT Book Club – My Name is Lucy Barton

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Jan 19th, 2017


Hello and Welcome to the BT Book Club!!

I couldn’t be more excited about this! I can’t wait to share my love of reading with all of you. We are partnering with Allison Streit from the Calgary Public Library who is a fellow book lover. Allison will do her regular monthly segment on Breakfast Television and then following that visit we’ll have our BT Book Club chat on Facebook Live.

Allison and her colleagues at the Library have chosen My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout as our first book. If you don’t know this author, she’s an American novelist most famous for her Pulitzer Prize winning book Olive Kitteridge. You might know the name of this book because HBO turned it into a miniseries starring Frances McDormand. (This miniseries is amazing, by the way, and a must-watch if you haven’t already.)

My Name is Lucy Barton is Elizabeth Strout’s fifth novel, a New York Times Bestseller. It’s a mother daughter story. It starts with Lucy Barton hospitalized with an infection, a complication from a routine surgery. Her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in years, comes to visit her. The two revisit Lucy’s difficult childhood that was filled with poverty and abuse. Growing up, Lucy’s main source of solace was in books and she quickly realized she wanted to be a writer. As soon as Lucy was able she fled her childhood home and years later this hospital visit from her mother allows them to reconnect.

I’m just a few chapters in but the first chapter is one of the best I’ve ever read, and I’ve read many! So far, My Name is Lucy Barton is very accessible, thoughtful and compelling! Delighted to hear what you think!

I’ll post again closer to our chat date with specific times and how you can weigh in! Happy reading!

World Diabetes Day

Leah Sarich | posted Monday, Nov 14th, 2016


It’s World Diabetes Day. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, one in three Canadians has diabetes or prediabetes and these numbers are only going to go up as our population ages. Diabetes is a chronic disease that is challenging for patients to manage. Endocrinologist Dr. Doreen Rabi says she sees her patients struggling to manage their blood sugars, administering insulin, tracking diet and exercise and watching stress levels. She says if diabetes is not managed properly patients are at risk for serious complications like kidney disease, heart disease and lower limb amputation.

So Dr. Rabi and her research team are working to develop some new technology that can help. They see patients using current technology like fitness or diet trackers along with the blood sugar monitoring devices but these technologies do not talk to each other to distill the important information. Dr. Rabi says patients often get frustrated by this and stop using the devices. So, Dr. Rabi and her team are working with computer science specialists to see if they can come up with a piece of technology that will either gather all the relevant information or allow the current technologies to share information. Her researchers are currently talking with patients and their care providers to determine which information is the most crucial. They hope to have an application that they can test on current diabetes patients by next year.

For more information on diabetes visit this website.


Eye Health

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Oct 18th, 2016


For the DeRaaf family it was just another annual eye exam for the kids. But this year, they would be shocked by what they found. Optometrist Dr. Farrah Sunderji says she noticed Abby was having trouble doing the eye exam even though she was wearing glasses. And, there were no lenses that appeared to help. After looking at her retina photographs Dr. Sunderji knew there was something seriously wrong and referred Abby to a Pediatric Opthamologist at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.

Turns out, Abby has a macular dystrophy that is progressive and for which there is no cure. Her brother Bryson has it as well. The diagnosis was devastating for the children and their family, but these days they’re moving forward. Their mother, Joel, says it was a “deer in the headlights” kind of feeling at first but these days the family is adjusting. While there are no glasses that will help the children see better, there are many low vision aids that are helping them live a more normal life. Smartphones and tablets are also incredibly helpful.

In the meantime, the DeRaaf family has become very passionate about encouraging all families to get their children’s eye examined. For Eye Health Month, she wants families to take advantage of the fact that all eye health exams in Alberta are covered by the province for children. She says you never know what you’re going to find.


For more information on what an eye exam is all about visit this website.

Getting Ready for Flu Season

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Oct 12th, 2016


Hard to believe but flu season is already upon us. In fact, Calgary is a bit of a hot spot already for influenza activity in the province. I spoke with Medical Officer of Health Dr. Judy Macdonald who tells me for the month of September there have already been 18 lab confirmed cases in Calgary, 37 in the entire province.

But the good news is the public immunization clinics open in Calgary in just over a week an a half on Monday October 24th. And yes, the vaccine is still the best way to protect yourself from this serious illness. However, this year, there may be some confusion about what vaccine delivery method is best for the kids. This flu season, the United States has decided to move away from the nasal spray vaccine, saying it doesn’t work. But here in Canada, officials are sticking with the nasal spray. Dr. Macdonald says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization in Canada has reviewed the relevant data, including recent Canadian data which the Americans may not have considered, and says the nasal spray is still effective and safe. So this year in Calgary, when parents take their children to get immunized they will be offered both the nasal spray for children or the shot. The only difference is the nasal spray will not be touted as the preferred method to deliver the vaccine. Both options will be presented as equal.

Dr. Macdonald is encouraging everyone 6 months of age and older to get immunized against influenza. She reminds us that the flu is not a simple cold, it’s a serious infectious disease. Last year, there were 1600 lab confirmed cases of influenza, 62 of those people died. Influenza comes on suddenly with fever, runny nose and cough as well as debilitating body aches, fatigue and fever. These symptoms can last for weeks. Those people most at risk of developing complications from the flu include pregnant women, children under the age of 5, seniors and those with chronic illnesses or who are immune compromised. But the flu can be very difficult even for healthy people. Dr. Macdonald says the vaccine is free for everyone in the province. People can get the vaccine at one of the public health clinics across the province, some pharmacies and doctor’s offices will also be offering it.

Again, the public health immunization clinics open Monday October 24th. To find a location that’s right for you go here, to find out more information on influenza go here. 

New Digestion App

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Oct 5th, 2016


So many of us, myself included, have various problems with digestion whether it be true celiac disease, gluten or lactose intolerance or IBS. And there is a lot of evidence to suggest that digestive health is directly linked to your overall health, however, sorting out these problems with digestion can be really tricky.

But now, there’s a new app that can help that was developed right here in Calgary by University of Calgary and Mitacs researcher Justine Dowd and her team. It’s called My Healthy Gut and it’s based on the most current scientific evidence in this area.

Dowd says when people first download the app they get basic education on digestive health, then there are the top foods to eat if you’re gluten intolerant as well as supplement suggestions and a meal plan. The app also includes a diet tracker where people can enter what they’re eating and the corresponding symptoms. The app will then do a report for you which you can then go over with your health care provider or even use for your own information. There’s also an opportunity to look up foods that you might want to eat to see if they’re safe to consume.

The ultimate goal, says Dowd, is to help all people optimize their digestive health to improve their overall health and well being.

The app is available now on iTunes for IOS systems. You can also access the app through their website.



Breast Cancer Supportive Care

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Sep 21st, 2016


Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women, but the good news is more and more women are surviving. In fact, they’re living longer than ever with the disease which is why breast cancer is now considered a chronic disease. And in Calgary the Breast Cancer Supportive Care Foundation is there to support these women at any point on their cancer journey.

BCSC is a not for profit organization run by medical professionals. Medical Director Dr. Ardythe Taylor explains the care they offer is “like a step up from the family doctor and a step down from the cancer team.”

Brenda Ortlieb, a breast cancer survivor, says BCSC “was a godsend.”  Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer in June of 2013. She had a mastectomy and then four rounds of chemotherapy. She says after her mastectomy which she had at the end of June, both her family physician and her surgeon were on holiday when her pathology report became available in early July. Her friend recommended BCSC and Brenda met with Dr. Taylor for an hour to figure out her next steps, something Brenda says is “unheard of” with a physician. Brenda says her family and particularly her youngest son was struggling with her diagnosis, but Dr. Taylor met with Brenda’s son and then had him sit down with one of the BCSC psychologists who was very helpful.

There are a wide range of resources at BCSC including six family doctors, nurses, social workers, a psychologist and psychiatrist all with specialized training in dealing with cancer and its impact on patients and families. Many family doctors refer breast cancer patients to BCSC, but patients can also refer themselves.

The goal is to maximize each patient’s resources and supports in order to get best outcome possible.

And the best part is all these professionals are available to patients and their families for free.

The Breast Cancer Supportive Care’s annual fundraiser Fashion With Compassion is this Sunday at the Hyatt. Go here for more information.

Click here for more information on the Foundation itself.

September Spike

Leah Sarich | posted Wednesday, Sep 14th, 2016


Kids are back to school and cold and flu season is upon us. It’s the perfect storm for children with asthma. In fact, every year around the third week of September a recurring phenomenon occurs called the “September Spike.” This spike refers to an increase in emergency room visits, hospital and ICU admissions and unscheduled doctor visits all for the treatment of asthma.

Dr. Mary Noseworthy, the Director of the Asthma Clinic at the Alberta Children’s Hospital explains the common cold virus is one of the biggest triggers for asthma in kids and allergies can also prompt an asthma attack. So, Dr. Noseworthy encourages all families of children with asthma to have their asthma action plan ready, to make sure all medications are up to date and filled up, to ensure their children wash their hands regularly and get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available. Dr. Noseworthy wants to remind everyone that asthma can be very serious, even fatal, if it’s not controlled or prevented.

Lori-Anne Kochuk, an Asthma Coordinator with the Asthma Clinic at the ACH, says children can show symptoms of asthma for the first time during the September Spike. She says parents should watch for night-time coughing, coughing when the child wakes in the morning, shortness of breath, a child that’s easily fatigued and increased muscle use as the child struggles to breathe…. a pulling in of their ribs and bellybutton or a drawing in of the skin at the base of the neck under the chin. If the child has any of these symptoms parents should seek medical care right away.

Kochuk says HealthLink at 811 is a good option for children not having an attack and if the child is visibly struggling to breathe a trip to the ER is required.

Kochuk also encourages all parents of children with asthma to make sure to let their child’s teacher know their child has asthma and to make sure the teacher has the best contact information for the parent and the appropriate medications ready. Teachers are usually quite familiar with asthma…. one in 5 children in school has asthma.

For more information on asthma and how to control it visit this website. For more information on the September Spike go here.

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