Kaiser Permanente Celebrates Women's Health Month

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When Wende King went in for a routine ultrasound at 23 weeks pregnant, she wasn't expecting to stay. But during the examination, her Kaiser Permanente physician told Wende that she would have to be monitored at the hospital until the babies were born.

Wende and her husband were scared. "The statistics for a premature baby born at 23 weeks and a day were very grim," Wende said. "It was a 97 percent chance of death or severe malady."

But under the care of her Kaiser Permanente care team, Wende was able to keep the babies until 28 weeks. The extra five weeks greatly enhanced the twins' chances of survival, but at just under three pounds, the birth weight of the premature twins was dangerously low. 

The twins were kept in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for monitoring, and were released six weeks later. "They've quadrupled their weight in a very short time," Wende said. "They're thriving—they're not even on the preemie charts any longer. They're just like regular newborn daughters."

Wende and her husband Jimmy are very thankful for their care team, who did everything they could to ensure the newborns were healthy and connected to their parents, even in the Intensive Care Unit.

"There's a real strong comfort level knowing that even if you're in a risky situation, everyone's got your back," Wende said. "If this is going to happen to anybody, anywhere, this is the place to be, and these are the people to be with."

Watch Wende's care story bit.ly/100nEx0

Taking control of one's health and being proactive about achieving a healthy lifestyle is essential for women of all ages. This month's Care Stories highlight women whose health was restored or enhanced by their experiences with Kaiser Permanente.

May's stories include:

Battling breast cancer once is ominous enough. But after six years of being cancer-free, Patsy Lindsay was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer in 2012.

Kaiser Permanente doctors worked with Patsy to develop a two-part treatment plan. "The plan was to do surgery and have it followed by radiation," she explained. "The surgery went extremely well. The radiation I was frightened about."

Patsy's doctors understood her hesitation, but reassured her that the two-part approach would treat her cancer and restore her to health.

During the course of her treatments, Patsy took control of her health at home. She altered her diet and began exercising daily. She began taking her dog, Sam, to the park to average 6,000 steps per day. "The technicians would cheer me on on those days when I'd just say I didn't have the energy to do it," Patsy remembered. "They'd say, 'Yes you can.'"

One year later, Patsy is in good health and good spirits. "I was frightened that I would lose my energy level. I was frightened that it would be painful. I was frightened that it would be too scary to do it. And also that my skin was going to really break down," Patsy recalled. "And actually what happened is none of those things... I sailed through the entire thing."

Watch Patsy's care story bit.ly/17kQM6O

Most wish they had the kind of discipline that Kaiser Permanente member Jane Carlstrom has. She gets up at 6 a.m. each day for spinning class at the YMCA. Often, she stays for strength training. Her healthy lifestyle has paid off: Jane is 85 years old.

Partly due to making herself attend the 6 a.m. classes, Jane has trumped many ailments that affect the senior population. Her memory is fine, her bone density is up to par, and on a social level, she's made many new friends. "I probably feel better than I have my whole life," Jane said.

Her exercise regimen contributes to her resilience. After being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance due to pneumonia, Jane was released from the hospital a short time later. "I am absolutely sure that the fact that I recovered so quickly was because I was in good physical condition," she said.

Jane knows living a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge for some, but encourages everyone to do their best. "Do what you can in small steps, because it really pays off in the end."

Watch Jane's care story bit.ly/100gitO

Taking Control: Prevention and Early Detection Save Lives

When it comes to prevention and early detection, having the right health screenings is important for every age. And while every women should have a breast self exam once a month, a yearly mammogram is one of the most important screenings women over 50 can have.

Jennifer Carney, MD, is the chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology for Kaiser Permanente in Hawaii. She sees firsthand the impact that having a regular mammogram has on maintaining a woman's health, especially as they age.

"With mammography, there's a great detection rate—up to 80 to 90 percent," Dr. Carney explained. "Most times you don't have a screening test that can detect cancers like that."

When it comes to breast health, getting a mammogram and knowing where you stand health-wise, give you choices, options, and power.

Learn about the importance of mammograms bit.ly/SBVGn7