Breast Cancer Awareness Month: A Follow Up with Mindy
Mindy McCormick’s last treatment was just a few weeks ago. Mindy’s battle with breast cancer started in July of 2016. Over the past year and three months, she has undergone six aggressive chemo treatments, surgery, radiation, and has been on a chemo “maintenance” plan for the past few months. The end of every phase has been anxiously anticipated.
We shared Mindy’s story last October as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Mindy wanted to be able to tell her story and encourage women to be their own best health advocates. At that point she was almost through with the aggressive chemotherapy treatments. Exhausted and worn, she was grateful for the support she had from family and co-workers.
She was surprised at how difficult the side effects of chemotherapy would be. At the clinic, they had mentioned that everyone experiences it differently. She would undergo treatment and then feel a crash three or four days later with extreme body aches, weakness, and fatigue. She didn’t expect how quickly she would lose the strength in her legs. She found it difficult to even walk up a flight of stairs. With the effects of each treatment getting worse after each one, Mindy couldn’t wait to be done.
She had surgery in December and began radiation in January. This time, she was surprised at how well she was able to handle radiation and again was aware of how breast cancer affects each patient differently.
Through her journey, Mindy has been able to meet other women who have been or are going through the battle. In the waiting room on her first day of treatment, she met a woman who was their for her last day of treatment. On Mindy’s last day of treatment, she met another woman who was there for her first.
Mindy has been amazed by the positivity surrounding her experience. Her doctor never talked about negative outcomes. He only explained each step and how they were going to fight. The staff at Nebraska Hematology Oncology were welcoming and courteous; they remember every patient and keep the focus on the positive.
That positive attitude is what Mindy recommends to other women who have experienced a breast cancer diagnosis. Surrounding yourself with people who can help and support you is important. Mindy is grateful for her co-workers at EyeCare Specialties for their encouragement. They organized a meal train and brought hot meals for Mindy’s family every other day for a month so that her family could concentrate on helping her get better. The ECS staff turnout at the Making Strides Walk last year was inspiring to Mindy. Seeing the entire team break out the pink and support her during last year’s Pink Out fundraiser was also incredibly heartening.
Named after one of Mindy’s favorite bands, Mindy’s Crüe is planning on walking again this year at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Seeing so many people come out to support those who are currently facing breast cancer, those who have fought and won, and those who unfortunately lost their struggle is inspirational. Knowing that so many people are behind the cause and want to find a cure is emotional and remarkable.
Mindy now looks in the mirror and sees how different she looks with her hair grown back and has started to feel a sense of normalcy. She hopes that by sharing her experience she can motivate other women to get a regular mammogram (especially the 3D mammogram) and to insist on the best options for themselves for their health care.
Death, taxes, presbyopia. It happens to everyone eventually. Cheery, really. While typically it begins around age 40, presbyopia can occur at any time. You may find yourself holding your smartphone farther away. You may hold the menu at the restaurant at arms length in order to see it clearly. Or you may be experiencing headaches more after reading.
Presbyopia is farsightedness caused by the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. As we age, it becomes harder for the lens to focus on things close up. It’s a completely normal process, and one that cannot be prevented. Many people struggle with the fact that presbyopia is so closely tied with aging; but it is an inevitable condition, and it can be treated.
Bifocals, progressive lenses and special reading glasses are often the choice for people who are looking for a solution to do up close work. Being able to choose stylish frames with no-line, progressive lenses is a popular way to correct presbyopia without the stigma of aging. There are also multifocal contact lenses and surgical options for people looking for a no-eyewear solution.
Presbyopia can worsen over time though, so once you begin to notice the symptoms, it is a good idea to continue to get regular check ups with your eye doctor to stay on top of your prescription.
Doctor Spotlight: James Devine, OD
Dr. James Devine’s main motivations have always been people and how to help as many of them as he can. He is particularly drawn to people who have challenging situations and complicated conditions. His decision to become an optometrist was fueled by this motivation and his love for science. Optometry gives him the opportunity to take care of people’s most precious sense while using science and technology to achieve maximum clarity and long term health.
Dr. Devine particularly likes solving difficult and complicated cases. He loves knowing what a difference he is able to make in people’s lives. He also enjoys educating patients on the details of their conditions and giving them the best information on how to manage them. He is honored to have been able to take care of the vision of so many and looks forward every day to working with the great ECS team.
Dr. Devine is an ardent supporter of Shared Vision International and has been on several trips to Haiti over the years. “My heart is lifted to see happiness in the people we serve who often have so little to hope for, yet are so grateful for what we can provide,” he says.
He also serves on the Norris School Board, volunteers as a TeamMates mentor and is active in his church.
Doctor Spotlight: Todd Pfeil, OD
Dr. Todd Pfeil is passionate about meeting people and doing whatever he can to help make their lives as rich as possible. He was able to watch people’s lives change when he worked with a local optometrist in high school and became hooked on being able to use his future do the same.
Dr. Pfeil’s specialties include fitting contact lenses for patients whose vision cannot be corrected with spectacle lenses alone. He finds helping restore vision for people who didn’t realize they had options extremely rewarding.
Dr. Pfeil takes his dedication to making the world a better place everywhere he goes. He has recently returned from his 8th trip to Haiti with Shared Vision International providing optometric care and eyewear to people in remote areas. He is proud to be able to help Shared Vision on a larger scale as the Director of Operations. He also volunteers for the Lincoln Back Pack program with the Lincoln Food Bank and Sheridan Lutheran’s Barnabas program.
When he’s not helping patients with their vision or volunteering in the community, Dr. Pfeil makes sure to spend quality time with his wife and three children. Family time is very important, and he wants to make sure to enjoy every second.
Doctor Spotlight: Steve Jacobsen, OD
As a farm boy growing up in rural north central Iowa, Steve Jacobsen knew how much he enjoyed fixing things. At the age of 12 he knew he wanted to be an optometrist. He loves being able to help correct people’s vision and help them see all of the fantastic things life has to offer.
A fixture in the Fremont community for many years, Dr. Jacobsen was very excited to join the EyeCare team and incorporate all of the latest technology into his practice. He loves being able to discuss the newest trends in eye care with his associates in Lincoln.
Dr. Jacobsen translates his appreciation for vision into creating works of art. He has served as a past president of the Fremont Area Art Association, and he also enjoys taking photos for the Fremont Tribune with his wife, Debra a freelance writer. You can also catch Dr. Jacobsen playing the trombone with the North Bend Area Community Band.
Dr. Jacobsen wants people to know how important it is for people to receive comprehensive exams regularly. It’s possible to lose your vision without anything being seen or felt. Your doctor can monitor the health of your eyes and notice changes so that you can continue to appreciate all of the wonderful sights of life.
Take Us With You: Nature Photography Tips
At EyeCare Specialties, we know what a gift vision is, and we work to make sure your eyes are as healthy as can be so that you can enjoy the beauty in nature.
Here are some tips on how to capture some of those memories.
1. Lighting. Early morning or late afternoon/evening tend to produce some amazing shots but you can also get good photos during the day. Just make sure to keep the sun at your back and consider shooting from a lower angle to minimize harsh shadows.
2. Subject. Make a beautiful shot even better by choosing a subject for your photo. Rather than just a group of trees, focus on one in particular that stands out to you. This will help your photo tell a story and create interest for the viewer.
3. Leading lines & Framing. Consider visual cues that lead the viewer’s eye to your subject and framing the subject in a unique way by using other elements in nature. For example, you could take a photo of an interesting rock structure by using the branches of a tree in the foreground.
4. There are no rules. If something looks compelling to you, take a picture of it. After all, that is what photography is, a way to create visual memories. The important thing is to get outside and really open your eyes. You’ll be amazed by what you see.
Join us for the Take Us With You Photo Contest at Pioneers Park’s Wild Adventure Days on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Upload a photo using #ECSeyes to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by noon 4/30 and you could win $100 gift card to EyeCare Specialties. Make sure your post settings are public, though, so that we can see your shot.
Doctor Spotlight: Doug Harshman, OD
Doug Harshman’s life has taken him all over the country. He has studied in Texas and met his wife while practicing optometry at the VA hospital in Spokane, WA. But he eventually felt the draw back to Nebraska to become a vital part of the EyeCare Specialties team.
There are so many reasons that Dr. Harshman enjoys being a part of the ECS team. He loves the camaraderie between the other doctors. He also enjoys working with the well-trained staff and knowing that, as a part of ECS, he is able to provide his patients the best possible services and products.
His faith in the organization as a whole makes him proud to be a part of EyeCare Specialties, “I can sleep well at night knowing my patients are being well taken care of by our entire team.”
Dr. Harshman relishes his role as father too. He is very active as both a soccer and basketball coach for his children’s teams. He also volunteers at their school, helping out with weekly traffic duty and however else he can lend a hand.
Vision Therapy Grad: Sydney
Sydney has suffered from headaches since beginning kindergarten. They would worsen later in the day especially after school. As a 2nd grader, she was not a fan of reading and had very little confidence reading out loud. She would have problems differentiating between her d’s and b’s and would struggle following along the lines of her music during piano practice.
Dr. Brian Brightman recommended that Sydney talk to Dr. Rachel Smith at our Center for Vision Development. Dr. Smith worked with her team of vision therapists and put together a plan to help Sydney become more confident with her reading, to help her peripheral vision and help reduce headaches.
Sydney worked hard to accomplish her goals and recently graduated from the Vision Therapy program. She now reads aloud with confidence, does better playing the piano and best off all, is headache free. Her mother and the Vision Therapy team agree, “We are so proud of Sydney and her accomplishments!”
Doctor Spotlight: Steve Sandman, OD
Dr. Steve Sandman wants to change the world starting in his corner of Beatrice, NE. His own world was changed in 2nd grade when he received his first pair of glasses. Because of the constant changes in his vision, he needed to visit his optometrist every 6-12 months. He knew what an impact having clear vision had on his own life, and he wanted other people to be able to enjoy their most important sense.
One of the things that Dr. Sandman enjoys most about what he does every day is helping a wide variety of patients. He finds it very rewarding to help a child with their first pair of glasses or treating patients with macular degeneration or cataracts. He likes meeting patients of every age and stage in life and doing what he can to help them see their very best.
Dr. Sandman enjoys being active in the Beatrice Community and beyond. He volunteers for the Beatrice Public Library Foundation, the Beatrice Community Hospital and Health Center’s Board of Directors. He also has traveled to Haiti with Shared Vision International to help the people there receive optometric exams and also volunteers with Vision USA, a program that provides basic eye exams and vision services free of charge to low income individuals and families who are uninsured.
Dr. Sandman wants people to know how important it is to consider the health of their eyes as an extension of their overall health. As we are living longer and longer, we want to make sure to take care of our eyes so that we can enjoy great vision well into our golden years.
Doctor Spotlight: Rachel Smith, OD
Dr. Rachel Smith knew she wanted to be an optometrist back when she herself was a patient at EyeCare Specialties. She had been experiencing headaches and would struggle with close-up work. After being diagnosed with a binocular vision disorder, she began Vision Therapy treatment at the Center for Vision Development and was hooked. She knew she had to dedicate the rest of her life to understanding the relationship between vision and learning in order help as many people as possible.
Dr. Smith now runs the Center for Vision Development and helps patients who experience challenges with their visual processing. She is always proud of how the team comes together and strives to help each patient achieve success.
Dr. Smith spends her free time volunteering for the Down Syndrome Association for Families of Nebraska and her church. She also loves spending time with her growing family and running outdoors.
Dr. Smith encourages scheduling regular eye exams for the whole family. With vision being more than 20/20 acuity, catching vision problems as soon as they arise can be beneficial especially when it comes to learning and development.