Push To Get Answers About Your Own Health
- “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Brian Austin Green is using his experience with vertigo and ulcerative colitis, a disease that made him vulnerable to prostate cancer, to inspire others to be proactive about their health and seek “multiple opinions.”
- Although he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and vertigo, Green says his symptoms were ultimately caused by his diet.
- Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and managing stress are what SurvivorNet experts recommend for people regardless of their health, but especially for cancer warriors and survivors.
- For people living with cancer, or anyone else looking for answers related to their health, being your own advocate is an important part of the journey.
- If you are experiencing new symptoms, it’s important to voice concerns to your doctor and not take no, or being brushed off, for an answer if symptoms persist.
- Oncologists encourage people diagnosed with cancer to seek second opinions. You won’t be offending your doctor if you wish to consult another expert.
The 50-Year-old actor and father one five, best known for his role as David Silver on the “90210” TV series, opened up in an interview this week about the “stroke-like symptoms” he was dealing with for years, as well as brain fog and issues with his memory.
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Once he knew what he was causing him to feel the way he was, he “started doing speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.”
Green, who recently got engaged to “Dancing With the Stars” professional Sharna Burgess, who he shares one son with, explained,” At first, it was just about kind of gaining my breath control back, remembering where to breath from, remembering what part of my throat, vocal cords was my comfortable place for me to speak from.”
He ultimately urged listeners to, “Go see multiple people. Get opinions from a few different places. You have to know that there will absolutely be a light at the end of this tunnel.”
Green also spoke to Cheryl Burke on a recent episode of her “Sex, Likes and Spray Tans” podcast, saying he had “spent four and a half years recovering from stroke-like symptoms without ever having had a stroke, but I couldn’t speak.”
Noting how he had lost 20 pounds and doctors were unsure of why he was sick for such a long period of time, he added, “These neurological things started happening after the vertigo, and that was … it was four and a half years of my life. I got to the point where I shuffled like I was a 90-year-old man.
Expert Resources On Colon Cancer & Prostate Cancer
“I had such brain fog that I reintroduced my best friend of like 25 plus years to my sister who he had also known for 25 plus years.”
He said that his symptoms were ultimately due to his diet, saying, “It was all undiagnosed by Western medicine, so I ended up having to finally find a doctor that is much more into, like, Kinesiology and Eastern medicine.
After various tests and multiple opinions, Green said a doctor told him he was dealing with “internal inflammation from gluten and dairy,” along with stress as a main factor.
Learning About Ulcerative Colitis & How It’s Discovered
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, ulcerative colitis is a “chronic disease in which abnormal reactions of the immune system cause inflammation and ulcers on the inner lining of your large intestine.”
“Ulcerative colitis can begin gradually and become worse over time. However, it can also start suddenly,” the institute explains.”Symptoms can range from mild to severe. In between periods of flares, times when people have symptoms, most people have periods of remission, times when symptoms disappear. Periods of remission can last for weeks or years. The goal of treatment is to keep people in remission long term.”
Blood tests, stool tests, and an endoscopy of the large intestine is used to decipher whether a patient as ulcerative colitis.
During an endoscopy, a doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached down your throat and into the esophagus.
“An endoscopy is a telescope. It’s an upper endoscopy, or to use a very long word, esophageal, gastro doo endoscopy, where EGD, it’s when a telescope is put down your mouth by a physician, typically a gastroenterologist, and it allows you visualization of that inside of the esophagus,” Dr. Whit Burrows, a thoracic surgeon with the University of Maryland Medical System, explains to SurvivorNet.
“The normal esophagus on endoscopy would look like your lips or the inside of your cheeks when you open your mouth.”
The Importance of Living a Healthy Lifestyle, Like Brian Austin Green
Brian Austin Green may have been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and vertigo, but he says his symptoms were due to his diet.
The main benefit of a healthy diet is reducing inflammation, which helps reduce cancer risk. Normally, when the body recognizes something that could be potentially dangerous (such as alcohol), inflammation helps the immune system fight them off.
However, if your body has high levels of inflammation, that’s where there can be health issues. Chronic inflammation is linked to several diseases including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s. It can also lead to cancer.
“What we really want people to focus on is something called an anti-inflammatory diet,” Krista Maruschak, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet.
“When I say anti-inflammatory diet, this is really a whole meal pattern that’s going to decrease somebody’s risk for cancer in the future. Inflammation in the body can cause a whole host of health conditions and co-morbidities, and inflammation is really increased by what we call a pro-inflammatory diet.”
Maruschak continued, “Things that are pro-inflammatory in your diet are going to be refined carbohydrates as well as high fat, saturated fat meats, processed meats, things like that.”
SurvivorNet’s general recommendations for a healthy lifestyle are the same whether you have cancer or not.
Dr. Ken Miller, the Director of Outpatient Oncology at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, has some guidelines for cancer survivors who are concerned about a recurrence:
1. Exercise at least two hours a week, and walking counts.
2. Eat a low-fat diet. The Women;s Intervention Nutrition Study, which looked at early-stage breast cancer patients, found that a low-fat diet was associated with reduced risk for cancer recurrence, particularly in those with estrogen receptor-negative cancers. Other studies have found that foods with high glycemic index that are digested quickly and cause a spike in blood sugar may lead to tumor growth in lung cancer patients.
3. Eat a colorful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends aiming for two to three cups of vibrant vegetables and fruits each day.
4. Maintain a healthy weight. Studies have shown that being obese can increase your risk for several types of cancer.
WATCH: Maintain a Good Diet
How Can Cancer Survivors Advocate For Themselves?
You know your body better than anybody else. That’s why it’s so important to advocate for yourself in a healthcare setting. This applies to anyone experiencing new symptoms and looking for an answer, as well as people who have already been diagnosed with serious diseases like cancer. Doctors are there to guide you through a treatment plan, but your wants and needs should be part of that plan as well. Oncologists and survivors alike stress the importance of advocating for yourself.
This could mean asking additional questions about symptoms or a diagnosis, getting a second opinion, or doing your own research so you can come to doctor appointments prepared to voice your concerns.
Dr. Zuri Murrell, a colorectal cancer surgeon and Director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, previously told SurvivorNet that patients even before a serious diagnosis should head to every doctor’s appointment prepared to take charge.
“The truth is, you have to be in tune with your body and you have to realize that you are not a statistic,” Dr. Murrell said. “You are not necessarily going to fit into [guidelines].”
So, if you have symptoms of colon cancer such as a change in bowel habits or blood in the stool that means you should not avoid a colonoscopy just because you are not the recommended screening age of 50 years old yet, he said.
Colorectal cancer surgeon Dr. Zuri Murrell explains why advocating for yourself is crucial if you’re experiencing new symptoms
“…You should lead each doctor’s appointment with a plan.” he added. “So if I, a 40-year-old, come into a doctor’s office and say, ‘I’m having rectal bleeding. This is new for me.’ The doctor says, ‘You know what? It’s probably hemorrhoids.’ First of all, I think, did they examine me? And a lot of times, especially if you’re a male, you’re actually happy that they didn’t examine you, but that’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”
The takeaway here is to not let doctors brush off symptoms you may be experiencing. Dr. Murrell recommends asking for a plan. For example, if you doctor thinks symptoms are due to hemorrhoids, what’s the plan if they persist after a month of medication? It’s all a part of being proactive. Another important part in many cases is getting a second opinion.
Seeking Second Opinions
Dealing with hospitals, meeting new doctors, learning about a bunch of treatment options you may have never heard of it can all be an intimidating process. But you should feel completely comfortable seeking out a second opinion after a cancer diagnosis. This doesn’t mean you don’t trust your doctor, it’s simply a part of advocating for yourself.
“I support second opinions. I actually think it’s really important,” Dr. Heather Yeo, a colorectal cancer surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine, told SurvivorNet in a previous conversation on the matter.
Getting a second opinion is extremely common and encouraged after a cancer diagnosis, colorectal cancer surgeon Dr. Heather Yeo explains.
“I mean, if you think about in life, how do you choose someone to cut your hair? You get an opinion, right? You usually don’t just go in and sit down with the first person you see on the street and say cut my hair. You ask around and you try and if a patient has questions, I support second opinions 100%.”
Whether it is a preference for a certain medication, lifestyle adjustments you will have to make, or your plans for the future don’t be afraid to voice your concerns to your medical team after a cancer diagnosis. For younger people diagnosed, a common concern is: will I be able to have children after cancer treatment?
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What might my symptoms mean? What plan can we make to deal with them?
- Are other treatment options available in my situation?
- What will the timeline for my treatment look like?
- What literature can you give me about my treatment plan?
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff