Tea is the old, new kid on the block being touted as the new wonder antioxidant.
After water, tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world.
Tea is derived from the tea leaves of the Camiellia sinensis plant and different teas derive from the way it is processed. Herbal teas are not infact tea but made from infusions of fruit or herbs.

Tea has been drunk for taste and ritual. Ony recently have we been given the facts of the health benefits of this centuries old drink.

Tea’s origins are in China and were brought to England as part of Catherine of Braganza dowry to Charles II where it became all the rage at Royal Court. It was a drink for the rich. Tea was kept under lock and key. The Chinese controlled the supply and not wanting the origins of the tea to be known it was dyed blue green colour with arsenic. Throughout history ea has a presence in every culture as part of a daily routine i.e. tea break and for social gatherings such as afternoon tea.

Recently tea has come back into favour due to the discovery of health benefits of flavinoids: green and black tea may protect against cancer including a lower risk for cancer metasis and recurrence,as well as cardiovascular disease. As well, tea’s antixiodants benefit the skin keeping you looking younger.

White tea which is two leaves and a bud and silvery in colour and green teas have the reputation as teas as the highest antioxidants. These teas are best prepared with water just below the boiling point 65-85 degrees C. Since oxygen reacts with phenolic molecules to turn them brown and reduce potency as antioxidants. Therefore bring the water to full boil then cool to desired temperature to ensure the best antioxidant qualities.

A lesser known fact is that tea prevents tooth decay and fights bad breath with catechins kill bacteria, and the calcium and magnesium in tea helps with teeth maintenance.

Green tea is touted as reducing the risk of coronary artery disease with flavonoids reducing cholesterol and build up of plaque on artey walls.

Black tea is known for weight loss as catechins block fat mainly abdominal fat. It also protects the brain against developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Tea drunk without milk has the most benefits as milk proteins adhere to the catechins and interfering with the benefits. So clear tea with no milk or lemon is preferred.

Research on prostate cancer shows it benefits in a British study published by the Tea Council.

Research in Sweden 2005 in a 15 year study with 60,000 women  notes drinking 1-2 cups of tea a day can reduce your chance of developing ovarian cancer by 46 %.

As with anything that is good for you, drink in moderation 2-3 cups daily. Limit cutoff before 4 pm as if sensitive to caffeine this may impact on sleep patterns.
Although tea is picked as an alternative to coffee as it has less caffeine.

Raise a cup of tea to good health.


Everyone pays taxes for universal healthcare. Canadians need to realize this does not exist not just for refugees but every Canadian. Make your vote count.

he headline in Britain reads: A new respiratory illness similar to the SARS virus that spread globally in 2003 and killed hundreds of people has been identified in a man treated in Britain.

There is always news about viruses especially come fall into winter, but for those who lived through SARS it was a frightening time. This was due to the fact no one in the medical and/or scientific community knew exactly what was the cause and failure to put in safeguards such as isolation protection putting the public and professionals at risk. Little did we hear of the nurses or physicians who either developed symptoms and died or still disabled.

What did we learn or anything at all?

It was a time Canadians started to think about medical care access and accountability as lives depended on it. Hospitals were off limits canceling surgeries and services. There were long line-ups to the emergency department due to increased protocols. Emergency service has not improved and that once again will be a problem needing a solution.
This new virus is a coronavirus from the same family as the common cold and SARS, identified in Britain for the first time and the second incident both stemming from the Middle East. Symptoms include fever, cough, breathing difficulties and kidney failure. There is no vaccine or cure.

It is thought to be spread by droplets when the infected person sneezes or coughs. The key control is good isolation techniques of patient, and protective barriers for direct contact.
The message is not to worry at this time but to be vigilant in hand washing and to stay away from crowded areas such as malls.

Stay tuned- be proactive
Health professionals already use online tools, such as Google Flu Trends  or  Health Map  to track the spread of infectious diseases and this is available to the public.

The boy scouts tell you to be always prepared.

The Added Costs

In life it does not always work that way. Growing up in school you are taught the basics math and reading. With the line that “the only thing you are sure of is death and taxes”.  But nothing prepares you when you are ill and unable to work.

There are products being sold by the financial institutions that are suppose to protect you in times of need. The Royal Bank has created a multimedia presentation that plays right behind the teller line promising security and taken care of so you do not have to worry. It is difficult to decide what is the best product for your needs. Do these products deliver?

My Critical illness insurance was something I picked up in my forties because it was a great product paying $100,000 upon diagnosis of a critical illness such as stroke, cancer, heart disease.
My family had a history of stokes and my grandfather’s was fatal in his sixties. I knew if I had a stroke I would need nursing care and intense rehabilitation. For my age group at $120 a month up to age 70 years of age was a good buy because if I did not end up using it, I could collect the premiums. This has it plus side because it pays one lump sum to do with as you wish.

On the other hand disability insurance involves many other factors including policy provisions and having to meet contractual obligations. This includes pre-existing conditions, which would make the policy nil. It takes early communication to find out early in your claim whether you qualify to be paid regardless of whether you have paid into the plan. Unfortunately, a great number of individuals encounter these problems and do not know it until they file a claim. This results in delays sometimes 6 months or longer. Or even a denial due to lack of medical possibly as a result of timely treatment due to delays in the medical system.

If you are eligible for CPP insurance make note this amount is deducted from your disability payment. Perhaps, the issue of why taxpayer’s monies are subsidizing private corporations and financially backing the insurance companies revenues will be more evident when the Federal government makes further changes to CPP eligibility. So, you will need to factor that with CPP disability approval it does not mean more monies.

For consideration, every insurance company has an ombudsman who is available to help with such problems, but this information is not readily provided. For help in navigating this, this maybe the person to assist for timely resolution.

The bottom line is that as a consumer you need to be aware of policy provisions rather than those glitzy ads that “we will take care of you”. Disability insurance is not the best value for your money due to the insurers being backed by the banks and with the international monetary situations and payouts there is less profit in these products. Therefore, the way to cut costs is to cut down on claim payouts. So having a separate emergency fund is another option to help with decreasing the stress.

Questions To Ask yourself:
-Do I have enough saved for being off sick for six months?
-Do I have a copy of my policy?
-Is the policy I have enough to cover my basic expenses?
-I need to make an appointment to discuss best policy given personal changes such as getting married, expanding the family, and getting older.
-Do I have copies of my medical records readily available?
-Can I communicate with my family physician to discuss my health matters?
-For tests or specialists, is it worthwhile to seek a paid for fee service to clarify diagnosis and treatment?



Update, since my last post Angelina Jolie, actor and humanitarian has undergone a double mastectomy as a precaution and this has caused controversy. The bottom line is a personal choice and being there for her family is a priority and why not having lost your mother and aunt to cancer. I am glad I had mine, even when there were no role models. Hats off to the ladies with the conviction to live.


One of the most difficult decisions a woman faces is when she has breast cancer is to whether to have a mastectomy. One weighs the pros and cons and that includes redefining your own perception of body image and what it is to be a woman.

For some woman this can be devastating. I spoke to an older breast cancer survivor who had a mastectomy and admitted that she has never seen her own body, only dressing and undressing in the dark and never in front of a mirror.

84% of women do not have reconstruction ad the choices are as varied given advances in reconstruction. Younger women who have had to make choices that encompass decisions affecting their body image often choose to have mastectomies and reconstruction. This has been brought to the forefront due to younger female celebrities who have been open publicly about choosing mastectomies over lumpectomies and then have reconstructive surgery.

Dr Chery Perkins, clinical advisor for Susan G Komen for the Cure state that also for high risk women prophylactic mastectomies reduce likelihood of breast cancer up to 98 per cent.

Christina Applegate, actress chose to have a mastectomy due to being BRCA1+

Giuliana Rancic, E host and reality star chose to have a double mastectomy after  lumpectomies failed to remove all of the cancer.

iuliana Rancic

Lumpectomies were introduced to help preserve a women’s breast but in many cases I have heard from survivors that it may not be successful in removing all of the cancer and there is a recurrence.

So in the 21st century  women with breast cancer can have a choice.


Field Of Deams

The Field Of Dreams- making what is the impossible possible.

The Gonda Building is a medical facility owned by the Mayo Clinic completed in 2001 and designed by Ellerbe Beckett. It is part of the medical practices called The Mayo Clinic.

I meet with Terri in Rochester over dinner and she shared the story of when the ground breaking took place for the Gonda building that the previous night someone had outlined a baseball field with a sign “build it and they will come”. This was referring to the Field Of Dreams movie with Kevin Costner of building a baseball field in a corn field and trusting one’s beliefs. Come they do as in 2011 they saw 500,000 patients at the clinic.

It is a belief in that the “patient comes first” as established by the two founders, Drs William and Charlie Mayo. Mayo physicians are paid a salary that is not linked to patient volume or income from fee for service. This way it ensures as an incentive to spend more time with patients.

Dr William Mayo stated, “No one is big enough to be independent of other”, and this is one of many mainstay missions that has transformed healthcare experience at the Mayo Clinic.

Today, Dr John H. Noseworthy, M. D. President & CEO stated the Mayo Clinic is translating idealism into action. Sharing that almost a century ago, Dr Charles Mayo articulated Mayo’s greatest strength.

Dr Charles wrote, “ If we excel in anything, it is in our capacity for translating idealism into action.”

In today’s challenging world Dr Charles Mayo words still remain fresh in that, ”we don’t react to changes in healthcare , we lead the change to what healthcare should be”.

Leaders in healthcare research resources:
Ongoing clinical trials

I was asked by my 20 year old daughter to help out her friend from
high school whose mother was admitted to hospital last week and told
she had terminal cancer. My daughter was crying because this news
was only given to the family a week ago. They were told that the
mother’s cancer was Stage 4, and that the cancer had metastasized and
spread to other parts of the body from the primary site. The family
was in shock. The main issue was a complete lack of communication
between the doctor and the family. The daughter described the medical
team running back and forth with the doctor after having a short interaction
with her mother stating there was nothing to be done. That was the extent
of any dialogue. The hospital where these events occurred is Toronto East General Hospital
which is a community hospital fraught with a lot of good and bad press over the

I arranged to meet the daughter in the lobby and discussed with
her the positive aspects of meeting with the representative of Patient
Services, Wayne, as a connection point between the family and doctor.
Wayne was an under utilized person who proved to be an asset at the hospital.
The daughter communicated her concerns regarding the lack of communication
and given her mother’s condition and the lack of treatment, they were considering
a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in the US.

Everyone wants hope that a treatment can buy some time, not a full lifetime.
The family wanted to review other options, as they felt if they stayed trapped
in the slow moving Canadian system their mother’s time would run out.
Wayne was able to communicate to patient records to have them faxed to the Mayo
immediately instead of 3-4 week delay that patient records said was the norm. A
$300 fee that was waived, and Wayne arranged to have a family meeting with the
medical team to discuss treatment options. Even if palliative care was the only route,
the family still needed to be prepared for this and not medical decisions made unilaterally
just by the medical team. Preparation had to include legal arrangements,funerals
and wills made so that the family’s cultural norms were respected.

By no stretch of the imagination was the family wealthy or had endless
resources. They were hard working middle class Canadians who immigrated
from China as professionals. But they would use up their savings to
save the one they loved. The family realized that if they politely
waited without asking questions, their mother would be getting no
information about her diagnosis or treatment plan. Even if there is
only palliative care, this  remains as a final decision with the
family and the patient. Worst of all it was difficult for the family to speak up as
they feared the physician would drop their mother as a patient and their
options would remain in no man’s land.

It appears patients do not know their rights in Canada. Also, the erroneous
idea that healthcare is free, when it is actually paid for by our taxes,
makes people unwilling to ask questions or express any dissatisfaction. All
patients should feel totally comfortable about questioning their own care.
As a student nurse I questioned when patient treatment plans would
have in pencil “no code” meaning that the medical decision was to not
revive the patient. I wonder how much of that decision was made by the

In my view, Doctor Day, a day to appreciate doctors across Canada. should
be replaced with Patient’s Day, a day  when doctors would take special note
of the respect and kindness due to patients.

Communication is the key to better healthcare.