Category Archives: health & medicine

AIDS Walk SF 2004: Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who supported me and donated money for AIDS Walk San Francisco 2004. I was able to beat my fundraising goal by raising $400, and the Stanford team, as small as disorganized as we were, was able to raise about $2000 total. For the overall walk, 21,000 walkers helped raise over three million dollars! It’s always great to see so many people of every race, creed, and color come together and remind us that we should not grow complacent. And I thank all those who donated– it’s great to know that I have friends and co-workers who support me and this important cause!

Live Strong

Lance Armstrong takes the lead in the Tour De France. This makes me feel better about the Live Strong program. It wouldn’t get nearly as much attention as it should if Armstrong wasn’t wearing the yellow jersey.

Get your LIVESTRONG wristband and other products here. (Or in participating stores: Macy’s, Nordstrom, Foot Locker, Finish Line, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and all Nike Town stores.)

My mom and my aunt are both breast cancer survivors!

Save a life. Give blood.

I donated blood today– I’m a universal donor. They call me up all the time because of shortages. I hope the bruise on my arm doesn’t get too big. Seriously people, look how small my arm is. You have to be careful with that big needle.

Every time I donate blood, I think about how far we’ve come in terms of all different kinds of technology, but we still rely on the general goodwill of people to provide life-saving blood. Amazing! And in this day and age, I’m sure finding healthy donors is only getting harder. Consider how many people get nervous around needles or simply don’t want to give up their time and energy in the first place. And then current regulations keep a lot of people from donating even if they want to– like if you’ve ever even seen Africa on a map or heard of a man having sex with another man, you’re SOL. Frankly, I think many of those regulations are a little over the top, but even with those restrictions, we still manage to provide life-saving blood products to over four million Americans each year. Amazing!

And as far as I can tell, there’s no all-encompassing organization that manages the nation’s blood supply. Yes, the blood supply is certainly highly regulated at various levels, but there’s no end-all be-all national blood center. Just community blood centers that are networked together through a few large national blood suppliers. We rely on the work of good people all around the country. And the US blood supply is one of the safest in the world. Incredible!

Save a life. Give blood. Find a blood center near you: America’s Blood Centers.

All the small things

I usually only write a paper check when I’m at the salon, so it’s kind of an important milestone every time I run out of checks and need to order a new box. Have I been happy with the checks I have? Should I get new ones? Should my checks express something about me? Should they be professional, simple, colorful, fun? Script or plain lettering, serif or sans-serif? Should I just get my first initial, my last initial, a picture of Winnie the Pooh?

I thought about it for about five minutes, including the time I took browsing through the pile of catalogues that are in every box of checks. And I’m going to stick with the same ones. Aside from it just being easier for me and the bank since I’m just ordering more of the same, eight percent of the proceeds also go to The Susan H. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In America, a woman dies of breast cancer every twelve minutes. And how many more suffer through surgery, treatment, and therapy and even then, even once you have been deemed free and clear, fear that it might return?

There’s lots more to do, but maybe this little thing with my checks can provide a little bit of help. Of course, this depends on how much they’re actually going to charge me for the checks. With the way banks are charging now, it might be just cheaper to buy checks from somewhere else and just send the Foundation one of them.

AIDS Walk SF 2004: Change the Course of the Epidemic

AIDS Walk SF 2004It’s that time of year again– time to solicit my friends and co-workers for their hard earned cash to sponsor me for AIDS Walk San Francisco.

AIDS Walk SF helps raise money to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and many other San Francisco Bay Area AIDS service organizations. Founded in 1982 and one of the oldest AIDS service organizations in the country, SFAF works not just to educate, but to provide comprehensive services for those living with HIV/AIDS and to aggressively pursue public policy that will address the growing epidemic at both the federal and state levels. Last year, AIDS Walk SF raised over three million dollars to support SFAF and 36 other organizations.

With new drug cocktail treatments, AIDS may feel like it has become a “manageable” disease, but in 2003, the rate of HIV infection in the United States actually went up and of an estimated 900,000 people living with HIV in the US, one-third of them do not even know they are infected. And yet, we grow complacent.

And when we look at the picture worldwide, the picture is even bleaker. Ninety-five percent of people who are infected with HIV live in developing companies where antiretroviral therapy is not as accessible. Approximately half of the people who become infected with HIV are infected before they turn 25 and will die before they turn 35. By the end of 2001, AIDS had left behind a cumulative total of 14 million orphans. And yet, we grow complacent.

Last year, my friends and co-workers helped me raise over $600 in donations. Please join me again this year to help change the course of the epidemic. Walk. Donate. Spread the word. After over twenty years since the first cases of the disease among gay men in California and New York, so many of us have been affected by the disease in one way or another. How many of us know at least one person who is living with HIV/AIDS? How many of us have lost a loved one to this epidemic? Who do you walk for?

To participate:

If you’re a Stanford community member (faculty, staff, students, and alumni):

Breasts

Pink Breast Cancer Ribbon Breasts. Our culture is fascinated with them. Small, large, real, fake. There are a thousand reasons by which we try to explain our fascination with them– our early attachment to the breasts of our mothers, our obsession with sex– but, how do you explain the special relationship women feel with their own breasts? As much as my own breasts bother me sometimes– they make it difficult to find clothes that fit, they make my back hurt, they often bring uninvited attention on me– they are mine and they are part of who I am, what I am. Whether fairly or unfairly, they have shaped who I am and what I am. On good days, I flaunt them proudly and rest assured in the fact that they are real and big and beautiful. On bad days, I cross my arms over them and hope that no one notices and struggle through back aches and the never-ending search for clothes that fit. It is a strange love/hate relationship I have with these silly breasts.

And in some ways, breasts really are silly. In this modern day of baby formula and bottles and plastic nipples, breasts are, for the most part, non-essential and most of the time, non-functional. If anything, society places an unwarranted value on breast size and beauty, encouraging both men and women to judge women (and the men they are associated with) by them and women to place their own self-esteem in them. They are, at the end of the day, purely cosmetic and yet, a woman’s breasts hold an incredible place in her definition of who she is and how she carries herself, whether consciously or subconsciously. And perhaps this is why the threat of breast cancer haunts us. While there are countless life-threatening diseases that affect both men and women, including breast cancer, the effect of breast cancer on women is such a peculiar phenomenon because of the special relationship women have with their own breasts. In America, a woman dies of breast cancer every twelve minutes– a tragedy that we must work and fight against because everyday, more and more women experience the shock of finding that first lump or the anxiety of having a biopsy or the pain of hearing an unfortunate diagnosis. Everyday, how many women are faced with the loss of one or both of their breasts?

Men have no real counterpart through which they may understand this phenomenon– this phenomenon of a cosmetic loss that can be so life-changing. Yes, men can and do contract breast cancer as well, but even after a mastectomy, the change is not nearly as pronounced as for women and a man’s breasts do not hold nearly as dear a place for a man as they do for women. And so, once again, we are reminded that men and women are equal, but still different.

Outside of the threat to our actual lives, when we are faced with breast cancer and the prospect of losing one or both breasts, we are faced with a greater loss than just to our physical appearance. Even if a woman was to opt for reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy and thus, not be faced with a significant change in physical appearance, the loss of one or both breasts is a deeply personal and psychologically traumatizing experience. It is the loss of a part of ourselves that has shaped how others have looked at us and how we have looked at ourselves and how we have defined ourselves, even if it is just to say that my body looks like this and this is how my body moves and this is how I move in my body and when you look at me, you see this. Suddenly, we are different and it doesn’t not affect us in the same way that losing a functional part of us would– if we were to lose a limb or a sense– but it does affect us deeply and truly.

Holiday Giving 2003

Instead of accepting gifts this season, I thought I would encourage people to use that money to give to charity– specifically, organizations related to HIV/AIDS. Yes, yes, I hardly expected that everyone or anyone was going to get me a present in the first place, but it’s just a starting point. Anybody and everybody should give! For more information, visit:

Holiday Giving 2003

If this is successful (hopefully), I’ll pick a new “cause” (I hate calling it that) every year.

4 things that make a good manicurist

I used to bite my nails all the time. Then, one day, I got bored and decided that I wanted to try out having long nails– I wasn’t playing piano all the time anymore and I wanted to make my hands look a little more “grown-up.” First, I got artificial nails (silk wrap) and got regular fills (acrylic). I kicked my nail biting habit and my natural nails were able to grow out underneath the acrylic. Once my nails actually became long and strong enough, I switched to natural nails. Now, I faithfully get a manicure every two weeks and a pedicure every month and frequently get complemented on my perfectly polished and shaped nails.

Of course, some, including me, say that now I have an unhealthy obsession with taking care of my nails.

Well, I owe everything to my manicurist– here are 4 essential things that make a good manicurist:

  1. Hygiene & cleanliness. All implements should be clean and constantly sanitized. Same goes for the manicurist. If she sneezes, coughs, etc., she should be washing her hands or using hand sanitizer. There are a million places on your hands and feet where germs can enter, especially when removing skin and cuticle material. This is especially important for diabetics.
  2. Attention to detail. There’s a reason why they have those magnifying lamps. It may seem obsessive, but it drives me crazy if there is the slighest imperfection in the nailbed or shape of the nail (crooked, uneven, etc.). It becomes especially problematic after putting on polish and letting it dry– those imperfections will be even more noticeable.
  3. Health conscious. Well, at least when it comes to your skin and nails. Your manicurist should be looking out for you and making sure that not only do your nails look good, but that they also stay healthy. She should be making sure your cuticles aren’t drying out and that ingrown nails are taken care of. If your nail splits, she should be helping it stay clean and dry so it can heal– otherwise, fungus or infection can develop. If you have artificial nails, you should make sure your manicurist isn’t filing the nailbed too much. She will have to file it a little bit when putting on your full set and then each time she does a fill so that the artificial nail product has a slightly rough surface to bond to, but otherwise, your manicurist should be trying to keep your nailbed in tact. Your nailbed shouldn’t be flat and it shouldn’t hurt when filed. And your manicurist should be applying cuticle oil (and encouraging you too as well) to keep your cuticles moisturized without softening the nail.
  4. Confidante. Your manicure/pedicure time should be the opportunity to relax, whether that means you just close your eyes and let your manicurist do all the work or you talk about all the good and bad things going on in your life.

Current nail color: OPI‘s Route Beer Float.