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What’s so charming about the South?

Everything, it seems

by Thomas Smith

 

Southern charm. The words often are spoken with a kind of reverence. And the feeling they evoke is as pervasive as the air we breathe, and as elusive as a firefly on a summer night.

 

Mark Twain’s work reflects it. James Taylor’s songs glorify it. And Greg Smith and Steve Naifeh ran headlong into it and lived to tell the tale in “On a Street Called Easy, In a Cottage Called Joye.”

 

But what is this thing we call southern charm?

 

It’s learning from the time you’re old enough to talk that “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir” are not options when addressing elders. It’s Easter dresses, bowties and new Buster Brown shoes.

 

It’s chicken frying for Sunday dinner and banana puddin’ — not pudding — for dessert. It’s all-day singings and dinner on the ground. It’s visiting grandmamma and granddaddy’s house, because there’s no better place in the world to visit.

 

It’s a buggy ride along a shady lane under a canopy of oak trees, or the smell of honeysuckle in May and the taste of a crisp Rome apple in October. It’s homemade vegetable soup in the winter, Brunswick stew in the fall, and the heady steam from a lowcountry boil when the seafood’s fresh.

 

And it’s grits any time.

 

It’s sweet iced tea by the pitcher, biscuits and red-eye gravy, and thick slices of country ham rubbed with salt and brown sugar and cured in a smokehouse.

 

Southern charm resides in the architecture; it’s evident in the simple elegance of Charleston row houses and the elegant simplicity of cozy country cottages. It’s grand old houses with names like Banksia, Rosemary Hall and Let’s Pretend. It’s at home in the gables that overlook the neighborhood and on the porches that invite neighbors to stop and visit.

 

But it’s not only the pitch of a roof or the curve of an arch that gives us pause. That’s design. It’s an intangible something that stirs within that skin of wood and stone, brick and mortar; the remnants of our antebellum history combined with the best of the modern era.

 

Southern charm is not just a sense of place, but also a sense of the heart of a place.

 

It’s being able to walk downtown surrounded by tea olive, sage and bougainvillea instead of concrete, steel, and glass. It’s a place where flowers add character and trees are considered part of the streetscape.

 

Southern charm is band concerts in the summer and hayrides in the fall. It’s found in the pews of little white clapboard country churches and in the carillons of high-steeple churches. It’s as constant as revivals in the spring and tent meetings in the dog days of summer.

 

Southern charm is evident in our work and in our play; hands that coax the bounty from the earth while guiding a plow or creating art from clay on a potter’s wheel. The heart of the southland is in that bounty. The fruit of her soil feeds the body, while the fruit of her soul feeds the heart.

 

Just a taste of that bounty is heady stuff: Ragtime and jazz, bluegrass and country, Welty and Wolfe, O’Connor and Sandberg. It’s guitars and fiddles in the parlor, and horns and strings in the concert hall.

 

It’s watermelon on the Fourth of July, fresh corn on the cob right out of the field and sandwiches made with tomatoes so fresh that you have to eat them over the kitchen sink.

 

What is southern charm? That’s easy. It’s just a little taste of heaven here on Earth.

 

Thomas Smith, a native North Carolinian, is an award-winning writer, repor

Leaving a legacy

by Lora Songster

 

Have you ever tried to help someone connect a name and face by describing that person? Over the years, I’ve wondered how I would be described. Tall, blond, silly, serious, squinty-eyed, funny, that girl on the radio?

 

Although I’m still intrigued by this, earlier this year a greater, more powerful question began weighing on my heart. How will I be described when I’m gone? What is my legacy? It’s a question worth asking every day.

 

In May, my family attended the 20th anniversary of the McNair Foundation. My father was the first director of the foundation and was honored posthumously as part of the celebration. After the festivities came to a close, a gentleman came to my family and said, “No one ever had anything but nice things to say about Jim Songster.” These simple words held great power and gravity that night — and at this moment.

 

My previous concern with a physical description of me seems so superficial now. How could I possibly live my life so that I could be thought of as my father was, and is?

 

My dad had a brain injury in 1996, which took away his voice — both literally and figuratively. Through his lengthy hospital stay, people we knew and some we didn’t told stories about him and the difference he made in their lives. They regaled us with stories of him as a coach, brother, employer and educator. His love for his wife and children, his education, his faith, and his abnormally loud and infectious laugh topped the list.

 

The stories I loved best were the ones that he never would have told. The silent, clandestine works of a Good Samaritan were revealed in the visits, letters and tearful stories.

 

Before you think I have my father up for sainthood, let me say this: He was not perfect. It might best be reflected in a conversation a counselor was having with my ex-husband and me. She told me that my problem was that I put my dad on a pedestal, and that no man could ever measure up. My ex-husband quickly shot her down, explaining that my father was one of those magical men who do great things and who should be on a pedestal. Anyone who’s gone through marriage counseling knows what a seminal moment this was.

 

But the question remains. What will they say when I’m gone? In truth, I have made a lot of mistakes. I have hurt and disappointed people whom I love and respect. I have said and done things that I wish I could erase.

 

My faith believes in forgiveness and God’s infinite ability to erase that which I can’t. There’s a quote from an unknown author that I gravitate toward: “Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it; autograph your work with excellence.” Shouldn’t our self-portraits, then, be ones of kindness, love, charity and grace?

 

Although I’m married and use my husband’s last name, I remain Lora Songster professionally. Not only is the name a good fit for a radio host, but it’s also a daily reminder of who I am and whose legacy I represent.

 

How will I be described? My fervent hope is that it’s in a manner that will evoke swelling pride in my children.

 

Lora Songster can be heard from 5:30-9 a.m. each morning on WMAG. To learn more, visit www.995wmag.com.

Triad area authors blend history, fiction

Profiles by Danielle Jackson

 

They write about what they love, whether it’s the world of historical fiction or the beauty of baseball. And they all do it locally.

 

There’s no shortage of published authors in the Triad. Here, we scratch the surface, talking with area writers about their inspirations, as well as how the region plays a role in the stories they tell.

 

LeAura Alderson and Jill Coleman

Their inspiration: Coleman, a certified personal trainer with more than seven years of personal training experience, is a group exercise coordinator for Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Alderson is an investor and mother of two who was able to resolve her chronic back pain and reverse bone loss through exercise and resistance training. The duo’s decision to write the “My Gym Trainer” series of books evolved out of a desire to share with others what worked for them.

 

Their published works: Three books in the “My Gym Trainer” series have been published, with more than 30 titles planned. The books are designed to be fitness tools, with tips and information to empower readers to become their own knowledgeable personal trainers.

 

Local influence: Alderson and Coleman are both longtime Triad residents, and the models and gyms used in the book’s photos were of local people at local facilities.

 

Mark Cryan

His inspiration: Cryan’s mother was a librarian and a voracious reader and his father was a college professor, “so the house was always full of books,” says the Burlington resident. “I read ‘The Hobbit’ when I was in third grade, and I was completely hooked,” Cryan adds. “I still read constantly, although I’m now most likely to be reading John Grisham or some other thriller.”

 

His first and only published work: “Cradle of the Game: Baseball & Ballparks in North Carolina” was published in 2008. The book tells the story of baseball in the state, city by city, with travel information like hotels, restaurants, attractions, and historical information on the people, ballparks, and notable players who make North Carolina such a baseball hotbed.

 

Local influence: “The Triad is loaded with great baseball and has a history in the game that stretches back almost 100 years,” Cryan says. He has interviewed former players and managers like Jack McKeon, who lives in Elon, and Durham Bulls founder and Greensboro native Miles Wolff. Even Cryan himself is tied to the game, once serving as general manager of the Burlington Indians. “It’s one of the strongest baseball regions in the country,” he says.

 

Catharine Dowda

Her inspiration: Dowda, a licensed professional counselor in private practice who also frequently lectures on domestic violence and victimization, was raised in a verbal family “where expressing yourself effectively was expected and valued,” she says. Her father was an attorney and an inspiration whose own mother was a published author. “Four years ago, I lost my remarkable father and gained an amazing grandson,” she says. “Something about those experiences made me feel that it was time to fulfill my dream of writing the book I had in my head.”

 

Her first and only published work: “Invisible Scars: How To Stop, Change, Or End Psychological Abuse” was published in April 2009. “It’s a compassionate look at abusive behavior and the options we all have to deal with it,” Dowda says. “I’ve worked with abusive relationships for more than 30 years and have lived through some of my own, which are relayed in the pages of my book without identifying which situations were autobiographical. Each experience is shared to help illuminate and understand our similar circumstances.”

 

Local influence: Dowda moved to Greensboro 34 years ago after growing up in the Washington, D.C., area. Her work with victims of domestic violence locally provides the backdrop for most of the book’s stories. “I work with individuals and couples in the Triad who struggle with their relationships,” she says. “I am continually impressed by their courage, compassion and desire to make changes in their lives.”

 

Emily Herring Wilson

Her inspiration: As a child, Herring Wilson — a graduate of UNCG and Wake Forest University — was encouraged by her two grandmothers, one of whom gave her a leather journal for her poems and the other whose published short stories in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution “inspired me to want to see my name and words in print,” she says.

 

Her first published work: In the 1960s, a single short poem was published in The Pilot, a Southern Pines paper. Her first book of poems, “Down Zion’s Alley,” was published in 1972 by Drummer, a Winston-Salem literary press.

 

Her latest creation: Herring Wilson’s latest, “Becoming Elizabeth Lawrence: Discovered Letters of a Southern Gardener,” is her third book about Lawrence’s life and work. “These letters to a friend and mentor, Ann Preston Bridgers, amount to Lawrence’s ‘autobiography,’ mostly recording her youthful apprentice years in Raleigh in the 1930s and 1940s,” she says. The book was released by Winston-Salem publisher John F. Blair.

 

Local influence: Winston-Salem — and Wake Forest University in particular — have a great influence on the author, who’s lived there for the past 40 years. “It has given me many resources, friends, and opportunities to write and be part of caring communities,” Herring Wilson says.

 

Rhett Iseman Trull

Her inspiration: Greensboro resident Iseman Trull’s biggest inspiration has always been reading. “I read far more than I write,” she says, citing childhood books like “The Fox and the Hound,” “Where the Red Fern Grows” and “The Yearling” as longtime favorites. “All of my writing is an attempt to recapture the kind of feeling that runs through me when I’m struck by the power of words.”

 

Her first and only published work: “The Real Warnings,” a book of poetry, was published last fall by Anhinga Press. “The poems are about a variety of subjects — love lost, love found, superheroes, mental illness — but the overall theme that I hope comes across is that life, despite its suffering and heartache, is wonderful and that love is always worth the risks,” she says.

 

Local influence: “With a rich literary history and an active literary scene, the Triad is a wonderful place to be a writer,” Iseman Trull says. “I continue to be amazed by how many talented artists live here.”

 

Cameron Kent

His inspiration: Kent, a Wake Forest University graduate who still lives in Winston-Salem, grew up in a house filled with books. And while his seventh-grade English teacher encouraged his creative writing talents, it was his high school English teacher, Julie Wilson, who provided the springboard. “She provided both the tools to become a better writer and the inspiration by introducing me to Hemingway and Steinbeck,” he says. “My last book was dedicated to her as a way of saying thanks for bringing out the writer hidden in me.”

 

His first published work: “Make Me Disappear,” a young-adult novel, was published in 1994. “It’s a story about magic, specifically of a young boy who runs away to the land where everything goes when it disappears,” Kent says.

 

His latest creation: “The Road to Devotion,” a work of historical fiction set in North Carolina just before the Civil War, revolves around an unlikely friendship between a farm woman and a runaway slave. “More than anything, it’s about how I believe we should treat each other, starting with the realization that we all have much more in common than we do differences,” he says.

 

Local influence: Kent’s latest book is set in both Winston and Salem in 1860. “I wanted to incorporate as many local landmarks into the storyline as possible so that even though it’s fiction, the reader can genuinely believe that it could happen in our own back yard,” he says. “We have a rich history here, so it’s as enjoyable to research a historical novel set here as it is to write it.”

 

Drew Perry

His inspiration: Drew Perry didn’t always know that he wanted to be a writer. But after signing up for a creative writing course in college, the Greensboro resident inexplicably felt right at home. “It was in my second or third class that a teacher finally told me I’d better start reading if I was going to care about this kind of thing,” he says. Since cracking open a book, Perry has found inspiration in writers ranging from Raymond Carver and Flannery O’Connor to Rick Bass and Wendy Brenner.

 

His first and only published work: “This Is Just Exactly Like You,” his debut novel, was published by Viking last spring. “When I joke around, I say that it’s about karaoke and dogs and fire and mulch and putt-putt and partner-swapping,” Perry says. “All that’s true, but the more serious answer is that it’s about one man trying to figure out how to parent his autistic son and be a better husband.”

 

Local influence: The book is set in Greensboro and Gibsonville, as well as in a fictitious version of Elon. “I’ve lived here for almost 14 years, so this is what I know,” he says. “The Triad plays a huge part in my being able to imagine the things I write about.”

 

Alice E. Sink

Her inspiration: Sink, who teaches writing courses at High Point University, can’t remember a time in her life when she didn’t write. “My Aunt Mabel had published a few pieces, and I thought that was the most wonderful thing in the world,” she says. When she was accepted into UNCG’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Sink knew that’s where she belonged.

 

Her first published work: “The Christmas Phoenix” was published in 1977. “It’s out of print now, and when I see a copy online for an unbelievably expensive price, I’m amazed,” she says.

 

Her latest creation: “Hidden History of Hilton Head,” her fifth book, was published by The History Press in May. The book features everything from poems written by locals and songs that guided slaves to freedom to original photos and Lowcountry recipes. “It’s a lively array of historical tidbits and tales focusing on people, lifeways, believe-it-or-not snippets, and beloved local places,” Sink says.

 

Local influence: Research for her latest book reintroduced Sink to the region, “where I uncovered those out-of-the-ordinary historical truths that rarely appear in books,” she says.

Danielle Jackson is editor of Triad Living, Wake Living and Fifteen501 magazines.

Beautiful bathrooms

Today’s designs offer endless possibilities

by Martie Emory

 

A decidedly different place from the one where you washed behind your ears as a kid, today’s bathrooms are designed to calm, soothe and pamper. To that end, options for color, lighting, flooring and fixtures are more varied than ever, all geared to make your daily life a little less stressful — at least on the home front.

 

So whether you’re considering a total revamp of an older bathroom or you simply want to liven up what you already have with a few easy accents, don’t underestimate the power of the professional touch. An expert in bathroom design can help you achieve the results you want.

 

Hot trends

According to June DeLugas, interior designer and owner of June DeLugas Interiors Inc. in Clemmons, the trend today is actually an anti-trend.

 

“Traditional styles are in now more than ever,” she says, adding that natural materials like wood and glass are the most popular as sustainable products continue to dominate design.

 

“The anti-trend features white fixtures that are sleek and shiny and reflect good taste,” DeLugas notes.

 

According to Sherri Sarine of SSI Design Group Inc. in Greensboro, today’s master bathrooms also are larger and more lavish, with walk-in showers and his-and-hers vanities.

 

“Homes built in the early 1980s typically had one sink for the master bathroom and they were darker, smaller, utilitarian spaces,” she says.

 

At SSI Design Group, marble and granite countertops are client favorites. They’re also popular for clients of Schneider Stone Inc. in Greensboro.

 

“Granite has become more popular than ever,” says Amy Cronin, Schneider Stone’s interior designer. “I like to think of some granite as pieces of art, as every slab varies in color and intricacy.”

 

Keeping tubs and showers separate also is widely popular, as is combining materials like glass and chrome to achieve a stylish look. The same goes for blending hand-painted sinks with sparkling glass tile.

 

“People are mixing a lot of textures now, so you’re seeing a lot of stone mixed with glass,” says Amy Linville, president and owner of McCullough Tile & Stone in Winston-Salem.

 

“It’s no longer just porcelain and ceramic,” she adds. “People are finding that soothing element to add a spa-like feel to their bathrooms.”

 

For a spa-like retreat, opt for soothing ocean colors and mirrored tiles to add both light and space, or vault the ceiling to create a more expansive feel. Another favorite trend in today’s marketplace is a multi-jet shower system.

 

Cool hues

But before you launch an official remodeling project, consider which colors actually soothe you. What could you wake up to and feel refreshed and inspired? Linville is seeing softer greens and blues, while DeLugas suggests a neutral palette to offer flexibility in design. Keeping with neutral tones also is a plus if you’re planning to sell in the near future, as are timeless chrome fixtures that won’t date your bathroom decor down the road.

 

“Handpainted walls are an excellent way to personalize and warm up the space, and they’re more environmentally friendly than wallpaper,” says DeLugas, who has an artist on staff for such projects.

 

For something more on the artistic side, Faux Bella Inc. in Jamestown specializes in stencils, modelios, crystals and foils as artistic accents, as well as Venetian plasters and frescos.

 

“Intermingling foils and metallics with glazes and plasters can make for a beautiful combination,” says owner Aanessa Reeves, adding that her clients are on a mission to reflect their personalities when they remodel a bathroom using faux finishing.

 

Warm accents

Tile often is a key ingredient to making a statement in the bathroom, with a collage of colors, textures and patterns available to set the tone for the entire space. Chilly tile on bare feet no longer is a concern as electric warming has gained in popularity, both to eliminate a cold floor first thing in the morning and as an additional heat source.

 

“Consumers also are adding pebbles to the shower, adding a kind of massaging-type floor,” Linville says.

 

They’re also adding tile to more than just the shower.

 

“We’re seeing people put tile halfway up the walls,” she says. “It’s such easy maintenance that they’re going back to it. You don’t have to paint or anything. Just wipe it down and keep going.”

 

Lighting cannot be overlooked as another key element, particularly if you have recessed lighting. If you can look in the mirror but still not see yourself clearly, then you can easily install another type of lighting at your vanity area to combat shadows.

 

When it comes to relaxing, it might be time to think a little outside the tub. Larger spaces are seeing the addition of a chaise lounger for reading or at-home pedicures. Armoires also are making their way into spacious bath areas to provide extra storage and offer a cozier feel.

 

With the right mix of details and design, your newly remodeled bathroom can make you feel like you’re rising in a Four Star hotel every morning. Now that’s relaxing.

 

Martie Emory is a freelance writer based in Greensboro.

Wide open spaces

If you’re feeling cramped in your current bathroom, try these tips to make your small bath area appear larger and more open:

 

  • Think soft, light colors for the walls.
  • Save bold colors for accents, like towels, rugs and artwork.
  • If you’re adding wallpaper, then keep the pattern subtle.
  • Stay with light colors for the floor.
  • Replace a large vanity with a pedestal sink to open up an area.
  • Install a new window or skylight to increase the flow of natural light.
  • Eliminate clutter by adding cloth boxes or decorative baskets to hold counter essentials.

Unsightly scars

Treatment is key to minimizing their appearance

by Dr. H. Christopher Coley

 

 

Do you have a scar from a procedure or injury that you wish you could erase? Fortunately, with today’s technology there’s something you can do to prevent and minimize its appearance.

 

A scar is formed as a natural healing response to an injury. This healing process and scar remodeling can last for months. Depending upon the depth of injury, scars can be mild or severe. They vary in their characteristics, including shape, size and color.

 

Common types of unsightly scars include hypertrophic scars, stretch marks and keloids. Hypertrophic scars are those that are slightly wide, raised or thick in appearance. Typically, they’re confined to the original injured area and are formed by excess collagen formation. Stretch marks are caused by the stretching of the skin during pregnancy, bodybuilding or excess weight gain. Keloids are a type of hypertrophic scar that continue to grow outside the boundary of the original injury and can become large and unsightly.

Different areas of the body scar differently, with better scars occurring in areas where the skin is thin such as the face and neck. Areas where the skin is thicker, such as the back and trunk, generally scar worse. Genetics also can play a factor in scarring.

 

Minimizing scars

Surgical scars can be minimized in several ways. The key factors to help prevent surgical scars include delicate handling of tissue during repair, avoiding excess tension on the repair, and using proper technique and supplies. Removal of stitches and staples at the proper time also is important. Good wound care after the injury is just as important. It helps prevent infection, avoiding excess drying or moisture, limiting motion, and protecting the incision from the sun.

 

Some scars are inevitable due to circumstances surrounding the injury or condition. In some cases, incisions can be placed to help camouflage the scar in a natural skin fold. Other surgical techniques also can be used to minimize scarring.

 

To further minimize scarring, there is evidence that gentle compression through taping or a specialized bandage can aid in preventing hypertrophic scarring. Because hypertrophic scars essentially are excess inflammation and collagen, an injection with a steroid — a potent anti-inflammatory — or a topical steroid can prevent or correct a hypertrophic scar.

 

Other common scar remedies include topical antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. There are numerous other additives and home remedies that can help with scar formation as well. One of the best and well-known is silicone, which has been shown to prevent hypertrophic scars and improve the appearance of older scars. Two popular formulations available are Scarguard and Hybrisil, both of which are available by prescription.

 

Other ways to treat hypertrophic and unsightly scars include surgical excision or scar revision, laser resurfacing, and dermabrasion. Current research also suggests that there might be a role for radiation and treatment of severe hypertrophic scars and keloids with some potent medications and even chemotherapeutics.

 

If you have an unsightly scar, then obtain a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon to discuss your options.

 

Dr. H. Christopher Coley, board-certified and fellowship-trained in both cosmetic and hand surgery, is owner and chief surgeon of the Coley Cosmetic & Hand Surgery Center in Greensboro. To learn more, call (336) 617-8645 or visit www.coleycosmetic.com.

Breast health 101

Know your risk factors

by Emily Koon

 

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the ideal time for women of all ages to begin determining their risk for breast cancer. More than 200,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. But the good news is that with early diagnosis and treatment, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients now is 96 percent.

 

“To be among that 96 percent, there are a number of steps that even younger women can begin taking,” says Dr. Judith Hopkins, an oncologist with the Derrick L. Davis Forsyth Regional Cancer Center at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

 

“The first step is finding out what your risk is,” she adds. “Being aware of your risk factors means that you and your physician can form a plan of action to monitor your breast health more closely. If breast cancer does develop, then it can be caught early, and that gives patients the best chance for successful treatment.”

 

Hopkins recommends looking at the following risk factors and discussing them with your doctor:

  • Age. Are you 60 or older?
  • Family history. Do you have a family history of breast cancer? Specifically, did your mother, sister or grandmother develop the disease before age 40?
  • Race. Caucasian women generally are at a higher risk for breast cancer than Latin American, Asian and African-American women.
  • Reproductive factors. This includes menstruation before age 12, later-onset menopause after age 55 and being older than 35 when you have your first child.
  • Activity level. Being physically inactive or obese increases your risk.

While most of these factors are out of your control, Hopkins says there still are steps you can take to lower your risk. Most importantly, begin getting annual mammograms at 40, or earlier if you’ve been determined to be at a higher risk.

 

Women of all ages, regardless of their risk factors, also should get into the habit of performing monthly self exams to identify any changes in the breast, such as:

  • A change in how the breast or nipple feels, such as a lump or thickening in the breast or underarm
  • Tenderness in the breast or underarm
  • A change in the appearance of the breast or nipple, such as size or shape; scaly, red or swollen skin; or a nipple that is turned inward
  • Nipple discharge

Simple lifestyle changes can lower the risk for breast cancer and other diseases. These include:

  • Exercising at least 30 minutes daily
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Eating a healthy, low-fat diet that includes at least five servings of fruit or vegetables each day
  • Avoiding tobacco
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

Another valuable tool in the fight against cancer is genetic counseling if you have a family history of breast cancer. A genetic counselor can help you develop a family health tree to highlight cases of breast cancer that can raise your risk, and a simple blood test can identify possible genetic links to breast cancer if your risk is high enough.

 

“The important thing to remember is that when it comes to breast cancer, there is no such thing as too much information,” Hopkins says. “If you think you might be at risk, then develop a three-generation family history and discuss your concerns with your doctor.”

 

For more information on breast cancer and your risk factors, contact the Forsyth Regional Cancer Center at (336) 277-0198 or visit www.forsythmedicalcenter.org/cancer.

Unsightly scars

Treatment is key to minimizing their appearance

by Dr. H. Christopher Coley

 

 

Do you have a scar from a procedure or injury that you wish you could erase? Fortunately, with today’s technology there’s something you can do to prevent and minimize its appearance.

 

A scar is formed as a natural healing response to an injury. This healing process and scar remodeling can last for months. Depending upon the depth of injury, scars can be mild or severe. They vary in their characteristics, including shape, size and color.

 

Common types of unsightly scars include hypertrophic scars, stretch marks and keloids. Hypertrophic scars are those that are slightly wide, raised or thick in appearance. Typically, they’re confined to the original injured area and are formed by excess collagen formation. Stretch marks are caused by the stretching of the skin during pregnancy, bodybuilding or excess weight gain. Keloids are a type of hypertrophic scar that continue to grow outside the boundary of the original injury and can become large and unsightly.

 

Different areas of the body scar differently, with better scars occurring in areas where the skin is thin such as the face and neck. Areas where the skin is thicker, such as the back and trunk, generally scar worse. Genetics also can play a factor in scarring.

 

Minimizing scars

Surgical scars can be minimized in several ways. The key factors to help prevent surgical scars include delicate handling of tissue during repair, avoiding excess tension on the repair, and using proper technique and supplies. Removal of stitches and staples at the proper time also is important. Good wound care after the injury is just as important. It helps prevent infection, avoiding excess drying or moisture, limiting motion, and protecting the incision from the sun.

 

Some scars are inevitable due to circumstances surrounding the injury or condition. In some cases, incisions can be placed to help camouflage the scar in a natural skin fold. Other surgical techniques also can be used to minimize scarring.

 

To further minimize scarring, there is evidence that gentle compression through taping or a specialized bandage can aid in preventing hypertrophic scarring. Because hypertrophic scars essentially are excess inflammation and collagen, an injection with a steroid — a potent anti-inflammatory — or a topical steroid can prevent or correct a hypertrophic scar.

 

Other common scar remedies include topical antioxidants such as vitamins C and E. There are numerous other additives and home remedies that can help with scar formation as well. One of the best and well-known is silicone, which has been shown to prevent hypertrophic scars and improve the appearance of older scars. Two popular formulations available are Scarguard and Hybrisil, both of which are available by prescription.

 

Other ways to treat hypertrophic and unsightly scars include surgical excision or scar revision, laser resurfacing, and dermabrasion. Current research also suggests that there might be a role for radiation and treatment of severe hypertrophic scars and keloids with some potent medications and even chemotherapeutics.

 

If you have an unsightly scar, then obtain a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon to discuss your options.

 

Dr. H. Christopher Coley, board-certified and fellowship-trained in both cosmetic and hand surgery, is owner and chief surgeon of the Coley Cosmetic & Hand Surgery Center in Greensboro. To learn more, call (336) 617-8645 or visit www.coleycosmetic.com.

Life after cancer

Survivorship programs focus on wellness, support

by Ginny Gaylor

 

When you receive a cancer diagnosis, odds are you don’t spend much — if any — time thinking about what life will be like once you’re done with treatment. You worry about chemotherapy or radiation, or if the cancer will go away. You think about how it will affect your family, your savings and your job. You might even think about losing your hair. So when treatment is done and your cancer is in remission, you suddenly realize, now what?

 

You are not alone. But Triad area cancer patients are fortunate. With five major hospitals to choose from, treatment is never far away. Best of all, each of these medical centers has programs geared toward guiding cancer patients and survivors through each stage: diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. From support groups to exercise classes, each provides a range of activities to support cancer patients.

 

Celebrating survival

Sometimes it’s important to simply celebrate survival, and that’s what programs at Forsyth Medical Center and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center offer. Forsyth’s program, Feel Good Fridays, takes place the first Friday of every month. During the program, survivors can get haircuts, manicures and massages; practice reiki; and enjoy crafts and food.

 

“The event is a day for survivors and their families to enjoy,” says Laurie Mathis, a breast oncology nurse navigator with the hospital system.

 

Judy Dobson, a breast cancer patient, enjoyed participating in Feel Good Friday so much that she ended up volunteering to decorate tables for the event.

 

“It’s one of my favorite support systems there,” she says. “Just being around people who understand more about the situation I’m in helps, and I really do like the atmosphere.”

 

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) offers a similar program on a quarterly basis called Just 4 You Day. The event includes breakfast, lunch and snacks, and offers professional chair massages, makeovers from Belk’s cosmetic artists, haircuts, manicures, live music, a DJ, and door prizes. Area military staff as well as personnel from Coldwater Creek and Home Depot also have stepped in to help out during events.

 

“They have shown tremendous enthusiasm for being a part of this special day for our survivors,” says Marcy Poletti, MSN, RN, the hospital system’s oncology service line program administrator.

 

Finding a new normal

At Moses Cone Health System, Finding Your New Normal (FYNN) is an eight-week program geared toward people who have completed cancer treatment. The program was built on a wellness concept using a model developed by a UNCG professor of counseling.

 

“We combine a focus on issues survivors need to know about and are affected by, and introduce some kind of exercise each week,” says Terry Moore-Painter, the hospital systems’ chaplain.

 

She adds that FYNN groups tend to bond pretty closely and often continue to meet even after formal sessions are over.

 

Fran Rinehuls knows firsthand the benefits of the FYNN program, although she was reluctant at first.

 

“I remember when I finished with my treatment, I expected to be me again, and it doesn’t quite work that way,” says Rinehuls, a breast cancer survivor.

 

“I thought about going, but I hesitated,” she adds. “I thought it was going to be really depressing. I had this preconceived notion of what a support group was going to be.”

 

Fortunately, her idea of what a cancer support group was and the reality were worlds apart.

 

“Within five minutes of the group starting, I thought, ‘This is just wonderful.’ I fit in immediately,” Rinehuls says. “All of us were in the phase of getting our hair back, so we all had the same haircut.”

 

During the first session, Rinehuls recalls an instant connection and empathy among the group’s members.

 

“We knew what the other person was going through. There was no need for explanations,” she says. “We still get together.”

 

Helping hands

Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington takes a slightly different approach with Wings to Recovery, a cancer survivorship program that pairs a cancer survivor mentor with a current cancer patient.

 

“We try to match diagnosis to diagnosis,” says Rosa Davis, a chemotherapy-certified registered nurse and the program’s coordinator.

 

“We even try to match mentors and patients on specific types of treatment,” she adds. “The mentor is someone who has been through it, walked down that path and knows how the new patient feels.”

 

Mentor Dave Forsyth wishes this kind of program existed when he began receiving treatment for multiple myeloma.

 

“I think the most encouraging part is to see someone who has survived cancer. That gives them hope,” he says. “Not in words, but just to see someone nine years after treatment walking, talking, functioning — that is the greatest thing about the program. Things may well have changed, but there’s still life after treatment.”

 

Fit to fight

Many of the area’s hospital systems offer fitness and exercise programs geared toward cancer patients and survivors, but the one at High Point Regional Health System is slightly different.

 

“We have the only medically certified fitness center,” says Janet Forrest, the hospital’s oncology program planning liaison.

 

Cancer Fit, one of the center’s programs, is a guided 12-week exercise workshop run by an exercise physiologist. The idea is to increase stamina and decrease cancer-related fatigue. While the program does have a fee, there are scholarships available.

 

“It shouldn’t be closed to anyone because of finances,” Forrest says.

 

Cancer Fit also is designed to help build bonds with other survivors.

 

“We have mini classes and discussions,” Forrest says. “We also go on outings together because the classes have bonded so much.”

 

Ginny Gaylor is a freelance writer based in Greensboro.

 


Shining lights

While there are various programs available at area hospital systems for cancer survivors, there are two nonprofits specifically designed to help women prevent and live with breast cancer. Friends for an Earlier Breast Cancer Test focuses on prevention of the disease, while Alight Inc. — a new group — focuses on helping newly diagnosed patients.

 

For the past 15 years, Friends for an Earlier Breast Cancer Test has worked toward funding research for an earlier biological test to detect the disease. It also celebrates survivors during its annual lunch and dinner events each October.

 

“We get a lot of folks who come and bring a friend who’s a survivor,” says Kara McBurney, the organization’s events coordinator. “They come as a group of survivors, or they purchase a table in memory or in honor of someone.”

 

Cynthia Holliday, Alight’s executive director, says the organization’s first goal is to make sure local women focus on treatment and wellness.

 

“We have an emergency assistance fund to help if someone is having issues like paying their utilities, job loss or child care so that they can come to treatment,” she explains. “We don’t want anyone to forgo treatment or not focus on wellness because of finances.”

 

The group also provides patients with tote bags that contain a breast cancer treatment book, notebook with community resources and pillow to use during treatment.

“Alight is a different piece of the puzzle,” Holliday says. “We help people right now, locally, today.”

The celiac facts

Options increasing for those living with the disease

by Leslie Mizell

 

If you’re one of the many people in the Triad living with celiac disease, the bad news is that you have to say farewell to fast-food burgers, deep-dish pizza, and hot dogs and beer at the ballpark. The good news is that you won’t have to take daily fistfuls of pills or incur large medical expenses — and that there are tasty new sandwich, pizza, and beer substitutes coming out every day.

 

Living with celiac disease takes a significant lifestyle adjustment, but it’s quite possible to lead a normal existence with it — although admittedly, one in which grocery shopping takes at least twice as long.

 

The facts on celiac

Celiac disease is a condition in which a person’s immune system reacts to the protein gluten — found in wheat and other cereal grains — resulting in a cell-mediated inflammation of the lining of the small intestine. Unlike a wheat allergy in which there’s a rapid response to the product, celiac is a chronic illness that continues unabated as long as gluten is part of the sufferer’s diet.

 

Because it’s caused by ingestion of gluten, the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. This means eliminating barley, brewer’s yeast, malt, oats, rye and wheat. Once gluten has been eliminated, symptoms generally go away. Undiagnosed or severe celiac disease, however, can result in several complications.

 

“Celiac causes damage to the lining to the small bowel, where we absorb all of our nutrients,” says Dr. Tom Orli, a gastroenterologist with Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem.

 

“A variety of nutrient deficiencies can result,” he adds. “Common ones include iron deficiency, which can lead to anemia, and low calcium, which can lead to osteoporosis.”

 

Knowing no bounds

An equal-opportunity disease, celiac occurs worldwide, striking both men and women, children and adults.

 

“Celiac prevalence seems to be about 1 in 300 in the U.S.,” Orli says. “It’s much more common in Caucasians, and heredity does play a role. Several gene locus have been identified that pre-dispose people to the disease.”

 

Those with a high risk include people with another autoimmune disorder such as hypothyroidism, Type 1 diabetes or Down syndrome. Celiac sufferers also frequently have osteoporosis, iron-deficiency anemia, nervous-system disorders or liver disease.

 

“A year after I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I was listening to ‘The People’s Pharmacy’ on National Public Radio,” says Shelby Soderlund, a blogger with Gluten Free Greensboro (glutenfreegreensboro.blogspot.com).

 

“I had never heard of celiac disease, but they said it was highly correlated with Type 1 diabetes, and the long list of multi-systematic symptoms sounded a little familiar,” she adds. “I asked my doctor to test me for it, and the rest is history.”

 

A complicated diagnosis

The official diagnosis of celiac disease is the easy part: a blood test, which if it’s positive is followed by an upper endoscopy and biopsy of the small intestine.

 

However, celiac’s dozens of broad symptoms mimic so many diseases, disorders and ailments that it often takes years before the list is narrowed down. In fact, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness reports that approximately 3 million people in the U.S. have celiac disease, but only 120,000 have been diagnosed.

 

“There is now very good and accurate testing available for celiac, but a physician first has to think about the disease being a possibility before it can be diagnosed,” Orli says.

 

“Because of increased awareness, this is happening more.”

 

Classic symptoms include diarrhea, bloating, abdominal discomfort and weight loss. Less common symptoms can include constipation, mood and nervous-system disorders, and skin problems. Maddeningly, celiac disease also can be asymptomatic.

 

“I think I’ve had the disease since puberty, and I’m 35 now,” Soderlund says.

 

“I linked some of my symptoms together, but it was laughingly that I asked my doctor to test me.”

 

Orli recommends that patients be evaluated if they’re suffering from chronic diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain and fatigue. Parents — especially those with a family history of celiac disease — also should have their children screened if they notice symptoms such as frequent diarrhea, weight loss or poor growth.

 

Dietary changes

Within the past decade, it’s become increasingly easier to stick to a gluten-free diet as a virtual flood of products has found its way onto grocery shelves. Soderlund took gluten out of her diet in September 2009 following a last hurrah of pizza, sandwiches and other foods she expected to miss. Her first year has had its ups and downs — she misses tomato sandwiches, hearty 12-grain bread, pizza, and beer — and grocery shopping has become not only more expensive but also more time-consuming.

 

“Gluten is hidden in places you wouldn’t expect, like salad dressings, soy and barbecue sauces,” she says.

 

“It’s also hidden in some cheeses, deli meats, beef and sausage.”

 

To help those adjusting to a gluten-free diet, Greensboro’s Earth Fare hosts a gluten-free support group and recipe swap on the third Wednesday of each month. It also offers a tour of its store, including taste tests of some of its gluten-free products.

 

Restaurants are a different story. People with celiac disease share horror stories of getting sick after ordering from a supposedly gluten-free menu. The problem is that most people don’t fully comprehend how little gluten it takes to make a celiac sufferer ill. It can be something as simple as a dinner roll bumping up against another, or a salad being tossed in a bowl that recently held croutons.

 

“Some people with celiac will bring the manager to the table and make a big deal about it to make sure the food is being handled properly,” Soderlund says.

 

“I made the mistake of not going with my instincts when I doubted the gluten-free menu at a steakhouse in Chicago, and I paid for it,” she adds. “I got sick and was miserable for three or four days.”

 

Hidden dangers

While it would be nice to think that eliminating a majority of carbohydrates from your diet would have a positive impact on your weight, that’s not necessarily the case. Soderlund switched from Cheerios to Rice Chex after her diagnosis, but she soon discovered that it was lower in fiber and higher in carbs. She advises those who don’t begin to see improvements on a gluten-free diet to check out their medicine cabinets in addition to their pantries.

 

“There’s actually hidden gluten in a lot of medications,” she says.

 

“Because medications aren’t required to include the ingredients on their labels like food and beverages are, the only way to find out if the medication is safe is by calling the company that manufactures it.”

 

Leslie Mizell is a freelance writer based in Greensboro.

A tasty alternative

Lindy Clark has never bought a gluten-free packaged mix. Diagnosed with a wheat allergy in February 2008 in which she must also avoid eggs, dairy and soy, the cooking enthusiast hit the pots and pans and began working up her own gluten-free recipes. By November 2009, she had more than 100 collected in her self-published “Lindy’s Gluten-Free Goodies and More!,” available at local and online bookstores as well as directly from www.glutenfreebylindy.com.

 

The book contains illustrated recipes for everything from soups and sandwiches to desserts, with an emphasis on the latter. Each item was taste-tested by folks on both typical and gluten-free diets.

 

“A lot of people didn’t think they had an option to packaged food,” she says. “I got an e-mail from one woman who said my gluten-free pizza crust had given her hope. That kind of feedback thrills me to death.”

 

Clark, who moved from Ohio to High Point with her husband, Don, to be closer to their daughter, suddenly has found herself in demand for speaking engagements and cooking classes. There’s also a gluten-free restaurant, Lindy’s Goodies, in the works, as well as a second cookbook.

 

Here’s a tasty recipe courtesy of Lindy Clark:

 

Fudge Nut Bars

(makes three dozen)

 

1 cup or 2 sticks butter, softened

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/2-cup granulated sugar

3/4-teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4-teaspoon salt

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4-cup walnuts, chopped

3/4-cup pecans, chopped

1/2-cup milk chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

 

In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, xanthan gum and salt, and beat until crumbly. Set aside 1 cup for topping.

 

Press remaining crumb mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set and edges begin to brown.

 

While the crust is baking, combine milk and 1½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Cook — or microwave at 30-second intervals — and stir until chips are melted. Stir in vanilla. Spread the chocolate mixture over the crust.

 

Combine nuts, milk chocolate chips, remaining semi-sweet chocolate chips and reserved crumb mixture. Sprinkle over chocolate layer. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until center is set. Cool on a wire rack, then cut into bars.

To learn more

For more information on celiac disease, visit:

 

Teaching diversity

Culture abounds at area private schools

by Danielle Jackson

 

It’s no secret that the Triad’s private schools offer students an unparalleled, well-rounded education. But how do they prepare the next generation for life outside the classroom?

 

Very well, it seems. The private schools we talked with offer a variety of engaging cultural opportunities for students, from learning a new language beginning in preschool to studying abroad.

 

Bishop McGuinness

Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School in Kernersville prioritizes cross-cultural understanding in everything from its design of foreign language curricula to its secondary school exchange programs. Specifically, the school places a high priority on service to foreign students from Europe, Asia and Africa as a way to broaden their multicultural experiences.

 

“American perspective in the 21st century — unless it’s broadened through the education process in ways that previously were untried in American schools — is going to be far more limited than the times demand,” says George L. Repass, principal.

 

“It’s essential that our culture’s tendency to be inward-looking rather than focused on connection and networking on a global scale be addressed,” he adds. “This is best done at the secondary-school level, where opportunities for broadening young people’s perspectives are limitless.”

 

Caldwell Academy

At Caldwell Academy in Greensboro, all students are taught Latin from third through eighth grade as a foundation for the acquisition of other languages. Spanish is offered to students in its Rhetoric School and are encouraged to pursue other languages of interest as well.

 

“As a classical school, Caldwell’s students are expected to be cultured, which means that they are to be knowledgeable of their culture and able to act justly within it,” says Dona Hedgecock, curriculum coordinator and assistant principal.

 

“Since language is a transformational aspect of culture, a Caldwell education is centered around the proper use of language.”

 

The school also has hosted cultural events and international students from Vietnam, Ethiopia, and other countries. All Caldwell seniors travel to Italy as a culmination of their study of the humanities, and all students can participate in mission trips to places like Guatemala and the Philippines.

 

“Caldwell students have a heart for the world,” Hedgecock says. “They know it’s their responsibility to be stewards and caretakers of it.”

 

Calvary Baptist Day School

In addition to offering Latin, Calvary Baptist Day School’s curriculum features extensive Spanish instruction, allowing students to learn about the history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries. The capstone of students’ Spanish experience takes place with a senior mission trip to La Carpio in San Jose, Costa Rica.

 

“The trip serves as a tremendous learning experience for students as they’re immersed in another culture and are able to view life from a different perspective,” says Karen Walter, director of admissions for the Winston-Salem school.

 

“They are stretched as they seek to give where there is need and end up receiving gifts of even greater value in return.”

 

Other mission opportunities allow students to connect with children and adults in need from places like Myanmar.

 

“Students become attuned world citizens as they understand and come to appreciate people whose language, customs and beliefs differ from their own,” Walter says.

 

“Their life perspective is broadened, equipping them to become contributing members of the world community.”

 

Canterbury School

At Canterbury School in Greensboro, students and their families are given an opportunity to enjoy a variety of cultural offerings throughout the year. This includes everything from a middle school Mexico exchange and a summer trip to Italy to multicultural festivals and culturally themed dinners.

 

Students also begin foreign language instruction in kindergarten, and each year they read from a broad selection of multicultural literature.

 

“In every subject, they explore content from a variety of perspectives,” says Penny Summers, assistant head of school.

 

“Our commitment to offering a superior academic education and to preparing students to participate in the global economy requires us to develop programs that reduce stereotypes, expand cultural awareness, and provide opportunities for students to work collaboratively and respectfully with others.”

 

The Elon School

Both the French and Spanish curricula at The Elon School extensively cover the cultures, countries, and regions in which each language is spoken. Students also have traveled to Spain and France through immersion programs to further enhance the experience.

 

The school also has a heavy focus on music, theater and visual arts, with students taking day trips to places like the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in Durham and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

 

“We feel that cultural arts make students more well-rounded, and we provide a means to expose them to art, music, and culture,” says Jay Lasley, admissions director.

 

“Our hope is that students develop a deep appreciation for the cultural arts, and we’re proud that we’ve created a community where they support and appreciate their peers’ artistic talents.”

 

Greensboro Day School

While Greensboro Day School has an extensive Spanish curriculum, its Lower School has opportunities to explore many more cultures, from Japan and China to Kenya and England. Different grade levels have different projects to help students learn about and connect with other cultures.

 

Its Upper School already has an Australia exchange program, while its Middle School will host an exchange with students from Paris for the first time this year. Upper School students also participate in the Community Development and Leadership Summit, an international conference held each year in India.

 

“Studying cultural similarities and differences around the globe is a necessity if our students are to become prepared for life beyond school,” says Ed Dickinson, Middle School director.

 

“Our students’ studies, activities, community awareness, and involvement in service learning and outreach reflects a strong commitment at Greensboro Day School to growing sensitivity to, respect for, and interaction with many different cultural orientations.”

 

New Garden Friends School

At New Garden Friends School in Greensboro, Spanish is introduced in preschool, building on itself through eighth grade. At the high school level, Spanish is offered in addition to several other languages, including Mandarin, Latin, French, and German. The school also offers a trip to a Spanish-speaking country every other year for those in seventh through 10th grades, and is developing a service learning trip to the Dominican Republic as part of its honors curriculum.

 

Each year, New Garden Friends School also hosts Diversity Day, featuring age-appropriate workshops where students can learn more about different cultures.

 

“Most of our graduates will live and work in a culturally diverse world,” says David Tomlin, head of school.

 

“Any and all ways that a school can help a student understand and prepare for this new, smaller world will be beneficial.”

 

Noble Academy

At Noble Academy — formerly Guilford Day School — in Greensboro, students are exposed a variety of cultures through Spanish instruction, trips to places like the Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro and the Museum of Anthropology at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, hands-on activities like building the Berlin Wall, and visits from speakers from Ghana and other countries.

 

“As a school for children with learning differences, Noble Academy helps prepare students for the world that lies ahead by providing a nurturing and respectful environment where diversity is highly valued and respected,” says Clare Abel, academic dean.

 

“When students are taught in an environment such as ours — where each student’s learning style is unique and valued — they learn to critically think about themselves, others, and their learning,” she adds. “Topics such as fairness, tolerance, bias and prejudice are frequently explored. Actively participating in this learning environment helps prepare them for the world that lies ahead.”

 

St. Leo Parish Catholic School

At St. Leo Parish Catholic School in Winston-Salem, students in kindergarten through fifth grade can study Chinese, French, and Spanish language and culture, while Middle School students can specialize in a specific language.

 

Additionally, the student body celebrates the Chinese New Year each year and International Peace Day each September.

 

“Students wear heritage clothing and pray for understanding among all peoples of the world,” says Georgette Schraeder, principal.

 

“The celebration of cultural diversification brings hope for peaceful solutions to the world’s concerns regarding the environment, respect for individual freedom and nurturing of creativity,” she adds. “Students need to know a comfort with cultures different from their own.”

 

Westchester Country Day School

At Westchester Country Day School in High Point, the foreign language curriculum begins with both Mandarin and Spanish instruction in kindergarten. Students can continue to study these languages through high school and can add French in middle school.

 

Every three years, the school’s modern language department sponsors an International Day in which the community comes together to experience native foods, customs and music of different cultures.

 

“This day provides many of our families with a wonderful opportunity to share their family traditions with their children’s schoolmates,” says Betty Flythe, faculty dean and director of college guidance.

 

The school also recently hosted 24 students through the German American Partnership Program, while 13 Westchester students studied abroad in Germany.

 

“Whether we are talking about economics or education, our world is seeing borders dissolve,” says Gardner Barrier, assistant head of school and head of Westchester’s Upper School.

 

“It’s clear that multiculturalism has happened and that young people will need to be culturally fluent,” he adds. “The world that lies ahead is full of technological advancements that will mean that our students are heading into a world that is fast, diverse and global.”

 

Danielle Jackson is editor of Triad Living, Wake Living and Fifteen501 magazines.