Safe Screen

Safe Screen

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Two lab results by the same doctor on the same day, reveal two completely different results.

           “Breast cancer should be the #1 issue for any woman.

             They should all be saying “enough of this bullshit”.”

By Niki Smart * Photographed by Jared Rubin

This is a personal story for me because I’ve suffered with dense, fibrocystic breasts since forever. I was 15 when I had my first scare due to severe lumps, resulting in a breast aspiration. My lumps have gone on and on, and I know that caffeine exacerbates lumps, ergo I’ve always been careful with my caffeine intake.
Be that as it may, I’ve had several more cysts aspirated; I’ve had lumps surgically removed; I’ve had 2 biopsies, and it’s just no fun whatsoever. Each time a new mass appears, I worry that I have cancer, and dread the procedure that I’m about to face. Since I’m quite small-framed and don’t have much breast tissue, mammograms are fairly painful (I believe they’re painful even if you have ample breast tissue). I’ve grown to loathe mammograms, not only because they’re painful but because they’re 100% guaranteed to be inconclusive for my breast type, which means an ultrasound will soon follow. That too, is usually inconclusive, and then the surgeon will start digging about in my breast – which is scary, painful and expensive on top of everything else.
To add to my confusion/frustration, I once received two different results (they arrived on the same day).from a mammogram done at Kaiser Permanente
One letter said – you are in the clear, no follow up needed.
The other said – you urgently need a biopsy.
Both letters were signed on the same day, by the same doctor. Not very reassuring is it?
Another thing of note was that every lump that required attention was always in my right breast. You’d think that would have been a clue for any doctor right? Apparently not.
Finally, after years of scares and strange lumps, the biggest mass of all showed up on my mammogram results.
“That’s a 50% chance of being cancer,” the department head nurse at Kaiser Permanente told me when I refused to have a “core” biopsy.
I was sick and tired of people cutting and digging into my breast and I just couldn’t bear to have another biopsy. Plus, I’ve heard that if you do have cancer, a biopsy can sometimes actually spread the cancer cells. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say, but it certainly puts me off. So I went on a mission to find out what alternative non-invasive tests were out there to determine breast health.
I went for Thermography – an infrared heat reading that can pinpoint cancer. I went for Suretouch – similar to an ultrasound experience but it detects differences in hardness under the layers of soft tissue, and professes to be able to catch cancer 5 years ahead of a mammogram.
Both the Thermography and the Suretouch are painless and radiation free, but they couldn’t completely put my mind at ease. They both registered a large mass in my right breast, and both results said it didn’t seem likely to be cancer, but they couldn’t 100% guarantee this.
A friend told me about Dr. Kelly and his SonoCiné ultrasound – she didn’t just tell me about him, she sang his praises, so I made an appointment with Dr. Kelly.

Okay – so what is this technique? The SonoCiné is an automated whole breast ultrasound – a simple procedure similar to a regular ultrasound, but more thorough.
First of all, you have to wear a mesh vest – a proprietary camisole developed for the SonoCiné that fits like a sports bra. This helps to hold your breasts in place (which is especially helpful for women with larger breasts), and prevents the technologist from going over the same area twice. Next, you have a hydrogel nipple pad placed over your areola to flatten it, which prevents any shadows from causing a false reading. (Dr. Kelly has a patent on this nipple pad).
You lie on your back as your technician scans your upper areas with a hand held roller device capturing rows sequentially from below the collarbone to the lower margin of the breast. Then the SonoCiné machine relays the images to film.

Dr. Kelly stresses that it’s important to train the technologist to make enough images – 3mm apart at the most, so when watching the film, one can spot cancer small enough to stop it becoming a problem.
Once I was done being scanned, Dr. Kelly watched my film with me at his side. He pointed out everything he was
seeing, and assured me that my large mass was definitely NOT cancer. Well, I just wanted to kiss him for that alone, but then he asked me a question that no other health professional in 30+ years has ever asked me.
“What do you do on the right side of your body that is different form the left? Do you carry your handbag on your right shoulder?”
I had to think for a moment – then it came to me.
“I play guitar and the body of the guitar hits me exactly on my right breast.”
“That’s it” Dr. Kelly smiled. “The vibration from your guitar has altered the tissue in your right breast.”
He further explained that violin players can get this same tissue distortion in their necks from the vibration of their violins. Well, now I wanted to kiss and hug and squeeze Dr. Kelly, not only because he is adorable and the sweetest man, but because he had solved a life-long issue for me. Thank you a million times, Dr. Kelly.

INTERVIEW WITH DR. KELLY

I was so impressed with Dr. Kelly that I had to go back and interview the good doctor – because this man deserves attention – as do your breasts.

How long have you been in the “breast” business?
I’ve been a radiologist since 1975, and solely a breast radiologist since 1982. I realized that I could improve on the current ultrasound technology and by 1998 I’d come up with SonoCiné. Two years later (in 2000) I had a test run on 500 women. On one woman, the SonoCiné detected a cancer in each breast – her right and left – neither mammogram, nor ultrasound had picked up these cancers. This is when I knew I was definitely right – up until then my ideas had been theoretic.

Why is the SonoCiné better for dense breasts?
A mammogram stacks images and cancer is like a bear in the forest – fatty, or dense breasts have many leaves – meaning, mammograms aren’t great for dense breasts. Plus a mammogram has the extra risk of radiation and SonoCiné avoids the radiation. The SonoCiné can catch cancer at 10mm or less. 40-50% of cancers are felt before they are seen on a mammogram. By this time their size is 17mm-25mm.

Can you tell me more about your text and drive theory?
The human brain can’t successfully text and drive at the same time. You may think you can, but your brain physically can’t focus completely on both tasks at the same time – they require the same part of the brain to do. Same thing with a regular ultrasound. The technician is reading the monitor at the same time as focusing on sliding the roller across your chest. If you separate the two actions, there is less room for error and if you improve the gathering of information by having the images closer together – then the readings will be easier. With the SonoCiné reading, you give the film your entire attention in a distraction-free environment. This method of review has been shown to increase the detection of cancers as small as 5mm – 10mm in size.

What about MRIs as a way to screen for cancer of the breast?
People may think an MRI is the way to be sure – but MRI injects heavy metal into your system. In a tight spot, an MRI is okay, but you can’t use it once a year as a screening procedure. That would be reckless as the gadolinium stays with you and ends up in brain and your bones.

How many SonoCiné machines are there?
There are now 50 SonoCiné machines worldwide.

How many women do you see in a month on average?
About 100.

Do you think there are a lot of unnecessary biopsies/removals?
Ultrasound is more definitive – but understanding is variable in this country.
In UK, Europe and Canada – they are better at understanding the images.

What do you recommend for women at this point?
Do both – in the interim.

Do you think we keep doing mammograms because it’s cheaper for the medical field? Insurance companies? Is it expensive to replace the machinery?
Oh yes. This is a game changer. Disruptive technology means someone loses.

Talking of money, where do you get your funding?
The Bank of Kelly. I’ve put everything into this. I’ve even mortgaged my house, which didn’t make my wife too happy, I can tell you. But I know that about 3000 women die every month from breast cancer in America alone. The rate is higher in China, with 1 woman per minute. There are approximately 190,000 new cases of breast cancer annually. And about 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer. Breast cancer should be the #1 issue for any woman. They should all be saying “enough of this bullshit”.

Here at SoCal magazine, we couldn’t agree more.

For more information on Dr. Kelly’s SoneCine click here

 

Other Screenings without Radiation
SureTouch: The SureTouch Breast Exam is painless, radiation free and delivers immediate results. Breasts are examined quickly and comfortably without compression. The patented, hand-held, SureTouch sensor glides easily over the entire breast and underarm area and detects differences in hardness under the layers of soft tissue. Its 192 sensing elements capture and document the shape, location, size and hardness of breast lesions.  Any breast lesions are displayed on the SureTouch console screen in multi-dimensional full-color images. Because images are digitally stored for future reference, results can be tracked and compared for changes over time. http://suretouch.us

Thermography:
Digital Infrared Imaging detects the heat produced by increased blood vessel circulation and metabolic changes associated with a tumor’s genesis and growth. A thermography session can detect thermal signs that may suggest a pre-cancerous state of the breast, or signs of cancer at an extremely early stage. However, Digital Infrared Imaging does not have the ability to detect 100% of all cancers. Consequently, Digital Infrared Imaging’s role is in addition (to mammography and physical examination, not in lieu of. www.breastthermography.com

 

Mexico’s Blue Lagoon

Mexico’s Blue Lagoon

 

By Zuke Oshiro

The Mexican Rivera, which lies to the far west and dips into the majestic blue seas of the Caribbean is a famous tourist destination for Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and many smaller islands that dot the landscape. We can soon add the quieter destination of Holbox (pronounced Hol-bosh) to that list as the dusty little seaside town starts to get noticed.
A mere three-hour bus drive from the hustle of touristy Cancun, this is a ride through the countryside of Mexico replete with small food stands, school children and people commuting from town to town. If you are not on the express bus, it can seem like a long journey, but once deposited in Chiquila, the short boat ride to Holbox is worth the wait.
This is the northern tip of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, far removed from the large tourist ships and a journey back to a time when tourism hadn’t consumed the population with Starbucks and McDonald’s. They are not here, yet. And hopefully, it will take a long while  for the tourist trade to discover this gem. What you will find is an island with few cars, the main transportation is a golf cart, rusted by years of sea salt exposure, and a driver, with some English experience—it is of no consequence, the island is so small there is little hope of getting lost.
The main attraction to Hotbox is its lagoon—which seems to go miles into the sunset and is walkable and is rich with flamingoes, pelicans, and other birdlife.
Once in town, which is a series of dirt roads that all meet in the center. This is a 26 square mile island (same size as New York City!) so the ocean is never far off. For the adventurous traveler, there are so many walkable treks that lead to sudden lagoons, singular piers that stretch to the sunset and of course, there is always the seashore. But let’s get back to the bars. There is the Bar Arena Isla Hotbox which is a rooftop bar complete with a hot tub. The new kid on the block Básico is an open shell bar with a mixologist who conjures up spices and liquors, and if so inclined the occasional grasshopper delicacy is to be found here.
Side streets offer some great eating experiences, in particular, Milpa. Which a family run vanguard restaurant with Mexico-City-born-and-trained chef, Adrian Barajas. Reservations are converted into name tags as you come to the restaurant and the entire affair is treated as an experience, which it is. The menu offers such interesting dishes as Drunk Octopus Roaming Valladolid, which translates to roasted Octopus with bacon bits, bell p[pepper caviar, cacahuazintle corn and courgette filled with beer salsa with Valladolid chorizo.
By day, the beach, tourist cruises to see fish, whales, and lounge in the many hotels with their beachside bars and restaurants. Casa Las Tortugas, situated on the shoreline is stunning at night. Amber lights and reveal walkways and bridges. The hotel offers twenty-four romantic rooms and suites with a variety of views.

As we all know, the world is becoming fabulous—every distant corner is suddenly recognized as social media, the camera-phone and other recording devices take note of the splendor and beauty of places we have rarely visited. Holbox is such a destination: not quite touched by commercial hotels, restaurants or tourist attractions and yet accesible, compelling and a perfect place to experience Mexico in a new and different way.

Trans-mission: Slay Models

Trans-mission: Slay Models

“We’re here to Slay and We’re here to Stay!”

Transgender really “came out of the closet” in 2015, as Caitlyn Jenner, The Danish Girl and Transparent, all brought transgender awareness to the forefront. What great timing for SLAY Model Management, the first exclusively transgender modeling agency, to open their doors in DTLA.
SLAY’s founder and chief talent scout, Cecilio Asuncion, started his involvement with the transgender community a few years ago while directing his documentary “What the T?”  CC, as he calls himself, immersed himself in the transgender world, wanting to make a documentary from the inside out, not from the outside looking in. During his time scouting, mingling and filming, CC formed a deep bond with the transgender community. After his documentary won him the Outstanding Filipino American Award for LGBT Advocacy in 2012, CC wanted to continue advocating for the transgender community and opened SLAY. Out of 485 applicants, CC whittled it down to 15 girls, as he is very particular about the models he wishes to represent: “Models must have the right height, measurements and a drive like no other! We’re competing against the world’s top girls. We’re not asking clients to give our models cc(1)special treatment. We’re simply saying, if transgender models can do the job, let them do the damn job”.
Although transgender models have been around for ages, up until now, they’ve felt fearful to reveal their gender identity. The backlash and negativity towards them has not been easy. Today, as society’s attitudes change, more transgender models, like those represented by Slay, feel safe enough to reveal their gender. CC hopes to find acceptance and success for his business, and wishes for his models to infiltrate the commercial market. The SLAY models strive to represent the trans community in a very positive light – each step on a fashion runway, and every modeling job landed, is a move in the right direction – and a win for transgender rights and awareness.

What drew you to opening a modeling agency solely for transgender models?

In 2011, I started my documentary on transgender. I don’t know why, but I was drawn to making the doc. I saw a young trans being interviewed on the Anderson Cooper Show, and knew I wanted to do a film that showed trans women in a positive light. A film that would inspire young trans people to know they can be who they are. I sought out the trans community – I visited the bars and restaurants they hung out in. And as I scouted for talent, I became part of their group.

What kind of modeling jobs are they called on for?

At SLAY we teach the girls to walk, how to do test shots, and we work on developing their books. This builds their self-esteem and gives them a print opportunity. They need employment, and they need to be treated fairly. I’m very protective over the models. My girls have walked in LA Fashion Week, and at the Oxford Fashion Showcase, plus Arisce, formerly with Ford Models, and perhaps the most recognizable face on the roster, has been featured in Vogue, Germany.

How old is your youngest model?

Our youngest is 12-years-old, Alex. Her mother says she signed her daughter with us because she’s more comfortable with her daughter’s participation in the fashion industry being represented by an exclusively trans agency. Usually, trans know at a young age that they are not in the “right” body. It’s very important to have supportive parents, as the suicide rate in LGBT is high for teens. Our next youngest is Amber, who is 15. Her parents are also very supportive, and she is home schooled to circumvent any problems at school.

Has the recent Caitlyn Jenner story helped your cause?

Absolutely. 2015 has been a year of progress for the trans community, with many exciting breakthroughs.  There was the reality show devoted to Caitlyn Jenner’s life and transition.  Laverne Cox of “Orange Is the New Black” was on the cover of Time Magazine. And there’s Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, the first transgender appointee in the White House. The more high profile transgender people we have, the less fearful and more accepting society becomes. First there is conversation and awareness – acceptance comes last.

INTERVIEW WITH SLAY MODEL, SABEL

CC discovered Sabel when she won runner up at the world’s leading transgender pageant “Queen of the Universe Pageant”. Sabel has been with SLAY for several months and is grateful for the opportunity. Next year, Sabel hopes to represent her country in the most prestigious transgender pageant: the “Queen of International”. What is it like to be a trans model? Well, we asked Sabel.

How old were you when you realized you weren’t comfortable as your birth sex?
I was very young, about 6 years old. I was more comfortable with girls and girl toys. Most trans know at a young age.

Did you tell your parents? Were they supportive?
My mom was against it, but I mainly grew up with my grandmother, and she was supportive.  I was a very pretty boy and my mother wanted me to have children.
Now that I’m a model in America, I’m the breadwinner for my family back in the Philippines. I support my grandma and my uncle who is disabled, plus my 3 young cousins – I pay for their schooling. So my family thinks differently about me now.
Sabel by Genesis Ilada
What was the experience of childhood/teenager/young adult like for you?
I loved being in the theater and became a performer for a transgender theater in the Philippines. It helped me learn to be more open, and soon the community got to know me as a trans. I started my transition at 20. I started growing hair and felt happier; more free, and felt I had added opportunities. While at college, I entered a trans pageant – The Queen of Flowers that aired on TV. I won that pageant and my mom saw me on TV. Now she is proud of me.

What advise would you give young people that are currently having gender issues?
My advice to parents is to be open with your children. My advice o the young trans is be true to yourself and focus on your career and studies. You are the only one who can help yourself.  Don’t be scared of society. Every time I’m discriminated against – it makes me stronger. I respect myself for who I am.

Anything else you’d like to add?
SLAY helps me a lot. As a kid at school I filled in a questionnaire that asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I wrote “a runway model.“
And after 10 years, here I am! I love being a model  – and hope to be an inspiration for others.

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