Thursday, September 26, 2013

Giving to Health Studies - A Tribute to Drs. Anita and Douglas Coyle

Dear TWU Health Studies Community,

If you live here in Texas you might have seen this bumper sticker: I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.  Well, I didn’t get my degree at TWU, but I got here as fast as I could. TWU first got my attention almost 15 years ago. Although I applied to several positions over the years and even took a few courses here, it wasn’t until 2009 that I finally landed a spot in Health Studies as a part-time graduate advisor. Little did I know when I started that Health Studies would become my home rather than just a job. From the moment I arrived, I was welcomed into the friendly, informal atmosphere of the department.

Dr. Douglas Coyle was the graduate program coordinator at the time and he began teaching me about Health Studies since this was not one of my academic disciplines. Not only was he passionate about being a health educator and teaching new health educators, but he was always available to answer any questions I had about our graduate programs or concerns that arose. His wife - Dr. Anita Coyle (1947-2012) who was also a Health Studies doctoral alum and one of our adjuncts - also generously welcomed me into the fold. Whenever I called their house with questions or needed help, Anita would always ask me how I was doing. And, she was always sure to ask about my writing projects as she knew of my love of poetry. I was impressed by the devotion to both TWU and Health Studies that she and Dr. Coyle always expressed.

Earlier this year, after I was promoted to program director, I sent out a letter to our team to express how excited I was to be taking on the new role. That letter turned into a conversation with Dr. Douglas Coyle and I wanted to share a bit of what he said:

Waxing philosophically, I have - in learning about the history of this institution - come to the undeniable conclusion that TWU fills a mission for women, and to a lesser extent men, to build women of confidence with a firm belief in their equal status. The teachers and peers also have a chance to change male attitudes. Especially in my undergraduate classes, one male in a face-to-face classroom, can change the room's dynamics. Over the course of the program, I have seen the dynamics change and women gain the confidence that will serve them well in the workplace. This is the unique quality of TWU. The opportunity to study women's issues in health and other disciplines from original sources by learned women scholars and male scholars with an appreciation of the women's point of view is unlike the educational opportunities in most of our colleges and universities.

Our work is most important and I applaud your decision.

Like both Drs. Coyle, I  too, believe in the mission of TWU. I believe in the mission of Health Studies. And, I believe in the passion and dedication of our students.  That’s why today I am donating to the Dr. Anita Jill Coyle Scholarship Endowment. We need $6,950.00 for it to be endowed. I am asking you to join me in helping to reach that total. Every dollar counts whether it’s $100, $20, or $5.  With your assistance, we can “educate today for a healthier tomorrow.”

To give online specifically to the Dr. Anita Jill Coyle Scholarship Endowment follow these steps: 

  1. Click this link -
  2. Under Donation Information Designation select Other
  3. Type in Dr. Anita Jill Coyle Scholarship

Additionally, you can print and mail in a donation form if you prefer. Please be sure to list Dr. Anita Jill Scholarship in the top line.


Morgan O’Donnell
Program Director

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Guest Post: National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month by Laura Valentino

Spread the word! September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month (COAM). Childhood obesity in the United States is an epidemic, as 23 million children and teenagers ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese. This is the perfect time to join forces with local and national organizations to inform and encourage everyone to take part in promoting healthy lifestyles. 

The facts
*One in three children in the United States is overweight or obese.
*Overweight and obese children are at greater risk for chronic disease such as heart disease, arthritis, asthma, and sleep apnea.
*Overweight and obese children are at greater risk for bullying, depression, and anxiety.
*The direct health care costs attributed to childhood obesity is $14 billion per year. 

What can you do?
*Download the tool kit from . The toolkit provides a fact sheet, tips and suggestions to promote COAM, sample letter to the editor, sample news release, social media message suggestions, and more!

Ideas for parents
*Make small changes like incorporating more fresh fruit and vegetables, eating at home more often, limiting screen time, and exercising together as a family.

Ideas for teachers and other school personnel
*Incorporate health education, physical activity, and nutrition into the student’s day.

American College of Sports Medicine.  (n. d.). About September 2013 national childhood obesity awareness month. Retrieved from

Laura Valentino is a first-year Health Studies doctoral student at Texas Woman’s University. Laura is originally from Southern California and will be happy when her first Texas summer is over! She has diverse research interests ranging from obesity prevention and control, autoimmune disease, health disparities, and family caregiver stress. She is most passionate about teaching and is happy to talk about all things teaching and learning related. As a former state police dispatcher, she cannot help but read license plates using the phonetic alphabet.  She can be reached at lvalentino @ or find her on Instagram (reddyvalentino).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Guest Post: Self-Care by Dr. Marshall Bewley

“The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute.” ~Dr. BrenĂ© Brown
My name is Dr. Marshall Bewley and I am a Staff Psychologist at the TWU Counseling Center (TWUCC). Let’s discuss self-care! Self-care? What is that? Who has time for that? Well as busy as your day, semester, or life feel, self-care is essential to ensure optimal functioning and a healthy life. Self-care can take many forms and is a way of living that incorporates behaviors that help you to be relaxed, replenished, allow for personal motivation, and can help you grow as a person. To better help understand self-care, think of it as a triad, which each component just as important as the other.

Physical – The first component of self-care is related to being physical. Physical self-care could consist of moving your body in structured sports or exercise, dancing in front of your mirror, stretching between classes, or even walking to the turtle pond on the north side of campus. Your body is a house for your mind and heart so treat it with care. Some general ideas for good physical self-care include: Daily exercise, adequate rest, using seat belts, practicing safer sex if you are sexually active, and eating a variety of healthy foods.

Mental/Emotional – The second component of self-care is related to mental and emotional wellness. I encourage you to be accepting, kind, and willing to forgive yourself. As Dr. BrenĂ© Brown says, “Let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are!” If you would drop everything to support a friend or family member, reflect on whether or not you would do the same for yourself. Take every 3rd "I should" out of your vocabulary and say "no" at least once a week! Worry less about how others might perceive you and start focusing on who you feel about yourself. Reasonable expectations are key for mental/emotional self-care; however, this does not imply that you keep be unmotivated or stop working hard. The goal is to stretch yourself, not break yourself. Set limits if that is what you need; overindulgence is not nurturing either.

Do a range of activities for fun and stimulation, perhaps some that you can do with others and some
to do alone. Is it difficult to think where to start? Try remembering things you liked when you were a child, but have long ago given up. Get the creative juices flowing and find your own uniqueness. Paint, draw, get out the hammer and nails and construct something that you found inspiring off Pinterest!

Spiritual – The third component of self-care is spiritual. Spiritual self-care can encompass a wide range of interests and can be thought of as a way to develop a practice that exercises your mind and soul. However you define that is what is most important. Some individuals may find a routine of prayer, meditation, yoga, feeling connected to nature, environment, or greater sense of community. Spiritual self-care allows yourself freedom to identify your own values and priorities. For example, spiritual self-care for me means finding a new book and sitting on my back-porch with my dog, taking in nature and living in the moment. What will your spiritual self-care look like and how will it contribute to improving yourself and the greater culture that you live in?

On a daily basis, find what self-care means to you. Do not forget to check in with yourself and ask, “Am I taking care of all components of self-care?” You deserve it and it will greatly improve your coping!

If any students are searching for support or struggling with any concerns, TWUCC is a safe, accepting, and non-judgmental place to confidentially address common mental health concerns, as well as explore your areas of personal growth, learn about yourself, gain new life skills, and garner support. Here is more information about our services:
  • All currently enrolled students are eligible for up to 12 sessions of individual or couples sessions within the academic year. 
  • Group sessions are unlimited and we have a number of groups starting mid-September.
  • Fees for services are already included in general student fees at no additional cost.
  • If you are interested, you can call TWUCC at 940-898-3801 or stop by in person (West Jones Hall) to schedule an intake appointment. We have services on each of our campuses as well!
  • In the 30 minute intake appointment, you and a therapist will begin to explore the nature of the presenting concerns and determine the appropriate referral to individual or group therapy.

TWUCC also posts self-care information, motivational quotes, and inspiration on their Facebook Page,

What are some of the ways you take care of yourself? Share your tips and ideas in the comments below!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Guest Post: Wear Teal Day for Ovarian Cancer Awareness by Dr. Sandra Cesario

Friday, September 6, 2013 is WEAR TEAL DAY to increase awareness about ovarian cancer!

Teal is the color that represents ovarian cancer, the most lethal of women’s cancers.  Just as the display of pink ribbons in October reminds us of breast cancer, the prominent exhibition of teal during the month of September is intended to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and the urgent need for more research in this area.  Dr. Sandra Cesario, Professor in the College of Nursing at TWU in Houston, made a personal commitment to spreading the word about this deadly disease following the death of her 29 year old daughter, Anna, in 2009. Each year since that time, colleagues of Dr Cesario proudly wear teal on the first Friday in September to remember Anna and share the important message of ovarian cancer awareness with students, co-workers, friends, and family.

This year, Wear Teal Day will be on Friday, September 6. For those of you in Houston, the Houston City Hall will be lit in teal in memory of those who have lost their lives to ovarian cancer.  The view is particularly stunning from the Ferris wheel at the downtown Aquarium.

One in 71 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. With early detection, about 93% will survive longer than 5 years after diagnosis. However, only 15% of ovarian cancers are caught during this early stage of disease leading to the overall high death rate. Every year, 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the US and 16,000 women will die.  Worldwide, more than 204,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are identified annually, accounting for approximately 4% of all cancers diagnosed in women, with the highest rates reported in the US and Europe.

If you experience any of the following symptoms more than 3 times per week for longer than 3 months, please consult your health care provider to be evaluated for ovarian cancer:
  • Bloating 
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

Right now there is no general population screening tool to identify ovarian cancer during its earliest stages.  However, research is underway to identify genetic markers to help identify women at the highest risk. Chemotherapy drugs and delivery methods are improving but, to date, have only led to an increase of a few months in length of survival. Surgical techniques are improving. And chemical assays, such as ChemoFx(R), are aiding in the identification of the most effective form of chemotherapy before treatment even begins.

A study just published in Cancer, describes a promising approach to the early detection of ovarian cancer that uses an older blood test in a new way.  MD Anderson researchers found that evaluating the change in blood levels of CA-125 over time shows promise as a screening tool for early-stage ovarian cancer. Historically, a CA-125 value greater that 30 was a red flag for the development of ovarian cancer.  However, the recent study discovered that annual measurements of the CA-125 indicated that changes over time, based on a mathematical formula called Risk of Ovarian Cancer Algorithm (ROCA), can also identify women who are in the earliest, most treatable stages of ovarian cancer.

In Pennsylvania, a fascinating interdisciplinary research collaborative has been formed.  Several disciplines have combined their efforts to investigate the use of canine olfaction, along with chemical and nanotechnology analysis, to detect early-stage human ovarian cancer. This group has demonstrated that dogs CAN sniff out ovarian cancer!

So progress is being made – there is hope! For more information or to make a donation to this important cause, please consider the following organizations:

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
OCRF is the largest independent organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research-- and to finding a cure. Through our three active research programs, we fund the best researchers and the most innovative projects

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is the foremost advocate for women with ovarian cancer in the United States. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, the Alliance advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
The mission of the NOCC is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. The Coalition is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma
In 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature charged OU with providing statewide leadership in cancer research, prevention and education, and treatment and seeking designation as a National Cancer Institute (NCI) comprehensive cancer center designation. A major recruiting effort was launched in 2009 to bring nationally-recognized cancer physicians and researchers to Oklahoma. In 2011, the Oklahoma Cancer Institute opened and there is a beautiful gynecologic-oncology waiting area named in Anna's memory.

Sandra K. Cesario, PhD, RNC, FAAN

PhD Program Coordinator and Professor
College of Nursing, Texas Woman's University
6700 Fannin Street
Houston, TX 77030-2343

You might also be interested in: