How to Understand Your Body’s Signals

Shannon Tweed's Health Scare
Earlier this year, actress and longtime partner of rock star Gene Simmons, Shannon Tweed, was out shopping with her sister. It was a day like any other, until, while trying on clothes, she noticed a lump on her breast. She called Gene to tell him about what she had discovered.

"That was scary," Gene says. "Shannon has always taken care of her health, she watches her diet, and the more I learned about it, the more I found out the scary facts."

Shannon saw breast specialist Dr. Kristi Funk, who performed an ultrasound on Shannon's breast. Dr. Funk discovered an irregularity and determined Shannon needed a biopsy. She performed a core needle biopsy and learned that the lump was not cancerous.

Avoiding Scars

In The Doctors' latest column in Shape magazine, plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon explains how to avoid getting a scar after surgery.

Shannon and Gene join The Doctors and Dr. Funk onstage to talk about the health scare. "It doesn't leave anyone out," Shannon says. "Breast cancer doesn't discriminate, and I wanted everyone to see what happens when you do pay attention and how you can catch things early. It's not as scary as you think, and to catch it early is much less scary than ignoring it and not going to the doctor."

Regular mammograms and self-breast exams are important for early detection of breast cancer. Dr. Funk suggests having a mammogram at age 35, and if that test shows no abnormalities, get annual exams starting at age 40. "Cancers basically double in size every three to four months," Dr. Funk says. "So if you go two years between mammograms, it's dangerous."

OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson demonstrates the proper way to perform a self-breast exam.

Dr. Funk started a nonprofit organization called Pink Lotus Petals, which provides free mammography screening, exams and biopsies, and if cancer is detected, full care to low income women without insurance. Shannon sponsored the organization's first event, at which guests were given free exams and ultrasounds, and she and her daughter, Sophie, participated. "People are transformed by the fact that you care," Dr. Funk says. "They barely care about themselves, and yet you care about their health. They are blown away. They live in fear, since they haven't been in the health system, that they have breast cancer. Telling them they don't is as powerful as saving their lives."

Watch this important message Gene offers to men about the importance of making sure your loved ones get tested.

High Cholesterol in Kids
Gene and Shannon's 21-year-old son, Nick, has high cholesterol, despite the fact that he is in shape and healthy. They ask pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears how they can help him bring his cholesterol levels down.

"A lot of parents don't think about cholesterol in their kids," Dr. Jim says. "We're supposed to be checking it really early, even as early as age 2, especially if there's a family history of high cholesterol. In some families, you may be healthy, and exercise and eat right, but still, your cholesterol can be a little bit high. So many people think, 'I'm thin, I'm good, I'm not even going to go to the doctor.' 

"Try to put it into something he cares about," Dr. Jim adds. "Something that comes to mind is [saying], 'If you have high cholesterol, you're more likely to have heart disease and [erectile dysfunction].' Throw that in there. It's something he'll probably care about."

To improve cholesterol numbers, exercise is extremely important. Being active will raise the HDL, or good cholesterol, and lower LDL, bad cholesterol. Making slight changes to your diet can lower cholesterol, as well.

Foods to Eat
• Oats, oatmeal and bran soluble fiber
Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
Olive oil
Yogurt and yogurt drinks

"Some people are going to be predisposed, based on genetics, to have high cholesterol," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "That doesn't mean that you can't take steps in your life to lower your numbers. If you do all the right things, there are some people who still need to be on cholesterol-lowering medications."

More from the Triplets

Go inside Erica's baby shower, and find out about the must-have baby items the triplets cannot live without!

Take a tour of the triplets' babies' nurseries!

Click here for a chance to win a SwaddleDesigns® Ultimate Receiving Blanket® Paisley Triplets Design!

The Triplets Join The Doctors
Triplets Erica (wife of Jay McGraw, executive producer of The Doctors), Jaclyn and Nicole became pregnant within months of one another. They learned the gender of their babies on The Doctors! The sisters join The Doctors onstage with Jaclyn's newborn daughter, Chanel, and Nicole's baby girl, Charlie. Erica is nine months pregnant and due any day, and asks Dr. Lisa how long she should wait to go to the hospital after contractions begin.

Dr. Lisa explains that it is important that Erica talk to her OB/GYN beforehand, because he or she will know her history and personal needs. "But in general, we usually say if [contractions] are five minutes apart from start to finish for about an hour or two," she says. "[Also], if your bag of water ruptures, or you think you're leaking, or if you have heavy bleeding, like a period, not just a bloody show, and if the baby's not moving as well, we need to know all of those things."

Erica also asks Dr. Lisa if an epidural extends the labor process.

"That's the biggest fallacy," Dr. Lisa says. "A lot of times, it can help women to dilate, because it helps them to relax."

Dr. Lisa explains how an epidural works.

• See how the triplets prepared for birth

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OAD 3/17/10