Kay Dudley and Alice Musser spent years in the Oklahoma Legislature on opposite sides of the aisle. They never guessed they would end up living under the same roof at The Veraden in Edmond.

story and photo by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

For years, Kay Dudley and Alice Musser worked across the aisle from each other in the Oklahoma Legislature representing South Oklahoma City.
Musser was a Democrat, Dudley a dyed-in-the wool Republican.
They lived on opposite sides of Pennsylvania Avenue on the city’s south side.
Neither had children in the same grade school. Their churches were different, too.
But both shared a sense of civic duty.
Neither ever imagined one day they would be living under the same roof at The Veraden in Edmond.
“We didn’t know each other, not when we went into the Legislature,” Dudley said. “She was on the East side of Pennsylvania Avenue. I was on the west side.”
Dudley, a Republican caucus secretary, was elected to the Senate in 1986. She was a member of the Senate’s Education, Human Resources, Finance and Transportation committees, as well as the joint Senate and House Task Force on Child Support and the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse.
She was married to Dr. Tom Dudley, an oral surgeon who practiced in south Oklahoma City for more than 26 years. They had three children.
Musser served on the House Criminal Justice Committee, Retirement Laws Committee and Economic Development Committee.
She sponsored legislation establishing the Energy Conservation Assistance Fund providing grants for lower income, elderly and handicapped homeowners to weatherize their homes and save on energy costs.
She and husband, Carl, had six children.
Musser represented House District 91, which was made up of a part of Dudley’s Senate District 44.
“It was an open seat and I had run once before,’’ Musser said of her election in 1988. “I decided it was a job I needed to do.”
Both ladies admitted bumping their heads on the proverbial glass ceiling as they entered a profession historically dominated by their male counterparts.
Neither was ever asked to get someone a cup of coffee but they were always keenly aware they were the elephant in the room.
“I really didn’t think about it that way although I knew,” Musser said.
“I don’t think we got the same amount of respect as the men,” Dudley echoed.
There were definitely challenges.
“I loved being there,” Dudley said. “But regularly I kept thinking ‘I’m really not accomplishing much.’ And it’s a good ol’ boy system – whoever has been there the longest thinks they’re smarter than everybody else and they try to influence the newbies.
“There were some that I had total respect for and there were others I had no respect for. You just learn who to believe and what to believe.”
Each followed their heart and spent way more time than they had ever imagined trying to serve the needs of Oklahomans.
It was exhausting but both said their time serving at Oklahoma’s highest level of government went quickly.
“I thought I could change the world and I didn’t,” laughed Dudley.
“Well, I thought I had time to learn and then do something and I had two years,” Musser added.
Nowadays you’re likely to find them talking across the dining room table at The Veraden.
But the topic rarely turns to politics.
Neither have the energy for today’s versions.
“There wasn’t that wall that there is today,” Musser said comparing politics 30 years ago to today. “I can remember going to things in the evening and it was everybody, it wasn’t just one party or just the house or the senate.”
They’ve found that sense of community at The Veraden.
Life at The Veraden revolves around modest luxury, personal freedom, and optimal health. Comfortable surroundings, social activities, delicious meals, accommodating associates, and a prime location come together on this unique campus to form a fresh and vivacious lifestyle.
That was the draw for both Dudley and Musser – even though neither knew the other was considering moving in.
Dudley was one of the first residents. Musser came a few months later.
The Veraden modernizes and redefines the retirement experience. The independent living apartments offer chef-prepared dining, daily activities planned around residents’ interests, scheduled transportation to and from shopping and appointments, and a variety of social outings.
The pet-friendly community also offers laundry and housekeeping services plus apartment maintenance, allowing you to have the freedom to pursue the lifestyle you enjoy.
After politics, life moves at a more comfortable pace for the two ladies.
Young, female political hopefuls have sought them out over the years for guidance.
Each are ready to share their story even though it might come from a slightly different perspective.
“Well, you can’t agree with the Republicans very often,” Dudley teased her fellow former legislator.
“Sometimes, I don’t agree with the Democrats either,” Musser laughed.

The first half of Dennis Johnson’s professional life was spent building bridges and towers. He’s devoted the second half to helping people build their future.

story and photos by Bobby Anderson, Staff Writer

Dennis Johnson spent the first half of his professional life working with his hands, building things that would stand the test of time.
“It’s hard to go up and down Interstate 95 and not cross a bridge I didn’t have a hand on,” Johnson says proudly.
But a shoulder injury would bring Johnson to a crossroads.
His days working with steel were over and he had to take a hard look at what his financial options were.
At a relatively young age Johnson was forced to deal with his 401k, the loss of his primary income as well as the only profession he had ever known.
It was overwhelming. And he knew it had to be the same for others.
So instead of self pity Johnson poured himself into the only thing he ever knew: figuring out a way to build something for others.
“I’ve been 1,200 feet in the air and pushed a hundred tons of iron around and I know what a hard day’s work is,” said Johnson, who absorbed everything he could get his hands on to become a self-taught financial advisor. “I’m a blue collar guy. I’ve always told my clients I know how hard it is to make a buck. I know how hard it is to swing a beater for eight hours just to get one pin in.”
Just like swinging that hammer, Johnson approached his new career with a laser focus. Registered designations, licenses and accolades followed.
The third-generation iron worker from Baltimore built a multimillion-dollar portfolio in Arizona before selling it all and moving to Oklahoma in 2014 with the intention to retire with his love Cathy Belzer.
Retirement did not suit Johnson at all. With plenty of time to do whatever he wanted he realized he missed taking care of people.
Johnson is a veritable Swiss Army knife when it comes to financial services work. His registered investment advisor license dates back more than 20 years. Along the way he’s picked up life and health insurance licenses and registered advisor status.
“I used them when a client needed them,” ” said Johnson, now an advisor at Tree Line Capital in Edmond. “I never made a big deal about pushing any of it.”
A friend, Robert Ford at Tree Line Capital, convinced him to join his burgeoning firm.
“Why don’t you come over here with me,’’ Johnson remembers hearing his friend say. “We’ll build something.”
Those were the magic words.
“I just want to help,” Johnson said. “Everybody needs a second opinion. That’s the guy I want to be. I’m really enjoying it. I’m having fun again and enjoying the business again.”
Johnson’s not the kind of guy you’ll find behind a desk all day wearing a suit and tie. You’re more apt to find him playing a round of golf or sitting down with buddies talking football.
There’s an ease about Johnson that goes with his blue-collar roots and his genuine desire to help people.
So it’s no surprise people gravitate toward him.
Today’s financial services industry is filled with fresh-faced, college graduates begging to take a crack at people’s portfolios.
Johnson has had individual clients longer than most of those new advisors have been alive.
Some clients Johnson will never let go, or more precisely, they won’t let him go.
“I have a client who is 93 years old and it feels so good because she tells everybody ‘If it wasn’t for (Dennis) I never would have made it,’” Johnson said. “We started with a relatively small amount of money and she’s lived and lived well for 25 years now and she’s still going.
“I have so many clients like that.”
Johnson relishes the fact that his clients see hard work pay off.
“In the beginning you don’t see that,” Johnson said. “The first five six or 10 years you’re building clients. But after they’re with you and you know them and you see (everything) … it’s so satisfying to have their children come up. When every month that checks shows up in their mailbox and you know you’re the guy that put it together that’s a great feeling.”
He even helped his partner get her insurance license after 30 years working in health care.
Belzer and Johnson are gearing up for their busy season.
Enrollment for Medicare Advantage begins this month.
Medicare Advantage enrollment has increased in virtually all states over the past year. Almost one in three people on Medicare (31% or 17.6 million beneficiaries) is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2016.
Plans like these are just one piece of the puzzle that Johnson and Belzer work on for people every day.
“I’ve always had to have a plan and I’ve always had to be organized,” he says.
“You need somebody who is a team, who wants to listen to you and find out about your family and your kids.“
And, most importantly, you need someone who knows how to build something that will stand the test of time.


Cindy and Bob Ward of El Reno, OK crowned 2017 King and Queen of 41st Annual Senior Day at the State Fair of Oklahoma. Each year on Senior Day the State Fair treats seniors 55 years and older to free admissions and a fun day packed full of entertainment, vendors and giveaways.

by Traci Chapman
Staff Writer

The Oklahoma City Indian Princesses and Miss Oklahoma State Fair Outstanding Teen took part in the antique tractor parade, held as part of Oklahoma State Fair Senior Day.

It was Cindy and Bob Ward’s first time at Oklahoma State Fair’s Senior Day – and by the end of the day, they say they realized there really was no place like home during a day they would never forget.
“If you had told me this morning we would have done any of this, I would have thought you were kidding around,” Cindy Ward said that afternoon. “I never, ever would have expected this.”
In fact, when the El Reno couple entered the Modern Living Building, this year Oklahoma Senior Day’s new state fair home, they said they were impressed at the number of vendors, the entertainment and the wide range of activities going on, even early in the morning. With a Wizard of Oz theme – There’s No Place Like Okla’HOME’a – the Wards said they hadn’t really realized the state fair offered such a host of activities designed especially for seniors. When they discovered the “King and Queen of Emerald City” contest, they decided to enter – well, perhaps not exactly “they.”
“It was my idea,” Cindy said with a laugh. “Bob would never do anything like this on his own, but he went along with it for me.”
That’s how the couple ended up on the Senior Day stage, as they competed with four other couples in a “Newlywed Game” style contest designed to test how well each husband and wife knew each other. The Wards wondered about their chances, as they were surrounded by couples who had been married far longer than their eight years – two of them wed for 50 years; of the other two couples competing, one said they had been married more than 10 years, another had celebrated more than 20 wedding anniversaries.
But, the El Reno proved wrong everyone who believed those who lived together longest knew each other best, matching each other’s answers on four of five questions.
“I couldn’t believe it, but we just are so compatible, just know each other so well, that I guess I shouldn’t be surprised,” Cindy said.
After being crowned 2017 king and queen and receiving a host of prizes, flowers, crowns and a trophy, the couple took part in the antique tractor parade, which wound its way through State Fair Park.
Bob and Cindy Ward met, as many couples do, online. After each lost their respective spouses, they reached out on a Christian dating site, literally across the miles – Cindy lived in Deming, New Mexico, while Bob was in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
“We had a 97 percent match, and when we met, it just clicked,” Bob said. “We knew it was meant to be.”
With family members facing serious illnesses in Cindy’s hometown – El Reno – the Wards decided Oklahoma was the place to be, and they’ve never looked back, they said.
“It hasn’t always been easy, but we’re together and that’s what matters,” Cindy said.
While Cindy and Bob Ward were the stars of Senior Day, they were far from the only attraction during the special event. Many vendors provided medical, home, entertainment and other information, while others conducted diabetes, blood pressure, fall risk and memory screenings.
The day started with Ms. Oklahoma Senior America Dawn Anita Plumlee singing the National Anthem. The Duncan, Oklahoma, singer and songwriter was crowned during a July 29 pageant; 2016 Ms. Oklahoma Senior America, Dove Morgan Schmidt of Bristow, led the antique tractor parade later that day.
The antique tractor parade featured not only Schmidt and the Wards, but also other state fair royalty – Oklahoma City Indian Princesses, Miss Oklahoma State Fair, Miss Oklahoma State Fair Outstanding Teen and Oklahoma Frontier Experience cast members, as well as several area Red Hatters riding their own float. Tractors, ranging from historic to beautifully restored and even a little silly, were not only the parade’s stars, but also then remained for the rest of the fair as part of a tractor exhibit involving several Oklahoma tractor clubs. The Not Just Country Line Dancers, Oklahoma State Fiddlers, Okie Stompers, Southeast Navy Band, Dorothy’s Line Dance Class, Vocal Sounds of Oklahoma and Yellow Rose Dinner Theater provided entertainment, and Oklahoma State Department of Health sponsored two Tai Chi sessions. Several trivia and creative activities rounded out the day, while an Elvis Extravaganza was the event’s evening finale.
“We wanted to make this bigger than ever before – to make this a celebration of all seniors, to give them what they’re interested in seeing, learning about and doing,” organizer Wynelle Record said. “We’re very happy with the turnout, and we’re already looking forward to next year.”

Shelley Wong is shown here at the Farmers Market in the parking lot of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry in Oklahoma City.

The silver-rimmed glasses appear to rise each time Shelley Wong is happy.
Wong of Choctaw, is happy a lot while working her farmers market tables along the west edge of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ODAFF) parking lot.
The produce under the blue canopy sun tent – butternut squash flanking her to the left and golf ball sized red onions to the right as well as the Chinese okra and the bitter melons before her – are a source of pride because each is from her garden.
A customer studies the items on the tables and tells Wong, “I’d like these two zucchini.”
Wong smiles, the glasses push up, and she replies, “I picked them myself this morning.”
Later, she goes to the passenger side front seat of the Chevrolet Astro van and grabs an aerial photo to show a visitor.
“Here’s my garden,” she said, the smile kicking in instantly. “It’s maybe 6,000 to 7,000 square feet. There’s my seven rows of the big tomatoes, and this is the little cherry tomatoes. Over here is the broccoli, and here I plant spaghetti squash.”
Across Oklahoma, there are dozens of registered farmers markets that are essential outlets for agricultural producers in providing opportunities for them to meet the consumer demand for locally grown, fresh produce. Farmers markets also provide opportunities to create strong community ties and a link between rural and urban populations by allowing farmers and consumers to interact.
Just over the produce and behind the tables stand those who raise a quality product and want to see the public enjoy it. Many of those individuals have interesting stories, including Shelley Wong.
She remembers
The painful cries of a baby.
The moaning of a senior adult.
Many have said that food is taken for granted. Not by Wong.
When Wong – Wong Moy, Shuet Fong – tells the story of her childhood, the happiness is nowhere to be seen. One is certain the glasses on her cheeks will soon begin catching tears.
Food is personal, and that feeling traces back to those babies and seniors, she said.
On Oct. 1, 1949, communist revolutionary Mao Zedong officially proclaimed the existence of the People’s Republic of China, naming himself head of state. Wong was only 3 years old.
She grew up in a time of a “government rate” for food. In her village, that was about 20 pounds of rice per person, per month. That was for two meals a day. Those who couldn’t work, like a child or an older adult, received less, she said.
Wong’s father died when she was 6, and she was the middle of five children. However, her grandfather and an aunt in New York sent them money, so they had a better situation than some others. Still, Wong saw and heard the impacts of hunger all around her.
“So some kids, they cry all day, all night, and some older people,” said Wong, 71. “They swell up because they don’t have enough food.”
She felt she had to get out.
It was 1962. Wong’s grandmother Yee Lau Kwai needed to take a trip and couldn’t see well, so she needed, as was approved by the government, a child 12 years or younger, for assistance. Here’s the catch: Wong was 16, but didn’t have a birth certificate and was shorter than her present height of 4-feet, 11 inches. So they listed her as 12 and she received a passport. They went first to Macau on the south coast of China, across the Pearl River Delta from Hong Kong.
“I lived in Macau for a month and a half and then got into a small boat and we sneak into Hong Kong,” Wong said. “At that time it belonged to the British.”
It was in Hong Kong, in late 1964, she met Sheldon Wong, who had returned to China from Los Angeles to find a wife. They were engaged in March 1965 and married in May of the same year, and in September traveled to Los Angeles, where Sheldon had a grocery store.
“Not long after, we got robbed,” she said. “Four guys come in and they shoot our roof, we got scared so we moved out from that business and sold his part to his brother.”
In 1969, Shelley became a U.S. citizen and shortly thereafter, the Wongs moved to San Diego, where they opened a restaurant that seated about 70 people and served Cantonese cuisine. That continued for about 15 years until Sheldon had health issues and they sold. After a while, Shelley started the restaurant again, in a mall.
Food obviously plays a role in everyone’s life, but it has played a significant part in Shelley’s life: the grocery store, the restaurants, the garden and the farmers market.
“We pay it back a lot of time,” she said, and then explains. “A lot of time at the restaurants, we would have people come in and they say, ‘We hungry, can we have some food?’ and we always give them some fried rice. If they are hungry, we are willing to help them.”
Shelley and Sheldon also sent money back to family members in China and through the years, some family members moved to the United States. Also, her grandmother initially stayed in Hong Kong and then moved to the United States. The grandmother lived with the Wongs until the early 1980s and then moved in with other family members in California.
Wong did return to China to visit, making the first of five trips starting in 1982.
In Oklahoma
While visiting their son and daughter-in-law in Oklahoma, they started thinking about making the move from California and did so in October 2005, buying a house in Midwest City.
It was July of the next year that they moved into their new home in Choctaw.
She saw food – well, sort of.
“When I move into the new house, my yard is pretty big,” Wong said. “I start a couple of rows and I plant those bitter melons, because I love them.”
This was her introduction into soil farming.
“I like to see the things growing from a seed,” she said. “You go out there and you see them popping up. I help them grow and I feel very proud of myself.”
In addition to produce, Wong loves people. That’s why the garden has led to another perfect fit for her, farmers markets. She, along with Sheldon, 87, attends one in Choctaw and the one at the ODAFF parking lot in Oklahoma City.
At the latter, a customer walks up and lifts one of the Chinese okra from a tray.
“I bought one a couple of weeks ago from Shelley and I was like, ‘That was really good,’” the customer said. “I just stir fried it, and it was really pretty tasty.”
Wong’s happiness is readily apparent.
“In my life, I was in business all the time,” Wong said. “I have good communication with the people, with the customer.”
And about that time another walks up and spots her onions.
She grabs a yellow plastic hamburger basket, and scoops some up. Wong grabs an Oklahoma Grown bag, and the woman dumps the onions.
What does she use the onions in?
“Everything,” the customer said. “I had a roommate once that asked me if I made a meal without onion. Pretty much, it doesn’t happen.”
Wong seconds the motion.
“I put onion in soup, stir fry…,” she said. “I love them too.”
Wong then ties a knot in the top of the bag and hands it over, not only thankful for the sale, but the conversation and the fact that someone wants what she has personally grown in her Oklahoma garden.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the year? The Veraden Senior Living at Edmond

My daughter is coming to spend a few days with me in November.  Alice Musser

I’m looking forward to the holidays but I’m really content right now. I don’t worry about what’s coming up.  Kay Dudley

Enjoying these Indian summers in the Southwest U.S. We just have fabulous days.  Charles Kramer

Football is going on. Basketball is coming up. I like sports so the winter months are good.  Jack Brubacher

Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn t4z@aol.com


You could say that Baltimore is a city designed for Senior leisure. The hop on and off water taxi around the bay is an ideal way to see a lot of the area’s attractions with a minimum of exertion, as it stops at many attractions. The minimal fee is good for the entire day. The small boat captains are eager to answer area questions as to where to eat and museum times. Note, many museums and attractions are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Of course it stops at historic Ft Mc Henry – famous for the inspiration of the Star Spangle Banner composition. (www.nps.gov/fomc) You have to change boats to go the extra distance, but worth the convenience, when you think of the inconvenience of getting a taxi or uber to take you to the far out bay point. The preserved and reconstructed brick fort is informative if you have never visited a fort of this generation. It’s humbling to stand in the area that inspired America’s Anthem.
Once there it’s always good to schedule your visit with a tour by a park ranger for details of the fort. If not the film is always inspiring, if not a bit nostalgic ,when at the end of the movie, a curtain opens to let you view through a large picture window the Fort in the background as the National Anthem plays.
Back in the downtown area is the Flag House where the American garrison size flag was created. Besides the history of the flag you can take a self-guided tour of a small period house, complete with furniture and staging of the time.
For pure entertainment, although you can’t help but learn something, is the national aquarium centrally located at the base of the Inner Harbor. (www.aqua.org) All levels of this multilevel aquarium is easily accessible with riding the multiple escalators, or if needed there is an elevator. Hosting over 20,000 aquatic animals with a Backtip Reef and Living Seashore, and a couple of large screen animal related movies, and a live dolphin show, make the aquarium one of the Inner Harbors best attraction. Of course they host a extensive gift shop with snack bar.
When you’ve got to eat, Baltimore with its vast seafood menus offers many venues. The off the beaten track funky Little Havana Bar and Grill offers many seafood based foods along with an extensive bar and their famous large Mojito.
Phillips Seafood (www.phillipsseafood.com) is a Baltimore tradition. They offer an upscale indoor or outdoor dining experience with reservations recommended. Their 8 ounce Crab Cake Extreme with Mac and Cheese, made with pure Jumbo Lump Crab with no fillers, is served in a skillet, and guaranteed to fill your Crab Cake desires. ($50.00)
If you plan to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art, be sure you check its times, as it is closed on Monday and Tuesdays. While it was closed the days I was in Baltimore I made sure I dined at Gertrude’s, where the Museum of Art display of culinary arts, under the expert guidance of owner, John Shields, is a must. Shields is a veteran TV host, and author and is called the “Culinary Ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay” with the restaurant’s opening in 1998. Gertrude’s is Shield’s tribute to his grandmother, Gertie. Shields is a personable entrepreneur and you may want to pickup one of his cookbooks including the 25th anniversary, “Chesapeake Bay Cooking.” Many menu options looked appealing but I chose the Irish Salmon, flown in to Gertrude’s several times a week. This is an example of the attention paid to the high standards that has made John Shield’s reputation.
An evening dining cruise aboard the Spirit of Baltimore, is a relaxing way to see more of the bay’s landscape while enjoying a buffet and beverages served by congenial staff. The cruise departs from the west wall of the harbor and cruises the Inner harbor along the Patapsco river, and includes glimpses of Fort Mc Henry. Come prepared for a casual and enjoyable evening, mixing with other tourist and those celebrating special occasions. (www.spiritcruises.com/Baltimore)
While visiting the Fells Point area of the harbor you may want to stop in to the upscale Sagamore Hotel for a respite and beverage, of if your budget allows overnight accommodations. For a budget minded traveler the Days Inn Inner Harbor (www.daysinnerhrabor.com), about 3 blocks away from the harbor, and near the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Ravens Stadium, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, can fulfill your travel needs.
As you can guess there is much more to discover in Baltimore than I could cover in just two days, so historic and friendly Baltimore may require repeat visits. (http://baltimore.org/)

Darlene Franklin is both a resident of a nursing home in Moore, and a full-time writer.

By Darlene Franklin

Tapiwa Gwenlisa “Gwen” Marange founded the International Albinism Awareness Initiative in Zimbabwe in 2015. Since then, she’s led the nation’s first International Albinism Awareness Day and organized a team to help women, teens, and children with Albinism in a country where they are misunderstood, stigmatized and mistreated. Tapiwa Gwenlisa “Gwen” Marange founded the International Albinism Awareness Initiative in Zimbabwe in 2015. Since then, she’s led the nation’s first International Albinism Awareness Day and organized a team to help women, teens, and children with Albinism in a country where they are misunderstood, stigmatized and mistreated.  I met Gwen in the nursing home where I live. She was visiting our preacher, her brother, after participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship. Every year, a thousand of Africa’s brightest and best young minds are chosen to learn side by side with American businesses.Only God could cause the paths of a senior citizen from New England and a young woman from Zimbabwe to cross in a nursing home in Oklahoma. Did I ever expect to write about an international difference maker? No, but God knew we would meet.  Did Gwen wonder how to spread the word about her mission in America? God arranged our meeting, although I wouldn’t consider myself the ideal messenger. As people say, it’s a God-thing. God’s ways and God’s thoughts direct the outcome. God called Gwen to making albinism awareness her life’s work through a mothers’ support group she joined after her divorce. People with albinism comprise almost three percent of Zimbabwe’s population of fourteen million. It’s is a genetic condition where a person has a congenital absence of pigment in their skin, hair, and eyes. In a country with a single racial identity (over 99% African), onlookers who misunderstand the genetic origins of albinism often wonder if the child is biracial. At its worst, witchdoctors prescribe mutilation or rape of people with albinism to cure the ailments of others. Unemployment is the norm. Regardless of their training, businesses are slow to hire someone with albinism, fearing customer backlash.God uniquely prepared Gwen for her life’s work through her warmly supportive family and a vibrant faith. In fact, she didn’t realize she was different from other children until she went to school. There she also discovered a love for learning. She completed the equivalent of an associate’s degree in business management, Divinity/Bible knowledge, and Shona (native language). It’s hard to imagine a better training for the position she eventually gained.After Gwen understood what God wanted, she went straight to work. She hopes to create an inclusive society with equal opportunity for all, regardless of skin color. She plans to begin by transforming perception of albinism and empowering albinos with economic independence.God activated Gwen at the perfect time. The United Nations proclaimed June 13, 2015 as the first International Albinism Awareness Day. Zimbabwe’s celebration was a huge success, but most of Gwen’s daily work is more mundane, mentoring individuals, children, teens and adults. They’re in constant need of eye and skin protection for their clients. In ten years, she hopes to have facilities to help people achieve economic independence.” When I face challenges, when I don’t see any good choices, I just look up at God and say, ‘You gave me this job.’”`For more information on Gwen Marange and the Albinism Awareness Initiative, got to https://www.facebook.com/alivezimbabwe/.

Prostate Pep Talk panelists (L to R) are: cancer survivor Richard Smith, Steve Largent, Dr. Michael Payne, CTCA medical director of radiation oncology, Ed Too Tall Jones, and CTCA CEO Jay Foley.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Nearly one in seven men (and one in five African American men) will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. But if detected early, this is a disease that can have very effective treatment options. That is, if men will go get screened.
In an effort to increase awareness of the disease, the benefits of early screening, and to give guys the extra “nudge” they need to follow a good game plan for their health, the National Football League Alumni Association (NFLA), Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) and LabCorp are teaming up.
The Prostate Pep Talk Partnership
The three organizations launched the Prostate Pep Talk campaign across the country with patients, oncologists and NFL legends. The goal is two-fold: to educate men about prostate cancer stats, risks and symptoms as well as to increase access to screenings.
Through Oct. 15, up to 2,000 men, ages 40 and older, who meet eligibility requirements, may sign up to receive a free Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening at most LabCorp locations. After the first 2,000 spots are filled, qualifying men may still schedule a screening at the discounted price of $25 through mid-October.
Dr. Michael Payne shared why CTCA partnered in this important program during national Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, September 1-30. “The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be 161,360 new prostate cancer diagnoses in 2017,” said Payne. “The ACS recommends that men who are considered high-risk get screened beginning at age 40. Risk factors for being at higher risk can include family history and race, with African-American men having a more than 20 percent higher likelihood of developing prostate cancer. The oncology community recommends the men at average risk should be screened starting at age 50. More men need to be aware and take action.” CTCA of Tulsa hosted a panel discussion on August 30 for patients, community business leaders, cancer support organization representatives, as well as legislative and chamber guests and featured a prostate cancer panel discussion. The informative session was followed by a “meet and greet” reception with former NFL players Ed “Too Tall” Jones and Steve Largent. The football greats shared stories of how their lives, and lives of players or coaches close to them, have been impacted by this specific type of cancer.
Life Lessons from Legends
The NFL Alumni Association is a nationwide group of former NFL players, coaches, staffers, cheerleaders, spouses and associate members whose mission is to serve, assist and inform former players and their families. The Association offers a variety of medical, financial and social programs to help members lead healthy, productive and connected lives. The partnership fit well in their mission and the retired football icons were more than happy to be in the Prostate Pep Talk lineup.
Former Seattle Seahawk Largent shared his memorable story of good friend, Oakland Raider Mike Haynes. “Mike had retired and was inducted into the Hall of Fame and got a job with the NFL out of New York City. While doing a promotion tour for prostate screening, he got screened himself. His test came back positive.”
“It was a shock,” said Largent. “Here was this guy with a similar career to mine and in his early 50s. He had prostate cancer. Cancer doesn’t care if you look healthy, are 6 foot 4 and weigh 250 pounds. It can impact anyone.”
Patients Given a Winning Chance
Norman resident and cancer survivor Richard Smith knows that first-hand. “I had no symptoms,” noted the Tulsa CTCA patient who shared his personal prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment journey alongside the NFL alums.
“I was at an age my doctor recommended the PSA test during a routine check-up. My numbers came back high,” explained Smith. “And I was inclined to do nothing more. But my doctor persisted in encouraging me to follow up further on the results. I finally did and those test revealed I had the cancer.”
The parting advice from all of the panel participants in Tulsa was this: be the champion of your own health. No excuses, fellas.
“We caught it early enough for me to be here to tell my story,” added Smith. “My advice: get the test. Listen to your doctor. Win at life.”
To sign up or learn more about eligibility, men can visit www.prostatepeptalk.com. Testing will be performed at most of LabCorp’s patient service center locations across the country. No case is typical. You should not expect to experience these results.

Here are some facts from Sepsis Alliance, the nation’s leading sepsis advocacy organization, about sepsis in the U.S. and how simply knowing the signs can save a life.

You probably have never heard of it. In fact, only 55 percent of adults in the U.S. ever have. It’s sneaky and is the result of your body’s immune system turning on itself instead of fighting the cause – an infection. It can start from something as simple as a tiny cut. It doesn’t discriminate and can happen to anyone – young or old, healthy or ill. Every year, more than 258,000 people in the U.S. die from it, more than from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. The most devastating part is that it’s treatable, especially when it’s caught early and treated properly. What is it? Sepsis.
“Sepsis is the overreaction of the body’s immune response to an infection. This can lead to organ damage and even death,” said John Hurst, St. Anthony Infectious Diseases Pharmacist and Director of Antibiotic Stewardship. “Anything from pneumonia to a UTI can progress to sepsis. The most common causes of sepsis are infections of the lungs, skin, abdomen and urine. It’s important to know that 80 percent of sepsis cases start outside of the hospital setting.”
So what symptoms should you look for? “When someone has an infection along with any combination of the following signs it could be sepsis: shortness of breath or rapid breathing, confusion or disorientation, fever or shivering, high heart rate, extreme pain, and/or pale clammy skin,” said Hurst.
The quicker sepsis is diagnosed and treated, the higher the chance of survival with no or minimal long-term after affects, such as amputations. “The best thing you can do is seek medical care. Sepsis is a medical emergency and every minute counts when we look at sepsis survival,” stated Hurst. “Call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately if you think you or someone you are caring for has sepsis. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor ‘Could this be sepsis?,’” he added.
So you know what sepsis is and the symptoms, now what? Prevent infection in the first place by using good hygiene – wash your hands, properly care for open wounds, get vaccinations, and seek medical attention if you suspect sepsis. “Vaccinations are extremely important in the prevention of sepsis, especially the flu and pneumonia vaccines,” said Hurst. “Seeking medical care for infections before they get out of control can help prevent progression to sepsis. For patients with diabetes, skin and foot care can prevent infections from taking hold and putting you at risk for sepsis.”
Remember, every two minutes someone dies from sepsis – a treatable condition that can start from any kind of infection. So don’t hesitate if you suspect sepsis and get medical help as soon as you see the signs. You could save a life.

Dear Savvy Senior,

I’m concerned that my 80-year-old mother is taking too many medications. She currently takes 10 different drugs prescribed by three different doctors, which I think is causing her some problems. She also struggles to keep up with all the drug costs. Any suggestions?  Concerned Daughter


Dear Concerned,
There’s no doubt that older Americans are taking more prescription medications than ever before. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, around 40 percent of seniors, age 65 and older, take five or more medications. And the more drugs a person takes, the higher their risk for medication problems, and the more likely they are to take something they don’t need.
Brown Bag Review
To help you get a better handle on the medications your mom is taking, gather up all her pill bottles – include all prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements – and put them in a bag and take them to her primary doctor or pharmacist for a thorough drug checkup. This “brown-bag review’ will give you a chance to check for duplicate meds, excessive doses, and dangerous interactions, and for you to ask questions.
Medicare Part B covers free yearly medication reviews with a doctor through their annual wellness visits, and many Medicare Part D plans cover medication reviews with a pharmacist too.
You should also note that October 21, is “National Check Your Meds Day.” A number of pharmacies – Albertsons, Costco, CVS, Sam’s Club, Target, Walmart and many independents – have agreed to support the effort. Some may even have extra staff on hand to help you review your meds. Ask your local pharmacy whether it is participating.
When you get your mom’s review, go over the basics for each medication or supplement, such as what it’s for, how long she should take it, what it costs, and any side effects and potential interactions. Also ask if there are any meds she can stop taking, and find out if there are any nondrug options that might be safer, and whether she can switch to a lower dose.
To help your mom avoid future medication problems, make sure her primary doctor is aware of all the medications, over-the-counter drugs and supplements she takes. You should also keep an up-dated list of everything she takes and share it with every doctor she sees. And, be sure that your mom fills all her prescriptions at the same pharmacy and informs her pharmacist of any over-the counter, herbal or mail order prescriptions she’s taking so that there is complete oversight of her medications.
How To Save
To help cut your mom’s medication costs, there are a number of cost savings tips you can try. For starters, find out if there are any generic alternatives to the drugs she currently takes. Switching to generics saves anywhere between 20 and 90 percent.
You should also ask your mom’s prescribing doctors if any of the pills she takes could be cut in half. Pill splitting allows you to get two months worth of medicine for the price of one. And for the drugs she takes long-term, ask for a three-month prescription, which is usually cheaper than buying month-to-month.
Because drug prices can vary depending on where you buy them, another way to save is by shopping around (GoodRX.com will help you compare drug prices at U.S. pharmacies), and find out if your mom’s drug insurance plan offers cheaper deals through preferred pharmacies or a mail-order service.
And finally, if your mom’s income is limited, she can probably get help through drug assistance programs offered through pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and charitable organizations. To find these types of programs use BenefitsCheckUp.org.