Breast Cancer Risk Reduction for Mothers and Daughters


This is a sponsored post. 

I can’t tell you how many women I know that have been affected by breast cancer. I’m sure that many of you can say the same.  Breast cancer has hit my own family and that of my friends and community members.  So when I had the opportunity to work with the Breast Cancer and Environment Research Program (BCERP) this year for a research study – I knew it was an important project to be a small part of – and a crucial message to share.

The BCERP is currently examining the ways in which exposure to certain chemicals and food may influence and change how girl’s bodies mature and impact breast cancer risk.

Scientists, physicians, and community partners in the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP), which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), study the effects of environmental exposures on breast cancer risk later in life. They created a mother-daughter toolkit mothers can use to talk to daughters about steps to take together to reduce risk.


Over the years, we’ve already implemented so many of these steps – but we can always use a reminder.  And I encourage you to share this information with your family, friends and your children’s caregivers. Although I’ve been met with resistance when discussing the harm in the use of plastics with extended family since my children were born – it’s essential to create awareness in simple steps to risk reduction that can make a difference right now. With a nine-year-old daughter (and a son too) – I must do everything in my power to make the best choices for my family.  We all want our children to thrive and be healthy – but the environment around a young girl may change the way her body develops.  Simple lifestyle choices that are supported by sound research can help protect our girls risk of breast cancer, and it’s never too early to begin taking steps.

Please join me in taking a few minutes to complete this survey to help contribute to the important work that the BCERP team is doing. 


Kids & Coughs + Mom’s Secret Weapon

There have been many times in motherhood when I’ve yearned for ways to soothe my kids when they’ve fallen sick. It’s never easy to watch your child’s discomfort when they don’t feel well.  And I only hope that I’m comforting my kids through their illnesses in ways that emulate how my mother tenderly cared for me as a child. I remember how she’d change my sheets, give me a warm bath, and carefully rub Vicks® VapoRub™ on my chest when I had a cough.  Just the mere scent transports me back to my childhood – and I’ve naturally kept it in my arsenal of go-to remedies to combat nighttime coughing ever since my babies were two-years-old.

Attending Vicks® VapoRub™ 8 Hour Playdate along with my eager kiddos at Recess Dumbo in Brooklyn was a perfect fit for us!

The kids had a blast playing in a vibrant indoor play space while I gleaned info on how to keep kids healthy and comforted when colds and coughs strike.  It’s always helpful to have healthy habit reminders reinforced by a registered nurse – especially the points shared below!
  • Did you know that many people only wash their hands for six seconds?  Did you know that the recommended time for hand washing is actually 20 seconds?  I immediately implemented the advice of singing a song with my six-year-old son to ensure that the hand washing is, in fact, effective.
  • Those beloved stuffed animals can be serious germ harbors! We like to toss ours in the washing machine (usually while the kids are at school) to get any funk off of them since the kids often tuck them into their beds.
  • Sufficient rest is crucial especially during sickness because those resting hours allow the immune system to restore and reset – and even protect the body from illness.
  • The leading cause of poor rest among children during colds is nighttime coughing.  Vicks® VapoRub™ – the #1-selling branded children’s cough-cold product, appropriate for ages two and up—is a topical cough medicine with medicated vapors*.  It works quickly for adults as well to help relieve cough symptoms.
Above Image: Andrea Klerides

I have a lot of stories about my mom’s belief in Vicks® VapoRub™ – as do others who grew up in Latin households! It’s helped me through rotten coughs – while providing my kids with that layer of comfort during illness.  As a parent, there’s security in knowing that Vicks® VapoRub™ vapors last up to eight hours, allowing my little ones (and me!) to get crucial rest. I imagine that my children will too grow up with ingrained memories of their mama singing special nighttime songs and carefully rubbing their chests to help soothe, calm and relax.

*P&G calculation based in part on value sales data by The Nielsen Company through its Retail Scantrack Services in the US market to which P&G subscribes for the Respiratory Care Category for the 52 week period ending 06/04/16


Healthy Classrooms: Keeping Cold & Flu Germs at Bay

Raise your hand if you love mid-October!  The green leaves have turned a fiery red and majestic gold, and we’ve grown accustomed to the schedule changes that the new school year brings.  The kids are excited about trick-or-treating, and we’ve all been enjoying the delicious weather and lunar-lit nights.

Unfortunately, we’re also approaching the peak of cold and flu season. Letters have already come home in my kiddos folders indicating possible exposure of everything from pertussis (yes, vaccine-preventable!) to lice.


In an ideal world, all parents would keep their children home when sick, kids would never put their hands in their mouths, and every single classroom would have a sink.  While we can’t become overly consumed with germs – there are steps that we can take to keep our families and communities healthy – while allowing our kids to thrive and focus on the important work in childhood play and learning.


According to the CDC, one of the best ways to stay healthy, especially during a flu outbreak is frequent hand washing. And if you’re a parent – you never really never know what your children may have touched! When soap and water are not available in the classroom, the OmniPod™ Hand Hygiene System with Germ-X®  is the perfect solution – effectively eliminating germs (up to 99.9) percent.


While many of us wouldn’t send our young kids to school with individual hand sanitizers – the structure of the OmniPod™ Hand Hygiene System with Germ-X® offers application in a controlled and trusted manner in a classroom setting. As a parent, I trust that my own kiddos will get a dime-sized amount and not a massive quantity from the dispenser.  The ADA compliant design has a secure locking mechanism and can dispense liquid, gel or foaming hand soap. The sturdy and easy-to-use bracket system locks in a full 750mL bottle – that can simply slide out to be recycled and replaced when empty – and the small footprint conveniently and easily mounts anywhere.

We all know how much money teachers end up spending out of pocket on school supplies, and as sickness begins to spread – we’re reminded that hand sanitizer shouldn’t be overlooked. Grab the OmniPod™ Hand Hygiene System with Germ-X® on Amazon and include it in that teacher appreciation basket.  And if you’d like to win one to send to your child’s classroom – just leave a comment below. We’ll randomly pick a winner to send one off to next week. Also, use code PROMOGERMX16 for 20% off your purchase.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Fall!

This is a sponsored post.


Healthy Habits: How To Fight Germs During the School Year and Beyond

Consideration provided by Lysol.  Opinions, as always, are my own.

Raise your hand if you’re the mom with immediate psychosomatic symptoms as soon as those school notices start rolling home in your kids’ folders!  I so experience immediate head itching as soon as I read the words “lice found” on a classmate’s head – and don’t get me started on stomach bugs, mysterious rashes, pinkeye and more.

My hope for kids (not just my own) is to be as healthy as can be during the school year and beyond.  But we all know how quickly germs spread; how awful it is to see our little ones ill; and how taxing it can be on an entire family when illnesses rear their horrid little heads.

That’s why I was down with revisiting my public health classroom years by attending “Lysol Germ School” and gleaning fascinating and perhaps somewhat disgusting info about the transmission of infectious agents, the heartiness of germs, and so much more.

Washing-Hands-Lysol-Germ-PreventionI may have been the one who sneezed in germ school (whoopsy daisy!), but here I am attempting to be the valedictorian of hand washing knowing that I’d endure careful hand-examination under a black-light flashlight when I headed back to “school”.

In a true classroom setting, complete with desks, chairs, backpacks, and more – the presentation began with “germ expert” Joseph Rubino, The Director of Research & Development, Hygiene Personal Care & Surface at RB.   This guy is the real deal – the sort of researcher who’s sampled doorknobs in department stories to identify and report on all the junk found living on them.  He ran us through some interesting facts, which made me want to up my cleaning game immediately.

  • The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for 48 hours.
  • The amount of germs in our body weigh collectively nearly the same amount as our brain.
  • 22 million school days are missed each year due to the common cold
  • Shaking hands transmits more viruses than kissing.
  • The Flu virus can travel up to 12 feet in the air, traveling at 100 miles per hour.
  • Flu season stretches from October through May.

Pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Loubler was also on hand to address questions and reinforce healthy habits to avoid illnesses.  Hand washing is key (along with keeping hands out of mouths!), disinfecting surfaces and sneezing into elbows.

I was already a Lysol fan before attending germ school (their Dual Action wipes are my favorite) – and I left with an even deeper commitment to having a more solid prevention plan in place as we enter the school season next month.

From lunch pails to car-seat buckles, public transportation and so much more, we all come into regular contact with so many germs on a daily basis. But if we collectively work on prevention (keep sick kids home, wipe down surfaces, wash hands effectively) – we can help prevent what feels like the plague once it comes around.

Why Lysol? It kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria including all the funky ones like Influenza A Virus (H1N1), Human Coronavirus, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli (YES! E.Coli!), along with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (stay away from my family ALL OF YOU, thank you very much.).  You can also count on Lysol to get rid of more than 95% of allergens and remove all the gunk that the kids manage to cake all over the place (I’m telling you Dual Action wipes are the way to go!).


Also, we’re thrilled to find Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray as an official Box Tops for Education partner to help support schools.


Armed with a plan, I’m facing the school year with confidence.

Wishing you all a healthy school year and beyond!

Image number one via Will Star.  Special thank you to Lysol and Audrey and Vera for including Marino Bambinos in this sponsored event.


Let’s Move!: An Invitation To The White House with First Lady, Michelle Obama

In a whirlwind trip, I recently traveled to Washington D.C. to visit the White House.  Thanks to Popsugar, I was honored to be among the parenting bloggers invited to join our First Lady, Michelle Obama, speak about her Let’s Move! initiative, and the health and well-being of our nation’s children.


After navigating White House security, touring several rooms (and sipping coffee on exquisite White House china), we were escorted into the East Room and met by several leaders in the Let’s Move! campaign, including officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, The President’s Council of Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, The Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Healthier America.  Encouraged to take part in the collective voices amplifying #LetsMove messages, I joined in tweeting away in real-time, in a conversation that was trending on twitter for hours that day.


When the First Lady, Michelle Obama entered the room, the excitement was palpable.  She explained how after a routine visit to the pediatrician’s office, during an incredibly busy time, her girls’ meals underwent mass reform.  “Dessert in our house went from a basic human right to a treat.”  In completely relatable terms she described how she “was the one who decided what to buy at that grocery store” and those important decisions that we make for our children become “our secret weapons.”

No one plays a bigger, more important role in our kids’ health than we do as parents.  I came to this issue really as a mom.

Childhood obesity has severe longitudinal health consequences – and issues of food insecurity, health education, and nutritional change are complex. Six years after launching Let’s Move!, our nation has seen tremendous progress and our First Lady isnt stopping.  From MyPlate, healthier school meals, the implementation of grocery stores in food deserts and so much more, we’ve seen impressive accomplishments from the Let’s Move! programs:

  • Nearly 80 million people (1 in 4 Americans), now live in Let’s Move! comminutes, where kids can walk to school on new sidewalks, join in summer meal programs, and local athletic leagues.
  • 1.6 million kids attend healthier daycare centers.
  • Over 10 million kids attend Let’s Move! Active Schools where they strive to incorporate 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
  • 2 million kids now have Let’s Move! Salad Bars installed in their schools.
  • Over 30 million children have access to healthier school meals.
  • Thousands of chain restaurants have created healthier menus for children, and food and beverage companies cut 6.4 trillion calories from their products.
  • Junk food marketing has been eliminated in classrooms.

Michelle Obama said that someday we will look back on the sort of food that we used to feed our children, and it will be comparable “to not wearing seatbelts, bike helmets, or sunscreen.”  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we’ve seen recent promising data showing significant drops in childhood obesity, and as our First Lady said, “we can’t afford not to give our kids nutritious food, because we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars treating obesity-related diseases, we simply don’t have the luxury to ignore this issue.”


I’m certain that my words fail to adequately capture the magnitude of the overall experience. To hear the First Lady, Michelle Obama so eloquently speak with care and conviction on a topic of such importance, felt surreal. So down-to-earth and genuine, she mastered locking individual eyes in the excited crowd, as if truly inviting you into the conversation. And to have access to various rooms in the White House amongst tangible American history, right before my eyes – (the famous official portrait of John F. Kennedy – the green silk covered walls in the Green Room – the portraits of the First Ladies in the Vermile Room – Abraham Lincoln’s crystal in the China Room) – absolutely took my breath away.


The whole experience was further elevated by a tour of the White House Kitchen Garden, formed by Michelle Obama in 2009, where the seeds for the Let’s Move! initiative were planted.  During the presentations, we were lucky enough to see the White House Executive Chef prepare a Tuscan kale salad using kale grown in the garden.


Michelle Obama said that she has “no intentions of stopping this work, once my family leaves the White House.”

She is indeed passion and purpose personified.


May we all join in the sea of voices echoing the importance of health for our next generations while making decisions that influence marketing demands.


Coming from a public health background, and simply being a mom whose passionate about this pressing issue – wrapped this special invitation in tremendous meaning.

I’m so grateful for it all.

Special thank you to Popsugar and the White House Team.  I was not compensated for this post in any way. 


The United Nation’s Global Goals For Sustainable Development | Ensuring Healthy Lives and How to Help

In just one week, the United Nations will bring countries and citizens together to finalize the Global Goals – formally known as the Sustainable Development Goals.  These seventeen goals provide an action plan to end extreme poverty and its most devastating corollaries.  As successors to the expiring Millennium Development Goals (announced in 2000) – it’s imperative that we use our voices and collectively call upon leaders to make the Global Goals implemented and well-known everywhere. They need to be famous.  They won’t succeed otherwise.  And in a world of amplification via social media, this is possible.

During my graduate school years, I was introduced to the literature of Paul Farmer and the ways in which he revolutionized the delivery of health care worldwide. His extensive work in health, human rights, and the consequences of social injustice and inequalities very much influenced my career path in street-based HIV research.

A truly committed quest for high-quality care for the destitute sick starts from the perspective that health is a fundamental human right.  – Paul Farmer, Pathologies of Power

Among sixteen other Global Goals that concurrently spill into one another is Goal #3 – Good Health and Well Being – To Ensure Healthy Lives and Promote Well-Being for All at All Ages.  Right now, there’s a measles epidemic sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo – and every single day, approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth worldwide.  We need to hope for a world where no child has to die from a disease that we know how to cure and prevent.  We need to reach those living in humanitarian crises.  We need to live in a world where proper health care is a lifelong right for us all.  And we need the Paul Farmers of the world who ignite social change with advocacy and care for the world’s most vulnerable.  This goal matters.  Without health we have nothing.

Here’s how to help:

        • Join the movement to make Global Goals famous and take action here.
        • Share your #GlobalGoals selfie on social media to tell the world about the goal that you are passionate about, from gender equality, climate change, education, poverty, hunger and many others.

    global goals


    This post is not sponsored in any way. Thank you for reading.