Features in April 2019

Cancer-Free in Hours

When Lana Engler, 40, went through a series of blood and imaging tests, she was optimistic that whatever was causing her symptoms could be easily remedied. But on November 6, 2018, Lana, a single mother of a 10-year-old boy, heard one of the most dreaded words in the English language: cancer. “It literally rocked my world,” she says. “The diagnosis was completely unexpected.” For several months last year, her obstetrician-gynecologist monitored Lana’s health. She’d been experiencing abnormal vaginal bleeding and cramping.“I turned 40 and it all went downhill,” she laughs. “I felt something was wrong. And as a working mother, you don’t always follow your instincts. But I didn’t push it aside. I knew it wasn’t normal.”

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Not Milk?

Parents struggling with a fussy baby or a young child with seemingly random bouts of tummy trouble can seek specialized care that just might make sleepless nights and changing bedsheets a thing of the past.Increasingly, nowadays, pediatricians are seeing young patients with milk intolerance, meaning the youngsters suffer digestive upset after consuming milk, cheese, and other dairy products. In infants, the intolerance can occur from milk proteins in formula or proteins that pass from the mother’s diet through breastmilk. In toddlers and kids, the intolerance may appear as soft stool, diarrhea, gut pain, or gas.If a child is experiencing these symptoms, it’s time to call the pediatrician for an appointment. Eva Mayer, MD at St. Luke’s Coopersburg Pediatrics says she is seeing more and more milk intolerance these days.

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Shorts in April 2019

Weight Loss Success

In 2013, Caleb Oliver weighed 370 pounds. But when his wife Jana announced her pregnancy, he knew it was time to do something. “It was getting harder for me to accomplish physical tasks, and I wanted to provide a life for my daughter.”

He tried numerous diets, but experienced the common “yo-yo” syndrome: his weight went down…then up…then down…

After researching bariatric surgery, he approached St. Luke’s Weight Management Center

“We see patients like Caleb all the time,” said bariatric surgeon Maher El Chaar, MD. “He was morbidly obese—more than 100 pounds overweight—had high blood pressure and sleep apnea as well. Type 2 diabetes runs in his family, and he was exhibiting symptoms of pre-diabetes himself.”

In 2016, Dr. El Chaar performed a gastric bypass procedure—which involves drastically dividing the stomach’s size and then connecting the small intestine to the smaller portion­.

Caleb’s weight now stays in the neighborhood of 238 pounds, and he’s experienced other health improvements as well: his sleep apnea disappeared and his blood pressure and blood sugar readings improved.

“That’s a common effect,” Dr. El Chaar said. “Excess weight aggravates other medical problems; losing it helps the other conditions improve.”

“I couldn’t be happier with the team at the St. Luke’s Weight Management Center,” Caleb said. “That was my first major surgery, and everyone was very supportive of me.”

After his procedure, Caleb began distance-running and won a slot in the 2018 Boston Marathon (sponsored in part by his employer, Boston Beer Company). “My goal was to finish the race,” Caleb said, “and I did it in 5:59.”


the Chicago Marathon in October. He hopes to eventually complete all six races (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York City) in the World Marathon Majors.

He found an additional benefit as well. “One of my happiest childhood memories is going to amusement parks. Before my surgery, I had to avoid roller coasters because the safety bar couldn’t be lowered. Last summer, I took my daughter Zavaya on her first roller coaster ride at Dorney Park, and the bar came down with no trouble!”

TeleBear Cub Club

TeleBear, PBS39’s furry mascot, has been a hit with children and families in the Lehigh Valley for years. And his family-friendly “Cub Club” recently got an exciting new member—St. Luke’s Pediatrics.

“Although St. Luke’s had been an active part of PBS39 for years, the new partnership is exciting,” says Robin Kulesa, membership director at the station.

“We thought the pediatric division would be a perfect fit to sponsor the Cub Club. The station’s Medical Minutes series of short videos, developed and presented by St. Luke’s, has been providing quick and easy health and wellness tips for some time and both organizations focus on families and children,” she continues.

“As part of our community outreach efforts, we wanted to provide opportunities for families to do educational and fun things with their kids,” she said, “maybe activities they hadn’t considered before.”

The idea evolved into the Cub Club for children under 10 and their parents. For just $7 per month (not per child), members receive a book, ID card and wallet, and a 250-piece coupon pack offering discounted or free admission to many nearby attractions including Friendly’s, Hawk Mountain, the Lehigh Valley Zoo, Legoland, the Iron Pigs, and other community partners.

Members are also invited to exclusive Cub Club events including PBS39 family fun day, “Night on the Ice” with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and TeleBear’s holiday party. And parents of the very youngest children (ages 2-5) gain exclusive access to a special “teach me to learn at home” website.

“Video promotions of the club—and St. Luke’s involvement with it—appear on screens in doctors’ waiting rooms,” Kulesa added. “It’s good community outreach for both of us.”

For more information on TeleBear’s Cub Club call 610-867-4677 or visit wlvt.org/cub-club.

Protect Kids from Sun

Long sunny days can present a conundrum for parents—and Andrew Krakowski, MD, one of the region’s only board-certified pediatric dermatologists, understands. “We want kids to enjoy being outside. But the skin is the body’s largest organ, and it’s our primary shield against the environment. That means it takes the brunt of sun damage.”

With a bit of forethought and some simple actions, parents can help keep kids safe from sun damage.

“Be aware that certain medications can increase your sensitivity to the sun,” Dr. Krakowski explains. “For example, doxycycline is an oral antibiotic for acne that can make a sunburn more severe. Some supplements, naturopathic remedies, even common backyard plants can cause reactions.”

Basal cell carcinomas can result from chronic exposure to ultraviolet rays. “I’ve seen kids under 18 with basal cell skin cancers,” he says. “It’s rare, but it happens.” He adds that immunosuppressant drugs can also make it easier for cancerous cells to grow.

Cut back on sun exposure by encouraging outdoor playtime in the early morning or late afternoon hours, when the sun’s rays are less intense.

Wear UV-protective clothing; a higher UPF number is better. “The styles of these garments have changed,” Dr. Krakowski adds, “making it less obvious that you’re wearing something special.” “Swim shirts,” a variation on surfers’ rash guards, are becoming popular, too. They’re lightweight, waterproof, and offer good protection.

If you’re not covered by clothing, use a good sunscreen. “A good choice is a broad-spectrum screen against both UVA and UVB rays, that has an SPF rating of 50 or higher. But don’t presume that a higher rating means you can skimp on the application. “As a rule, we don’t use enough sunscreen,” he continues. “For the best effect, you should use from 1 to 1-1/2 ounces to cover your whole body.”

Dr. Krakowski offers some final advice: “Any time there’s sun-related pain, that’s a cause for alarm. And if a sunburn develops blisters, that’s a second-degree burn and needs professional evaluation.”


Dr. Krakowski recently opened his new practice, St. Luke’s Dermatology. Although he specializes in pediatric dermatology, he sees patients of all ages for conditions ranging from acne and eczema to carcinoma and melanoma. He also collaborates with other specialists to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Currently located at St. Luke’s Center Valley Health Center, he plans to establish a second office at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus in Easton.

5445 Lanark Road  |  Suite 300
Center Valley  |  484-503-SKIN (7546)

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