Category Archives: Iowa Cancer Specialists

Create a Vibrant Life With A Functional Medicine Approach

Life Style Intervention

Dr. Linda Jager believes that we all deserve a vibrant life and that we each have the potential to
create this for ourselves. We know that the root cause of many of chronic diseases can be
helped with lifestyle intervention. By that we mean changes in what we eat, how
much we move, and our attitudes and outlook on life.

Dr. Jager uses a Functional Medicine approach to help you achieve your health goals.
Functional Medicine is a systems-oriented approach that engages both the patient and doctor
in a therapeutic partnership. Instead of treating just the symptoms of disease, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person. Many diseases have genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that can influence long term health and disease progression. Most doctors are not adequately trained to apply strategies such as nutrition, diet and exercise to prevent or treat chronic illness. Functional Medicine practitioners are specially trained in these areas.

Principles of Functional Medicine

  • Patient-centered care
  • Health promotion, beyond just the absence of disease
  • Individual, not protocol-driven, treatment plans
  • Integrative, science-based approach to healthcare
  • Attention to internal (mind, body, spirit) factors
  • Attention to external (physical and social environmental) factors
  • Integration with best medical practices

The Vibrant Health Approach

When treating cancer, a Functional Medicine doctor would agree that both radiation and other
conventional approaches are required, but then would also ask what else we can do as a patient-doctor partnership? And, how can we promote the patient’s underlying health issues? MostAmericans diets full of sugar and other unhealthy items, lack exercise, and are under chronic stress. Dr. Jager helps her patients implement changes to have the best chance of healing. A critical part of this type of care is to develop a health plan that the patient will embrace and adhere to.

Science is now proving what we all knew intuitively – that how we live, the quality of our
relationships, the food we eat and how we use our bodies determines much more than our
genes ever will. There are numerous strategies to combat or prevent cancer, including eating
well, exercising regularly, getting sufficient sleep, and controlling stress levels.

Interested?  On Sunday, February 3rd  from 4-5 pm Dr. Jager will be offer a free introduction to her Functional Medicine approach by reviewing the principles and strategies used in Functional Medicine. This class is located at the Genesis West Medical Center in the Borromeo Conference Room. If you cannot make this event,  please call ICS at 563-421-1960 for future dates.   Of, note, Dr. Jager also teaches a six-week lifestyle modification class on Sunday evenings.  The last class for this session is February 10th.  Call ICS for more details.

We look forward to seeing you.

Therapy Options For Nicotine Addiction

Written by Dr. Linda Jager.

Quitting tobacco is the number one way to improve your health.  If you would like help quitting smoking, ICS offers clinical consultations for smoking cessation.

Stopping tobacco use is often described as a journey because it sometimes takes more than one attempt to quit.  It has been reported that over 70% of smokers want to quit, and as many as 50% attempt to quit every year.  Unfortunately, only 5-10% of smokers who try to quit “cold turkey” are successful in the long term because smoking is not just a habit, but an addiction. The addiction is real and difficult to overcome, and even more so without support.

To be successful, it is best to think of it as a stepwise process. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that, unless contraindicated, people who smoke ten or more cigarettes a day will consider the use of a drug therapy in every attempt to quit.

Making it easier to kick the habit:

There are a number of  medications to make quitting easier.  A variety of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products are available without a prescription (patches, gums, lozenges).  Other nicotine replacement therapy products (inhalers and nasal spray) require a prescription.  Other helpful prescription medications include Zyban and Chantix, both of which curb your desire for tobacco.  Research shows that patients who use a combination of therapies are the most successful.

Many different support systems are also available–including online, telephone consultation, phone apps, personal counseling, group therapy, acupuncture and hypnosis.

Why is it even more important to stop smoking with a cancer diagnosis?

Continuing to use tobacco during treatment can make treatments difficult to tolerate, increase side effects, and even undermine treatment effectiveness. Cancer patients already have an increased risk of a secondary cancer and smoking further increases this risk.

 Let ICS help you develop a personalized stepwise approach to assist you on your journey to be tobacco free.  Call ICS today to schedule your smoking cessation consultation.

When Smokers Quit:

20-30 minutes Blood pressure and pulse rate drop to normal; body temperature of hands and feet increase to normal. Blood flow returns to skin.
8 hours In the blood carbon monoxide drops to normal and oxygen increases to normal
24 Hours Chance of heart attack decreases
48 hours Nerve ending start to regrowing and ability to smell and taste is enhanced.
2 weeks- 3 months Circulation improves, walking is easier and lung function efficiency increases.
1-9 Months Coughing, sinus congestion, fatigue and shortness of breath decrease
1 year Excess risk of coronary artery disease is half that of a smoker
5 years Lung cancer death rate ( 1 pack per day smoker) decreases almost half. Stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker after 5-15 years. Risk of cancer of mouth, throat and esophagus is half that of smoker’s.
10 Years Lung cancer death rate similar to nonsmokers, precancerous cells replaced, risk of cancer of bladder, kidney and pancreas decreases.
15 years Risk of Coronary heart disease is that of a nonsmoker.

Mitochondrial Health–The Power House of Your Cells

Today’s post was written by  Iowa Cancer Specialist’s newest physician, Dr. Linda Jager. 

Just the title of this article might scare you off if you have nightmares from you 10th grade biology course where they taught you the parts of the cell. But don’t be afraid, this little
organelle of the cell is central to your health. Mitochondria also called the “power house” of
the cell are the part of the cell that makes your energy. They take oxygen and nutrients from
food and make energy. When mitochondria work well they help reduce fatigue, pain, and
memory problems while supporting muscles and burning excess fat.

Damaged mitochondria can result from eating foods that encourage generalized inflammation
and pain. Mitochondria are damaged by toxins in our environment.
If you were to look at a mitochondria under an electron microscope you would see that it looks
a little like a bacteria, it is bean shaped organelle made up of folded membranes, and it even
has its own DNA. You know how mom’s are always to blame for anything that goes wrong?
Well it may be right when you talk about your mitochondria. For it is from your mom that you inherit your mitochondria.

Mitochondria are in all cells, but cells that need a lot of energy like
muscles, including the heart, and nerves have largest concentrations of mitochondria. Mitochondria need certain things in the diet to stay healthy, since most of their structure is made up of cell membrane. Cell membranes are made up of fat. So to keep thier
power houses happy they need healthy fat.

Healthy Fat:
Is there such a thing as healthy fat? Yes there is!  In particular we need (DHA) Omega 3 fatty acids for healthy mitochondria.

Where can we find these? Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, cod and sardines.

Other healthy fats that are needed are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Coconut oil is a source of MCTs.

Avocados and advocated oil supply the body with heart healthy monounsaturated fats. The
remarkable avocado had 20 different minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients, and is natural

Extra virgin olive oil: high quality oil rich in polyphenols which are also antioxidants.

What do mitochondria like for fuel?
Ketones over carbohydrates. So a low carbohydrate diet is preferred..
Mitochondria like it when you don’t eat. Fasting and caloric restriction increase the number of
mitochondrial present. It can be as simple as 12 hrs between dinner and breakfast.

What are the essential Nutrients for energy production?
CoQ10 body can make it but decreased production after 50 yrs old and statins interfere with
production.  Alpha lipid acid and acetyl L Carnitine  B vitamins: Riboflavin, B1, B2, B3, niacin, Magnesium

What factors that damage Mitochondria?
Aging, toxic metals, Alcohol, persistent organic pollutants.


Dr. Jager has a diverse medical background in family medicine, wound care, emergency room care, pathology, functional and palliative care. She uses her experience in functional medicine with her patients at ICS.  Functional care is an individualized, science-based approach that addresses the root cause of disease.  It leverages the patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and biochemical components to personalize treatment plans including  lifestyle modifications, stress reduction, and dietary changes  to promote optimal wellness. 

ICS Welcomes Tami Sheldon, ARNP

Iowa Cancer Specialists is proud to announce the addition of Tami Sheldon, ARNP to our staff.

Tami is an undergraduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Exercise Science and Fitness.  She did undergraduate work at Chamberlain University of Cincinnati graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Tami also has a Master’s degree in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati and is a board certified nurse practitioner.

Tami always knew she wanted to be involved in medicine, but it wasn’t until after she received her degree in Exercise Science and Fitness that her interests directed toward nursing.  She has expertise in labor and OB/GYN, and she served on the Open Heart Team  at Trinity Medical Center.  Recently, she worked in pain management intervention, but says her passion has always been for women’s health.

Being more than just another health care worker is important to Tami.  She states she is excited about her new position at ICS as it will give her an opportunity to connect with patients while providing both educational and emotional support.  ICS plans to primarily utilize Tami’s training in OB/GYN health with our ovarian cancer patients, and as a liaison between ICS and the University of Iowa Gyn/Onc department.

Tami was raised in the Quad City area.  She enjoys watching the Chicago Cubs and the Bears with her Navy Veteran husband, Josh.  She has two small children and a greater Swiss mountain dog named Gunner.

Be sure to stop in to Iowa Cancer Specialists to meet Tami.  She looks forward to serving  your health care needs.


Dr. Linda Jager Joins ICS

Iowa Cancer Specialists is happy to welcome Dr. Linda Jager to our team!

Dr. Jager is a graduate of the Indiana School of Medicine.  Her diverse medical background in family medicine, wound care, emergency room care, pathology, functional and palliative care is  an asset at Iowa Cancer Specialists.

At ICS, Dr. Jager will primarily be working with our patients who need palliative/supportive care.  Dr. Jager knows this field well as she formerly was the Palliative Care Director for Genesis Family Medical Center.  Palliative care is for patients who have a chronic illness and to help them manage their pain, symptoms, as well as help improve their quality of life.  Palliative care also helps with advanced care planning and supports patients and families as they face a life changing disease.

Dr. Jager will also use her experience in functional medicine with her patients at ICS.  Functional care is an individualized, science-based approach that addresses the root cause of disease.  It leverages the patient’s genetics, lifestyle, and biochemical components to personalize treatment plans including  lifestyle modifications, stress reduction, and dietary changes to promote optimal wellness.  According to Dr. Jager “watching the body heal is phenomenal.”

In addition, Dr. Jager intends to utilize her skills as a medical educator derived from teaching at Mary Crest College and St. Ambrose University while working with her patients at ICS.  She states that education and teaching is her passion and it is important to her that “patients be heard, and that the truth be spoken. ”

Dr. Jager is originally from Pennsylvania, but has lived in Louisiana and Indiana before settling in the Quad City Area.  She has three children, a daughter and two sons, and enjoys gardening, and playing tennis.  She also loves hiking and spending time in the woods.  A woman of faith, one of her core beliefs is that “you should live to use the gifts God has given you to serve others.”

Dr. Jager is enthusiastic to live out this belief while serving her patients at Iowa Cancer Specialists.


Seven Steps to Reduce Your Risk for Cancer

Did you know your risk of getting cancer is not based solely on genetics?  That’s good news! We’ve compiled seven everyday steps you can take to proactively reduce your risk of ever getting a cancer diagnosis.

  1.  It’s a cover up!  Protect your skin when outside by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, slathering on lots of sunscreen, and wearing tightly woven fabrics.  Wear dark colored clothing as it blocks UV rays much better than lighter colors.  Also, avoid tanning beds and heat lamps.  If you should notice any new spots on your skin or changes in moles, see your doctor right away!
  2. Kick your tobacco habit to the curb!.  We’ve known about the association of cancer and tobacco for decades.  Smoking not only increases the risk of lung cancer, but cancer of the throat, mouth, larynx, bladder, kidney, pancreas, and cervix.  Chewing tobacco also increases one’s risk of oral and pancreatic cancer.  Tobacco is linked to about 80% off all lung cancer deaths and comprises about 30% of all cancer deaths.
  3. Drink responsibly.  Alcohol increases the risk for many types of cancer including, liver, colon, breast, and esophagus.  It is generally recommended that men consume no more than two drinks per day and that women consume no more than one.  Five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of 80-proof liquor equals one drink.
  4. Mom was right–eat your vegetables.  Diet has been linked to prostate, breast, and colon cancers as well as other types of cancer.  A diet rich in organic nutrients is thought to reduce this risk.  However, eating right can be confusing.  The American Institute for Cancer research’s (AIRC) new American Plate menu makes eating right simple by recommending  two-thirds of your plate hold fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains with the other one-third consist of lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy
  5. Move your body!   The American Cancer Society and the Mayo Clinic recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week (such as brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (the kind that makes you sweat and breathe faster).  Doing so can reduce the risk of breast, colon, prostate, and endometrium cancer.  As an added benefit, exercise can also reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes.
  6. Belly up to the water faucet.   Drinking plenty of water may reduce your risk of bladder cancer by diluting cancer causing agents and flushing them out of your system.  The American Cancer society recommends drinking at least eight glasses of high-quality water a day.  Studies have also shown that filtered tap water is better for you than bottled water as filtered  water reduces carcinogens.  All bottled water is not created equal, and sometimes the quality of bottled water is lower than filtered municipal tap water.   Do not store your water in plastic containers, but instead use stainless steel or glass to avoid chemical contaminants such as BPA that can leach from plastic bottles.
  7. Have your coffee and drink it, too!  A British study in 2010 showed that folks who drank five cups or more of caffeinated coffee decreased their risk of brain cancer by 40% when compared with people who drank the less.  This amount of coffee also reduced the risk cancers of the mouth and pharynx by almost as much.  Caffeinated tea also reduced the risk of these cancers, but not as much as java.

Hopefully, by following these seven steps, you will spend a lifetime being cancer-free.

For more information:

Web MD

American Cancer Society

Mayo Clinic

Harvard Health

Showing Support To A Loved One With Cancer

If your friend or loved one was diagnosed with cancer and you want to be supportive, but are afraid you may say or do the wrong thing,  you are not alone.  To help with the guesswork, we have a few helpful suggestions.

1.  Let your loved one know  you are available for them, and then be available when they call.

2.  Always call and ask permission before you drop by just in case your friend is having a bad day.

3.  Offer to take your friend out to lunch.

4.  Send notes.  Promise to call them, and then keep the promise.

5.  If your friend has kids at home, offer to take the kids for a day to do something fun.  Often times, cancer patients feel a false sense of guilt because they think their family is suffering because of their illness, so doing something with their children can be especially encouraging.

6.  Offer rides to doctor appointments.

7.  Offer to run errands–grocery shop, pick up prescriptions, etc.

8.  Don’t monopolize conversations.  

9.  Don’t tell horror stories of friends with cancer.

10  Don’t give medical advice or tell them to “cheer up.”

11. Don’t say, “I know how you feel.” 

12. Don’t ask their prognosis.  Your friend will volunteer this information on their own when they feel it is appropriate.

13.  Don’t say, “If you need anything, please call .”  Instead, offer to do some of the recommendations listed above.

14.  Don’t visit if you are ill.  Your friend’s immune system may be lower due to chemotherapy.

15.  Do respect your friend’s treatment decisions, just as you would want them to respect yours.

16.  If your loved one snaps at you, don’t take it personally as it could be pain and/or fear talking.

17.  If on a visit your friend cries, let them cry.   Tears are a normal response to what your friend is going through.  Everyone responds to stress in unique ways.  With a cancer diagnosis, your loved one may feel fear about the future, guilt, resentment, or depression.  Often they may confess an anger with God or anger with others.  Sometimes, cancer patients ask “Why me?”.  They may even be in denial about the diagnosis.  Remember, you are not expected to have all the answers and silence is okay.  Pat their hand.  Give them a hug.  Let your friend talk and make eye contact.

18.  Some people have a hard time accepting help and want to be as independent as possible.  If your loved one turns down your offer of support,  don’t take it personally.  Instead send encouraging notes from time to time and, at a later date,  offer again.

19.  Lastly, let your friend know you are rooting for them.  Sometimes just knowing there are people cheering you on is all the support a person fighting cancer needs.


Recommended Reading:

When Someone You Love Has Cancer, by Cecil Murphey

Cancer Etiquette, by Rosanne Kulick

Help Me Live:  20 Things People with Cancer Want You to know, Lori Hope

Things I wish I’d Known, Deborah Cornwall




Fighting Cancer with Man’s Best Friend

We’ve all heard stories of dogs saving lives whether it be alerting a family to a house fire, protecting their owner from an intruder, or saving a child from a vicious animal attack.  Now, dogs are assisting in another lifesaving way–aiding in the fight against cancer.

At twenty-two sites across the United States, clinical trials are taking place on dogs with cancer. Please note, these trials are held on dogs who have developed the disease naturally and whose owners are seeking a cure for their pet.  The cancer is not given experimentally as is most often the case with laboratory mice.

Cancer is the number one cause for death in older dogs, and the majority of cancers seen in dogs closely resemble the cancers that affect people–including their biological behavior, where it spreads, and the speed in which the cancer grows.  This is why “comparative oncology” has  recently emerged as a promising means to help cure cancer. Comparative oncology researchers study the similarities between naturally occurring cancers in dogs and cancers in people in order to provide clues on how to treat cancer more effectively.

At its core, cancer is a genetic disease.  Each breed of dog (over 400 recognized) has its own unique set of genes, and different breeds of dogs are predisposed to different types of cancer.  For example, lymphoma is more likely to affect golden retrievers.  Squamous cell carcinoma is found more often in standard poodles (but only those with black hair). Invasive bladder cancer is more likely to be found in Scotties, Westies, and Shelties.  Brain cancer (glioma) is more likely to be found in terriers, boxers, and bulldogs.  An aggressive type of bone cancer that affects children called osteosarcoma is also found in large dog breeds such as Great Danes and German shepherds.

Humans and dogs are also especially similar when it comes to the immune system.  Immunotherapy, which uses the immune system to fight cancer, has been effective in dog trials which is promising for humans.  When a trial is successful in a dog, it can move on to a human trial.  As of now four drugs have made it to a human trial.  Sutent, which is sometimes prescribed for advanced kidney cancer, is one such drug. And in 2010, the vaccine known as ONCEPT became the first cancer vaccine to be approved in the United States.  According to Jedd D. Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D., the chief of the Melanoma and Immunotherapeutics Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, “There’s no question that the success of the animal trials did a lot to speed up the approval process of the human trials.”

Seems to us, dogs may just be man’s best friend–and women’s, too!

Source Material:  The Veterinary Cancer Resource Center, Cancer Research Institute,, NBC News, CNN

Your First Visit

It’s natural to feel apprehensive on your first visit to an oncologist’s office. We at Iowa Cancer Specialists would like to ease your anxiety and let you know what you can expect.

We are located at Genesis West Medical Center inside the Cancer Center which is just off of the glass atrium.  When you walk through the Cancer Center entry, go to the reception desk on the left side of the room where you will be greeted by one of our friendly receptionists.  Our office should have sent you forms to be filled out in advance, and this is the time to turn them in.  If you forgot to bring the forms, please plan a few extra minutes as you will be asked to fill them out again.  Also, have your insurance cards ready as well as your co-pay.  You will be asked to sign other forms that give us permission to bill your insurance and information on the patient information and privacy act. We strive to keep patient wait time to a minimum.  But, while you do wait, help yourself to the coffee, tea, or water provided in the waiting area.

When the nurse or medical assistant calls your name, you will be ushered into our exam room.  There she will have you step on and off the scale and will take your vitals.  She will ask you questions regarding the reason for your visit, habits you many have, any concerns or current health problems, and family history.

When you see the doctor, he/she will ask you more questions.  Sometimes a full physical exam is required; sometimes not—depending on the diagnosis.   Your referring physician should have sent us your records for our review.  Our doctors will go over this information with you.  We recommend you have a family member or friend with you to help you digest the information covered, as well as as notebook to write down instructions.  Be sure to ask your questions.  We want you to leave our office with all of your questions answered.

Treatment varies from individual to individual.   Of course, you may request a second opinion at any time, and we will be happy to assist you in scheduling one.

Expect our physicians to order lab work.  This is important, especially if chemotherapy is recommended.  Also, CT scans may be ordered.  These are necessary and used to evaluate how well the treatment is working.

Our physicians may order other tests as well.  This is because not all cancers are the same, nor do they respond the same way to treatment.  It is important for us to gather as much information to determine how to best treat you.

For your convenience, we have a lab in our office if blood work is ordered. Also, we have an in-clinic dispensary to assist in filling your prescriptions.

We will keep your referring physician updated on your progress.  We are always available to answer any questions.

Having a cancer diagnosis is stressful enough.  Our goal is to make this journey as easy as possible.