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Reaching your personal goals with a chronic illness



(BPT) – Content sponsored and provided by Pfizer.

Janet H., a wife and mother from Alabama, had many things to celebrate in her life – two beautiful children, a wonderful husband, her dog Falco, and a rewarding career. She was proud that even with all of this, she was able to achieve her personal goal of staying active. However, she was diagnosed with a chronic disease the week before her 40th birthday.

Janet enjoyed moderate exercise, so when she began to have persistent joint pain and swelling in her knees, she suspected it was from an old injury. After initial visits with an orthopedic specialist, she was referred to a rheumatologist who diagnosed her with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a chronic, autoimmune disease of the joints.[i]

“I remember thinking that if this is what 40 is like, I don’t know if I can handle 50,” she says. “I wasn’t sure how RA would affect my life.”

Unfortunately, this story is all too common, as RA impacts approximately 1.6 million adults in the United States.[ii],[iii] Many living with a chronic condition like RA can feel that their life is put on hold while trying to manage their symptoms, doctor’s appointments, and the daily demands of life. Working toward personal goals can be put on the backburner, but does it have to be?

With her rheumatologist, Janet was motivated to find a treatment plan that could help relieve her RA symptoms before being prescribed XELJANZ® (tofacitinib) 5 mg twice daily tablets, an oral medication for adults with moderate to severe RA in which methotrexate did not work well enough. Janet’s rheumatologist reviewed the potential side effects of XELJANZ and explained that it is taken twice daily and has a BOXED WARNING for serious infections and malignancies.

Within three to six months, Janet felt improvement in her RA symptoms and found herself thinking about ways to become more active. She spoke with her rheumatologist and, together, they came up with exercise goals including yoga classes, cycling, and walking her dog with her husband and children. She also says one of her biggest milestones was walking her daughter down the aisle and gaining a new son-in-law. Eventually, Janet even worked with her rheumatologist to switch to a once-a-day version of XELJANZ, called XELJANZ XR extended release tablets.

Here are some of Janet’s tips to help someone living with a chronic illness work toward their personal goals:

Plan ahead: Living with a chronic condition can put a pause on spontaneity. Plan ahead when it comes to things like travel or big life events to allow ample time for adjustments and preparation.

Partner up: Find a significant other, friend or sibling who can join you on your journey toward reaching your goals. Sometimes living with a chronic condition requires extra support from others, so having a partner to plan with can help make that support seamless

Consult your doctor: Before considering any new travel or physical activity, make sure to consult your doctor. Discuss your plans and how you and your doctor can work together to help ensure you can meet these goals.By following these tips, Janet says that she has been able to better manage her RA and have more time to focus on her family, friends and herself.

“I hope my story can help other adults who are living with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and inspire them to share their stories,” she says.


XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR is a prescription medicine called a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR is used to treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis in which methotrexate did not work well.

It is not known if XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR is safe and effective in people with hepatitis B or C.

XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR is not recommended for people with severe liver problems.

It is not known if XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR is safe and effective in children.


What is the most important information I should know about XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR?

XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR may cause serious side effects, including:

Serious infections. XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Some people can have serious infections while taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting and during XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR treatment, and monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB infection during treatment. You should not start taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR if you have any kind of infection unless your healthcare provider tells you it is okay.

You may be at a higher risk of developing shingles (herpes zoster).

Before starting XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, tell your healthcare provider if you:

think you have an infection or have symptoms of an infection, such as fever, sweating, or chills; cough; blood in phlegm; warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body; burning when you urinate or urinating more often than normal; muscle aches; shortness of breath; weight loss; diarrhea or stomach pain; or feeling very tiredare being treated for an infectionget a lot of infections or have infections that keep coming backhave diabetes, chronic lung disease, HIV, or a weak immune system. People with these conditions have a higher chance for infectionshave TB, or have been in close contact with someone with TBlive or have lived in, or have traveled to certain parts of the country (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Southwest) where there is an increased chance for getting certain kinds of fungal infections (histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis). These infections may happen or become more severe if you use XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Ask your healthcare provider if you do not know if you have lived in an area where these infections are commonhave or have had hepatitis B or CAfter starting XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of an infection. XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR can make you more likely to get infections or make worse any infection that you have.

Cancer and immune system problems. XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works. Lymphoma and other cancers, including skin cancers, have happened in patients taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had any type of cancer.

Some people who have taken XELJANZ with certain other medicines to prevent kidney transplant rejection have had a problem with certain white blood cells growing out of control (Epstein Barr Virus-associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder).

Tears (perforation) in the stomach or intestines. Some people taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR can get tears in their stomach or intestine. This happens most often in people who also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or methotrexate.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have fever and stomach-area pain that does not go away and a change in your bowel habits.

Changes in certain lab test results. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests before you start receiving XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, and while you take XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, to check for the following side effects:

changes in lymphocyte counts. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that help the body fight off infections.low neutrophil counts. Neutrophils are white blood cells that help the body fight off infections.low red blood cell count. This may mean that you have anemia, which may make you feel weak and tired.Your healthcare provider should routinely check certain liver tests.

You should not receive XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR if your lymphocyte count, neutrophil count, or red blood cell count is too low or your liver tests are too high. Your healthcare provider may stop your XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR treatment for a period of time if needed because of changes in these blood test results.

Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your cholesterol levels 4-8 weeks after you start XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, and as needed after that.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR?

Before taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

have an infectionhave liver problemshave kidney problemshave any stomach area (abdominal) pain or been diagnosed with diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine) or ulcers in your stomach or intestines, or narrowing within your digestive tracthave had a reaction to tofacitinib or any of the ingredients in XELJANZ/XELJANZ XRhave recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. People taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR should not receive live vaccines but can receive non-live vaccinesplan to become pregnant or are pregnant. It is not known if XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR will harm an unborn baby. You should use effective birth control while you are taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR and for at least 4 weeks after you take your last dose.Pregnancy Registry: Pfizer has a registry for pregnant women who take XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. The purpose of this registry is to check the health of the pregnant mother and her baby. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, talk to your healthcare provider about how you can join this pregnancy registry or you may contact the registry at 1-877-311-8972 to enrollplan to breastfeed or are breastfeedingTell your healthcare provider about all of the medicines you take, especially any other medicines to treat your rheumatoid arthritis. You should not take tocilizumab (Actemra®), etanercept (Enbrel®), adalimumab (Humira®), infliximab (Remicade®), rituximab (Rituxan®), abatacept (Orencia®), anakinra (Kineret®), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia®), golimumab (Simponi®), ustekinumab (Stelara®), secukinumab (Cosentyx®), azathioprine, cyclosporine, or other immunosuppressive drugs while you are taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Taking XELJANZ or XELJANZ XR with these medicines may increase your risk of infection.

Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking medicines that affect the way certain liver enzymes work. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure if your medicine is one of these.Taking XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR

When you take XELJANZ XR, you may see something in your stool that looks like a tablet. This is the empty shell from the tablet after the medicine has been absorbed by your body.

What are other possible side effects of XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR?

XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR may cause serious side effects, including hepatitis B or C activation infection in people who carry the virus in their blood. If you are a carrier of the hepatitis B or C virus (viruses that affect the liver), the virus may become active while you use XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR. Tell your healthcare provider if you have the following symptoms of a possible hepatitis B or C infection: feel very tired, little or no appetite, clay-colored bowel movements, chills, muscle aches, skin rash, skin or eyes look yellow, vomiting, fevers, stomach discomfort, or dark urine.

Common side effects of XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR include upper respiratory tract infections (common cold, sinus infections), headache, diarrhea, and nasal congestion, sore throat, and runny nose (nasopharyngitis).

To learn more about XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, a treatment option for moderately to severely active RA, visit

Please click the direct link to the full US Prescribing Information for XELJANZ/XELJANZ XR, including BOXED WARNING and Medication Guide:

[i] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. Handout on health: rheumatoid arthritis. August 2014. Accessed December 4, 2017.

[ii] Sacks J, Lou Y, Helmick, C. Prevalence of specific types of arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the ambulatory health care system in the United States 2001-2005. Arthritis Care Res. 2010;62(4):460-464.

[iii] Howden L, Meyer J. 2010 U.S. Census Bureau results – U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census Summary File 1.

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Tips to pull off holiday hosting



(Family Features) With stay-at-home holidays a thing of the past for many families, they’re now busy preparing for full-blown celebrations. The return of traditional festivities brings seemingly never-ending to-do lists and pressure to be the perfect host.

From mastering a mouthwatering menu and donning your home with decadent decor to ensuring guests enjoy the evening to the fullest, hosting duties bring plenty of responsibilities. This year, though, you can avoid those anxious feelings with some preparation ahead of the big day.

To help pull off a sensational seasonal soiree, consider these tips from the entertaining experts at Sun-Maid to make the holidays brighter and more manageable so you can navigate the stresses of hosting.

Invite Others to Share Favorite Traditions
Especially with stay-at-home holidays in recent years, some friends and family members may have developed their own special traditions from new recipes and foods to seasonal games and activities. Inviting your guests to bring or share something that represents their favorite part of the holidays can help everyone feel welcome.

Take Time for Yourself
Remember to make time for yourself so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor right alongside guests. The busyness of this time of year can add stress but reflecting on the true meaning of the season and reveling in your favorite parts of the holidays can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Add New Ingredients to Your Menu
While pairing this year’s turkey or ham with the classics provides comfort and calls to mind holiday memories of the past, cooking with new ingredients and adding fresh recipes to the menu can put a fun spin on the season and maybe even create your own traditions to carry forward.  

For example, baking with an option like Sun-Maid Raisins provides a whole fruit option with zero grams of added sugars per 1/4-cup serving. They’re an easy, better-for-you substitution to reduce overall sugar intake without compromising flavor or texture when compared with dried cranberries, which contain 27 grams of added sugars per 1/4-cup serving. The natural sugars of raisins make them a versatile, useful addition to a wide variety of holiday-worthy dishes.

Hop On Hot Food Trends
One of this year’s most popular trends in the kitchen is food boards, a fun and easy way to elevate flavor while incorporating favorites like cured meats, cold cuts, cheese slices and cubes, dips, nuts and more. Plus, you can keep your board balanced with nutritious items like vegetables and fruit, such as raisins, which provide sweet flavor without the added sugars.

A Time for Truce
Gathering for the holidays is about coming together with loved ones, family, friends and neighbors – and pulling it off means catering to everyone’s needs and wants. It’s a time for compromises and truces. To help add a little extra spark this year, try incorporating a theme to the party or coordinate fun activities and games that can be enjoyed by all. For example, holiday-themed charades, a seasonal “name that tune” game and gift exchanges all give guests ways to get in on the excitement.

To find more holiday entertaining inspiration and recipe ideas, visit .

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Sun-Maid Raisins

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Why you next car will probably be electric



(BPT) – Love them, hate them, or don’t really care, electric vehicles are beginning to take over transportation conversations and roadways, and soon, boats and planes. Already, there were 16.5 million electric cars on the road worldwide in 2021, three times more than in 2018, according to S&P Global. Though still in the early adopter phase, here are four reasons your next vehicle is likely to be electric.

Auto manufacturers are phasing out the production of internal combustion engine (ICE) models. General Motors announced in 2021 that the company will only sell vehicles that have zero tailpipe emissions by 2035, across all global markets. Similarly, leading companies like Ford committed to zero emissions globally by 2040 and no later than 2035 in key markets. Some states are making the same commitment. Through Michigan’s Healthy Climate plan, for example, the state is working to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050, including through electrifying vehicles and increasing public transit.

States are accelerating the push for EVs through legislation. The Air Resources Board is offering a Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, making new and used electric cars more affordable for consumers, as some states seek to ban the sale of ICE model vehicles. On the federal level, as part of a broad new Inflation Reduction Act — designed to address climate change, healthcare, and taxes — a new tax credit of up to $4,000 on used electric cars and revised tax credits of up to $7,500 on certain new EVs are available for prospective buyers to take advantage of. These legislative changes highlight the need for tangible progress in increasing the accessibility of EVs.

States are building out supporting infrastructure for EVs. All over the United States, you will find EV chargers popping up at local supermarkets, malls and sporting events. Michigan is taking it a step further by bringing chargers to state parks and working with public universities on pilot programs and research programs to improve battery design. The Lake Michigan EV Circuit Tour, for example, is a network of EV chargers that, once completed, will span over 1,100 miles of drivable shoreline around Lake Michigan throughout Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

“We are going to see a huge uptick in EV adoption, especially as manufacturers continue to diversify the EV models on the market, lower prices for increased accessibility, and partner with states to ensure infrastructure is catching up with the high-tech innovation happening across the country,” says Trevor Pawl, Chief Mobility Officer for the State of Michigan. “It’s only a matter of time before your neighbors are driving one too.”

Beyond incentives and legislation, we’re still human and want to keep up with our neighbors and peers. EVs have been around for almost 30 years, with the first mass-produced, purpose-built modern electric car from one of the industry’s key players released in 1996 from General Motors. Soon, EVs will make up a majority of new cars available. And, with the many financial incentives and user benefits associated with making the shift to EVs, it may not take long for you to begin reimagining how an EV could fit into your life, too.

While your next car choice will hinge on a range of factors — lifestyle, brand preference, car features, safety ratings, availability and price — you may be surprised how many boxes an EV can tick. Even without gas, there’s a lot of sustainable power under their hoods.

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Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away



Help for older adults on a budget may be a few clicks away

(BPT) – Food and gas prices continue to rise, on top of record-high housing costs in many cities across the U.S. If you’re an older adult who is already living on a tight budget, today’s inflation can be particularly difficult. Fortunately, there are programs available that can help you save money on health care, prescriptions, food, utilities and more.

One of the easiest ways to find out if you’re eligible for benefits is to visit the National Council on Aging’s The free and confidential tool connects older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers to benefit programs. The site is easy to use, even for people with minimal digital experience.

“It only takes a few minutes to learn about all the programs available and how to apply,” said Ramsey Alwin, president and CEO of NCOA. “For example, there are Medicare programs that can boost your budget by helping with prescription drug costs, as well as premiums, deductibles and coinsurance.”

There are thousands of programs on BenefitsCheckUp, including:

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which can help you pay for healthy food
  • The Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy and Medicare Savings Programs, which can help people with Medicare afford their out-of-pocket health care expenses
  • The Housing Choice Vouchers and Public Housing Programs, which can help with housing costs
  • Supplemental Security Income, which provides cash for basic needs
  • The Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides discounted internet services
  • The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which can help you pay for home heating and cooling

Millions of older adults are eligible for, but not enrolled in these programs. In fact, NCOA estimates that $30 billion in benefits go unused each year simply because older adults don’t know about these programs — or how to apply. will give you a personalized list of benefits you may be eligible for and the steps you need to apply, including links to the correct government agencies and applications. Just a few minutes could save you money every month.

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