Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Considering Tuesdays With Morrie When Facing A Life-Threatening Diagnosis

Film adaptation of "Tuesdays with Morrie"

Many of you know about, or have read, the highly recommended book, Tuesdays With Morrie. I am reading it now with my 14-year-old son, Eitan, as part of an assignment for his ninth grade English class. Morrie, a college professor in Boston, was dying, withering away with ALS. Each Tuesday he would have a visit from one of his favorite former students, Mitch, a journalist from Detroit. Morrie, a man in his 70’s, mused about many things including the meaning of life and the inevitability of death. He was prepared for his end.

The other day I spoke about that book with a former high school English teacher – not Eitan’s. The circumstance was not good. The woman, 37, had been diagnosed with stomach cancer just six weeks ago. She’d been having heartburn and it wouldn’t go away. Endoscopy showed the cancer and other tests revealed its spread to her liver and lung – stage 4. The woman and her husband, her high school sweetheart, sat across from me at lunch. They have three young children, age Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Get Answers To Your Questions At The American Society Of Hematology Annual Meeting

Go south from the “O.C.” – Orange County, California, where the sun shines on the beaches and girls in bikinis play volleyball, and you find yourself in San Diego, land of the surfers in the shadow of a large U.S. Navy base.

It’s also home to a large convention center right by the Pacific. And that’s where 30,000 blood doctors and researchers from around the world are about to converge for the annual American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting. Beginning December 10, they’ll absorb study data for blood related cancers like leukemia and lymphoma and blood conditions like sickle cell disease and hemophilia.

Tucked off to one corner is the news media – the regulars like The New York Times and USA Today and a host of journals read by doctors around the world. And then there’s Patient Power. This year Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Giving Thanks To Fellow Patients Contributing To Medical Progress

First, to our U.S. visitors – Happy Thanksgiving! To our friends around the world, we send all the best to you too!

This tends to be a time of reflection so I am heavy into that right now. First, as a 15-year-leukemia survivor, I am thankful every day I can live a full life. And, as the founder of Patient Power, I am thankful to you for visiting our site, listening to and watching our programs, and for telling us that, for the most part, we are making a positive difference in your life or that of a loved one as you seek better health. Quite frankly, I am thrilled when I read the comments you make in our surveys and your feedback propels all of us to do more. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Making A Human Connection: Meeting Other People Dealing With The Same Disease

Remember when people in the waiting room at a doctor’s office were all reading magazines? It was quiet as each person waited for their name to be called. Even if you went to a specialist’s office, no one dared say “I’m here for _____. What brings you here to see Dr. ____?” No one “shared” even if, just maybe, they had a very similar health concern to the person next to them. Makes sense, health is a private matter, right? Well many people I know don’t feel that way. They feel the benefits of connecting with other patients far outweigh the risks.

The other day I was in Atlanta where 30 or so patients attended an educational “summit” for people with a rare form of leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML.While the people who came wanted to be informed and hear the latest from medical experts and an oncology social worker, they also wanted to meet others facing the same diagnosis. Particularly in rare conditions like this one, many patients have never met someone else with the diagnosis – and they very much want to make that connection. They want to hear the stories of others and see if they are like their own.

I found that to be true when Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Building Programs For People Living With Serious Conditions

I can’t get the 1989 baseball movie Field of Dreams out of my head. That’s especially true right now as I can’t wait for the seventh game of the World Series. My son, Eitan, and I sat on the couch and watched the sixth game last night and it was probably the most exciting game I’ve ever seen. Plot twists galore. You can bet the audience for tonight’s game will be HUGE.

What’s so cool in thinking back about the movie is the famous line said to the baseball fanatic farmer: “If you build it they will come.” So he built a baseball field behind his house and the greats of baseball history came to play. I have never forgotten that line and have applied it to what we “build” at Patient Power – interview programs for people living with serious health concerns.

In the past few weeks, and continuing from now on, we have been focusing on two blood-related cancers: multiple myeloma and chronic myelogenous leukemia. While there are other educational resources out there, people living with these serious conditions always want more – as well they should. Fortunately, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »