I just got back from a 20th wedding anniversary trip with my wife, sans 3 kids, in Costa Rica. What a joy, and I would recommend it to others, especially if you like “ecotourism.” Our last stop was at a great resort. Some 250 electrical contractors and their spouses from Arizona were there at the same time, a junket paid for by a huge supplier. American business relationships at work. These were nice enough people. And Esther and I enjoyed the people watching. But we couldn’t help notice how many of these typical Americans were overweight – very overweight. Unfortunately,...

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I am always super cautious when anyone uses the word “cure” around cancer. The media loves to do this. Like with this news: For some women, breast cancer drug could equal a cure [Houston Chronicle] A targeted drug already FDA approved to treat an aggressive form of advanced breast cancer has proved remarkably effective at preventing tumors from recurring in early-stage patients. The drug, Herceptin, cut the risk of relapse in half, a breakthrough that prompted experts to predict thousands of American women will be cured of breast cancer annually. Experts called the study results “stunning.” My reticence to jump...

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I recently heard a speech from a pediatric rheumatologist who shared how she came to her sub-specialty. There are only 200 pediatric rheumatologists in the whole country since, fortunately, there are only a few kids who need such care. She detailed how she was fascinated by immunology in medical school. Why does our body sometimes fight against itself inappropriately with swollen joints and other complications? Other med students and residents dropped out for more lucrative specialties, but she persevered. We need to thank her and other subspecialists for their years of dedication to becoming a cancer researcher or rheumatologist or...

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The other morning I attended a charity breakfast for the Washington State chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. About 300 people were there – doctors, nurses, donors, family members and patients. At one point the event featured what you might call a “power couple.” Peter and Alison Fischer from Phoenix. Both grew up with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, suffered joint damage and are partly disabled. Through AF events they met each other, fell in love and are now married. A video showed a neat shot of them riding together on Peter’s scooter. Alison walks haltingly. But they are very powerful people. She...

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Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and now Wilma have driven home an important point for those of us with chronic conditions: You need to have extra medicine on hand for a disaster. Whether it’s insulin or a treatment for cancer or multiple sclerosis, what would you do if the pharmacy is not reachable or you can’t get to the medicine cabinet in your house? It’s worth spending a little time coming up with an action plan. Here in Seattle we are working on our earthquake kits at home and in our cars. The earthquake in India and Pakistan showed how devastating a...

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