Five years ago, on a bright sunny day, 16-year-old Brandon Taylor was riding his bike along a street in Auburn, Washington, a town near Seattle. He was on his way to play football at a friend’s house. A passing motorist didn’t see him, and Brandon was hit. He was brain-dead by nightfall. Brandon’s mother, Shirley, was devastated and still in shock later that night when the doctors approached her about helping Brandon live on through organ donation. His organs could help others have a second chance at life. Shirley agreed, and within hours Brandon’s organs were being transplanted into multiple...

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Wow, I’ve been overwhelmed by all of the supportive mails I’ve received since launching this blog last month. I can’t reply to every single mail, but I’ll do my best to respond here periodically and call out some of your helpful suggestions and fascinating stories. We received a number of requests for more information about an aloe vera drink that a member wrote about taking for his CLL (not in my blog, actually, but in several of our newsletters). While it hasn’t been clinically tested and may not prove to have any medical value, we’ve asked him for more detail....

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Shaun Alexander is the most famous man in my hometown of Seattle these days and, very possibly, the most valuable player in the National Football League. He is an incredible running back. But more than that, he is an incredible young man. I met him the other night at a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society educational event for people with lymphoma. It was held at Qwest Field, where Shaun plays for the Seattle Seahawks. Shaun attended and spoke because his friend and mentor, former Pittsburgh Steeler Merril Hoge, asked him to. Merril was diagnosed with lymphoma three years ago. He has...

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Interesting story: Scientists who test things on mice are finding a chemical in turkey meat may help reduce of reverse the effects of multiple sclerosis. Basically, they think there’s a chance the chemical, tryptophan, known for inducing more than a few post-Thanksgiving dinner naps, might lead to new medicines for people with MS. The idea is to switch off an autoimmune reaction in people with MS where the immune system inappropriately attacks the body. Turkey offers hope for autoimmune disorders A substance found in many foods, including turkey, can suppress an overactive immune system, researchers reported Friday. The substance, tryptophan,...

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I recently hosted a radio program with an eye specialist. We were talking about Lasik eye surgery and similar approaches to help you get rid of your glasses. Millions have these procedures. But if you have a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis or diabetes, there are more basic eye health questions to address. With MS, some people get optic neuritis. That’s why regular eye exams are so important. In my case, it was years before I started seeing an ophthalmologist regularly, and it’s easy to “blow off.” But if I started going blind or having real discomfort, it would be...

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I saw George Clooney’s "Good Night, and Good Luck" the other night. It’s the story of renowned television journalist Edward R. Murrow and his producer, Fred Friendly, and their pioneering programs on CBS Television in the ’50s. They were bold enough to show that Senator Joseph McCarthy’s campaign against communists was trampling on the individual rights of innocent people. Fred Friendly was my advisor in journalism school and often told the stories of how fought to help educate the public on important issues of the day, even when it went against the grain of advertisers or was controversial. As I...

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This week, enrollment began for seniors and disabled people covered by Medicare to sign up for a private insurance plan - one they pick from more than 40 offered - to help cover prescription drug costs. The enrollment period is open until May 15, 2006, and if you don’t enroll by then, it will cost more next year. The news media was all over the following story this weekend and today: More than 60% of seniors say they are confused by the benefit and what plan to sign up for. And many are angry with the government as a result....

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The phone rang the other night. It was not a surprise. Earlier in the day, I had received an e-mail from the parent of an ailing 10-year-old boy back East. The father gets the newsletter from my old high school, and they had noted what I do for a living. The dad had turned to many resources and now, desperate, had turned to me. The child has been sick on and off for years. Nausea, low energy, swollen joints, out-of-whack blood counts. They’ve seen a long list of doctors but still no diagnosis or logical treatment plan.  They would wonder...

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First of all, thanks! I am excited that so many HealthTalk members and new readers appreciate my new blog. It helps me to know there are really people out there who can benefit from my unique point of view on healthcare and chronic illness. People like me, who are on a health journey and trying to find the best care and get the best results from their care and treatment. I AM NOT A DOCTOR. So thanks to some for calling me “Dr. Schorr,” but really I am a patient just like you. Many people have asked what treatment I...

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If you are a cancer survivor like me, there are certain times of the year when your ears perk up - in particular, around the time of the big cancer medical conferences. There’s one in May-June called ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology). And there are two other big ones in December: ASH (American Society of Hematology) and SABCS (the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium). Think about what’s happening behind the scenes. The drug companies time the release of their clinical studies with these events. That’s where the experts meet the community of peer specialists. It’s also where the news...

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