I met a celebrity the other day, at least over the phone. I got to interview Jared “the Subway Guy” Fogle, the 28-year-old former Indiana University student who lost hundreds of pounds by eating low-fat Subway sandwiches twice a day and getting on a regularly walking program. In 1998 Jared weighed 425 pounds and saw terrible health complications on his near-term horizon. Even breathing was becoming difficult. So he started eating turkey and veggie sandwiches with no mayo and no cheese at the Subway restaurant around the corner, a six-inch for lunch and a foot-long for dinner. The weight started...

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I don’t mean to be short with people but I try to be very efficient with my time. Too often I do not get to smell the roses or just have an idle chat with a friend because there’s so much to do and so little time. Part of it is having three young children, part of it is having a demanding career. But what takes a lot of time are doctors, medical details, getting prescriptions, making appointments, dealing with symptoms, and trying to get medical bills paid correctly. A few years ago these were my own worries with my...

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I have a pet peeve, and I am curious to know if it bugs you too. As a patient, I have been to many doctors, many times. Sometimes you know everybody in the office, but often there’s turnover - especially at the lowest levels - and the first people you see are new to you and you to them. Sometimes you are going to a new doctor for a consultation or a new concern. Maybe you’ve traveled very far. So here’s what I don’t like: I hate it when a staff member calls out your name in the waiting room...

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Did you see the Wall Street Journal article recently (February 13, 2006) about a study that showed people who take antidepressants have less brain capacity for romance? Apparently, modern SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), or some of them at least, steal the chemical that allows us to be spontaneous - that devil-may-care attitude that leads to spontaneity and romantic exhilaration. I got worried. I know many, many people with chronic illness or cancer, and their spouses or partners are fighting depression. It’s understandable. But what a price to pay that if we get proper treatment, but we shoot our love...

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my friend Laurie, a housewife and mom in my small hometown near Seattle. She is also the mom of an only child who happens to be a good friend of my nine-year-old son, Eitan. You may recall Laurie has been having concerns about her heart, some palpitations and pain. Her Dad has had heart problems too. Weeks ago I told Laurie to “do not pass go, go see a cardiologist.” The other night I saw Laurie in the supermarket. I asked about her son, who had been sick. “He’s doing much better,...

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In December 2005, the 43 million people on Medicare were urged to consider signing up for one of many privately run prescription-drug benefit plans. Costs and what drugs are covered vary by plan. This was a major change to the 40-year-old Medicare program, so it’s a big deal. But it’s been confusing to many - or at least daunting at first. To get the lowest plan rates, you have to sign up by mid-May. And I think, if you are on Medicare, you’d be silly to let that deadline pass unless your have terrific retirement benefits from some large corporation....

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I have been meeting some people lately who should have been dead a long time ago. These are cancer patients who were told to put their affairs in order, that there was nothing that could be done. For Suzanne Lindley in Canton, Texas, it was seven years ago at age 31 when her advanced colon cancer was discovered. For Ken Ferguson in Vero Beach, Florida, it was five years ago with malignant melanoma, starting with a dark spot on his back and spreading to vital organs. Both were told by more than one doctor they were at the end of...

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I recently spent a lot of time talking with people who are on a mission to prevent colon cancer, which is our second biggest cancer killer, after lung cancer. Colon cancer is preventable if it’s caught early. In my mother’s case, it wasn’t, so I think about colon cancer a lot. This past Sunday, during colon cancer awareness month, I produced two live radio shows on this subject and got to meet people who, for differing reasons, want to encourage American adults to “get our rears in gear.” Katy Duggan is one example. While she is now a five-year survivor,...

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I am a pretty big sports fan. One thing I love about sports is the lessons it can provide about life. There are the obvious ones about the benefits of hard work or living to fight another day. But one hit me in the face these past few weekends as I watched the exciting NCAA basketball tournament, dubbed “March Madness” because anything can happen when 64 colleges and universities vie for the national collegiate basketball championship. This year was the best ever and illustrated a point that is important for any of us fighting a life-threatening disease: It’s not over...

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The drug companies get criticized all the time for the high cost of medicines. But I have to say thank you to them, from my point of view. As I approach the 10-year anniversary of my diagnosis with CLL (on April 9, 1996) and continue to have “no evidence of disease,” I am very grateful that my need for treatment coincided with the availability of effective medicines. I received my treatment through a clinical trial and was fortunate that the research proved to benefit many of the recipients, including me. My drugs were Rituxan (rituximab), a monoclonal antibody, and Fludara...

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April 2006
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