I have observed him from afar for 40 years while we’ve shared some common experiences. Can a third one have a happy ending? To my mind, George Karl, veteran NBA basketball coach is a winner. He’s tenacious. I saw that in him when, in the early ’70’s, he played basketball in college at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when I was a student there too. Those were the glory years of bigger than life coach Dean Smith and George was one of his recruits. George didn’t disappoint then as the team played in the Final Four and...

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The old joke about psychological therapists is they are among the biggest consumers of therapy themselves. Lately, I have been noticing more and more how a significant portion of the people we meet wearing white lab coats have a very personal connection to the medical work they do. For them it is not a job, a meal ticket, or just putting their years of training into practice, it is a mission connected to something in their past, something in their own body, or the health of a loved one. A recent example is Kaiten Kormanik. She is 23 and has...

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I have a lofty position. No, I am not an ego maniac. I am talking about my perch in the announcer’s booth at “The Jungle,” Mercer Island, Washington’s high school football stadium. That’s where I spend a few hours on some Saturday afternoons this fall “calling” the games that my 13-year-old son, Eitan, plays in. Standing by my side is Dr. Paul Manner, prominent knee surgeon and occasional team physician for the kids down below. Last week Paul had to run down to the sidelines a few times. Crash, #64 was dazed. Slam, this time it’s #77. Paul was there...

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In recent years advertising agencies and public relations firms, many of them small shops run by dedicated communications entrepreneurs, have been gobbled up by marketing communications behemoths. These are the global conglomerates that work day and night to win you and me over as friends and customers. They want us to think positively about their clients and take actions that will boost their clients’ interests. That’s all fair. But I am sad to report how far we’ve come from the old days when public relations people, then called “press agents,” worried more about getting their clients name in the paper...

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Yes, I know my readers mostly care about what I have to say about specific health concerns and the stories of memorable patients and providers I meet along the way. But I also enjoy telling you about stories that impact our ability to do what we do for you. And I have an amusing one now. It will give you a window into the world of big banks, small business, and how we struggle to get funding to do more for patients online. First, the story of why we need money – beyond the obvious: It starts with my passion...

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Hollywood star Michael Douglas, 65There’s news that Hollywood star Michael Douglas, 65, is undergoing treatment for throat cancer. Reporters say his doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery. But, believe me, when someone is diagnosed with any kind of head and neck cancer, as this is, it is not an easy go. My first encounter with it was with my friend Bob Moore, a former sales rep for a major pharmaceutical company. He was a positive, yet realistic guy. The disease and the toxic treatment a few years ago eventually took its toll and he passed on....

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Heart patient Ed Dunifin and his wife of 35 years, Karen. I had not been to Indiana for 42 years. But last week I found myself on a commuter train in Michigan City, Indiana taking my family on the South Shore Line to Chicago for the day. We were vacationing not far away on the shores of Lake Michigan. The train was crowded so my group of six spread out where there were vacant seats. I found myself sitting with two men, father and grown son, on the way to a day at Wrigley Field and a Chicago Cubs baseball...

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I have always heard that Northwestern Mutual Life (“The Quiet Company”) was a grade A company. And for years I have been happy to have a disability insurance policy and a term life one with them. I got those policies back in the early 1990’s and it was a good thing I did. In 1996 my health changed. I was diagnosed with leukemia. I knew I was very lucky to have insurance in place because, as many told me, “you’ll never get insurance now!” Now flash forward 14 years and 10 years after receiving treatment in a phase II clinical...

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The news wasn’t good this week for women concerned about breast cancer. First came the story that some women were diagnosed with breast cancer, very early stage, had treatment – including disfiguring surgery – and then found out they never had cancer in the first place. The pathologist goofed, maybe even a second pathologist also misread the biopsies. How does this happen? Not surprisingly it comes back to the clinical experience of the doctor. Properly diagnosing breast cancer, whether through radiology scans or pathology biopsies is not always easy. And in many communities the general radiologists and pathologists just don’t...

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Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Food and Drug Administration's cancer drug office They have a tough job, those government doctors, scientists, and bureaucrats who are charged with assessing the safety and effectiveness of proposed new medical products. As you know, they rely largely on studies presented by the applicants. The FDA has the power to not approve a new drug or product or even pull it off the market. Right now it is considering limiting or, pulling GlaxoSmithKline’s diabetes drug, Avandia, because of newly discovered data that it may have caused heart attack in some patients – data mysteriously...

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