Obsessions, Dreams and Premonitions

  For most of my life, I’ve been obsessed with plane crashes. It began when I was in first grade, and my dad and his squadron went to Turkey on TDY (temporary duty assignment — the military equivalent of a business trip). They were there to practice dropping bombs from their fighter jets. Dad qualified […]

Physicians Who Do Harm

First, do no harm. It’s a commandment often incorrectly attributed to the Hippocratic oath yet it provides an ethical foundation for modern medicine. The American Medical Association’s principles of medical ethics begins, “A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care, with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.” But what happens when a […]

The Last Word

21 – 25 October What happens to sperm and egg donors in the era of cut-rate genetic testing? Cassie discovers that anonymous donations come with a cost. A growing class of viral clips — generally misinterpreted as cute or funny — actually shows animals in anger, pain, or sexual arousal,  says guest poster Whitney Robles. […]

A Taste of Authenticity

Growing up, I hated red apples. The grocery store specimens, which were always Red Delicious, looked pretty in the grocery bin, but their perfect skin tasted slightly bitter, their flesh bland and mealy. I didn’t mind varieties like Yellow Delicious, Granny Smiths, or Galas, but they still provided too little flavor to evoke desire. I […]

FAQs about breast cancer screening

Regular readers of LWON know that I’m fed up with science denialism among breast cancer advocacy groups like Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.  As I write in the Washington Post today,  I’m also exasperated with my doctor (one I won’t be going back to). I’ve been reporting on breast cancer and mammography for more […]

Newsprint is dead. Long live newsprint!

I died a little inside when I heard about the recent Today Show interview in which Jeff Bezos said, “I think printed newspapers on actual paper may be a luxury item. It’s sort of like, you know, people still have horses, but it’s not their primary way of commuting to the office.” As founder of Amazon.com […]

What is a good death?

My beloved neighbor Joanne was 87 years old when her son found her dead in the hallway of her old farmhouse on Monday. They’d gone to a funeral together that morning — a younger relative had died of pancreatic cancer — and after lunch he’d dropped her off at home. When he returned later that […]

This week’s worst press release (so far)

I get a lot of ridiculous press releases, but the headline that made its way to my inbox today, “New Cancer-Fighting Game App Goes Global,” represented a new level of nonsense. The press release described a “ground-breaking” smartphone “cancer-fighting game app” that promised to “help young cancer patients fight their disease.” If you’re like me, […]