Can We Defend Ourselves Against Brain Tumors?

Eleven years ago this week, my 67-year-old mother died from a brain tumor. It was Glioblastoma multiforme, an insidious fourth-stage cancer that, without treatment, usually kills within three months. Treatment options are miserable for the patient and not terribly effective; for those who opt for surgery and radiation/chemo, the cancer almost always returns within a year […]

Prescription for Tragedy

  Not long ago my father, who is 84, had a great fall. Great meaning bad. He doesn’t remember tripping on anything, just that suddenly he was on the floor of his bathroom. He’d hit his head on the corner of the sink. There was a lot of blood. A long hospital stay followed after surgery to […]

Ice is the Worst

I am on the record as loving snow and cheerfully tolerating cold. So you’d think I would love winter. And I do, mostly. But as of this week, I am very much ready for winter to pack up its bags and leave the D.C. area. The reason: ice. Ice is the worst. Ok, it’s good […]

Losing Control

When you’re carrying a child, you make certain sacrifices. I knew I’d have to give up Tanqueray and the occasional guilty cigarette. I was even prepared to forgo sushi. But I soon learned that the list was far longer than I imagined. No hot tubs, the experts advised. No queso fresco. No Advil. No deli meat. […]

Guest Post: Another Kind of Coming Out Story

So, today I’ll be writing about my colonoscopy. Now wait, please don’t close this page! I promise not to dig too deep…er, I mean, I won’t get too mired in…oops, well, let’s just say I’ll try not to say a whole lot about poop. My real interest right now is actually in the “bowel prep.” […]

My mother, on the bleeding edge of health care reform

Among my fondest childhood memories are the hours my family spent discussing B cells and T cells while cruising the highways on our family car camping trips. My mother, Irene Check, is a scientist; both she and my father got their doctoral degrees in microbiology, and my mother has a specialty in immunology – the […]

Avastin and the Power of Hope

This week, an FDA panel unanimously voted to revoke its approval of Avastin (bevacizumab) for breast cancer. The decision evoked cheers from some groups and jeers from others.  At least one group derided the decision as the work of a  “death panel.” Initially hailed as a wonder drug, Avastin is a monoclonal antibody first approved […]

The myth of choice in medicine

I’m probably not the only one who has noticed a shift in the way we talk about health care these days. It’s no longer about patients taking the advice of their doctors. It’s about “consumers” making “choices” about care. We’re shifting away from the old model of medicine, in which doctors guided medical decisions because […]