The Alliance is looking to advocate for public health dollars for research for cheap, widely available early detection like a blood or urine tests, and provide patient support services. And they look to triple lung cancer survivorship by 2020. Joining us to tell us more:
Dr. Hilton Hossanah is here, he is a Thoracic Surgeon and Assistant Professor at Albany Medical Center. We also welcome Betsy McPhail: She built a network of support as a caregiver, which gave her the support she needed to get through. Her 20's something sister was diagnosed and died from lung cancer. And Phyllis Goldstein is Director of Lung Cancer Alliance New York and a never smoker survivor who found the path of advocacy to honor the death of her best friend and her father to lung cancer.
Katy Butler was living thousands of miles from her vigorous and self-reliant parents when the call came: a crippling stroke had left her proud seventy-nine-year-old father unable to fasten a belt or complete a sentence. Tragedy at first drew the family closer: her mother devoted herself to caregiving, and Butler joined the twenty-four million Americans helping shepherd parents through their final declines.
A long time ago when I was about to apply to medical school and struggling with college courses in organic chemistry and calculus and the like, a friend pointedly mocked my desire to become a physician.
Melody Moezzi was born to Persian parents at the height of the Islamic Revolution and raised in the American heartland. When at eighteen, she began battling a severe physical illness, her community stepped up, filling her hospital rooms with roses, lilies, and hyacinths.
But when she attempted suicide and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there were no flowers. Despite several stays in psychiatric hospitals, bombarded with tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, and antipsychotics, she was encouraged to keep her illness a secret—by both her family and an increasingly callous and indifferent medical establishment.
Refusing to be ashamed, Moezzi became an outspoken advocate, determined to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and reclaim her life along the way. She tells her story in Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life.
San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (God’s hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages. Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves—“anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times” and needed extended medical care—ended up here. So did Victoria Sweet, who came for two months and stayed for twenty years.
Laguna Honda, relatively low-tech but human-paced, gave Sweet the opportunity to practice a kind of attentive medicine that has almost vanished. Gradually, the place transformed the way she understood her work. Alongside the modern view of the body as a machine to be fixed, her extraordinary patients evoked an older idea, of the body as a garden to be tended. God’s Hotel tells their story and the story of the hospital itself, which, as efficiency experts, politicians, and architects descended, determined to turn it into a modern “health care facility,” revealed its own surprising truths about the essence, cost, and value of caring for the body and the soul.
Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association at the beginning of July, a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Dr. Lawrence Hergott calls upon his fellow physicians to fight for their profession by fighting for their own souls. "I have seen that the preservation of the soul of medicine is also the preservation of the soul of the physician, and that both are essential," he tells us.
We like to imagine that medicine is based on evidence and the results of fair testing and clinical trials. In reality, those tests and trials are often profoundly flawed. We like to imagine that doctors who write prescriptions for everything from antidepressants to cancer drugs to heart medication are familiar with the research literature about a drug, when in reality much of the research is hidden from them by drug companies.
In 1985, Shelby Smoak was diagnosed HIV positive, a fact that he did not learn (by choice) until a few years later. Smoak’s diagnosis is compounded with the fact that he is also hemophiliac.
Set in the 1990s along the North Carolina coast, Bleeder traces Smoak’s quest for love in a world that feels increasingly dangerous, and despite a future that feels increasingly uncertain. From the bedroom to the operating room, and from one hospital to the next, Smoak seeks out hope and better health.
Smoak, a poet and novelist, who now teaches at Northern Virginian Community College in Arlington, has written a memoir of his experiences with both diseases, Bleeder.