Most of us have spent some time thinking about our own deaths. We do it with a sense of dreadful curiosity, but then we push it aside with “well, we’ve all got to go sometime.” Unlike most people, I probably know the how, the why, and maybe even the when of that event. It is profound information that turns the world upside down for us, our families, friends and caregivers. I have ...

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Experiencing the revolving door of physicians in the hospital Complications from my cancer sent me to the hospital again recently. The news that I was in trouble came unexpectedly from my oncologist’s office Thanksgiving eve, following a routine blood test. “Your liver numbers are out of whack.” My response was “Really?” as if I’d been notified that my driver’s license had expired. I was diagnosed with a blocked bile duct and I ...

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It’s no surprise that Americans are tilting the scales in the wrong direction. We are straining our waistlines and health coverage beyond the limits. Unfortunately we live in a culture that promotes it. Recently, I tuned into my favorite TV food channel to watch famous chefs create exotic dishes with quail eggs and artichokes. Instead I tapped into back-to-back shows that claimed to represent American food.  The hosts were a well-known southern ...

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I’ve come to believe that seriously sick people are often subject to some very interesting comments from well-intentioned non-sick people. They are frequently inspired by platitudes from self-help-books, Google chat rooms (heaven forbid), or beliefs that have been around for so long that they are a natural part of common discourse. To be fair, when we are confronted with the uncomfortable task of talking to a sick person, our conversation can ...

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In the fall of 2010, Atul Gawande, surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, delivered a touching speech at the October New Yorker Festival.  My husband attended with a friend and, because he said it so profoundly impacted the audience, I watched it myself on video the next day. It was indeed amazing. Dr. Gawande, author and national health care presence, ...

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