By Thurston Hatcher
So if you haven’t heard already, March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. And if you have, you’ve probably also heard a few reminders that it’s time to get that colonoscopy you’ve been dreading.
As an employee of a health care institution, I consider it my professional obligation to inform you that I’ve had one, and it ain’t that bad. Want to hear more? Perhaps not, but I’ll tell you anyway.
Colonoscopies generally are recommended for people age 50 and older, since they account for more than 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases. The procedure, which involves running a thin, tubelike instrument through the colon, helps doctors spot precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
As it happens, I wasn’t quite 50 when I had mine, but I had a few minor symptoms that might fall into the “cause for concern” category. My primary care doctor and gastroenterologist weren’t particularly alarmed, but they wanted to play it safe, and they figured I was close enough to my golden years to experience this rite of passage.
By Jennifer Comerford
As I headed to work on Valentine’s Day this year, I wore a ribbon that I made at Northern Illinois University, my alma mater, after the 2008 shooting at the school that killed six people. For the past 10 years I have worn the Huskie ribbon as a memory of the tragedy.
This year would be more of the same to an almost surreal degree. This year, my beloved high school in Parkland, Florida, would be the scene of another tragic shooting.
I remember hearing the news and thinking, “how can this be happening again?” It’s been 20 years since I graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I can clearly remember feeling safe at high school and making friendships that would last a lifetime. I remember myself in the buildings, hallways and courtyards that I now have seen on the news with children running through them to escape. High school was probably the most influential time of my life.
By Larry Goodman, MD
The tragic killing of 17 people, including students, in Parkland, Florida, in February shocked and saddened all of us. Once again we were each forced to try to make sense of a senseless act, or try to distance ourselves from something that, unfortunately, is all too close.
Gun violence is a public health problem. It is also a Chicago problem. As a community of students, faculty, practitioners and employees, Rush is committed to finding answers to this and other public health problems that affect the quality of life and the health of everyone we serve.
As a health care organization, it is not enough to provide care to those who are injured and psychological support to those impacted by that injury. Similarly, as a university, it is not enough to train students only to respond to health issues in this limited way.
Addressing root causes
As we increasingly focus on prevention, we need to better understand and address the social determinants of health that are the root causes of gun violence, health care inequities and other similar public health challenges. To solve this kind of complex problem requires discussion, debate, immersion, partnerships and commitment.
A lot of babies have been born at Rush. As far as we know, though, no one ever had delivered her baby in the fourth-floor lobby of the Atrium Building until a few weeks ago, when Laura Wolff gave birth to her son, Elliott Howard Wolff Claus, right in front of the reception desk.
Both Wolff and Elliott are doing well, despite the dramatic circumstances of his birth on Jan. 23.
Wolff had gone into labor around 6:00 the night before, but she waited to come to Rush. When she’d given birth to her first child, a daughter, Wolff had been in labor for hours, and she didn’t want to spend that much time waiting in the hospital again.
She even slept during the night and took a shower in the morning before leaving for Rush around 10 a.m. “I was 100 percent sure I was going to be in the hospital in labor for another 10 hours,” she says.
By Sally Lemke, MS, RN
Here’s a devastating fact for youth living in underserved neighborhoods: Poor health can translate into poor school attendance, lower educational achievement and a shorter life.
Now here’s a better one: School-based health care offers this group a chance to beat the odds.
Offered through safety-net clinics, school-based health centers provide primary, preventive and mental-health services to the children and youth who can’t otherwise access quality health care. The centers are powerful tools for addressing health equity, because they not only increase access to care but also promote educational attainment.
Research shows that kids in schools with health centers are 22 percent more likely to have had a health care visit in the past year. As an administrator for three school-based health centers serving five schools and 1,400 students on Chicago’s West Side, I see the benefits directly.
By Richard Jaffee, 1936-2018
Richard Jaffee, the chair of Rush University Medical Center‘s Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2013, died at Rush on Jan. 23. Among his immense contributions to Rush, Jaffee was the speaker at Rush University’s 2013 commencement. His speech reflects the intelligence, foresight and altruism that made Jaffee a transformational leader at Rush.
I selected health rather than health care as my topic as it encompasses all of us, not just the vast health care industry. 2053, my target year, will approximate the working life of our 2013 graduates. A look that far into the future removes us from immediate concerns and controversial issues.
Let’s look at our health in three time frames: past, present and future. As Lincoln said in his House Divided Speech “If we know where we have been and where we are now, we can best understand where we where we are headed.”
When I was born in 1936, I was expected to live to 61. If I were born today, that number would be 81. Now that I am 77, the statisticians have assigned me 10 more years. Thank you very much.
Gina meets with medical oncologist Marta Batus, MD, and thoracic surgeon Christopher Seder, MD.
As a lifelong smoker, Gina knew the risks of smoking — but, like many people, she pushed these thoughts out of her mind.
“For years, my very dearest friend and I would sit on the phone together, have coffee and smoke cigarettes,” Gina remembers. “Then she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died from it. Even though I saw what she and her family went through, I was still in denial that anything could happen to me.”
Five years ago, at age 70, Gina got a wake-up call to start taking control of her health: She was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She had a mastectomy at Rush and was soon cancer-free. With a new lease on life, she began running, cut down to three cigarettes a day, and started listening to shamanic drum chants and doing positive-thinking exercises. She also continued her regular breast cancer follow-ups at Rush with medical oncologist Melody Cobleigh, MD, and nurse practitioner Teri Dougherty, NP.
Still, Gina’s smoking history and age put her at high risk for lung cancer. So at an appointment last summer, Dougherty talked to Gina about her risk factors and suggested that Gina was a good candidate for a lung cancer screening test — a low-dose CT scan that can detect lung cancer at its earliest stages, before symptoms arise and when it may be most curable.