Hearing the Words ‘You Have Lung Cancer’

bonomi-feldman-lung-cancer-award

Jill Feldman with Philip Bonomi, MD, a medical oncologist at Rush

Lung cancer specialists at Rush are among five worldwide recipients of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s inaugural Cancer Care Team Award. Jill Feldman, a patient at Rush, introduced them at a recent ceremony in Japan. Here’s her story:

When I was 13, I lost two of my grandparents to lung cancer, and six months later my dad died of lung cancer. Then in my 20s, both my mom and close aunt died of lung cancer.

Needless to say I was devastated and felt helpless, so I started doing advocacy work with LUNGevity Foundation, a national lung cancer organization. I also began getting scans every few years. All was good until 2009. I was 39 years old, had four small children and was president of LUNGevity, so there just aren’t words that can describe how I felt when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, the same disease that I literally watched kill both of my parents.

Foreign territory

I have been in and out of treatment for the past 8 1/2 years. Lung cancer will be a lifelong roller coaster ride for me, but because of a better understanding of lung cancer biology, advancements in treatments, and my dedicated, passionate, collaborative care team, the cancer can be managed as a chronic disease, for now.

Continue reading

Call of Duty: Providing Surgical Care in Combat Zones

tad-gerlinger-opengraph
By Tad Gerlinger, MD

My first deployment was to Kosovo with Task Force Falcon, Operation Joint Guardian, in 2001. Three weeks after 9/11, I was deployed from Fort Bragg with the 274th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne) — the first FST sent into Afghanistan — for Operation Enduring Freedom. Two years later, I was part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in the initial actions of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And I returned to Afghanistan in 2011 with the 936th Forward Surgical Team and served with the Norwegian Provincial Reconstruction Team. That was my last deployment.

Targeting civilians

In armed conflict, the vast majority of casualties and injuries are the locals — the civilian population. That was true for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq back when I served, and it’s true today in countries like Syria. What’s happening in Syria with ISIS, where they’re using human shields, was very common for Al Qaeda, too.

In 2011, our special mission unit went in to get a high value target in northern Afghanistan. After our soldiers surrounded the compound, they asked the enemy to send out all of the noncombatants. As soon as all of the women and children had come out into the courtyard and our soldiers had gone out to secure them to safety, the enemy threw grenades at the entire group. So the majority of the casualties from that mission were women and children — and, of course, our soldiers were injured trying to protect the families of the men who threw the grenades.

Continue reading

All About Bones: Advice From an Orthopedic Nurse

facebook-Linked_Image___kujath_amber_conBy Amber Kujath, PhD, RN, ONC

Halloween is an orthopedic nurse’s favorite time of year. At no other time does a nurse who specializes in the care of bones get to see visual reminders of skeletons: decorations, bone candy, and perhaps an adult-sized skeleton t-shirt that says, “Give me a break!” For added irony, National Orthopedic Nurses’ day is Oct. 30, one day before Halloween.

But what is truly scary and more serious is that every day people suffer 8.9 million fractures each year worldwide due to osteoporosis, a common bone disease. Most of them are women. One in three women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, compared to one in five men over 50.

Those 8.9 million reported fractures do not include the fractures from trauma related to sports or falls from ladders and roofs. Additional bone disorders, like osteoarthritis, limit the ability to work for 8 million working-age adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Continue reading

Surgeon Chronicles Decades of Humanitarian Trips

dennis-gatesBy Dennis Gates, MD

I have been taking part in medical missions for more than 50 years. My first trip was as a medical student at Loyola University, when I worked as a laboratory technician for a couple of doctors in Brazil. That experience enlightened me to the far greater need for orthopedic and medical care in Brazil than in the U.S. A child in America with a club foot is going to get treatment somehow, whereas in Brazil, that’s not the case. There aren’t adequate medical facilities, and patients can’t afford treatment or simply don’t have access to care. Then, two years in the Peace Corps as a family doctor in Nigeria and Ghana reinforced to me the incredible medical needs of developing countries.

Once in orthopedic practice, some colleagues and I started making regular mission trips to Brazil. We’d go down to a little clinic on the Amazon River, called Esperanca, to perform many surgeries and train orthopedic residents. When we started in the mid-1970s, there was only one local orthopedist; by the time we stopped making the trips 30 years later, there were seven well-trained orthopedic surgeons in town. That was pretty satisfying.

Continue reading

Diving in: a Cardiologist’s Transition to a Vegan Diet

jeffrey-sobleBy Jeffrey Soble, MD

Nearly two years ago, I decided to follow a vegan diet, or an almost vegan diet, anyway. As I tell my patients, the decision to embrace a plant-based diet is a very personal one. People choose it for a variety of reasons, and it’s just one of several ways to eat more healthfully. Just look at your priorities and do what’s right for you.

For me, a plant-based diet made sense. Here, I share how I made the transition and why.

Health, environment, animal welfare

Several factors in my life converged to convince me to go vegan.

Certainly, there were health reasons: I have a family history of heart disease, and my father died of a heart attack. Heart medications didn’t agree with me, so I took a more serious look at my diet. That thinking coincided with my evolving views of animal rights and a growing desire to do good things to help the planet. I had already started driving less and riding my bike more for health and environmental reasons. Helping to reduce our dependency on the meat industry seemed like another way to be a good world citizen: It can help conserve land, water and energy resources as well as prevent pollution.

Continue reading

5 Things Dietitians Wish People Knew About Cholesterol

heart-healthy-foodsBy Justine Britten, Liz Page and Allison Wood

September is National Cholesterol Awareness Month, so it’s a great opportunity to educate yourself about the vital role cholesterol plays in your health.

Most people are aware that you want to have low LDL (“bad”) and high HDL (“good”) cholesterol. But there are a lot of misconceptions about what makes your LDL and HDL go up or down. Should you avoid egg yolks? Should you stick to low-fat foods, or is sugar the real culprit?

To help clear things up, we’ve compiled a list of tips that we, as dietitians, routinely share with our patients — especially those who are trying to improve their cholesterol numbers, or who have a family history of heart disease and want to reduce their own risk.

Continue reading

Defending Personal Health Data in the Digital Age

shafiq-rab

Shafiq Rab, MD

As medicine becomes more precise and individualized — and as technology makes collecting and dispensing data easier than ever — you may wonder about the safety of your personal health information.

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires protection of certain electronic data — such as any information that can identify you or that pertains to your physical or mental health, including treatments.

“But Rush goes beyond what’s HIPAA-mandated by protecting all of your health information against outside intrusion and inside breaches, including data that doesn’t contain your name or other identifiable information,” says Shafiq Rab, MD, MPH, senior vice president and chief information officer at Rush University Medical Center.

‘Moral and ethical duty’

Rush has the following safeguards in place to protect and defend your data:

  • Thanks to encryption software, any would-be cyber-thief who tries to gain access to digital data would be unable to unscramble and use it.
  • Privacy is a top priority of Rush employees. As part of their training, they learn to rigorously protect patient info by following several internal security guidelines.
  • Rush is constantly checking the identity of authorized personnel to ensure that only people who need to know can see your patient health data.
  • Rush hires outside security firms to test its computer system for weaknesses.

But what makes Rush stand out is a culturally embedded belief in the sanctity of patient health information. That belief is held by people across the organization — from doctors to nurses to patient registration specialists. “Patients come to Rush because they trust us with their health care,” Rab says. “It’s also our moral and ethical duty to take care of their health information.

Shafiq Rab, MD, MPH, is passionate about information technology because of its potential to improve people’s lives. He believes technological innovation is one of the best ways to enhance health care for individuals and society as a whole.