Stand-up for Cancer

I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy, and I especially enjoy live performances. There is nothing funny about cancer. What is funny, though, is how awkward it is for most people to talk about death. The author recounts an experience at a stand-up comedy show where the subject came up, and how the comedian turned it into a laughing matter.

Two Years At The Free Clinic: So Successful We May Fail?

Back and shoulder pain are among the most common problems we see here in the Care and Concern Free Medical Clinic, where I have been a volunteer physician for the last two years. Many of our patients have lost their health care insurance and that is why they seek free medical care. Our patient numbers have sharply declined this year, and this is attributed to improving economy and more jobs in the area, as well as increased access to healthcare insurance.

Not My Mother’s Home Cooking…Please

Like many post-war mothers of the 1950s, Mom was a terrible cook. She cooked “American style” relying on canned foods and processed food ingredients. Ethnic cuisine was considered unpatriotic. But my mother was an excellent Polish cook, and she learned from my grandmother. Two recipes are included.

Do I Look Fat in These Genes?

Are you pleasantly plump? Rubinesque? Chubby? Weight-challenged? Or, to state it bluntly, just plain fat? …If you are among the 55% of Americans who are overweight, take heart. You now have an excuse: blame it on your genes. It seems obvious that obesity runs in families; fat people have fat children, who produce fat grandchildren… but there is more to it than merely being overfed by fat, over-eating parents… fat families may be that way because they have genes in common.

How to say “No” to your doctor: improving your health by decreasing your health care

by Carol A. Westbrook Has your doctor ever said to you, “You have too many doctors and are taking too many pills. It's time to cut back on both”? No? Well I have. Maybe it's time you brought it up with your doctors, too. Do you really need a dozen pills a day to keep…

Does Beer Cause Cancer?

Is moderate beer drinking good for your health, as I have always maintained, or does it cause cancer? .. assuming that my readers are not alcoholics, the question that they are really asking is whether or not they are going to get cancer from low to moderate beer drinking. So what, then, are the facts? …Is beer drinking good for you? Or bad? Are you healthier if you drink, say, a beer or two per day, or are you worse off? We review some of the facts and myths about alcohol and your health.

My New Year’s Resolution: Getting to Know my Genome Sequence

In November I placed a package containing a small sample of my blood into a UPS drop box. It is a fait accompli. I’m going to get my Genome Sequenced! No doubt you are wondering why I wanted to do this. The short answer — because I can. Why did I do this and what do I hope to learn? Read on.

Homo Erectus, or I Married a Ham

by Carol A. Westbrook My husband loves big erections. Don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking here about Viagra, I'm talking about tall towers made of metal, long wires strung high in the sky, and tall antennas protruding from car roofs. He loves anything that broadcasts or receives those elusive radio waves, the bigger the…

Third World Medicine in a First World Town

by Carol A. Westbrook On Wednesday evenings, I volunteer at a free clinic. For a few hours I become a primary care doc in an urban setting, instead of a high-priced oncologist in a modern medical center. Our clinic, The Care and Concern Clinic, in Pittston, PA, opens weekly at 5:30 pm, and closes when…

The Bystander Effect in Medical Care. Why Do I Have So Many Doctors Not Taking Care of Me?

by Carol A Westbrook In a recent editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine1, Drs. Stavert and Lott used the tem, “The Bystander Effect,” to describe a new health care phenomenon, in which multiple physicians participate in the care of a patient, while none acknowledges primary responsibility for managing it. In their example, a…