Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Power of a Goal, father-son story nonpareil

MINNEAPOLIS -- After 50-year-old Steve McKee was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer last year, his oldest son Mitch took it upon himself to try to make the disease disappear -- if only for a moment.

Mitch McKee
CBS News
"Kind of flush it all away and kind of have him forget about it for that moment, and have everybody forget about it for that moment -- just be happy," Mitch said.
 It was a plan only a 15-old boy could dream up. Knowing how proud dads can be when their sons do well in sports, Mitch, a wrestler, decided he would try to win the Minnesota state high school wrestling championship for his dad, even though Mitch was only a freshman at the time.

"He might not be here next year, so I knew that this was the year to do it," Mitch said.

This colossally ambitious undertaking began in weight room. All summer, Mitch got up every morning at 6:00 a.m. to lift. And he practiced -- even when there wasn't practice, he practiced. As a result, Mitch won his first match of the season -- and his second.

Steve McKee
CBS News
In fact, the kid won so many matches, he not only qualified for the state tournament, he made it to the finals. And this was it. All he needed to do was win this one last match, and he'd be the state champion in his weight class. All he needed to do was pin this one last opponent, and that cancer -- for one moment -- would disappear.

After the match, even the losing wrestler did a winning thing. He congratulated Mitch's dad, told him to stay strong. While Mitch, on the other hand, had far fewer words. He held his dad. Just held him.

Mitch hugs his dad after the match.
Vanessa Schlueter
"For him to do it, for me, it was very emotional," Steve McKee said. "All the emotions you could ever have were right there."
 Asked if he forgot he was sick, Steve quipped, "Was I?"

"Yeah, life was definitely perfect at that moment, you know?" Mitch said. "I just wanted to stay right there forever."

Mitch McKee definitely did right by his dad. But he had one thing all wrong. He thought he needed a huge victory to make his dad feel better, when all he really needed was the love behind it.
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Netflix Pick: The Ben Carson Story: Gifted Hands

We watched this film some time ago. Quite a comeback story. Now there is a move afoot to draft Dr. Carson to run for president.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The comeback story behind "Ally's Law"

Another inspiring piece from Imagine, U Chicago publication:

Patient advocate, spokesperson, fundraiser and law student, Ally Bain has not let inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) stand in her way.

A well-known figure in the IBD community since her early teens, Bain was instrumental in drafting Ally's Law, which mandates restroom access for medical emergencies. The legislation first passed in Illinois and is currently in effect in 15 states. During college, Bain expanded her advocacy work, spreading awareness and raising funds for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America. Now in her first year of law school, she plans to pursue a legal area that includes a public interest component.

"Her resilience in the face of her disease - and what she has accomplished - are an inspiration to her physicians and to many patients," said David T Rubin, co-director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center. Rubin began treating Bain for Crohn's disease in 2005 when she was 15, shy and afraid of doctors. Today, he regularly invites her to speak to patients about IBD, and the two often work together to educate the public and government officials.


Bain still remembers what Rubin promised her the first time they met: "You will be in remission within six months." She responded well to infliximab, a biologic therapy that targets an inflammatory protein in the body. Over the past decade, the regular infusion therapy has kept Bain's disease in remission. She continues to see Rubin every four to six months for monitoring.

"I tell my patients to expect nothing less than remission," Rubin said. "And if they are not there, we will keep working on it. We want all of our patients to have the stability and good health Ally has achieved."

Rubin encourages patients to stay informed about IBD and the advances in treatment and research. "The more patients know, the less out of control they feel," he said. Rubin and his colleagues share the latest information about the rapidly changing field through regular community education events and social media.

At the University of Chicago Medicine, patients can expect individualized care for Crohn's and ulcerative colitis as well as access to the latest clinical trials.  On the horizon: a gut-specific biological therapy that targets receptors only in the bowel, reducing side effects.

In addition. to offering innovative therapies and leading-edge technology, the IBD Center ties clinical work to basic and translational research. Studies focus on identifying the causes and understanding the mechanisms behind IBD, the function of the microbiome in digestive diseases, and the role of environment and diet.


Facts from U Chicago Medical:

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to a group of chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract,

inflammation of the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum

inflammation deeper into the wall of the small intestine; it may also affect other parts of the digestive system

The first gene associated with IBD was discovered at the University of Chicago.

190 genetic variations are known.

The University of Chicago Medicine has about 20 active clinical trials for IBD.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

To come back against cancer, he rides -- and gets the best medical help at University of Chicago

We came across this in the University of Chicago magazine, Imagine:


Pat Navin is an avid cyclist who's pedaled nearly 7,000 feet to teach the highest point east of the Mississippi River. His determination is as rock solid as his bronze 2003 steel-framed road bike.

So when Navin, then 55, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in the fall of 2012, he did what has always sustained him in challenging situations.

"I knew the fear could cripple me and eat up a lot of my energy; and I just didn't want that to happen," said Navin, head of Inverse Marketing, a downtown Chicago advertising agency; "My mental outlook needed to be strong, and I knew riding my bike would give me the positive outlook to beat the disease."

So ride he did. For 38 radiation treatments over the course of nearly eight weeks, Navin laced up his shoes at 6:30 a.m. and cycled 44 miles roundtrip from his home in Evanston, Ill., to the University of Chicago Medicine's Hyde Park medical campus.

As his friends put it, Navin literally rode his cancer into the ground.

But Navin credits his doctors, Walter M. Stadler, MD, section chief of hematology/oncology and director of the genitourinary program, and radiation oncologist Stanley Liauw, MD, for his now cancer-free status.

"I was very impressed with the doctors at the University of Chicago Medicine," said Navin. "One thing I've really come to appreciate about the medical center is the amount of effort that's put into research, because that's where the breakthroughs happen."

After learning about a clinical trial Liauw is conducting, Navin decided to use his daily bike rides to raise funds for Liauw's research. To date, he has raised more than $15,000.

"To have this type of unrestricted funding is really a blessing, said Liauw, an expert on genitourinary and gastrointestinal cancer. The funds will benefit several projects, including maintenance of a database that analyzes treatment of all prostate cancer patients at the medical center.

"The ultimate goal is to supplement our clinical care with new data that can help make treatments better in terms of higher cure rates and tolerability of therapy," said Liauw.

On his last trek to Hyde Park for treatment, Navin was brought to tears when he opened his door to find 15 of his friends and supporters geared up to bike alongside him. "It was really something special," Navin said. "I think it's important when you're going through something like this to find people you're comfortable with. I was very fortunate to have found Stanley and Dr. Stadler."

For more information or to support the research of Stanley Liauw, MD, please contact Ellen Clarke at

"One thing I've really come to appreciate about the medical center is the amount of effort that's put into research, because that's where the breakthroughs happen."

Part of the U of C team (from l to r): Eric, radiation therapist and a serious cyclist in his own right who commutes 19 miles each way to the hospital; Denise, The-Nurse-Who-Knows-All, Dr. Liauw’s right hand and also the world’s foremost expert on hormone injections (OUCH!); my sweaty self; Meghan, radiation therapist and possessor of an extraordinary laugh that turned hard days into good days; and Dr. Stanley Liauw, a guy who is changing the world for the better.  From Pat's blog,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

No comeback home for piano virtuoso Schiff

BBC News - Andras Schiff: Why I won't perform in Hungary

We heard Andras Schiff's debut concert in Chicago many years ago, when he was a fresh-faced 24-year-old (1978), and soon to make his mark in the keyboard kosmos.  We heard him perform Bartok PC No. 3 with the Chicago Symphony there the next year, and again three years later (Grieg PC) with Ferencsik, and then later with Sir Georg Solti himself (Tchaikovsky PC). 

We heard Maestro Schiff in recital several more times (Bach Goldberg Variations, and WTC), as well as soloist with the New York Philharmonic (Dohnanyi) in Avery Fisher Hall (front row), and we heard him give a stunningly insightful master class in Lutz Hall, Northwestern University, where a student was grappling with a tangle of notes from Herr Schumann and, taking the artist bench himself, Schiff effortlessly spun them into pure gold.

This piece is a report of an appalling shame taking place back home, and his testimony puts a name and face on it.  What an embarrassment to Hungarians everywhere.  What has humanity learned in the 80 years.......?