Monthly Archives: May 2014

Life and cancer, cancer and life

This past weekend I was so very, very happy to be alive.

My daughter got married to a wonderful young man I am now proud to call my son-in-law. My extended family and friends gathered for a fantastic celebration with eating, dancing, laughter, and deep joy in being together.   All aspects of the weekend were magical: the way the bride and groom looked at each other, the perfect weather, one fantastic gathering after another, and my ability to get through my toast to the bride and groom at the wedding reception without turning into a sobbing mess (tears came later, which was just fine). It was, no doubt, one of the highlights of my life, and one I will cherish forever.

Cancer was also there. Neither of my parents saw their oldest granddaughter get married – both died of cancer many years ago. An aunt and uncle who have dealt with cancer were able to attend. So did my little sister who is in the middle of a course of chemotherapy and has no hair.   She did not let cancer interfere with her enthusiasm and joined us in all aspects of the celebration. She looked fantastic in a wig that, dare I say, looked at least as good as her natural hair (sorry, sis …). Continue reading

Advocating for advocating

We each have the right, indeed the obligation, to speak up as private citizens for what we believe should be of high priority for our government.  An example is advocating for biomedical research grants.  It is important to point out that advocating to government should be done as a private citizen.  Any advocacy done as a governmental employee or in the name of an institution – in my case the University of Iowa – should be done in coordination with the institution as a whole.

Recently,  I had an opinion piece published in “Oncology Times” that describes my personal perspective on the importance of having researchers and clinicians advocate for biomedical research.  In other words, I was advocating for advocating.   Instead of writing a new blog this week, I am providing a link to this article entitled “Advocating for Biomedical Research – Debunking the Top 5 Excuses for Not Getting Involved” which can be found at  http://journals.lww.com/oncology-times/Fulltext/2014/05100/VOICES__Advocating_for_Biomedical.24.aspx .

Left Brain vs. Right Brain. This week: No contest

Popular psychology describes the left side of the brain as logical/analytic and the right side as emotional /creative.   This dichotomy in anatomy and function is not supported by modern neuroscience, but I can’t resist using it since I want to talk about how my left brain and right brain have been going at each other this week. Continue reading

My life as a Rubik’s Cube

I came across a news story earlier this week about the 40th anniversary of Rubik’s Cube – the toy/puzzle that has dumbfounded most of us at one point or another through the years. I started to think about how my professional life is like trying to solve Rubik’s cube.

When I first picked up a Rubik’s Cube, I immediately started turning the sides of the cube to try and get the colors aligned on one or two sides. With a bit more experience, it became clear that a partial solution of getting one side all yellow and another side all green early in the process did not help me get any closer to a total solution to the puzzle. Additional turns would always mess up the sides I had just completed. Eventually, I learned to try to envision how the various alignments would lead, after additional turns, to the solved puzzle – a very challenging mental exercise that required me to try and think several steps ahead and in three dimensions.   On a few occasions, I was able to actually complete the puzzle, but it took me a long, long time, and much trial and error. I never came close to developing the skills of the whiz kids we see on You Tube who can finish the puzzle in just a few seconds.

Aspects of patient care, research and administration are like Rubik’s Cube. Continue reading