Death of Cancer – Vincent C deVita – Review

Did not finish ‘Death of Cancer’  thinking we have arrived – if the death of cancer is arrival. But a fascinating insight for the layman into the work and times of a leading oncologist over the last 40 years.

Would not be qualified to comment on his explanation of cancer and the various patterns of development – but all seemed logical, if somewhat frightening.

Great feel for the journey of a somewhat frustrated cancer killer – one who feels that FDA regulation has unnecessarily delayed treatment of many patients.

Story is personal – in dealing with a number of family and close personal friends and their cancer battles. Indeed his own story features in the end of the book.

I think the overall message is very positive – with the reservation that cancers continue to mutate and that many times patients may struggle to get the best treatment: because doctors may be over conservative, may not have the skills/ resources available to them or the latest potential solutions may be tied up in FDA type regulation.

But a good read and reasonably informative.

Adopting the emerging healthcare technologies

Emerging healthcare technologies: not a surprising piece. The focus is on Electronic Health Record (EHR), Cyber security, Accountable Care Organisations, Population Health analytics, Remote care, mobile and wearable technologies.

Mobile, cloud, analytics – all core to developing and delivering effective and efficient healthcare solutions.  And, of course, given the current cyber security threats, security is a prerequisite in implementing and expanding dependence on technologies such as cloud and mobile.

Seems that the electronic health record must be a core foundation of making all of this work for the patient, healthcare providers and society at large.  We need a way to aggregate, consolidate, cross correlate the data. This will provide better solutions for patients and improved care.  But this access for providers to patient data should be controlled by the patient.

Security

I have always thought of security as an enabler rather than a hindrance or obstruction.  Cloud and mobile in healthcare make this case.  Interestingly i see cloud as offering greater security – with the opportunity to leverage real in-depth security expertise, not necessarily available internally to healthcare providers.  And cloud and hosted solutions offer lots of simplifications in supporting mobile access to data.

Analytics

Much of what we have seen drive data analytics has come out of the mobile/ cloud/ social developments – tracking and analysis of data captured on mobile devices and through end user participation in social platforms.  Healthcare is data intensive – with more and more of the data captured electronically and potentially available for analysis.  The tools for capturing the data and the tools for storing, analysing and displaying the data have advanced hugely in recent years.  Providers who do not have the ability to capture/ analyse/ understand the data will find themselves significantly disadvantaged in competing with other providers and negotiating with buyers of their services (patients, insurers, government, whoever).

Challenges

Great opportunities for all healthcare providers to improve the quality and relevance of their offerings, the method of delivering their services and to acquire new business remotely  -through new healthcare technologies.  But the challenges should  not be underestimated – traditional models for Information Technology delivery will prevent organisations leveraging the opportunities available. Providers need to be more dynamics, adopt new technologies and new methods of delivery.

 

 

M2M Day 1 cycling

Of course Day 1 actually start in Kilmacud Crokes at 4.30am.

After a 7 hour bus ride we hooked up with the support team at Mizen Head, unwrapped our bikes and set out.  A broken chain within 1 minute and a puncture within 1 km of the start tested everyone’s resolve and patience.  But after this we got going and headed off to cycle through breathtaking scenery of West Cork and South Kerry.

A demanding route for day 1 of the M2M – through Durrus, Bantry, Glengarriff and Kenmare.  Two tough climbs for the group – Caha Pass (Glengarriff to Kenmare) and Moll’s Gap, Kenmare to Killarney.  The descent from Moll’s Gap takes in the stunning views from Ladies’ View and some beautiful views of the Lake as we pressed closer to Killarney.

wp-1464872248425.jpgAnd at the end of the day, the run in from the bottom of Moll’s Gap through to Killarney tested the group.

We stayed in the Killarney Plaza – and a quiet night was had by all: knowing four more days cycling ahead in the M2M.

 

 

Thank you to all my M2M sponsors

Just wanted to use this post to thank all my sponsors for this week’s Mizen to Malin cycle..  Looks like we will be blessed with great weather – wish we were out cycling this morning!

A particular thanks to all my colleagues at Hermitage Medical Clinic who held a special breakfast this morning and have been very generous in their sponsorship and encouragement.

And, as always, for anyone else out there who would like to be a sponsor: my sponsorship page

Looking forward to loading up the bike tonight, packing the sun cream and off to the sunny south west (Mizen Head) with my fellow 51 cyclists at 5.30am tomorrow.

Mizen

 

 

Mizen to Malin 2016 route: Nissan Challenge

Mizen
Mizen Head

We start from Mizen Head, Co. Cork, Wednesday morning – after a bus ride, leaving Dublin at 5.30am on our Mizen to Malin adventure



Killarney
Killarney Lakes

End of first day will see us in Killarney – having made our way over a couple of challenging climbs

ennistymon
Ennistymon

 

 

 

Day 2 should see us make our way from Killarney through to Ennistymon

 

 

BallinaAnd after a long run, on the third day we should reach Ballina.

 

 

 

ballybofey-header
Ballybofey

On Saturday we will make our way from Ballina to Ballybofey

 

malinAnd finally, on Sunday we should get to our destination, after 690km of cycling: Malin Head

Charity cycle: M2M: Mizen to Malin – Wed 1st June to Sunday 5th June

m2m_arklow
Resting in Arklow
13245401_1102811669765443_6348610194695238582_n
M2M route for 2016

So, lots of training for M2M done since that spin in the rain on Christmas morning (when I still thought 25Km was a cycle).  And then the spins to Howth, to Rathnew, to the Sally Gap, to Arklow. Just three days now until we set out on our 690km venture from bottom of Ireland to top of Ireland (Mizen Head, Co. Cork to Malin Head, Co. Donegal), over 5 days (Wednesday 1st June to Sunday 5th June).

Our route

Looking forward to visiting Mizen, Killarney, Ennistymon, Ballina, Ballybofey and Malin – and lots of places in between.  And travelling with 51 fellow cyclists.

Breast Cancer Ireland

This cycle is in aid of Breast Cancer Ireland and Kilmacud Crokes Development Fund.  We expect to raise in excess of €100,000 to be split between both: that is a minimum of €50,000 for Breast Cancer Ireland. If you have not already supported us please contribute on-line by logging in to my M2M mycharity page – all contributions gratefully received.

Hoping to post each day from the road – perhaps with some gopro snippets.

 

 

Memory and intelligence

I have always ‘struggled’ with memory.  I would like to think I would pass myself off as reasonably intelligent – but would never score highly on any ‘test of memory’.  Examples – I remember very little poetry or Shakespeare from school, I remember very few telephone numbers, I struggle with birthdays and anniversaries.  When reading a book I enjoy the book – but will have limited recollection of the detail of the book.

Naturally, given importance of remembering some things, I used some aids.  For instance all the birthdays/ anniversaries are included in my online diary, appointments are noted in the diary, phone numbers available to me on my phone and I tend to create mind maps when reading business related books.

I do not think this memory issue (if it is an issue)  is recent.  Seem to remember(!) struggling with dates in history back in Fr. Lynch’s history classes in Belvedere in the mid 70s.  Later on there was never a happier student for the Chartered Accountancy Final exams when they switched to an ‘open book’ exam.  Always seemed to me to make sense that you should be able to tackle a question, using your skills, but cross reference/ check to the detailed backup materials – which is how many of us work.

Interested to read today’s piece in the Sunday Times by Hiram Morgan (‘The rise of the internet is rotting our brains’).  Of course the headline is designed to catch attention (given the location next to ‘Scarlett Johansson – The sexpot superhero’s great power is her brain’, Dr Morgan needed a strong headline).

The question for me is whether I can use this technology (internet, limitless amounts of data) to empower/ enhance my intelligence?  And I think the jury is out.  I would not be qualified to comment on his assertion that ‘as little as five days of internet surfing , with this erratic pattern of short attention spans and switching from link to link, has been shown to alter the neural pathways in the brain.  The result of this damage to short-term memory is that we do not properly build up long memory.  This prevents the brain from forming “schema”, without which the data we constantly consume is irrelevant.‘ But it would seem plausible to me.

Over the last few years I have become much more interested in history (One fellow 52 year old suggested history seems to be an obsession of 50 year old males) and as a result have read a great deal more about 20th Century US history and 18, 19 and 20th Century Irish history.  As a management consultant I also read widely in areas of business interest.  I am interested to see how much of this stuff I actually remember.

What has struck me recently is that History makes more sense (and I remember more of it) when I have some ‘intelligent’ dialogue with other interested people.  This did not take place in school for me – as I took not interest in the subject and limited my enthusiasm to maths, science and the classics.  I suppose also I now have some hunger to learn and to understand – and therefore the mind seems somewhat more active/ open/ stimulated.  In the case of consulting related reading I often have the opportunity to try out the ideas – and this seems to increase memory retention greatly.

A few years ago I attended some exam preparation seminars with one of my kids – and a great deal of the session was geared towards maximising ‘memorisation’ for exam purposes.  Again I am not qualified to comment – but I suspect, given the commercial success of the outfit, many of the students must be benefiting in terms of exam performance.  I would, however, have some doubts about ‘long term’ memory referenced by Dr. Morgan.  I also suspect they are very much geared at preparing students for exams which now lend themselves to students providing the exact piece of information answering a specific question for a specific number of marks in the paper (more specific than 35 years ago).

Returning to Dr Morgan’s assertion – for me the issue is that learning still takes effort.  That it how it has always been and how it should continue to be.  Something on the internet may catch my attention, something in the newspaper may catch my attention.  But understanding the issue, contextualising it, forming my own view – all of this requires effort – more reading, perhaps internet research, dialogue with experts.  What I fear is that many people are now struggling to give themselves the time to do this – in most cases they need to get offline, read, reflect, analyse, converse.  And perhaps, at some stage, bring it back online.

 

 

 

 

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

Several themes running through the book – Liesel and her foster parents, poverty in world war two Germany, terror visited on the Jewish population, tragedy of war for families as they lose loved ones, beauty of books and learning to read (as the book thief accumulates books).

Liesel, a young German girl, is fostered out to a couple living just outside Munich. Liesel quickly builds a relationship with the father (Hans) and, over a longer period of time, also with the mother (Rosa). War time Germany and they live on the breadline. Liesel also develops a number of close friendships with other children in the neighbourhood.

Hans Hubermann teaches Liesel to read and over the years she steals several books (Hubermann also buys her a couple of books) which form a background to the story. Football in the street is one of the social outlets – and excels as a footballer.

The ugly advance of Nazism is to the fore. The Hubermanns shelter a Jew (Max) – and Zuzak describes beautifully the prison like existence of Max living in the basement of the Hubermann house. One of the tenser scenes describes the local Nazis coming to inspect the basement for its potential use as an air raid shelter.

Dachau is nearby and marches of Jewish prisoners through the town become a regular event. And Max eventually having left the Huvbermanns (to spare them the threat), ends up in Dachau.

Hans Hubermann is an interesting character. He has resisted all invitations to join up with the Nazis – and falls out with his son. Eventually he is required to join the army and the war.

Liesel develops a close (platonic) relationship with local boy Rudi. They play football in the street, they rob fruit from orchards and generally become best of friends.

The book is narrated by Death – as he gathers up the souls. At times Death tells us what will happen – almost to underline the futility of much of what humans spend their times worrying about.

In many respects the book took me back to Anne Frank and her hidden existence in Amsterdam. I listened to the book (via audible.co.uk) – found it absorbing, well paced and, in general, I thought it provided a different and worthwhile perspective on war torn Germany (and the struggle of ordinary people). Would definitely be looking to read another Zuzak book.

[schema type=”book” url=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_Thief” name=”The Book Thief” description=”Story set in Germany during second world war.” author=”Markus Zuzak” publisher=”Picador” isbn=”978-0-375-84220-7″ ebook=”yes” paperback=”yes” ]