Friday, September 11, 2015

Game, Set, Match

I can't remember a time when I didn't play tennis. My Dad had been a competitive player and it came naturally to me. One summer, I remember being named the most improved tennis player at camp. Later, a friend and I played doubles on our high school team and then attended Syracuse where we also played doubles for the university. As a long time tennis player and fan, this week I have been spellbound by the U.S .Open. I had hoped to see it in person this year, but our plans didn't materialize. With each of Venus William's wins this week, the commentators spoke briefly about her diagnosis with Sjogren’s syndrome. Recognized as an autoimmune disorder, Sjogren's symptoms are diverse and can include multiple dental carries, chronic dry eye, painful intercourse and digestive problems. Researchers have linked many of these symptoms to an attack on the body’s exocrine glands, including salivary and sweat, but its cause remains a mystery. I have been told that even diagnosing the disease can be a challenge. “What we don’t understand is the root cause of the process,” says Johns Hopkins associate professor of otolaryngology and medicine and otolaryngologist–head and neck surgeon Jean Kim. “But what we do know is that this syndrome is excruciatingly debilitating for the patient Through working with numerous patients in Johns Hopkins’ Jerome L. Greene Sjogren’s Syndrome Center, the only clinic in the world dedicated to patients with this condition, she’s perfected a technique for biopsy of the minor salivary glands in the lower lip. The results from this biopsy provide the largest and most definitive clue available for separating Sjogren’s from other conditions with related symptoms. "Thousands of minor salivary glands line the mouth and upper airways, providing the mucus necessary for proper aerodigestive function. These glands are superficial and surrounded by a delicate lacework of nerves, necessitating an approach as noninvasive as possible into the right layer of tissue, rather than a simple wedge resection that often doesn’t produce any of the desired glands and can result in numbness of the lower lip," says Kim. With a standardized diagnostic approach Kim and other physicians at the Sjogren’s Syndrome Center, Kim can more quickly provide therapy to patients. Treating patients effectively often involves experts in rheumatology, neurology, ophthalmology, gynecology and numerous other areas. I hope that you will join us at the annual Johns Hopkins Medicine Women's health conference, A Woman's Journey, on November 14, to learn about inflammation and myositis, another autoimmune disorder. In the meantime, enjoy the remainder of the U.S. Open. Leslie

Monday, August 31, 2015

Life Is A Journey

Just last week, I was visiting a friend and saw a magnet on the frig: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The past year has been quite a journey. Like so many, I have been treated for cancer. Although I have cared for others combating the disease, nothing can prepare you for confronting your mortality and undergoing the myriad of tests, procedures, radiation, chemotherapy, clinical trials and scans. Lots of scans. Monthly, I sit in the outpatient area waiting for lab work;the number of patients is overwhelming. Some come from the city, others travel significant distances. Some have insurance and may take the profound costs associated with care for granted. Others cannot afford some medications prescribed to ease nausea or other side effects. Too many patients come alone. There is nothing normal or familiar about being diagnosed or treated for cancer. Right now, I am relieved to be resuming what was my normal routine. Being at Johns Hopkins has been a lifesaver for me. As a long-time employee I know many of the physicians, the hospital, parking lots and amenities. And, through the annual Johns Hopkins women’s health program, A Woman’s Journey, I have gained a basic understanding about of cancer, its symptoms, new treatment approaches, and long term and late effects. I think how difficult it must be for other patients who haven’t had this exposure and experience. I am pleased that among the 32 sessions taught by Johns Hopkins faculty at this year’s A Woman’s Journey are two seminars that address symptoms we can’t ignore, and precision medicine, also known as targeted therapy. As women, one in three of us are destined to have some form of cancer in our lifetime. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn about cancer as well as strategies to stay well. As for me, I hope to be there to join you. Leslie

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I believe.

I believe that we each can make a difference. We make a difference when we open a door for someone, feed the hungry and house the homeless. We make a difference when we speak kindly to another human being. We make a difference when we share our perspective. And, we certainly make a difference when we vote for people and ideals in which we believe.

I also believe we can influence the course of our health. I believe that nutrition can enhance our immune system’s ability to fight disease, that medical research can translate new and important diagnosis and treatment, and that health education provides the tools to improve your health and the health of those you love.

On this day of our national election, I urge you to cast your vote for your country and for your family. Register for A Woman's Journey on November 17. Come, learn from Johns Hopkins physicians, and make a difference in your own life.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hunker Down

Since the first threat of Hurricane Sandy, Baltimoreans and others on the east coast have been advised to prepare for the storm and “hunker down.” It is a funny sounding expression whose origin relates to women squatting in the fields to give birth.

We have come a long way, but now that the storm has passed and many are dealing with its aftermath, hunkering down is on my mind. As the 18th annual Johns Hopkins Medicine women’s health conference, A Woman’s Journey, is quickly approaching, the Woman’s Journey team and I are doing just that: hunkering down. We are preparing for the conference, registering all who call, fax and mail their registration; preparing handouts of presentations; and finalizing logistical details for the November 17, 2013 program at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel.

I have been working with Mollye Block, Harriet Legum and Chris White for many years. Each conference is characterized by new initiatives, medical advances and personal tales of adversity overcome as a result of attending the conference and speaking with Johns Hopkins physicians. This year I am particularly looking forward to our first presentation by the new Dean of the Medical Faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Paul Rothman. In his session, aptly titled The Joint Chief, Dr. Rothman will describe the causes of arthritis and innovative therapies that may reduce the pain and prevent further disease.

I hope you will join us. There is so much to learn. So many insights to stay healthy. My advice is simple: hunker down and send your registration now. 410-955-8660;


Friday, August 10, 2012

Hail to Women

As the Olympic torch was lit in London, the Johns Hopkins annual women’s health program, A Woman’s Journey, launched its on line registration for the November 17 conference in Baltimore. To us, it seemed like a fitting tribute. After all, these 2012 Summer London Olympics are being dubbed the Olympics of women. At least for the United States, earlier this week women already had garnered 23 of the 34 gold medals.

So, journey to the city of Michael Phelps and other Olympiads. Join hundreds of women eager to improve our health and stay well. Attend A Woman's Journey and participate listen to Johns Hopkins physicians teach 32 seminars. More than half of our speakers are women who are experts in their field. Come learn about Turmeric, strategies to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, vaccines, and boosting your immune system. There are 32 topics that will help us improve our health, stay well and care for our families. You can view the entire program and seminars at: We will be cheering you on.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Life's Not-So-Little Lessons

It’s hard to believe, but another Woman’s Journey conference is behind us. On Saturday, just one week following the conference, I attended a baby naming where someone remarked they heard that this year’s program was the best. After 17 years, she asked, why was November’s Woman’s Journey so special?

Most women attend our annual Johns Hopkins women’s health conference to learn about medical advances and specific diseases. This year was no different. The two keynote speakers, however, touched the hearts of the thousand women who attended the conference. They are extraordinary story tellers with powerful messages.

Sorrel King retold the devastating loss of her 18 month old daughter as a result of a medical error at The Johns Hopkins Hospital more than 10 years ago. She shared her profound grief and courageous and compassionate decision to honor her daughter's memory and create the Josie King Foundation dedicated to patient safety. Mrs. King has shared her story with thousands of health professionals and has worked with Dr. Peter Pronovost, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to reduce the U.S.’s reported 98,000 annual deaths caused by medical errors. Her story underscored the need to turn tragedy—from the loss of a child to just a bad day—into something positive that can help other human beings.

During Lunch with the Faculty, emergency medicine physician Dr. Christina Catlett told of her journey from a southern college sorority house to The Johns Hopkins Hospital Emergency Room. In this medical setting,she assembles a team of Hopkins health care providers to travel to areas, including Haiti,that have been destroyed by natural disasters. Dr. Catlett described the rampant destruction. Yet, following a subsequent professional meeting in Australia, she serendipitously found herself climbing a mountain(it was only 900 feet high). This exhilarating experience led her to acquire medical wilderness certification and pursue a new-found quest to reach summits across the globe. Her message was simple: find your passion and strive for balance within your life.

You might not be able to share the experience with other women, but I urge you to watch the conference website: for postings of video and audio excerpts from this November's extraordinary presentations. And, don’t miss next year’s speakers who undoubtedly will be just as inspirational as Sorrel King and Christina Catlett. Save the date now for next year’s conference: Saturday, November 17, 2012.


Friday, September 23, 2011


If you are a tennis fan like me, perhaps earlier this month you too watched the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament. The tennis was terrific despite all the weather delays, which spawned a lot of commentary.

I was disheartened to learn from the court-side commentators that two of the top female tennis players had been diagnosed with autoimmune disorders: one with Lyme’s disease and the other with Sjogren’s disease. It reminded me of a book I read several years ago about autoimmune disorders. More than 100 diagnoses—from arthritis to Hashimoto’s disease—are now classified as autoimmune disorders. And, unfortunately for many of us, autoimmune diseases occur three times more frequently in women than in men.

The question is, why are these disorders are so prevalent among women? Researchers are just learning about this and other characteristics unique to women health. Dr. Sabra Klein, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has devoted her research to understanding how males and females differ in their immune responses to viral infection. She hypothesizes that hormones are critical signals for immune responses to viruses. Dr. Klein’s research indicates that females produce much higher immune responses than males, which can be beneficial for overcoming of viruses, but also can make females more likely to develop autoimmune and even inflammatory diseases, like asthma. Perhaps, she suggests, this may be one reason why autoimmune disorders so significantly impact women. Many questions remain unanswered.

Fortunately for us, Dr. Sabra Klein is one of the 32 faculty speaking at this year’s Johns Hopkins annual women’s health conference A Woman’s Journey. I hope you will join us and listen to Dr. Klein. Her presentation might help us understand why Sjogren’s and Lyme’s disease affect so many women, including some very well-known female tennis players.