Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giving Thanks for Four Scores and Then Some

Thanksgiving always has been a favorite holiday and time of year for me. I relish working in the kitchen all day as my family gathers together. This year we also marked a particular milestone as my mother celebrated her 85th birthday.

My sisters and I prepared a family brunch to note the occasion. In preparation, I did some research about the major social, political and literary events that have taken place during her lifetime. Late one night I placed the information on customized place cards. So much has happened during my mother's life time. It is another reminder of the pleasure we can derive from staying healthy and active and living a long life.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations

Women have learned two lessons: schedule an annual mammogram and perform breast self exam each month in the shower. That's why women of all ages--from my daughter to my mother--became alarmed and concerned last week when The US Preventive Services Task Force recommended changes in screening for breast cancer.

Just yesterday a cousin asked me what I had heard from Johns Hopkins physicians. I was able to share a statement from Dr. Nagi Khouri, director of breast imaging, and Lillie Shockney, a breast cancer survivor and administrative director of the Avon Breast Center at Johns Hopkins. You too will be interested in reading their comments:

The Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center remains committed to caring for the screening needs of women at every age. We tailor our prevention services to each individual, and decisions on routine screening are made between patients and their physicians. The study released by the United States Preventive Services Task Force will not change current practices at Johns Hopkins. We will maintain our recommendations that routine screening for women at average risk for cancer occurs annually from 40 years of age through 80, when it can be altered at that point. We also feel it is important to continue educating women about their bodies including the normal contours of the breast to promote awareness of breast health. We believe that when women are armed with knowledge about their breasts, they are more likely to report changes to their physician. Again, please continue to schedule your mammograms annually, check your breasts, and let your physician know when changes occur.


Nagi Khouri, M.D. and Lillie Shockney, RN., BS., MAS
Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center

I have known too many women who have detected breast cancer through breast self exam and annual screening mammography. Each of them believes that these important screening tools improved their treatments outcome and, in some cases, saved their lives. I hope each of you will therefore heed the advise from Dr. Khouri and Lillie Shockney.


P.S. Listen to Johns Hopkins radiologist Dr. Nagi Khouri and breast surgeon Dr. Lisa Jacobs discuss breast imaging technologies and new management and operative strategies to improve the rate of breast preservation and cosmesis.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Aftermath....

It's been a few days since the 15th annual women's health conference, A Woman's Journey, and I must admit, I am still recovering.

More than 1,100 women attended the day long conference. I have spoken to so many women who were grateful for the opportunity to listen to Hopkins physicians. They learned much: compelling evidence about the benefits of vitamin D, strategies to alter your diet to prevent the liklihood of cancer, the difference between age-related memory loss and real dementia, common symptoms women shouldn't ignore and ......

I already have placed many of the session CD recordings in my bag. I will be listening to them for the next few weeks. If you too are interested, check out the conference website for CDs of many of the 32 seminars: hopkinsmedicine.org/awomansjourney. Let me know what you learn; we can share notes.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Someone asked me if anything has changed since Mollye Block, Harriet Legum and I began the annual Johns Hopkins Medicine women's health conference in 1995. The answer is simple: a lot.

Each year we ask thousands of women about health topics and issues that are important to them. In the 15 years since we began the day-long conference, we have seen a surge in new topics. Many of us share these concerns. In the mid-90's women were focused on the benefits and risks of hormone replacement therapy. As new research has helped to answer those questions, women increasingly have been keen to better understand heart disease--the number 1 cause of death among women. Today we are all focused on staying well; that can mean eating well, exercising, and learning more about antioxidants, vitamins and supplements.

What hasn't changed is the compelling need to learn about medical advances. I hope you will join us at this year's conference, Saturday, November 14. Johns Hopkins physicians will teach 32 classes about issues that are important to you. If you can't attend this year, be sure to check our web site and sign up for the monthly newsletter about women's health. It is a terrific way to learn about new discoveries and see how women's health has changed since 1995.


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Power of Women

October 23, 2009: Mary Elizabeth Garrett

Yesterday I had the pleasure of touring The Anne and Michael Armstrong Medical Education Building, the new home of medical student education at Johns Hopkins. The building is beautiful: a glass atrium, center staircase, digital classrooms and an advanced anatomy lab to usher in a new era of medical education. The expansive halls exhibit portraits of Hopkins Nobel prize winners, men and women who made medical history and outstanding donors of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

A life-size copy of John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Mary Elizabeth Garrett caught my eye. In the late 1800’s Ms. Garrett, a strong advocate for women and a family friend of Mr. Johns Hopkins, organized the national “Women’s Medical School Fund.” This campaign sought to raise the remaining funds necessary to open the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In the end, it was Ms. Garrett’s personal gift that achieved the campaign goal enabling the completion of the School of Medicine. The women’s gifts, however, were contingent upon a pledge that the School of Medicine would admit women and provide women the opportunity to fully participate in clinical care, academic teaching and medical research. The trustees accepted the generous gift of Ms. Garrett and others, and in 1894 the School of Medicine opened its doors with 15 men and three women in the institution’s first medical school class.

The display speaks to Ms. Garrett’s extraordinary gift as well as her personal commitment to the advancement of women. I sometimes reflect upon the satisfaction she might have had knowing about A Woman’s Journey and the Johns Hopkins’ annual women’s health conference’s dedication to educate today’s women about advances in medicine.


Monday, October 5, 2009

A Nobel Prize

Although I don’t personally know Dr. Carol Greider, this morning I awoke with a sense of pride that this Johns Hopkins scientist was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her 1984 discovery of an enzyme that is critical for our health and survival.

I am reminded that working at Johns Hopkins has afforded me the extraordinary opportunity to work with faculty members, who like Dr. Greider, make groundbreaking basic science discoveries that ultimately influence our health and wellbeing. I have learned so much from these physicians and researchers. They have furthered my understanding of medicine and science. That’s why I am so pleased that you too have an opportunity to learn from Johns Hopkins doctors.

I hope you will seize the chance to listen to 32 of these faculty members at this year’s Johns Hopkins women’s health conference, A Woman’s Journey. Hear about medical advances from pioneers in their fields. Have the opportunity to meet the physicians and ask them questions. You will learn lessons that will last a life time.

Hope to see you there,


Monday, September 14, 2009

Improve Your Health

This week I returned from vacation to find registration for A Woman's Journey's Baltimore conference on Saturday November 14, 2009 is booming! It's rewarding to know that so many women are interested in learning about the latest medical discoveries from Johns Hopkins physicians. Check out the website: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/awomansjourney to review the 32 health topics that will be discussed, from Shedding Light on Vitamin D to the Autoimmune Alert.

I hope you too will take advantage of this opportunity to improve the health of yourself and those you love.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mastering the Art of Healthy Cooking

Finally. With much anticipation, last night I saw the new movie Julia and Julie. Most people have enjoyed the movie about cooking legend Julia Child and a young women who decides to write a blog as she works her way through Julia Child's 700-page classic, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. For me, however, the movie was personal.

I began cooking with only two cook books on my kitchen shelf: Mastering the Art of French Cooking volume 1 and volume 2. As the movie illustrates, these books are as much about technique as they are recipes and butter. Years later, my copies of these classic cookbooks are well dog eared and food stained. I have cooked my way through crepes, souffles, sauces and especially tarts.

More recently I have learned to adapt many of the recipes using what Hopkins dietician Lynda McIntyre calls "power foods." Blueberries, almonds, spinach etc. are foods that provide antioxidants and help us fight disease. That's why I am particularly anxious to hear Ms. McIntyre's presentation at this year's annual Johns Hopkins Medicine women's health conference, A Woman's Journey. In planning this year's program, I learned that certain combinations of foods help maximize the benefits we can derive while eating.

I am always searching for new recipes as well as advice. On November 14 I plan to leave my wooden spoons and copper pots at home and head to the Hilton to learn how to master the art of healthy cooking.

Hope to see you there,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Tribute to a Great Lady

I haven’t written in a while; it’s been a difficult month.

My mother-in-law passed away after two years of declining health. During this time, I have thought a lot about her and her life. Thinking back, I realize that as a long-time breast cancer survivor she was an inspiration to many women. When she was afflicted with breast cancer more than 40 years ago, people didn’t speak about cancer. Certainly times have changed. Cancer prevention, early detection and treatment options are now frequent topics of discussion. We all want to be aware of the latest research findings and recommended therapies.

So, in my mother-in-law’s honor, I want to let you know about some important information that will be presented at this year’s Johns Hopkins Medicine's annual women’s health conference, A Woman’s Journey, on Saturday, November 14, 2009. Presentations by Johns Hopkins physicians will include:
· Preventing Cancer: You Are What You Eat
· Integrating Traditional Healing With Modern Medicine
· Antioxidants, Vitamins and Supplements
· Common Symptoms Women Shouldn’t Ignore
· New Advances in treating Breast Cancer
I hope you will join me at the conference. It will be in our own best interest as well as a tribute to all cancer survivors, including my mother-in-law.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gift of Life

Hopkins is full of amazing people. There is no shortage of inspiration and dedication.

Recently I learned that Pamela Paulk, vice president of Human Resources for the Johns Hopkins Health System and Hospital has chosen to donate her kidney to a fellow Hopkins employee. Surgery is now completed, and as a result of her organ donation, Pamela contributed to an eight-way kidney swap. It's not every day that someone gives the gift of life to another individual.

I have been sharing Pamela's story with others, including Saturday night when we had dinner with old friends who themselves are preparing to donate and receive a kidney transplant. Like Pamela, my friend is a glow at the thought that she can make a difference.

Pamela will share her personal story and the motivation that led her to save the lives of strangers at the Johns Hopkins Medicine women's health conference A Woman's Journey, Saturday November 14. Plan to come and hear her story. In the meantime, you can follow Pamela's blog: http://pameladonates.blogspot.com/


Friday, June 12, 2009

A Marathon, Not a Sprint

Before you run off………..

I am running (figuratively) off to the gym to meet with my personal trainer. Sometimes it is so hard to leave the office; it would be so much easier to go directly home and cook dinner. But, I am reminded of the importance of exercise. It is the single most important thing we can do for ourselves.

Dr. Kerry Stewart, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a frequent speaker at our annual women’s health conference, A Woman’s Journey, points out that resistance and cardio exercise can achieve many goals: increased bone mineral density, reduced body fat, increased lean tissue, increased muscle strength, improved glucose metabolism, improved lipid profile, increased cardiovascular endurance, decreased blood pressure and increased basal metabolism. How can I resist?

My trainer often reminds me that strength training is a marathon not a sprint. I’ll remember that tonight on my way to the gym.



Wednesday, May 27, 2009


This is an exciting and reflective time for me. My daughter is about to graduate law school and I have been thinking about the vast opportunities that are before her. While many inequities persist, as women we have boundless chances to learn and make contributions to improve society.

Years ago I felt more limited in my opportunities. My career has focused on efforts to educate other women about advances in medicine and to improve their health and wellbeing. Being well informed is paramount. If we are knowledgeable about new medical discoveries—particularly those that may have an impact on our own ailments—we can make wiser decisions about our own lifestyles and strategies to prevent and better treat disease.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine annual women’s health conference A Woman's Journey has helped thousands of women gain new knowledge and improve the health of themselves and those they love. I hope you too will seize this opportunity and join us at A Woman’s Journey, Saturday, November 14, 2009.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Tribute to Mothers

With Mother’s Day approaching this weekend, I have been thinking about occasions throughout the year that I have shared with my mother, sisters and daughter and hoping that they will continue.

Like many women, we often gather at the Johns Hopkins annual women’s health conference A Woman’s Journey to be together, attend lectures that interest each of us, and spend the rest of the weekend chatting about our new found knowledge conferning vitamins, preserving our memories or treating diseases. Aside from becoming healthier, it’s always an exhilarating day. We each go our own ways—my mother sisters and daughter attend many of the 32 seminars while I am running the conference. We convene and listen to keynote speakers at breakfast and lunch; one family among 1,000 other women.

So as Mother’s Day approaches, think about making a date with the other women in your life to attend A Woman’s Journey on November 14, 2009, share this amazing experience and join our family!


PS. Have a happy mother’s day!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Journey about Women’s Health

Sometimes the people you meet can change the course of your life. I was so fortunate 15 years ago to meet two women, Mollye Block and Harriet Legum, who infused my personal and professional life with new meaning. Mollye and Harriet had recently met; both were cancer survivors. They soon realized that they were impassioned about empowering women with health knowledge. After all, armed with information about new medical discoveries, women can pursue the best medical care for themselves and those they love.

Since then, Mollye, Harriet, a colleague named Chris White, and I have traveled a most rewarding path. We have created the block-buster Johns Hopkins Medicine’s annual women’s health conference, A Woman’s Journey. Organizing this conference has taught us a great deal about medical advances that can improve women’s health. We have been touched by so many women’s lives and have witnessed Johns Hopkins physicians changing the lives of those who attend the conference.

Through this blog, I hope to share some of the insights and information that I have gained along our own journeys as women. Sometimes, Johns Hopkins physicians will offer guest blogs to bring you medical knowledge first hand. In the meantime, visit the conference website (www.hopkinsmedicine.org/awomansjourney) to watch a short video about A Woman’s Journey, hear Mollye and Harriet speak about the conference, and stay tuned……

Leslie | awomansjourney@jhmi.edu