Friday, June 22, 2012

Book Recommendation: The End of Illness

Being a bookworm and an attorney often go hand in hand.  Adolescents who love reading often take an academic path laden with words. That was me.  As a child books were my dearest possessions.  College, grad school and finally law school brought me endless texts to read.  Even though the years of tuition and exams have ended, my love of reading remains.

Something about the combination of my focus area (estate planning and probate), my parents poor health, and the fact I'm the parent of two young children results in many of the books on my bedside table being about health.  So when I read a short review of The End of Illness by David B. Agus, MD in my USC Alumni magazine, I requested a copy from the library.  Apparently many others had too because it was months before I got an email saying it was available.

Once I picked it up I couldn't put it town.  It offers serious science, public policy, and action points, making it one of the most powerful books I've ever read.  The topics are too numerous for me to cover in one post.  And the book so compelling, I purchased a copy for my collection.  I've been recommending it to everyone, including the women who cleaned my teeth last week.  Here are two of the major points I took from the book:

  1. Evolution does not care about us much once we reach our 40s and beyond -- our child bearing years are behind us.  Rates of cancer and other age related illnesses increase steadily;
  2. Health care reform begins with the individual; and
  3. Prevention is key.  Once a disease settles in, management of it is likely the primary path you'll be on.
Evolution doesn't care about me once I'm in my 40s?  I'll be 39 this fall, and I have little kids.  Really little kids.  They will turn 4 and 2 later this summer.  Screw evolution, my kids need their Mama, and their Mama wants many, many years raising kids.  Prevention is the key -- that sounds reasonable.  Moreover, I can take action.  

With Agus' words echoing in my head I opted to bike to my office one day last week.  My last meeting of the night was short, and I found myself home earlier than expected.  Even though I had biked to work, I opted to take a short run as well before taking the parenting reins from my husband.   I've seen one too many probates in which a person younger than me has lost a battle with cancer.   Exercise may help me keep that battle at bay, and so I ran.

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