Monday's Blog - MLK, Novak, Chrissie, Omicron, and MORE....

It's MLK day, and I realize that many of you are enjoying a long weekend in his honor. Hopefully you're not in quarantine or isolation because of Covid.

But if you are in isolation, I hope your symptoms are mild and maybe you can take solace in knowing that with Omicron, it's more of a question of "when" you'll get it, as opposed to "if." The daily case numbers are insanely high, with some days seeing numbers 5-6 times higher than what we saw with other surges.

Fortunately, the local hospitals are hanging in there, for now, and businesses and schools remain open. The Delta variant is still out there and some patients are having a tough course battling Covid, but overall, the impacts of this surge seem more mild so far.

It's hard for me to say whether Omicron is really a much weaker strain of Covid, or whether patients are faring better because of a combination of the vaccines and prior immunity/exposures.

Regardless, the situation does not seem dire. And even Australia, which is likewise experiencing a surge despite very austere Covid policies, is set proceed with the Australian Tennis Open, but without Novak Djokovic, who was forced to leave the country yesterday for falsifying his entry requirement forms.

The story is crazy! I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around how he thought he could get away with it?

Speaking of tennis, another tennis great, Chris Evert, announced last week that she has ovarian cancer, a disease that took the life of her younger sister a couple of years ago. Fortunately, the reports suggest that Chris Evert's cancer was detected early. Ovarian cancer is particularly sinister because the symptoms often do not present until the disease has progressed to advanced stages.

For this reason, it's important to take ownership of your body, and pay attention to changes in your health, even subtle ones. With regards to ovarian cancer, such changes or signs could be abdominal pain. Ovarian cancer can be a genetic cancer, linked to breast cancer as well.

The genetic mutation is the BRCA gene. Many women with the genetic mutations will heroically elect to undergo prophylactic mastectomies and/or hysterectomies and one of the more rewarding and humbling parts of being a plastic surgeon has been helping women through their reconstructive journey after mastectomy surgery. Last week I also experienced something humbling. (Bear with me, as I'll be getting back to the ovarian cancer topic!) It happened to be my birthday on Thursday.

A few days before my birthday, something popped up on my phone from Facebook (or Meta?) about creating a fundraiser in honor of my birthday. "What the heck", I said to myself, and I created one for the ALS foundation.

Many of you know that my husband has been battling ALS, and the disease has ravaged his body. I am often asked how I am "doing" or "managing" everything. To steal a phrase from Hillary Clinton, it "takes a village," and my "village" of family and friends have been an incredible network of support over the last 3 years. My village also includes my Dartmouth classmates.

My college experience at Dartmouth was pretty magical and the bonds of friendship have withstood the test of time. Proof in point...when the Facebook ALS fundraiser went live, one of the contributors was Rosy Hong, my Dartmouth classmate.

What makes Rosy's donation even more special is that she was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer and has just begun chemo treatments.

So not only do I want to thank all of those who participated in my ALS fundraiser, I want to pay tribute to Rosy, Chris Evert, and the many other women who are battling ovarian and breast cancer. In fact, here's a link to some cool t-shirts in support of Rosy:

So, my take home messages for the week are to take ownership of your health and to treasure your friends. My song for the day is an old REM classic:

While the song has been described as depressing, I chose it for its message "take comfort in your friends," especially during these difficult times. With Covid (and the mental health strains caused by Covid), inflation issues and supply chain woes, pressures on everyday people are mounting.

A friend of mine owns a bike shop and received his first shipment of bikes in 1.5 years on Friday; it's amazing he has been able to stay afloat. I hope I can give a little inspiration with this blog as we muddle through.

But just in case you still need another pick me up, we are offering our gift card special for MLK Day! And don't forget the Coolsculpt/Botox event on Thursday! All the best and have a great week. Dr. Heidi Williams

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