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As opposed to last New Year, I’m beginning 2012 relatively peacefully.  I’ll take a little laryngitis and bronchitis rather than last year’s open heart surgery anytime.  Early in my recovery I had more time to read, which was a plus since reading is one of my favorite hobbies.  While reading my e-mail a few days ago, I noticed a Medscape review of books recommended for physicians.  Included were two books I read: The Emperor of All Maladies; A Biography of Cancer (1) by Siddhartha Mukherjee and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2) by Rebecca Skloot.  I agree with Dr. Bruce Cheson who thought so much of these books he gave copies of each one to his fellows at Georgetown.  They read like historical novels, confirming that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

But after the “Must Read” list, one item caught my attention that resonated with me:  “Doctors’ Bucket List:  20 Things to Do Before You ‘Kick the Bucket’ “. The idea is derived from the movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.   I’ve practiced hematology and medical oncology for 36 ½ years after 2 years of fellowship following 4 years of internship and residency in internal medicine.  That’s 42 ½ years in medicine, almost 2/3 of my life, dealing with everyone one else’s mortality, but devoting only a small amount of energy to mine.

After surgery, my surgeon said he got me 10-15 (or was it 15-20) more years.  The implication was to make the most of it.  Next Friday is my 1 year anniversary from surgery.  So far, the cow aortic valve and the 3 coronary artery grafts are doing well.  It’s hard for me to believe, but in 1 month I will be 70 years old.  So there’s no time like the present.  Citing Caroline Adams Miller, MAPP, a certified professional coach, “The list should consist of things you plan to attempt and want to reach for so that you leave behind the imprint you wanted to have.”  It is advised to set specific goals that move you beyond your comfort zone.

I was encouraged to realize that, without actually writing anything down, I had started the list.  My wife and I are planning a trip to China for both business and pleasure.  She will practice her Tai Chi and hopes to attend a psychology conference.  I am planning to visit hospitals and clinics to educate myself in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Since we have the beginnings of an Integrated Oncology Program in our practice, future affiliation may be possible.

Speaking of reaching outside my comfort zone, blogging and podcasting were new to me 8 months ago.  I am enjoying this new technology more as I’ve gained experience with time.  Gaining knowledge in new technology certainly is exciting and keeps me young.  Same for research.

It’s now 2012.  I have places to go, things to do and people to see before I kick the bucket.  By the way:  the origin of the phrase “kick the bucket” is unclear.  One theory is that people hanged themselves by tying a noose around their necks, standing on a bucket and kicking the bucket away.

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