How to Save a Life
Susan Van Dyke, M.D. on how everyone can play a part in the fight to cure Diabetes
Cosmetic Dermatology is one of those rare medical specialties where no lives are saved (and none lost I might add). Sometimes I wonder, am I a real doctor anymore? I put in four years for an undergraduate degree (Molecular Biology, Wellesley), four years at medical school (University of Medicine and Dermatology of New Jersey), two years of Internal Medicine (Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco; St Joseph’s Medical Center, Phx) and three years of Dermatology (Ohio State University Medical Center; University of Arizona Medical Center). Just looking back at my life from age 17 to 30 is making me tired, but then again, I am 57 so maybe I am supposed to be tired! Back to the point at hand – yes, I am a real doctor (MD, board certified dermatologist, licensed physician).
As I look back at my career choices, I find fulfillment in making impactful changes for people, but I also ask myself the question, “How can I save a life?” The practice (Van Dyke Laser & Skin) has raised money for various charities (Susan G. Komen, American Heart Association), donated copious amounts of silent auction items and walked and ran for a number of great causes. My incredible staff has always contributed as well, giving freely of their time and talent to support our community. Even still, I wasn’t feeling the life-saving connection that so many doctors feel in their work.
All this changed two years ago when I found my connection. It was my son Brian. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the ripe old age of 21. Overnight, things changed in Brian’s life. No longer could he casually grab a bite to eat. Life became a constant math equation – converting food and exercise into units of insulin. One mistake will ruin his day, a lot of mistakes over time and he risks losing his vision, kidneys or feet. One big mistake and he loses his life.
Not fair, not right. Damn the genetics and whims of nature that killed the cells in his pancreas and forever removed his ability metabolize food energy like everyone else. No, he is not fat or sedentary and diet and exercise will not help him. He is what the medical industry used to refer to as a “juvenile diabetic,” afflicted with an autoimmune disease very different from the more common life style disease called Type 2.
When he was diagnosed, I told him that his job was to take care of his body until a cure was found. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is where the cure will come from. The artificial pancreas is well on its way to being the godsend that we need, and JDRF continues to be instrumental in raising funds to make this a reality.
Both myself and my practice are passionate and proud to help the cause. We will hold a silent auction at our April 14th Open House and offer up all of the cosmetic procedures that we offer to the highest bidders. Our goal is to raise $20,000 for JDRF. If you are able, set aside some time for fun, food, music, information, bargains, and educational lectures on everything that Van Dyke Laser & Skin does. Place a bid on any procedure, and together we can save some lives.