Thursday, January 8, 2009

One-Trick Pony

Every once in a while, I get interviewed. Yesterday, it happened once again.

About noon on Wednesday, just as I was finishing seeing patients in clinic, I received a call that a local TV station wanted a doctor to talk about the dangers of cancer patients continuing to smoke.

"Why are they interested in that right now?" I wanted to know.

"Patrick Swayze is being interviewed by Barbara Walters tonight on ABC. He is still smoking and has no intention of giving it up. Can you talk to them?"

"Sure," I said. We made arrangements. A couple of hours later, I spent 10 minutes talking about several aspects of the problem: How patients who quit have better survival statistics, how quitting decreases rates of second primary tumors, how quitting saves money, how quitting improves quality of life, how reassuring quitting can be to family and friends. It was a nice discussion. As ususal, only about 10 seconds of the conversation made it on the air.

I reflected on the experience. First of all, the process of giving an interview is fun. I enjoy the chance to appear on TV in the same way I enjoy the blog: it gives me the opportunity to reflect on what I see every day and distill my thoughts into a few words.

On the other hand, I realized that every time I have been on TV or get quoted in the paper, I become the dreary voice of authority: Smoking is Bad. Cancer is Bad. Research is Good. Snuff is Dangerous. Cigars are Not A Safe Alternative.

Not the stuff of comedy, irony, or light conversation.

I still got a kick out of seeing myself on TV last night and am amazed how many people spotted my brief moment on the air. Someday, though, it would be fun to talk about something a little less - say - predictable.

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