Speaker 1: Good evening, Jacksonville, and happy Saturday. I’m Danielle Lee, and welcome to The Conversation with Dr. Ali Kasraeian. You, too can join the conversation. Just give us a call, 340-1045. Dr. Ali, how are you today?
Dr. Kasraeian: I am great. It’s wonderful to be here on The Conversation. it’s always a fun time. it’s probably one of my favorite parts of the week.
Speaker 1: Mine too. I love these Saturdays.
Dr. Kasraeian: For me, actually, it’s very fun, and it’s a lot of homework. And my family thinks I’m nuts sometimes, ’cause it’s like being back in medical school. I think I’m on my 17th notebook, and I still write everything out, which people who type notes think I’m insane for doing that, but actually writing things out makes me remember them. And today is a great fun day for me, because a dear friend of mine for a long, long, long time is here, Dr. Vikram Gopal who’s a gastroenterologist at Borland Groover. And he was an intern when I was a fourth-year extern in medical school, and he ended up being a gastroenterologist, and that was a long, long, long time ago at the University of Florida, and we’re both here in Jacksonville, and now we’re adults, living our life here in Jacksonville as physicians. And today we’re gonna be talking about an interesting study that came out in the Journal of the American Medical Association, talking about a very specific increase in the incidence of colorectal cancer in younger people in the United States. So we’re gonna talk about the details of that study, so Vik, thank you for joining us, as always.
Vikram Gopal: Thank you, Ali.
Dr. Kasraeian: It’s been a while since you’ve been on the show.
Vikram Gopal: It’s been a very long time, and I’m glad to be invited back.
Dr. Kasraeian: I keep trying, but you’re very busy.
Vikram Gopal: I am. You know, the family, as you remember, you were on OBGYN rotation then, in 2003, and I think you were a budding OBGYN at that time, but I think your family calling of being a urologist drew you in.
Dr. Kasraeian: I must say, I was never trying to be a GYN. That was my least favorite rotation in all of medial school. I must admit that it was not for me. I went to school, actually, interestingly, to be a pediatric surgeon. And I did, so for us in our third year clerkship in medical school, there was a lottery system. So when I first started medical school, my first year, second year, all those years that you have to kind of mentor someone, it was a guy named
Dan [Ledbetter 00:02:30], and then another couple pediatric surgeons, through the years, helped me kind of get really, really interested in pediatric surgery, and Dr. Ledbetter was just my mentor through early medical school. And I loved it.
And so your third year you had to set up a lottery system of what you wanted, and so to do residency, you have to get the chairman’s letter of recommendation, and that time it was a gentleman named Ted Copeland, who is a world-renowned, now-retired breast cancer surgeon. He was an innovative, kind of pioneering breast surgeon throughout his career, was a president of the American College of Surgeons, all those type of thing. So you needed that letter to have the possibility of getting a residency. So I opted for that as one of my lottery choices. The other one was for pediatric surgery, because obviously they needed to see you so that they could write you a letter to apply for that possibility, if you ever wanted in the future to get that fellowship.
I somehow got urology, and my dad’s a urologist, and for years I’d be like, “Why of all the things you could’ve possibly chosen, picked this?” And I loved it. It was great. And through my fourth year I did some general surgery electives, did some urology electives, and here we are. I’m a urologist, of all things.
Vikram Gopal: Yeah. It was your legacy. My father was a veterinarian. I didn’t follow those footsteps, but he plays in poop and I play in human poop. So a different …
Dr. Kasraeian: And I must say, one thing that’s near and ear to both of our hearts is family. We talked about, through the years, that a lot. And we share that in common. And I know your sister, we actually were in medical school together. And you recently lost your father, which was a big, big hit to our city, and anyone that knows you, and that hit all of us. And I know I’ve inundated your voicemail, I’ve been leaving these messages, and as I’m leaving them I’m like, “I’m already at my destination. This poor guy is probably wondering if I’ve lost my mind.” So I want to say from everyone in my family, and everyone in the city, it’s such a deep loss, and I know that is something that anyone in our generation, it’s something that we begin to think about.
Vikram Gopal: Thank you.
Dr. Kasraeian: And your father meant a lot to everyone in this city, and his story, if anyone has a chance to read his story, for those of us that are first-generation Americans here, who have had some success, we build those successes on the shoulder of our parents, who came here with opportunities that they created.
Vikram Gopal: So true.
Dr. Kasraeian: And those opportunities were created by the opportunities this country affords. So we have to kep that in mind, because Vik, you contribute to this community beyond a lot of people. I mean, you do great things here. I try to. And so when we look at the things that are going on in the world today, we have to keep that in mind. Because I think my parents try to contribute to the community, I think you and your family, historically, have tried to contribute to the community, and we as their children try to make sure that we make their legacy proud. And I think we have big shoes to fill, and we stand on the shoulders of giants, and I think we fall short not because we do badly but because they did so great.
Vikram Gopal: That’s true. If you look at the foolishness going on in Charlottesville, Virginia today, and you think about how this country was founded, my parents were immigrants to this country, and not born here, and that foundation of being a land of immigrants should be continued for future generations, and the value of why this country is so great.
Dr. Kasraeian: And again, I hope the healing process is one that is a celebratory one, and I know it’s difficult, but we love you dearly, I hope you know that-
Vikram Gopal: Thank you.
Dr. Kasraeian: … and I’m sorry about filling up your voice messages with stories that probably took [crosstalk 00:06:32]
Vikram Gopal: And this is the first time I’ve ever experienced such grief and loss, someone close to me. And as a physician, you’ve declared people dead, you’ve seen death, you’ve consoled family members of loved ones that have died. But to have someone in your inner circle die, is really devastating. And to have people reach out, just like you did, even though I could not take that phone conversation, to listen to that voicemail, to know that you’re reaching out to someone in need, is very special. You may not understand it at that moment, when you’re making that long, awkward voicemail, but it really does mean a lot. And these are the times when you don’t want to shy away from reaching out and saying, “Are you okay? I’m thinking about you.” And thank you, Ali, for doing that.
Dr. Kasraeian: Oh, I appreciate it. One question I’ve never had the opportunity to ask anyone, because it never comes up, and it’s a strange question. In the world that we live in, with technology, and I know we’re tangentializing so far away from the topic of this show …
Vikram Gopal: But that’s what a conversation is. It’s a conversation.
Dr. Kasraeian: Yeah, it’s a conversation. In a world where we are just inundated with amazing technology that allows us to communicate in such, such diverse ways: so you’ve got texting, you’ve got Twitter, you’ve got email, you have social media, and social media, you can send a wall message, you can send an email, you can send a picture. When you get a text, versus a phone call, versus a voicemail, versus that, in a situation like this, what are the differences in terms of the impact of that? Which is a very strange thing. For me, it seems like nowadays, the text is a … You reach out and you’re thinking, the phone call takes effort, you know, it’s almost like what a letter used to be, versus the phone call was the lazy way to do things. And an email takes more effort than a text, you know?
Vikram Gopal: And I think you … I appreciate the phone call. I wish I could answer every phone call. When my father died, my mother’s home phone and her cell phone continued to go off, and she would answer every single one. I think that was part of the healing process. But as anyone in grief, you sometimes want to isolate yourself. So a text is nice, that they’re thinking of you, but a phone call means a lot. I think a handwritten message or note is even more substantial. Flowers mean a lot, cards, but I think in this type of loss, a few family members and even friends sent food to the house. I think that in itself is the most important. It’s substance, it’s nutrition, it is water, it’s hydration, it’s … You’re not thinking about feeding yourself, and even if it doesn’t take that text message, but just that simple thought of providing some type of substance to you means a lot at that moment. ‘Cause you don’t think about taking care of yourself at that moment.
Dr. Kasraeian: Yeah, so it’s interesting how the full circle of how our communication is changing, it is very profound. And it’s interesting, our world is moving in different ways, and then I guess one way to bring it back to things is, as our world is changing, be mindful that the stories have depth beyond what the superficial headline is, and obviously Vik and I are both biased, because we are here because of the opportunities that this country afforded our parents, so as our country’s history moves forward in this critical time, I urge everyone to be mind-