Danielle Lee: 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?
Ali Kasraeian: I am great. It’s wonderful to be here on The Conversation. It’s always a fun time. It’s you know, probably one of my favorite parts of the week.
Danielle Lee: Mine too. I love these Saturdays.
Ali Kasraeian: For me actually, it’s very fun. It’s a lot of homework and my family thinks I’m nuts sometimes because 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. 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 a intern when I was a fourth or yeah, fourth year extern in medical school. He ended up being a gastroenterologist.
That was a long, long, long time ago at the University of Florida and we’re both here in Jacksonville. Now we’re adults living our life here in Jacksonville as physicians. Today we’re going to 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, and so we’re going to talk about the details of that study, so Vik, thank you for joining us as always.
VIkram Gopal: Thank you, Ali.
Ali 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.
Ali Kasraeian: I keep trying, but you’re very busy.
VIkram Gopal: I am. The family as you remember, you were on OBGYN rotation in 2003 and I think you were a budding OBGYN at that time, but I think your family calling and being a urologist just drew you in.
Ali Kasraeian: I must say, I was never trying to be a GY and that was least favorite rotation in all of medical school. I must admit, it was not for me. I went to school actually interestingly to be a pediatric surgeon and so for us in our third year clerkship in medical school it was a lottery system. When I first started medical school my first year, second year, all those years that you had to kind of mentor someone, there was a guy named Dan Ledbetter and then another couple of pediatric surgeons through the years helped me kind of get really, really interested in pediatric surgery.
Dr. Ledbetter was just my mentor through early medical school. 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. At that time it was a gentleman named Ted Copeland who was a world renowned now retired breast cancer surgeon. He was innovative, kind of pioneering breast surgeon through his career, was President of the American College of Surgeons, all those type of things.
So you needed that letter to become or 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 want it in the future to get that fellowship. I somehow got urology. My dad’s a urologist and for years I’d be like, “Why of all the things you could have possibly chosen you picked this?”
I loved it. It was great and through my fourth year I did some general surgery electives, I 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 in those footsteps, but he plays in poop and I play in human poop.
Ali Kasraeian: That’s true. I must say, one thing that’s near and dear to both of our hearts is family. We talk about through the years that a lot and we share that in common. I know your sister, we actually were in medical school together. You recently lost your father, which was a big, big hit to our city and anyone that knows you. That hit all of us and I know I’ve inundated your voicemail with long … I’d be leaving these messages and as I’m leaving them I’m like, “I’m already at my destination. This poor guy’s probably wondering I’ve lost my mind.”
I want to say from everyone in my family and everyone in the city, it’s such a deep loss and I know that that is something that anyone in our generation it’s something that we begin to think about.
VIkram Gopal: Thank you.
Ali Kasraeian: Your father meant a lot to everyone in the city and his story, if anyone has the chance to read his story, for those of us who 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.
Ali Kasraeian: You know? Those opportunities are created by the opportunities this country affords, so we have to keep that in mind because Vik, you contribute to this community beyond a lot of people. You do great things here. I try to. So when we look at the things going on in the world today we have to keep that in mind because I think my parents tried to contribute to the community.
I think you and your family historically have tried the community and we as their children try to make sure that we make their legacy proud. I think we have big shoes to fill and we stand on the shoulder of giants. I think we fall short not because we do badly, but because they did so great.
VIkram Gopal: It’s true.
Ali Kasraeian: You know?
VIkram Gopal: You look at the foolishness going on Charlottesville, Virginia today and you think about how this country was founded. My parents were first generation, actually immigrants to this country and not born here, and that foundation of being a landed immigrants should be continued for future generations and the value of why this country is so great.
Ali Kasraeian: Again, I hope the healing process is one that is a celebratory one and I know is difficult, but we love you dearly. I hope you know that.
VIkram Gopal: Thank you.
Ali Kasraeian: I’m sorry about filling up your voice messages with stories that probably took too long to tell.
VIkram Gopal: This is the first time I’ve ever experienced such grief and loss, someone close to me, and as a physician you declare 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. For 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. These are the times when you don’t want to shut away from reaching out and saying, “Are you okay? I’m thinking about you.” Thank you, Ali for doing that.
Ali Kasraeian: I appreciate. One question I’ve never had the opportunity to ask anyone because it never comes up and is a strange question. In the world that we live in with technology, and I know we are tangentlizing so far away from the topic of this show, but that’s what a conversation is.
VIkram Gopal: It’s a conversation.
Ali Kasraeian: 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, you’ve got texting, you’ve got Twitter, you’ve got email and 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 know you reach out, you’re thinking. The phone call takes effort. 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: 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. You’re not thinking about feeding yourself. 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, because you don’t think about taking care of yourself at that moment.
Ali Kasraeian: Yeah. It’s interesting how the full circle of how our communication is changing is very profound. It’s interesting, our world is moving in different ways. 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. Obviously Vik and I are both biased because we are here because 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 …