DR. HOOK- Celebrity teachers: What I learned from the stars this year

Barbra Streisand sang, "Memories, like the corners of my mind..." in the movie The Way We Were. And then she puts her hand on Robert Redford's face to say goodbye. Okay, I'm all verklempt. 

Can we talk? What in the world was she thinking? You don't say goodbye to Robert Redford. You cling, and plead, and hold onto the man 'cause life ain't gonna get any better than that! Would Barbra do it differently if she had another chance?

Is there a lesson to be learned from past mistakes? This now-turned-middle-aged doctor learned many interesting lessons this year. One thing I'm still learning is that people really don't change. Medical information, medications, insurance policies, and medical/legal issues change all the time, but, overall, most people don't change. It's like Robert Downey Jr. He keeps going to drug rehab, comes clean, and then ends up in rehab again. It's so Kate Moss!

Rosanne Barr and Oprah Winfrey have shown us that for some people, losing weight is like a checking account. After enough withdrawals, they end up making more deposits. (Fear of bouncing a check? Maybe they should diversify their investments.)

Rosanne said overweight people cannot resist falling for the latest weight-loss fad. She will buy anything or take anything to make her lose weight– but she won't exercise. (Hmm, maybe I should sell CDs of my singing and advertise that listening to them will make people lose weight. I'd be as famous as Bono– and rich!)

I do have some patients who work very hard at exercise, exercise, exercise; and they have lost weight and kept it off. Kudos!

Robin Williams again went into alcohol rehab. We Americans do love our booze. Most people will give up their spouse and dog before giving up their fire water. Hey, we know how to say "Cheers" in almost every language. It's the way many of us celebrate special events and enjoy our meals. Alcohol in moderation is good for the heart, but I know some people who drink enough to keep their hearts pumping for the next 200 years— not!

Sheryl Crow bravely discussed her battle with breast cancer this year. Despite all the awareness campaigns on breast cancer, it's amazing how many women don't have mammograms. The response I get often is, "How would you like to have your testicles smashed in an imaging machine?" My response (besides: "Will it make me a better tenor?") is that mammograms save lives.

Magic Johnson announced 15 years ago that he is HIV positive.  Everyday 13,000 people around the world contract HIV– that's the number of fans at a typical basketball game. In my experience, single gay men practice safe sex more than single straight women and men—even though 80 percent of all HIV cases are straight people. I say, "No Glove, No Love." (Do I sound like Austin Powers?)

Michael Jackson moved to Saudi Arabia— can you say major sunburn? I don't think the biggest umbrella can save the fallen man-made albino from melanoma. One person dies every hour from melanoma. I think more people are using sunscreen, but unfortunately some of them put it on between tanning sessions. That's kind of like drinking alcohol between AA meetings. 

John Forsythe was diagnosed with colon cancer this year. Patients tell me the colonoscopy is not bad at all since they are in la-la land under conscious sedation. It's the preparation for the procedure they object to. In LA, they clean out their colons every full moon, so really it's all a matter of perspective.  

Actually, I think a lot of people do vow to change their lives and stick with their pledge. It just takes a lot of encouragement, love, understanding, and nagging. Get busy!

Happy Holiday!