Alabama physician gets a second chance at life | al.com
Alabama physician gets a second chance at life Posted Gallery: Tommy Rosenstiel’s second chance Comment By Michelle Matthews | firstname.lastname@example.org When Tommy Rosenstiel learned he had nasopharyngeal cancer, he was a beloved OB/GYN in Tuscaloosa, happily married with two children, ages 4 and 6. The cancer treatment that saved his life abruptly ended his career because it reduced sensation in his hands. He was forced to give up his practice. But Tommy, now 54 and a full-time artist, is “amazed every day” at his wonderful life. “I’m so proud to be alive,” he says. “I’m short and chubby, and it doesn’t bother me. If that’s all I have to complain about, how lucky am I?” Seven years after their dad was diagnosed with cancer, his kids can’t remember the time when he was a doctor – which makes him realize that, if he hadn’t survived, they wouldn’t remember him today. He has spent those years making sure they’ll never forget him. He’s been given “a re-do, a life mulligan,” he says – an opportunity to turn life’s lemons into one giant pitcher of lemonade. Self-effacing and funny, it’s not surprising that Tommy chooses a golf term to describe his second chance. He jokes that he’s usually known as “Susan’s husband.” His wife, Susan Rosenstiel, a former collegiate player herself, is the assistant coach for the women’s golf team at the University of Alabama. When asked to share his inspiring story, Tommy says he doesn’t know that his story is particularly interesting. Judge for yourself. Out of the mouths of babes Tommy grew up in Mobile in a large family of six siblings. He went to Sewanee, The University of the South, then transferred to UAB, where he also went to medical school. While he was an OB/GYN resident physician in Memphis, he had an opportunity to participate in an elective, giving him a chance to study something he was interested in. He spent three months working in the south-central African country of Malawi, where he was on a mission to help women with a very specific problem usually caused by birth trauma. “Women are devastated” as a result of bladder leakage, he says, and often they are shunned. Working at the bush hospital there was “one of the greatest experiences in my life,” he says. Having played soccer in college, he enjoyed playing on a team in his village. “They offered me three wives if I’d stay,” he says, laughing. He didn’t stay, but he returned 18 months later for another elective. That’s when “things went south” in Malawi, he says: civil war broke out, and Tommy contracted mononucleosis, which, he explains, in Southeast Asia and Africa, can lead to certain types of cancer. After escaping Africa to France, he made his way back to the United States. After finishing his residency, he met Susan, “a miracle of a woman who agreed to marry me.” The following year, he went into private practice in Tuscaloosa with a friend from medical school. Susan was hired at the university the week they moved in 2003. Susan, who was named National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010, is “a superstar in her field,” her husband says. “The only thing I’ve done close to her level is capturing her in matrimony.” Their life couldn’t have been much better. He was in his 16th year of private practice, and the couple had two children, Henry and Elizabeth. That’s when Tommy noticed a swollen spot in his neck. He immediately consulted his brother, Dr. David Rosenstiel, an ENT specialist in Tuscaloosa, who ordered a CT scan. The spot was a lymph node with a necrotic center. David immediately scheduled a biopsy for the next day. “I’m pretty sure that saved my life,” says Tommy. In November of 2011, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer – one of the cancers causes by the mono virus he’d contracted during his second trip to Africa. Tommy and Susan sat down with their young children and tried to explain what he was about to go through, and how his body would change from the treatment. Though Henry was only in first grade at the time, he understood, Tommy says. “He said, ‘Dad, I want you to know it doesn’t matter how you look as long as you’re with us. As long as we’re together as a family, it doesn’t matter.’” ‘Obnoxiously happy’ Tommy’s treatment was “really brutal,” he says, consisting of six months of chemotherapy and 25 radiation treatments. He got down to 110 pounds and was so weak, he couldn’t get up by himself. When he started physical therapy, he could barely lift a 7-pound dumbbell. Still, he says, “I knew if I could survive, I’d land on my feet.” When Tommy and Susan had first moved to Tuscaloosa, he’d started painting as a hobby. He took a few classes and workshops, and he would paint in the basement on Saturday mornings starting around 4 a.m., until he heard his children’s little feet hit the floor above him around 8. For a couple of years, as he underwent treatment, he was too weak to paint. Finally, as he regained his strength, he realized he wasn’t going to be able to go back to work as a doctor because of neuropathy in his hands and feet – but he could paint. And the more he painted, the better he became. Tommy realized he could still serve the community. “Life has changed dramatically,” he says, “so my identity has changed, in a way.” He now paints full-time and teaches painting and drawing to adult students. Last year, he pursued a state grant to create a show, “Portraits of Service,” which consisted of portraits of volunteers who are making a difference by giving their time to others. He jokes that he’s not as smart as he used to be, but he’s using a different part of his brain in his new career. As a surgeon, he was focused on results. With painting, it’s “a totally different mindset,” he says. “If you’re thinking about results when you paint, you’re using the wrong part of your brain,” he says. “You must be completely absorbed by the process. It’s a real challenge for me to step away from results and think about the process.” A few years ago, his high school friend Wanda Sullivan, now an art professor and director of the Eichold Gallery at Spring Hill College in Mobile, invited him to participate in a group show after finding him on Facebook. When they reconnected, “We hit it off because of art,” she says. “I kept saying, ‘I can’t believe you had this in you all along.’” Tommy’s work includes landscapes, still life and portraiture. “It would have taken anyone else decades to be as proficient technically,” says Wanda. “He’s remarkable.” Art has given him purpose, but he says the key to surviving any dramatic change is “curiosity, interest and persistence.” Talent, he says, is “having enough interest and passion to do something until you get good at it. I loved painting even when I sucked at it. What allows you to hit the ground running when faced with any kind of hardship? Interest and enthusiasm.” Tommy describes himself as “obnoxiously happy” these days. “I told myself if I could survive the disease and the treatment, I’d be most obnoxiously happy.” The only health issues he has are “related to age and genetics,” he says. His relatively new career as an artist gave him the opportunity to take “a much more active role in parenting” – to the point that his children started asking him when he was going back to work. “I’m all up in their business,” he jokes. Henry and Elizabeth, now 12 and 13, are “smart, kind and have a sense of humor,” he says. “It was a scary time, but it turned out to be an opportunity to spend a monster amount of time with my kids,” he says. “They’re really my best work.” View Comments
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Huff Post Tries To Lecture People About The ‘Serious’ Problems Of ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’
HuffPost Tries To Lecture People About The ‘Serious’ Problems Of ‘Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ 12:18 PM 11/30/2018 | Entertainment David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief A Huffington Post tweet castigating the Christmas television classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” seemed to backfire as many readers wondered if the news outlet was kidding or just crazy.
The liberal media outlet lamented the “serious problems” with the story that was entirely based on a Christmas song from the 1940s by Johnny Marks. Many Twitter users, like the one below, wondered if the HuffPost had completely lost its sense of reality.
Is this A-grade trolling by @HuffPost or are they literally so thick that they have misunderstood *the entire point* of the story of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer? https://t.co/T9elRCfTcl
— Ben Guerin (@bjhguerin) November 30, 2018
The tweet was also the subject of a dialogue between Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Dave Rubin on “ Tucker Carlson Tonight .”
Watch the latest video at foxnews.com Carlson said when he first saw the HuffPost tweet, he thought he had fallen “for an elaborate, ironic prank,” but then he realized, “no, they don’t have a sense of humor.” (RELATED: Whoopi Goldberg Blasts Those Slamming ‘Rudolph’ Movie For Bullying Message: ‘Don’t They Know The Song?”)
Tucker Carlson and Dave Rubin discuss “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Nov. 29, 2018. Fox News screenshot.
Rubin, the host of YouTube’s “The Rubin Report” told Carlson that “it’s so much easier to destroy than create … If you are watching ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ and you think it’s about racism and misogyny and patriarchy and the rest of it — you can find that stuff everywhere.”
The HuffPost took issue with a Santa Claus that was “seriously in need of diversity [and] inclusion training.” (RELATED: Kristen Bell Thinks Nonconsensual ‘Snow White’ Kiss Is ‘Weird’)
Christmas classic feature “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Universal Television. Fox News screenshot, Nov. 29, 2018.
That kind of talk comes as no surprise to Rubin who said, “it’s not like they stop at one thing … Think of something you love that brings you a sense of peace and decency and they will somehow link it to the patriarchy and the rest of their politically correct nonsense.”
Christmas has been the target of political progressives for years. A Canadian author even produced a politically correct version of “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas” that excises all references to smoking.
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