If it’s to be, it’s up to me!

Have you ever been frustrated by a situation and had the thought “I wish someone would do something about that”? And then realized that maybe that someone might be you?

Dr. David Fajgenbaum, MD, MBA had that experience on his deathbed and responded in an extraordinary way that not only saved his life but is helping thousands around the world. Stricken in the middle of medical school with idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease (iMCD), he has almost died 5 times. Nothing his doctors tried was working, and no one was doing any research for a cure, so he decided he had to step up. After many failed treatments, he discovered that a re-purposed drug kept his symptoms at bay. In 2012, he co-founded and directs the international Castleman Disease Collaborative Network (CDCN) while still researching how to save his own life. He completed an MBA program so he would have the skills to manage this innovative project that is changing the way medical research is done for other ‘orphan diseases’ (rare ones that don’t receive much research or funding attention) in addition to iMCD.

Currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Founding Director of the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory (CSTL), Associate Director of the Penn Orphan Disease Center, he shares his healing journey in his book Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action. In 2020, when he realized that COVID provoked an inflammatory response similar to Castleman’s, he created the CORONA Project to compile the largest database (400+) of re-purposed drugs already being used for treating COVID.

Dr. Fagjenbaum learned that “hope cannot be a passive concept. It’s a choice and a force; hoping for something takes more than casting out a wish to the universe and waiting for it to occur. Hope should inspire action.” He would most likely not be alive if he had not taken action. There is a Hope Score quiz available on his website so you can assess your own level of hope and wait vs. hope and take action.

Most of us may not have the opportunity or the skills to make the kind of impact he is, but the next time you have the desire for something in your life or the world to change, ask how you can shift that hope into inspired action. In my own healing journey, taking action hasn’t always resulted in the outcomes I desired but it has led me to amazing resources and taught me valuable lessons I can share with others.

Choosing Health
card by Jane Norton

“He didn’t wait for the stars to align. He aligned them himself.”

Tina Simoncelli, science policy director, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative

speaking about Dr. Fajgenbaum


Have you had an experience in your life have you taken action on a wish/ hope you had for something to be different?

Is there a wish/hope you have now for your life that you can take action on?

Do you have a wish/hope for your community or the world that you can take action on?


Visit Dr. Fajgenbaum’s website, Chasing My Cure  to take the Hope Score Quiz and

Consider wisdom he learned in his healing journey that he deemed could be helpful in dealing with the pandemic at Five lessons from Chasing my Cure that we need during Covid


BOOK:  Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action

CNN ARTICLE: This med student was given last rites before finding a treatment that saved his life. His method could help millions.

CORONA (the COvid Registry of Off-label and New Agents) helping researchers  prioritize treatments for clinical trials and inform patient care.