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No Time to Slow Down for Diabetes

Despite having had diabetes for fifty years and other medical issues including heart disease, cataracts and precancerous skin lesions, Frank Kelliher refuses to live like a sick man.

Although he is on the verge of retiring from his job as an accountant for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, he has plenty of energy to golf, bike and enjoy the beach on the Cape during the summer. When the weather turns cold, he’ll be skiing at Waterville Valley and his favorite mountains In Utah.

The doctors at Tufts Medical Center keep him on the links and on the slopes, he says.

“They have really gone out of their way to make sure I’m getting the right care,” he says. “They know me, and they know what I need. I know I can always turn to them no matter where I am.”

Frank talks with pride about the accomplishments of his doctors as if they were his own family. He notes that several are on the U.S. News and World Report’s “Top Doc” list. This includes his cardiologist Mark Estes, MD; endocrinologist Richard Siegel, MD; and eye specialist, Jay Duker, MD. Frank says it’s not that he cares about the accolades, he just thinks the doctors deserve them.

A lifetime of disease

Frank was diagnosed with diabetes when he was just 16 years old. He learned to live with the disease and didn’t let it slow him down. But in 1990, he suddenly collapsed while on a ski run out west.

It wasn’t the diabetes, however, it was his heart. That was when he first came to Tufts and met Dr. Estes, a cardiologist. Frank needed an extensive and invasive coronary artery bypass surgery to remove blockages from his arteries. The operation included four grafts.

Dr. Estes became a health mentor, available to answer Frank’s many questions and offer him advice.

“As busy as he is, I can give him a call or send him an email,” Frank says. “That’s the best thing about Tufts Medical Center, the accessibility.”

Based on Dr. Estes’s advice, Frank changed his diet and began watching his blood sugar levels more closely. He still comes in annually for an extensive stress test to check his heart health and so far, he’s had no more problems.

Proactive Medical Care

Frank was so pleased with his experience that he moved his diabetes care to Tufts Medical Center as well. That’s when he met Dr. Siegal, who helps him manage the disease and get care for other medical concerns.

Among those complications are precancerous skin lesions. Frank lightly attributes the troubles to his “Irish forehead.” He has had several appointments with Dermatologist-in-chief emeritus, David S. Feingold, MD, in Tufts Medical Center’s Dermatology Department, to remove precancerous cells from his skin.

For his eye care, Franks turns to Ophthalmologist-in-Chief Jay S. Duker, MD, director of the New England Eye Center. When he needed surgery, Michael Raizman, MD, used a laser to remove a cataract from his left eye. Doctors continue to closely monitor his right eye.

A Team of Doctors

Franks says he never worries about having to tell one doctor what the other is doing.

“I know that they talk to each other and they share my information,” he said. “I also don’t worry about having to figure out where I need to go. All of that is taken care of.”

While Frank continues to go to Tufts Medical Center because he likes the care, he said he also likes that it is a teaching hospital and that as a patient he can be a part of training new physicians.

“I believe that I should be appreciative and give back what I can,” he said. “It’s great that they have this focus on patient care and teaching.”

A patient at the Cancer Center at Tufts Medical Center.

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