The Interview

After 16 years in the Media & Entertainment business, Michael Manning has built a significant portfolio of newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews ranging from actors and musicians to CEO’s in the world of business and much more.    

What distinguishes “The Interview” from many Television and Radio programs of the same genre, is that Michael chooses to casually “visit” with each Guest, (many selected from his Blogroll) as if they were having coffee at a café and just sharing conversation casually. "In this setting, my Guests are much more relaxed and encouraged to be themselves, and the result is usually having the honor of spending some quality time with someone in a more reflective mood", said Michael. "I have been on both sides of the table, and that experience has allowed me to pose questions with the utmost respect and care to my Guest  without depriving the audience of gaining a sense of their personality. In comes the warmth and often humor resulting in a meaningful experience that really stays with you for some time. And that's what the experience should be!" he said.  

 Please join Michael for his newest segment, simply called: "The Interview".

Monday, November 09, 2009


My Special Guest: Rich Mackney

Block Party with Brittany & Sedona
These neighborhood girls unselfishly turned over money generated from candy sales originally intended to finance a Cheerleaders trip to California to Rich's Medical Fund. These girls are truly an example of what is right about our world!
From Michael: In December, 2007 I relocated to Phoenix, Arizona attracted by the warm climate and a badly needed change of scenery. I also needed to improve my health. So, by March of 2008 I began working out at a renowned Athletic Rehabilitation Center.
During my long workouts, I noticed a very tall man who made it a point to make the rounds and visit with every patient lying on a workout table, seated on a recumbent bicycle or running on a treadmill. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches in height, this cyclist and all-around athlete had a remarkable gift for putting each of us at ease while urging us to "fight on" to reach our goals. Many young athletes were facing uncertain futures and they felt tense. All of us were overcoming some obstacle of one kind or another in our physical fitness. Enter Rich Mackney. He asked excellent questions and listened carefully. He was genuinely interested in each of our life stories and over time, a core group of us came to admire, love and respect this young businessman with a wife and family. In March, 2008 Rich developed the early signs of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Last December, he was positively diagnosed with the disease. My friends John, Joyce, Bill and others too numerous to mention here--truly--made a transition. We were not only Rich's friends; we became Official members of "The Mackney Warriors", committed to urging Rich to "fight on" to win the war against ALS. As hard as it is to believe, 18-months have passed. Over the summer, I asked Rich at his birthday party if he would consider being a Guest on my BLOG Page feature, "The Interview". He accepted my invitation. We taped his appearance on Sunday evening. This morning, newly diagnosed patients and their families who are conducting searches on the topic of ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, or Rich Mackney will find this visit on the worldwide web crawler.
There is no known cause or a cure for ALS at this time. With remarkable candor and a Determination to chart his own course to slow down the disease this year, stop it in 2010 and reverse it by 2011 Rich endeavors to bring HOPE to others who are facing ALS and a host of other diseases including Cancer, Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis. For Rich, there are two options: run away or stay and fight to live. He chooses to fight. Our 65 minute visit went like this:

Manning: For someone, Rich, who may not be familiar with ALS, what is it?
Mackney: Michael, ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known in this country as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" after the famous baseball player. It is a disease that affects the motor neurons of the brain and spinal cord and over time, it kills off the motor neurons causing a loss of muscle control in the body. ALS begins in two classic ways. It can begin in your limbs--in your arms and legs which begin to weaken, or it can start in your upper extremities where you notice your speech and breathing begin to be affected by muscle loss. ALS affects, currently, about 30,000 people in the United States. But the shocking thing is that new diagnoses' are now exceeding 5,000 new cases per year. The average ALS patient survives anywhere from 2 to 5 years after diagnosis. A smaller number of people do survive for a longer period of time ranging from 7 to 10 years and in a very rare case, you have someone notable like Dr. Stephen Hawking who's still alive today--even though he's in his late 50's and he was first stricken when he was 28 years-old. So, why it affects people differently? We don't understand yet, and that's one of the sad things about ALS. Since there are relatively few cases of it in the United States, it does not--unfortunately--get the same amount of attention in the scientific world as do other mainstream diseases, like Cancer, for example. So, the research work in ALS is still sorely lacking.
Manning: What has your approach been in your situation (after being diagnosed)? How have you responded?
Mackney: Well, first of all Michael, in my case, I have to tell you that I believe that I inherited it from my mother who also died of ALS, and her mother died of Parkinson's Disease--another motor neuron disease. In my mind there is something genetic in my family that promotes the onslaught of the disease. That being said, inherited ALS today is only found in about 20 percent of the cases., while 80 percent of the cases are what's known as sporadic. They just happen. We don't understand why. There is a growing consensus as Science begins to advance that there are a host of influences on our genetic makeup that allow certain mutations to take place over time as we age. And then, coupled with that, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that our greater environment--that means not only the air we breathe, but the products we use in our homes, our personal care and the output of technology from microwaves to electro-magnetic pulses to other aspects of technology that we will only fully understand in terms of health impact after we've been using them for 10, or 20, or 30 years. All of that is only slowly now being unraveled. So we think, mainly, first you have these genetic mutations that makes you a candidate for this or any host of other diseases. Secondly, the greater environment we're living in--over time pushes you over the edge. Some very interesting statistics exist right now. The first is that in the field of high endurance athletes, the rate of ALS diagnosis is almost double of the normal population. In the case of American servicemen and women serving in Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan, the rate is also about double of the normal population and affecting a greater percentage of younger people. So, when you combine the effects of the cases of the Army, the very serious inoculations you receive before you go overseas, and then the harsh life in hot, dusty, chemical-laden desert climate in the Middle East, we put together all the pieces that allow the body to be weakened to the point where they, in fact, find the onslaught of the diseases like ALS.
Manning: Wow! You've taken some very positive, aggressive steps in terms of your treatment. Could you tell us about what you have done?
Mackney: First and foremost, Michael, I have to say that my experience with ALS and certainly with comparing notes with other ALS patients is that when you are told by your doctor that you have ALS, there is a great tendency for the medical world to them tell you there isn't any real hope right now, so therefore, go home and prepare to die. Fortunately for me, that isn't my nature. I began to research globally what is being done along the lines of all research--meaning everything from drug therapy all to the way to the very exciting field of stem cell therapy. Now, I've found opportunities outside the United States to give experimental stem cell therapy to me whereas in the United States that is not possible without the approval of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). And that process, unfortunately in this country, takes many, many years to happen. And it's difficult for someone who's been told who is the average ALS patient that you have a 2 to 5 year timeline and then you look at the FDA and you find that they work on a 5 to 10 year timeline and you realize you're going to be gone before they ever approve anything that might be able to help me. So, my approach was to look globally. I first went in March of this year to Germany to take advantage of some experimental stem cell therapy, which unfortunately has not been beneficial for me. On the other hand, I'll say that it also has not hurt me. And more recently, in July, I went to a facility in San Diego that has developed some new advances in stem cell therapy and operate out of a clinic in Mexico where they have Mexican government approval to go directly into human trials in cases of terminal illnesses. Again, I don't feel I've gotten any advantage from the therapy done in July. Then again, I don't think it hurt me either. I know from my research that we are making huge advances in updated stem cell research. And I see every week, a growing body of data that says more and more innovation of finding success in creating stem cells from simple things like skins cells, or fat cells, or liver cells, so that we can tale a small piece of you and now create and innovate millions and billions of stem cells of your generic makeup. The advantage in this is that we no longer have the ethical dilemma that surrounds embryonic stem cell research. Science has gotten away now from needing to use viruses to trigger the stem cells to do specific jobs. We now can achieve the same results by using a simple pair of stem cells anywhere and that's exciting. So, the near term future holds the promise of taking some simple stem cells from you, turning them into your stem cells, and giving them chemical instructions to do certain things. In my case, it would be to create new motor neurons for my brain and spinal cord where they'll re-attach to my muscles. In the case of other diseases, we're going to see that the same technology can rebuild the damaged liver, can rebuild your damaged heart, rebuild your damaged spinal cord, rebuild your damaged kidney, rebuild your damaged brain. So, the Science very shortly will be at the point where this learning will take root for humans. They're doing it in the labs today. My feeling is that if I am sitting here, certainly as a data point of one, I can say that stem cell therapy may not be the miracle cure, but it also is not injuring me further. And I, for one, would stand up and be a long-term candidate for anyone who wants to show me this new advancement called Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell--because they are inducing your stem cells to do a specific job. Then anyone tells me they're available can try it on me tomorrow, I'm going there!
Manning: Sure!
Mackney: Unfortunately, I don't see that happening tomorrow in the U.S. I see it happening in another country.
Up Next: In Part 2 of this special edition of "The Interview", Rich addresses what we must do to take on ALS and many other diseases that regenerative medicine can help with Stem Cell Therapy.


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