Meet Cullen Murray-Kemp, Publisher
Cullen Murray-Kemp has a vision to help educate communities on local, pertinent healthcare topics. Cullen feels his job is to influence folks to think proactively rather than reactively about there health because in Cullen’s words,” when patients take their health into their into hands this allows for healthier, happier, and more productive lives.”
Cullen and his business partner Bill Macchio started HealthLinks Magazine in hopes of simply providing a medium where local healthcare providers could speak directly to community members who need to know about health and medical options local to them.
Before staring HealthLinks, Cullen had a successful college basketball career and focused on journalism while in school. After college, Cullen moved from Maryland to Charleston, South Carolina to write about lifestyle and athletic happenings in the area. One of Cullen’s most prideful moments in his journalism career is being published in both The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
Cullen has a deep admiration for writers and journalists which he hopes is evident in the quality contact that is consistently published in HealthLinks Magazines.
As Cullen puts it, “our health is the most valuable thing that we have, being educated on health is vital to being productive and positive people!”
Cullen’s Recent Publisher’s Notes
Cullen’s Pub Note May/June 2021
It has been six months since my father passed. I miss him terribly. Even as I sit down to type this note about the exciting new HealthLinks happenings, my mind coerces my fingers to write about him. I don’t want to forget him. I don’t want anyone to forget him.
I peer up from my computer and glance at a picture of him hanging on my office wall. “Why in the world are you still talking about me? They could care less!” I can hear him complain.
For once, he’s wrong. This note is not about my father as much as it is about feelings we are unfortunately all familiar with: stress, anxiety and grief.
While my therapist says we all grieve differently, over the last few months, I’ve realized the power in keeping our lost loved ones with us. For me, my father was a shepherd who could guide me back on the correct path when I faltered. When he passed away, my path was darkened. Without my father’s guiding light, I could not see my way forward. Like a lion lurking in the brush, my anxiety thrived in this uncharted course.
Over time, I started to understand that by keeping my father close, I could keep the lion at bay. I began to think about him more often. I began to write to him. I began to consider his perspective when making decisions. Through this process, I found that I still could access his wisdom. Suddenly, my path forward became clear.
Our mental health is precious but certainly can be fragile. Accessing my late father through letters and internal conversation is just one of many tools in my mental health toolbox. Creating such a toolbox isn’t easy, but it can be a lifeline when nothing else in this crazy world makes sense.
I hope HealthLinks helps our readers (www.HealthLinksMagazine.com), listeners (www.HealthLinksPodcast.com) and subscribers (www.HealthLinksNewsletter.com) add to their own personal health toolboxes, and, in doing so, we are able to help create healthier communities across the Palmetto State. We are living in a time when your neighbor needs you, and, whether you know it or not, you need your neighbor. Be kind, helpful and healthy!
Cullen’s Pub Note March/April 2021
Spring is coming, and, after a year of personal loss, professional challenges and lots and lots of literal and metaphorical clouds, it is a much-welcomed sight. For the first time, we can now say that COVID-19 infection rates are dropping, and vaccines are being administered to those in need. The pandemic has put a much-needed spotlight on physical and mental health, and for that I am thankful.
In this issue of HealthLinks, we concentrate our attention on adults with autism. While autism and other developmental disorders are often covered in kids, we rarely hear about their post-pediatric lives. In fact, just the mention of the word autism has a pediatric connotation for many of us. The reality of the disease is that people don’t grow out of it; it is a permanent challenge that individuals and their families face day in and day out.
In an effort to highlight adults with autism, HealthLinks sat down with four friends who told their stories. Our cover superstars – Nate Willis, 19; Hannah Grace Anderson, 27; Sierra Jennings, 19; and Josh Lowe, 33 – each have their own unique story with autism. Now that they are grown up, their stories continue through our pages. Nate can literally act out “Elf” and every other movie Will Farrell has ever starred in. Hannah Grace’s vibrant personality can light up any room she graces – pun intended. YouTube aficionada Sierra has spent more hours watching and studying medical surgeries than the chief neurosurgeon at your local hospital. And Josh has worked at Landrum restaurant The Hare & Hound for five years, two months, four days and 63 minutes – and some say “Josh runs the show there.”
Nate, Hannah Grace, Sierra, Josh and their families each face their own daily challenges – as do you and I. It’s our responsibility as humans to care for those in need and to take the time to give people our true attention. Whether it’s something as simple as a wave or smile to a passerby or offering your undivided attention in a conversation, we must give.
As I move off of my moral soapbox and over to this March/April edition of HealthLinks, I would like to highlight our articles on the COVID-19 vaccine and improving our immune system. At HealthLinks, we don’t take a stance on the best ways to address your own personal health; we work to empower individuals to take their health in their owns hands. We feel that COVID vaccinations and immune system support both are important topics during these times.
Thanks for reading another edition of HealthLinks, and cheers to good health!
Cullen’s Pub Note January/February 2021
THE LESSON OF LOVING YOURSELF
It has been nearly two months since my father passed, and grief still washes over me like the ocean lapping endlessly against the shore. Similar to those eternal waves, there’s no sense in fighting my inevitable sadness. But I find solace in the one idea that stands apart from the dozens of lessons my dad left for me – the concept that there is respite in self-love.
He believed that loving yourself starts with true confidence. Many of us walk this world veiled by a facade of confidence. Some people try, usually with little success, to hide their insecurities, while others boisterously aver their own personal excellence, also without convincing others of their brilliant superiority.
True confidence actually comes from comfort. For better or worse, my father was about as confident as they come, a trait understood by his friends, his family and, eventually, even his son. Never once did he tell me about his numerous awards or recognitions in the world of science; it was not until after he passed that I learned of his reluctance to include his byline on his students’ projects or research papers. “It was his way of giving us a springboard into successful careers in science,” one of them relayed to me at his recent celebration of life. This, I realized, was true confidence.
My father often would reference a book – “A Sense of Where You Are,” by professional basketball player-turned-U.S.-Sen. Bill Bradley. The tell-all title provided a road map for my father’s philosophy of prioritizing self-awareness and understanding who we are as individuals. To gain this truth, he thought, we must get to know ourselves through solitude. Eventually, we learn how to truly enjoy spending time with ourselves and even to have fun doing so.
We all need to stop and consciously recognize the good in each of us. For perfectionists, the notion of self-recognition can be downright difficult. My self-appreciation often takes a back seat to facetiousness or self-deprecation. The truth is that a couple of characteristics make me a pretty damn good person, and my hope is that everyone reading this is able to realize this about themselves. We must consciously remind ourselves of who we are and what it is that makes us special.
Learn to love yourself.
As I write this note on the 17th of December, my wife, one of many heroic health care workers, will receive her first COVID vaccine within the next few hours. Yes, this year has brought suffering and hopelessness for many. As I have learned from my father’s lessons, we must harvest information from 2020 and recognize that the clouds will soon part, revealing a healing sun that will grow the happiness and positivity that our world so desperately needs.
Undoubtedly, there’s much work to be done. Look no further for a fitting cliché: United we stand; divided we fall. For goodness sake, bring on 2021!
Cullen’s Pub Note November/December 2020
My mind races to nowhere as my fingers peck away at the keys on my laptop. I type, delete, type delete and repeat. I’m trying desperately to find the words that will neatly encapsulate the memories and knowledge my father left me. The truth is that like death, my mind is messy, and those perfect words do not exist. I am not well.
For the last 10 days, my mom and I have been making daily trips to the hospice house in Summerville where my father is sure to take his final breath. I thought I had it hard when I had to bathe him or change his diaper. Nothing is harder than giving up hope. Nothing. I am not well.
Then a breeze whips up off the creek and the salty fragrance recalls a recent, happy day. I peer up from my keyboard, eye our boat and think about how, just weeks ago, we were out fishing with my dad. This was the day we discovered that you can catch redfish in a cast net. I did just that, and when I dropped a 16-inch fish onto the deck, it flopped to my dad’s feet. He looked up from his hunch: “Wow, this is now fun!” he exclaimed with more gusto than we’d seen in months. I smile, but, honestly, I am still not well.
I try to consider my situation from a positive perspective. I am fortunate to have enjoyed the guidance of a committed father for the last 30 years. I learned lessons of discipline, of selflessness and of self-deprecation that could only come from a man like my father. He worked tirelessly on me – sometimes probably too much. In many respects, my father is my hero. Not everyone gets to say goodbye to their hero as I have. For all of this I am grateful, but still I am not well.
I am not well, but I will get better. I have loving friends and family who have been overly generous with their concern for me. I have tools that will get me through the darkest times. I have time and I have memories. I will be OK.
Understand that I am not alone in my tragedy. I know that other people are struggling to deal with their own personal tragedies. We live in a world filled with pain and suffering – most of which the naked eye cannot detect. It’s no secret that we find ourselves in a time of confusion and, unfortunately, of division. My plea is to consider my story and to treat your neighbors as though they are navigating something similar. Being kind takes energy, but trust me, our world needs it.
Thank you for reading and considering my message. Please enjoy this edition of HealthLinks magazine.
Cullen’s Pub Note September/October 2020
A consistent, almost rhythmic beep sounds from a monitor that tracks my father’s vital signs. Subconsciously, I tap my foot along with the beat. The walls are bleak; the floors, too. The food is, well, I guess we are not here for the food. ESPN talking heads shout quietly from the remote speaker. My thoughts meander from the previous day’s panicked ambulance ride to the confusion of the next steps. Will the antibiotics work? How do we decide between home health and hospice? How will my mom be able to manage him if he is completely immobile? The endless questions overwhelm my brain, like a dam brimming with high, heavy waters.
I feel alone in this hospital room. Yes, there are nurses, doctors, techs and all sorts of medical staff who continuously monitor my father’s well-being. But due to COVID restrictions, family and friends can be accessed only by phone. Actually, we are lucky that his coronavirus test came back negative, allowing one visitor to be by his side as his Parkinson’s-compromised body fights back a blood infection. Still, without the guidance and support of loved ones, that one visitor is confused, scared and lonely as he writes this note.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused challenges for all of us. Some face serious situations like coming up with enough money for food and supplies for themselves and their families. Some have been forced into financial turmoil, having to close their businesses. Some have lost loved ones. Some have lost their lives. Now, as the fall season rolls around, we are finally starting to become aware of the importance of taking the necessary steps to combat this virus. We are, for the most part, wearing masks. We are, for the most part, social distancing. We, are for the most part, acting responsibly.
Still there are outliers who believe that it’s their right not to wear a mask or socially distance. I am not blaming them for me being alone in this hospital room, but I am pleading with them to consider the ones they love. Now is a time for calculated moves. Rule following may not be for everyone, but saving lives should be. As the denizens of this planet work our way out of this pandemic, we must constantly question ourselves: Am I doing the right thing? Am I making the smart, healthy choice? How can I help those who need me?
At HealthLinks, we understand that providing quality health information is how we help our community. This responsibility of improving local health literacy in the Palmetto State has never been more important than during this health crisis. In this edition of HealthLinks, you will read articles ranging from the many initiatives being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 to harrowing tales from local nurses who traveled to New York to care for those who needed them most.
Whether you read our magazine, rely on our newsletter (www.HealthLinksNewsletter.com) or listen to our podcast (www.HealthLinksPodcast.com), trust that HealthLinks will continue to act as a health resource to the communities we serve throughout these trying times and beyond.
Cullen’s Pub Note July/August 2020
This past month, I accompanied a group of peaceful protesters on a walk across the Ravenel Bridge. The chants of “No justice; no peace” and “Say his name: George Floyd” echoed through the crowd. A young black man locked arms with the white, older Mount Pleasant Police Chief Carl Ritchie. A sea of humans – all shapes and colors – united in a singular message of change.
As we walked over the bridge, I looked out over the harbor. The view of the rippling waters backdropped by the steeple-filled skyline conjured up a thought. Our city – heck, our country for that matter – is like a rosebush. From far away, its beauty is captivating. Even as you get closer and take in the soft scent of the rosebuds, you can’t help but smile. Yet, grab a rosebush branch, and you will start to feel the same pain we feel when we look at the underbelly of America. Systemic racism is not always overt, and the thorns on a rosebush are not always obvious.
A strong vein of systemic racially-tinged challenges in our health care system has become evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a black American, you are more than twice as likely to contract COVID-19 and more than three times as likely to die from the virus as white Americans, according to the APM Research Lab. These statistics hold true for most illnesses. There are many reasons why this is the case: access to care, health care literacy, poor diet, lack of exercise, living conditions and immune system neglect are just a few. The argument could be put forth that these means to an unhealthy end for black Americans are all decisions that are made as individuals. But, like the rosebush, we must consider how we got to this point. We have to ask questions like why do black Americans have an unproportionally poor diet? Why do black communities not have proper access to care or health information? The answer lies in the thorns. The entire system, from laws concerning illegal substances to America’s corporate infrastructure, is skewed to disproportionately favor whites over minorities. Our country is built around white privilege, white education and white understanding.
A unique opportunity lies ahead, but, first, we must abandon our preconceived notions and start listening rather than simply hearing. We must face the fact that real, necessary change never comes easy. I believe in the inherent good in all of us, and now we have a chance to prove that I am right.
While so many good people focus on the path toward equality, there’s still a long road ahead in the fight against COVID-19. As I write on June 21, South Carolina has once again broken its daily record of new coronavirus cases, with yesterday’s toll coming it at 1,155 new positive tests. For many, the lifting of the quarantine seemed to signal that social distancing and COVID precautions have also been removed. Since April, there has been a 413% increase in COVID cases for South Carolinians between the ages of 21 and 30.
I urge our readers to continue to take precautions until we find a cure or a vaccine. The recent uptick in Palmetto State COVID cases should serve as a warning to take social distancing seriously. The virus will not stop on its own. Like the battle against systemic racism, the fight against COVID will take a concerted effort. Let’s all play our part, South Carolina.
Please enjoy another issue of HealthLinks magazine, and, as always, cheers to good health.
Cullen’s Pub Note May/June 2020
Wow – what a couple of months. While the medical world is on the front lines waging war with an invisible and deadly enemy, most of us are fighting a secondary war from our homes against social isolation. Around our world, community-driven societies engage with friends and family via Zoom, but it’s just not the same. Isolation has forced us to look inward, and, while the goal is to stay mentally and physically fit, we know it doesn’t always work out that way. Loneliness is a formidable opponent.
Then, just as the clouds of anxiety and depression begin to engulf us, we open a window or step outside and allow our senses to take over. We feel the sun on our skin, smell the Lowcountry pluff mud and hear the sounds of nature. We go on a walk, and it seems that passersby, for some reason, greet us with zealous waves. We look down and our best friend looks back at us – checking in with an enthusiastic wag of his tail. We read about how a decrease in pollution has unveiled the Himalayan Mountains to Indian cities for the first time in 100 years. Suddenly these clouds give way to hope – and even opportunity.
While social isolation is certainly a challenge, we can take solace in the notion that we are in this together and that it is a vital part of the puzzle we must put together to beat back this vile virus. We must think not only of ourselves but of the homeless, who are three times as likely to contract the disease, or of the doctors and nurses who risk their lives to save ours. We must pray, dream and hope for those who have lost their jobs and face an uncertain future. We are all in this fight together. There are no borders, religions, races or political differences that exceed the need for unity in order to win this war.
As I write this note, more than 3 million people worldwide have been diagnosed with COVID-19, yet there are more than 7 billion others who remain healthy. Nursing our world back to health will take consistent resilience and responsibility from our people as the medical community strives to find a vaccine or treatment. We must vet our information sources and listen to our doctors, even when factual information doesn’t come from our leaders.
In addition to our magazine, HealthLinks will now offer a weekly podcast – HealthLinksPodcast.com – and newsletter – HealthLinksNewsletter.com – to give current, factual health news to our community of followers. Reliable health information is a responsibility we take very seriously.
On a final note, use this time of isolation to create and recall memories. As my father surrenders to the shackles of dementia, I am reminded of the value of memories. Even in the face of life’s two guarantees – death and change – memories are forever. So smile and take out an old high school prom picture book and laugh your head off.
As always, thanks for reading this special coronavirus edition of HealthLinks magazine, and cheers to good health!
Cullen’s Pub Note March/April 2020
Kobe Bean Bryant meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Most of us are fans of his basketball acumen, his winning mentality and his overall hardwood prowess. He was, after all, one of the best ever to play the game. We revere him for his competitive fire and fearlessness in the face of opposition. We treasure his journey from Lower Marion High School to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. For decades, Kobe made himself synonymous with the game – eating and breathing the bounce of the ball – that generational success had no choice but to follow his dedication to the sport.
Despite his on-court achievements, I couldn’t help but find myself more excited about Kobe’s post-NBA career than about what he had accomplished in basketball. Not everyone knows that since his 2016 retirement, Kobe produced a short film, “Dear Basketball,” which won an Oscar. He also formed a multimedia company, creating many successful business ventures, including the nationwide No. 1 kids/family podcast titled “The Punies,” which teaches life lessons through story. He also created the bestselling children’s books, “The Wizenard Series.”
Kobe wanted to teach our younger generation life lessons and help guide them through the world. Like many of us, Kobe’s past is not without blemishes. But unlike many of us, Kobe learned lessons from his mistakes that carved new paths toward his ultimate mission of success. He was never the easiest person to work with but somehow always was able to extract the absolute best from those around him. As a fan of his play and an admirer of his person, the best way to honor his legacy is to integrate his positive traits into my life.
Now on to HealthLinks! You are holding the first annual “Best In Health” edition of HealthLinks Charleston, courtesy of our readers.
We received overwhelming feedback – more than 5,500 votes for the area’s best doctors, dentists, fitness centers and all else health and medical in the Lowcountry. We hope these results help in our mission to connect patients in need with quality, local health care providers. Also in this edition are Brian Sherman’s coverage on Parkinson’s disease – a disease that my father fights against daily – and David Dykes’ in-depth look at the past decade of health care in the Palmetto State.
Because local health care education remains the top priority at HealthLinks, we appreciate any feedback from our readers and the local medical community. You can always reach me directly at Publisher@HealthLinksMagazine.com.
Cullen’s Pub Note January/February 2020
The new year is typically a time when our minds move from our family, friends and holiday festivities back to refocus on ourselves. Some of us think about getting healthy by way of a fad diet – see our article in this issue – or excessive exercise, while others ponder new scenarios to grow their careers. Thinking about yourself and putting your interests first isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s not selfish to prioritize yourself; if you aren’t at your best, then others around you will reap the poor effects of an unhappy and unbalanced you.
My only advice as the new year rolls around and we rewire our brains from couch potato to fitness guru is to pick something sustainable. It’s so easy to burn out with all-at-once significant lifestyle changes and revert back to our old ways of being an even bigger couch potato than before. Like Rome, we will not rebuild our new selves in one day. Figure out what mountain you will climb this year, lace up your hiking boots, pack your bag with discipline and get to it.
But how? Well, find healthy activities that are fun. Seek out new healthy foods that actually satisfy your taste buds. Look beyond your physical health and appearance and consider your mental health. True confidence is not about your mirror muscles or social status. Rather, it speaks to your self-esteem and self-awareness. Work to understand, accept and love yourself in 2020.
However you decide to better yourself this year, make it about you!
2020 is a really exciting time for HealthLinks as well. In Charleston, we are rolling out the “Best In Health” nominations, which we hope will prove to be a great benefit for our readers and community by answering the age-old question, “who is the best doctor for me?” The winners will be published in our March/April edition, and awards will be given at our 2020 Charleston Health & Wellness Expo. Speaking of our expo, this year will be the first year HealthLinks puts on the event without the help of the Cooper River Bridge Run and the city of Charleston. Are we nervous? Slightly. But, thanks to our many partners and supporters, we are confident that we will once again produce a successful event!
HealthLinks Upstate has also proven to be a hit. Now going on its third year of publishing in the Upstate market, a day doesn’t go by without getting a call asking for more information about a topic we covered or requesting a subscription.
At HealthLinks, we are truly passionate about offering local health and medical information to our readers, and we want to thank our partners, readers and communities for making 2019 another incredible, healthy year in the Palmetto State!
Cullen’s Pub Note September/October 2018
Inspiration can be captivating. It can drive us to reach goals, challenge norms and improve our lives and the lives of others. Different things and people inspire us in different ways. As a kid, I was inspired by NBA players Ray Allen and LeBron James. As I grew up, I began drawing inspiration from the words of Ernest Hemingway and Hunter S. Thompson. More recently, I’ve found inspiration in family members and business partners who continue to make me proud despite battling difficult illnesses.
Julian Smith, whom many of you know as the director of the Cooper River Bridge Run, is currently battling cancer. I don’t say this lightly: He’s kicking ass. Between chemo sessions and various tests and trials, Julian can be found closing deals and giving back to the community as usual. Although undoubtedly exhausted from his bout with the disease, he’s maintained a positive outlook and sense of humor.
“I told the doctors: ‘Just don’t touch the money maker,'” he chuckled, pointing to his face.
Through everything, Julian is relentlessly dedicated to his work and continuing to promote a healthier and more active community here in Charleston.
At home, I draw inspiration from my father, who is in his own battle with Parkinson’s disease. When I mentioned to him that I wanted to write about how I’m inspired by his fight against Parkinson’s, he deflected.
“What you should be writing about is the Rock Steady Boxing program and our one-year anniversary,” he exclaimed.
I tend to agree that Rock Steady Boxing, a mental and physical workout program designed specifically for Parkinson’s patients, is amazing. However, the fact that after years and years of very little physical activity my father now works out four or five days a week and has completely dedicated himself to the fight is, to me, inspiring.
Although I am probably biased, I believe our readers will find inspiration through our pages. In this particular issue, we feature Gaige Thigpen in our Unique Case article. Gaige, just 9 years old, is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia with attitude. A natural on the baseball diamond, Gaige has faced his disease with a smile and, according to his physicians, is inspiring other patients and caregivers with his positive attitude, resolve and resilience.
On a final note of excitement – I want to announce that our inaugural edition of HealthLinks Upstate will be coming out in the greater Greenville area this month. We will now be publishing two unique editions of HealthLinks in the Lowcountry and the Upstate. I want to thank all of our partners and readers – without y’all, this never would have happened.
Thanks for reading and cheers to good health!
– Cullen Murray-Kemp
Cullen’s Pub Note July/August 2018
Last week, my home cable and internet went out. Despite the fact that the interruption in my technology was soon corrected, I was furious in the moment.
My wife needs to study for an exam. I need to relax and watch “Breaking Bad” on Netflix while simultaneously checking my email for business messages. How can we accomplish these monumental tasks without AT&T functioning at full capacity?
Using my data, I refreshed my email. A note from my friend Michale Latipac propagated onto my screen. He thanked me for sending his organization copies of HealthLinks magazine. Michale is a true crusader who, through his nonprofit organization, “Two Hands One Life,” works to educate communities in Uganda about sexual and reproductive health. The people Michale works to educate live in rural villages with limited or no access to the technological luxuries we can’t live without.
Recently, Michale’s team asked us to send them copies of our publication so they could help educate people who have no current information on how to stay healthy. We did and have since received wonderful feedback from Michale and the communities he serves.
My point is that working with folks like “Two Hands One Life” can really help put things into perspective. What you or I deem to be a challenge here as a firstworld citizen would probably not faze someone living in a rural Ugandan town. Find a way to positively affect other’s lives, like we have by sharing HealthLinks in Africa, and I guarantee a sense of gratification that outweighs surfing the internet or watching Netflix.
Now we move to the July/August edition of HealthLinks Charleston that you hold today. In this issue, we cover a wide variety health topics, ranging from a dearth of primary-care providers to how the Lowcountry will see a substantial rise in bugs and ticks this summer.
These are exciting times for us at HealthLinks. Last month we received the Joseph P. Riley award for leadership in health, expanded our efforts to Greenville and reached beyond our borders to another continent. Our mission is always simple: Work collaboratively with physicians and those in the know to provide well-researched health care information that helps improve the lives and health of our readers. That being said, we are always looking to provide better, more thorough information, and, to do so, we need your help. If you know of any health or medically-related stories in the Charleston area, please reach out to us.
We hope our magazine finds you in good health!
– Cullen Murray-Kemp
Cullen Murray-Kemp Videos
Cullen: What is the Charleston Health and Wellness Expo?
Cullen: 2018 Charleston Health & Wellness Expo Video
Cullen: 2018 Charleston Health & Wellness Expo Video
Cullen Murray-Kemp Speaks at 2018 Charleston Health & Wellness Expo
Cullen Murray-Kemp & Bill Macchio: 2017 Charleston Health & Wellness Expo
Cullen Murray-Kemp & Bill Macchio: Meet HealthLinks Magazine