Featured Alumni

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Patients in our program consistently improve their health markers and make long-term lifestyle changes. To learn more about the Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, call 310-794-1800.

Richard Sassin

Richard Sassin, Artist, Writer, Photographer, Graduate of the UCLA Health Ornish Program

Born in NYC, raised in Babylon, educated in London, Paris, Rome & Berlin, chosen by Columbia Pictures to come to LA and settled in Santa Monica where the world of culture & movies was opened to him by Christopher Isherwood & Don Bachardy who has painted his portrait for over thirty years. David Hockney has, also, painted him & his Hockney portrait toured the world ending at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Richard has been an artist since birth in all forms. He has, also, worked as an actor, writer, director, photographer, model, columnist, rock-n-roller, roadie, and in various other creative fields.

richard sassin

After being included in the UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program / Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation was inspired to create a series of paintings focused on the heart. This particular painting entitled, “Ornish Healing Heart,” was conceived after an enormous influx of hope & resolution introduced by the Program. It is meant to represent the letting go of any previous restraints or damage to the heart by allowing a clear bright new world and perspective to take the heart in reverse and offer the promise of healing and an engaged and extended life force. It is acrylic on canvas 8” x 10” and would be quite powerful as poster or banner size. It is offered to the Program and UCLA Health as a token of gratitude and inspiration

As a grateful patient of the 9-week UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program, Richard Sassin was deeply touched and inspired by the UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program and painted the two paintings, “Ornish Healing Heart,” and “My Heart is Getting Enlightened.” It is Richard’s intention and hope that his artwork will inspire others on their healing journey.

Richard sat down with Amy Lau Herzberg, Buisness Development Manager, to share his experience attending the 9-week UCLA Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program.

Q: Please provide a summary of your heart histoy health issues.

A: Family history of heart disease. Total of three stents. At 50 had first stent (2001), second 2002. 3rd in Feb 2018 because provious stent was blocked. No other medical probems.  Healthy active life but overwhelmed with stress related work environment-Casting director for TV comericials. Now Retired.

Q: What is one word that you identify with most-one word that you feel describes who you are not oly as pertain to the program, but in life?

A: Artist

Q: Take me through your struggles with Heart Disease to where you are today.

A: Three medical heart situations. Otherwise healthy. After Ornish Program feeling healthier in body and mind.

Q: What are some of the medical benefits you've experienced since joining the program?

A: Less stress and generally-a more positive outlook for a healthy life.

Q: Compare and contrast with your lowest point of well-being.

A: After my last heart problem I was very depressed and concerned I would never be able to live a full life. But the UCLA Health Ornish Program has given me enormous hope that by following the program I can now overcome my fears but live with a sense of wellness previously unknown to me.

Q: How has your improved wellbeing helped improve other areas of your life?

A: I have been incredibly creatively painting, writing, photography-and I have deleveloped true friendships with some of my cohorts that have given me great joy and hope.

Q: Has it affected your relationships or your ability to do the things you enjoy most? What about work?

A: Oh, yes, I would say Ornish has re-opened my doors of perception and given me a new enthusiasm for life and creative work.

Q: What has been your most rewarding moment as a part of the program?

A: Other than becoming friends with some of my cohorts, I believe the one hour Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Stress Management CD has given me a focus and program that sustains and encourages me every day. My diet was never bad but I find the Ornish diet has given me a youthful energy that was missing and I am refreshed by it.

Q: If you could say one thing to someone who is thinking about joining the the program, or someone who has heart disease and doesn't know about it, what would you say?

A: DO IT NOW! The program will change your life for the better and give you steps to take to continue growing and living.

Q: How would your life be different today if youd never heard of UCLA Health Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program?

A: I believe I would have become depressed and stressed-out to a dangerous point both physically and psychologically and suffered those negative consequences.

Q: Have any of the componenets had a particularly large impact on you or been different than you expected coming into the program?

A: Again, I would say the Stress Management Aspects surprised me initially but quickly became a vital part of my life style.

Q: How so? How has this translated into your life outside of the program?

A: I am less stressed and less likely to become stressed-especially, to the point where something negtively affects my health. I have learned to "let go" of those factors that lead to confusion, unhappiness and doubt. I try to relax and see the bigger picture that is full of life.

Q: Participants often say that they want to get better to see their children grow up, or travel, or get back to doing the things that they love most. What motivates you to improve your wellbeing and be around for as long as possible?

A: I want to help those I love to live better and stronger lives from what I have learned and experienced. And I want to be abele to share my creative gifts with the world and offset some of the negativity and pain rising around us.

Q: How has your outlook changed from when you had your heart issues to where you are today?

A: My outlook has grown more hopeful, more positive, more grateful, more optimistic because the UCLA Ornish Program has given me a new lease on life. I still may have problems but I see the solutions and possibilities much clearer as the road stretches out before me without any dead ends in sight.

View Richard's artwork