Who Am I Doing This For?

In the video that accompanies SpeakSooner: A Patient’s Guide to Difficult Conversations, we hear Fritz acknowledge that the rewards of continuing treatment more than exceed the risks but he recognizes there are no guarantees. Living with advanced prostate cancer, Fritz states that he and his wife decide together “to do whatever my physician thought was […]

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Does Spirituality Have a Place in Healthcare?

The role of spirituality in facing a health crisis varies from patient to patient. For healthcare providers, who rely on medical science, it can be a contentious subject. We posed the question of spirituality to a group of cancer patients who were interviewed for the Center for Communication in Medicine’s video Voices From the Lived […]

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Can Writing Improve Health?

In 1998, when I launched Writing Is Good Medicine® at the cancer center in Bennington, VT, it was based upon social psychologist James Pennebaker’s research on the health benefits of expressive writing. His studies found that patients with chronic conditions who wrote about their illness experiences showed improvements in depression, anxiety, fatigue and tension, which […]

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Injecting Humanism Into Medicine

I had the good fortune of working with the late Dr. James Wallace, the first oncologist in the State of Vermont, who came out of retirement to practicing part-time at the cancer center in Bennington. He would talk about the early days at the National Institute of Health (NIH) when chemotherapy was mostly experimental. In passing, he told me that a colleague at that time was Dr. Sidney Farber, the name attached to Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. While at NIH he worked with pioneers in the new field of oncology.

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What’s Unsaid

“I am pleased to inform you that your manuscript ‘Art Informs Medicine’ has been accepted for publication in the Art of Oncology section,” the editor noted. I was well aware that this meant that my work was going to appear in an issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (April 20, 2010). I was thrilled. The essay was based upon my experience as a medical humanist at a cancer center. Although it was published 12 years ago, I am still amused by the reviewer’s comments about a submission to a professional journal from someone with no medical credentials.

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