Love Is The Strongest Medicine: Notes from a Cancer Doctor on Connection, Creativity, and Compassion

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How to Develop a Passion for Compassion

How to Develop a Passion for Compassion

Unforgettable life lessons.

Lessons in medicine.

In self-mastery.

In caring for a human being in need.

His name was Dr. Emanuel Fliegelman.

He insisted that we called him “Uncle Manny.”

My mentor.

My teacher.

A great doctor.

My friend.

He delivered is famous Ten C’s on my very first day of medical school.

Mind blown.

Life changed.


Empathy can rock your foundation.

And he stood for empathy.

He stood for compassion in connecting with patients.

For humor, for love. I miss him.

“Through these doors do not pass without these — The Ten C’s!” ~Emanuel Fliegelman, DO (as he pointed to the entrance of the lecture hall)
1. Compassion: Put yourself in their shoes, you have no idea what they’re dealing with out there in the world outside of your office.
2. Contact: A gentle pat on the back, a warm embrace is undeniably healthy.
3. Creativity: Do whatever it takes to help your fellow man and woman; think outside the exam room box.
4. Completion: See it to the end. Begin again whenever necessary. Don’t judge the process.
5. Communication: Listen with intention and make eye contact no matter what.
6. Competence: Practice a bit every day to master your craft over a lifetime.
7. Caring: Treat that human being as is they’re your sister, brother, mother, or father.
8. Consideration: Look at all the possibilities and move forward with the one that honors your highest self.
9. Concern: Check your own baggage at the door and be in their world from a place of mutual respect.
10. Confidence: Watch one, Do one, teach one. Keep the faith and give it back to the younger generation.

There you have it.

He changed my course, my attitudes, as young doc.

We’d sit for hours discussing his “3 Pillars” — Profession, Patient, Compassion.

Uncle Manny would say, “Be an example in the world to help our profession embrace the human side of medicine every day.”

“Innovate ways to connect with people who are suffering more deeply and powerfully.”

“Be a beacon for compassion in the world at all costs.”

Love you, Man.

Microstep: Put yourself in another’s shoes today, if only for a few moments. Really experience life from their one and only perspective. Realize that it’s impossible to know precisely what they’re dealing with today. Empathize.