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

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My Pain

My Pain

I was at the Exponential Medicine conference a few weeks ago.

I gave a talk about my pain.

Pain in my heart.

I needed CPR.

Connection, Presence, Resilience.

CPR for physicians whose hearts are broken.

Like mine was.


Burned out.

Morally injured.

Exhausted mentally and physically.

There are many names for it.

Call it what you want.

My soul was coding.

Over one-half of my fellow physicians are feeling it.

Really feeling it.

Physicians are dying.


So we need to talk about this crisis.

We need to talk about our pain.

Because what we resist will persist.

We're resisting the truth.

We're resisting the vulnerability.

We're resisting the pain.

Moving through that pain is the only road to feeling better.

It's shocking how many doctors are dying.

We need to shock the system.

By shocking ourselves.

And those in our direct orbit.

By authentically sharing our pain.

By bringing the heart of medicine back to life.

And… I didn’t tell the attendees to simply meditate and use lavender aromatherapy.

It's far more complex.

So many moving parts.

It's different for every doctor.

It depends on their specific situation and needs.

Their emotional intelligence.

Their peer pressure.

Their peer support.

Every doctor has their own story of sadness.

A story of training hardship and pain.

How they survived.

How they rose out of it and how they dealt with burnout.

The ones who die can't share their stories.

We have to offer doctors significant help from the very beginning.

From the first day of pre-med.

It's not a quick fix.

It's going to take a lot of time.

We all need to believe it can be better.

Doctors and patients alike.

We need to support each other.

We need to address every patient's pain points.

We need to address every doctor's pain points.

As Rumi said, the cure for our pain is in the pain.

The first step is to admit we're in pain.

And start the lifelong journey of moving through it to the other side.

That's how I've survived.

How I've thrived.

How I've dealt with my pain.