Read an Excerpt
Surgeons have a tendency to compartmentalize their professional and emotional lives. We’re trained to believe that we can best serve our patients by remaining objective professionals. With so much fear and anxiety swirling around our patients and their families, it’s easy to imagine that responding to all their emotional needs would be overwhelming, and might even erode one’s professional judgment.
But my colleagues and I have reached a paradoxical conclusion: the closer we’ve gotten to our patients and their families, the more strength and inspiration we’ve been able to draw from them. And by keeping our hearts, as well as our minds, open to our young patients, we’ve learned professional and personal lessons that eluded us earlier in our careers.
I used to think that courage meant taking on the toughest cases, being the guy who dared to make the life-and-death judgment calls in the operating room. I now know that holding a child’s hand while he undergoes chemotherapy can be a lot scarier than holding his life in my hands during an operation.