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Why crying over a terminal patient made me a better doctor
The Washington Post

Mr. C’s brain tumor seemed to be reaching its endgame. His wife had called frantically to report new confusion, word-finding difficulties and visual deficits that suddenly developed despite ongoing treatment. We hastily arranged for an MRI scan to confirm what we now collectively came to suspect: Cancer cells from his tumor had invaded previously unaffected parts of the brain.

Much of what is seen as a medical trainee continues to haunt you because it can never be unseen. In my 10 years as a doctor and medical student, I have been witness to inordinate human suffering and unexpected tragedies. And the emotions associated with these experiences went largely unexplored because I had constructed a mental dam over the years to contain them and to prevent their flow into my daily work as a doctor.

But Mr. C changed me. Though the long-standing medical ethos emphasized impassivity to be a virtue for physicians, I could no longer deny my emotions as I cared for him and learned his story.

Commands