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Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Doctor-Patient Story of Spirituality & Cancer

September is ovarian cancer awareness month, and Dr. Lois Ramondetta, a gynecologic oncologist working at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, sent us a copy of the special book she wrote with her patient Deborah Sills, a professor of religion at California Lutheran University. They met in 1998, and The Light Within, a dual memoir, tells the story of their relationship—in their own words and with photos of their growing families and friendship. The book, says Ramondetta, "adds understanding to the many perspectives caregivers and patients may have while experiencing a shared presence at the end of life." Together and with sincerity, the two women write about the doctor-patient relationship and explore the intersection of spirituality and medicine (which they also did in a number of journal articles, including "Spirituality and Religion in the 'Art of Dying,'" published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.)
Ramondetta, who studied both biology and religion at Emory University, "seemed sure of a connection between healing the body and healing the spirit," writes Sills. And Sills taught Ramondetta that she "should always fight for closeness" with her patients and get to know them each as individuals. "Every conversation was a chance to grow and to redefine myself, not only as a doctor, but also as a human being," Ramondetta writes.
Sills died from ovarian cancer in the spring of 2006, finishing the book while in a hospice, and her husband Giles Gunn and daughter Abby helped Ramondetta publish it. Looking back on it all, "the story is about wresting new life from mortal instruments," Gunn writes in the book's afterword. "But new life, as most cancer patients and their caregivers know, is not to be confused with physical health; it is rather to be identified with the courage to extract wisdom from the hardest things." —Heather Wax


Bone cancer symptoms said...

Where I can buy this book? Would like to read this...