Tell us about yourself and your books.:
I'm a family doctor. I am also a university professor. I took pride in serving others and found meaning in teaching and doing research.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, one of the hardest things for me was losing the identity of the professional. Beyond not living long, what troubled me was that I wasn't sure I would be able to do what is meaningful to me while I am still alive.
Cancer led me down the path to my authentic self more quickly. I had the urgency to find my authenticity. I was running out of time, and I had to work double as hard while my energy tanked. I had to read more and write more. It was vital for me to find meaning and to find it now.
Cancer also humbled me. I became aware that before being a doctor and a researcher, I am a person. And because of that, I can serve better. I can do things for others in ways I was never able to before. To my patients, I can be the doctor who also understands their experience because he is a patient himself. I can hear as a researcher what others do not hear because I suffered.
I found purpose and authentic conversations in being with others as they pursue what is of value to them and what is right. I found meaning in telling the stories of those who have little space to share their stories.
Cancer also led me to be more empowered, to always seek the truth, and to speak truth to power.
My book is "Roads to Meaning and Resilience with Cancer: Forty Stories of Coping, Finding Meaning, and Building Resilience While Living with Incurable Lung Cancer."
I interviewed thirty-nine people with lung cancer, and in the book, I share aspects of our stories.
They are like you, men and women with busy lives, families, and friends. Some worked as doctors, teachers, writers, builders, and managers. Others stayed home to take care of their loved ones.
We are living longer than we initially expected, and this has made our experiences resemble nothing that many of us have lived or witnessed before. Many of them have captured with their words some of the essences of our existence as humans.
If you have developed lung or another type of cancer, or if you have struggled with an illness, you will find aspects of your story reflected here.
From these thirty-nine individuals, I have learned far more than I have through any reading or writing. By sharing their experiences, I am merely opening the space for them to teach others.
The book is about the essence of human experience. It is for every reader.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Because I work as a physician and professor, there was little time to take off and write. I wrote mostly in my evenings and weekends. I also took a one week vacation and used that time to write.
My writing is reflective and intends to build on the qualitative research I have conducted by interviewing patients.
What authors have influenced you?
Patti Lather in her book Troubling the Angles was an influence. She wrote about the experiences of women living with HIV AIDS. I did similar work on the experience of people living with lung cancer. I am, however, one of the people living with this disease.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Just write. Edit and re-edit.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Your best paragraph may not belong to this piece. Be willing to sacrifice parts of your writing. By that, you do not need to delete the paragraph. That paragraph can be central to a new piece.
What are you reading now?
Being and Time
What is your favorite book of all time?
Phenomenology of Spirit
What has inspired you and your writing style?
I am a qualitative researcher and I am also a patient. Further, I am a physician. I write in a style that is mindful of the person as a subject. I am also telling people's stories. It is important to be truthful to those who gave me the privilege to hear these stories.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I want my book to be out and reach every person. A book unread is just as dead as anything. I want to share the words around.
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