Physician, Cancer Survivor, Author

Exploring the journey from doctor to patient…and back

As a practicing physician, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44, and abruptly entered the health care system for (almost) the first time as a patient. Despite my medical background, it was still quite a journey, and so I began to write about it.

Soon the story expanded beyond my health situation to include how it changed me as a doctor, a parent, a spouse, a friend, and a teacher of medical students and residents at the University of Minnesota. My writing also contains a fair amount of humor, hence “Mirth” in both titles.

Ultimately, my purpose is to bring hope and encouragement as well as practical advice and perspective to others who find themselves facing a health crisis. I also strive to capture and share the joy in medicine in an era of rising burnout, by including patient stories and teaching scenarios that inspire us all.

Mirth is God’s Medicine. Everyone should bathe in it. Grim care, moroseness, anxiety–all the rust of life–ought to be scoured off with the oil of mirth.

henry ward beecher

“From her own encounter with breast cancer, Dr. Thompson fashions a heartfelt, sharply-observed account of how her life changed for the better. She’s a beacon to her practice, her students, and her family. A vibrant, touching, honest work.”

–Samuel Shem, M.D., Professor of Medicine at NYU and author of The House of God and Man’s Fourth Best Hospital

Latest Blog Posts

We Are Winning

In light of the alarming numbers and news reports regarding the omicron variant, I just had to share highlights of a group conversation in my clinic this morning that I felt would be a welcome note of positivity. In short: we are winning. While cases have spiked to as high as >10,000 per day inContinue reading “We Are Winning”


The month of October used to be associated with many positive things, at least for me; sunny and cool autumn weather, the turning of the leaves, seeing beautiful fall colors at their peak, and football, lots of football. I also appreciate the transition to different menu items this time of year; at last week’s farmer’sContinue reading “Oktoberfest”

The Swear Jar

Back in 2019–which seems like decades ago now!–the months leading up to the release of my first book were actually a bit of a blur. Here I thought that the actual writing of the book would be the most challenging, time consuming part; later, I found the arduous journey of finding a willing publisher wasContinue reading “The Swear Jar”