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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

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”

Finding the Time

Recently I was involved in teaching a workshop to Internal Medicine residents, presenting a topic somewhat unique, a bit different than our usual educational offerings.  I was talking about therapeutic aspects of creative writing–this was a coping mechanism for me after my cancer diagnosis in 2016.  But residents in training have also used writing inContinue reading “Finding the Time”

Breaking Bad

In medical school, I learned a five step model on how to deliver bad news to a patient. I still fall back on this method, time and again, in my primary care clinic; I’ve even used it when giving really tough feedback to a learner who is struggling in some aspect of their performance. ButContinue reading “Breaking Bad”