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

Time Well Spent

A famous physician author once penned, “the best medical student only triples your work.” While this cynical statement does have potential to ring true, I have also experienced the exact opposite–when having a medical student in clinic saves time, spares the patient unnecessary work up, and saves health care dollars.  Recently I had one of…

Joy in the Mourning

There is a verse from the book of Psalms: “Weeping may tarry through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” This verse (30:5) has been expressed as a phrase in popular culture, as a song lyric, even as a movie title for a 1965 romantic drama starring Richard Chamberlain. The other day, my friend…

Not Ready

Last week, I stayed overnight at my parents’ house in Milaca. The next morning, I woke up, and feeling exhausted from a lack of sleep the night before, went downstairs into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. I turned on the Keurig, and immediately the digital display flashed the message: NOT READY. To…