“Mirth is God’s Medicine. Everybody ought to 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
As a primary care physician in her mid 40s, Dr. Heather Thompson is diagnosed with breast cancer; she is now facing multiple medical decisions, this time about her own health. Experiencing the system first hand informs her future approach in unanticipated ways; what initially seems like a negative event becomes a process of growth and transformation. The story illustrates how a doctor, as both informed medical professional and human being, copes with a new diagnosis and disease. She falls back on what sustained her previously: music, faith, exercise. Along the way she discovers new coping mechanisms: writing, humor, and sharing her story. Opening up to others, finding common ground, allowing authenticity and vulnerability to permeate teaching and mentoring and even doctor patient relationships—this is almost an opposing view to how physicians are trained, to value privacy above all else. This book is filled with stories and scenarios from academic medicine both humorous and poignant that illustrate the humanity of us all. Cancer survivors will resonate with many themes, including the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies the entire ordeal. Readers will appreciate how Dr. Thompson finds humor even in tough situations, sharing amusing anecdotes not only from her cancer journey but also her training and career as a doctor.
From the Author:
I’ve often been asked, “What is the difference between Book 1 and Book 2? Which one should I read?” My elevator speech reply to that question is this: “Book 1 is about ‘Doctor as Patient’ and what that experience is like. Book 2 is about ‘Patient as Doctor’, and how that changes my practice style and approach to patient care going forward.”
In essence, they are two halves of the same story. They are roughly chronological, though I took creative license at times to make it a more cohesive read. Each is fashioned to be a stand alone read; one can understand and appreciate the second book without having read the first. The target audiences might be the same or similar, or could perhaps be different; patients experiencing a cancer diagnosis might resonate more with Book #1, while doctors and nurses as well as general readers would find Book #2 expanding on themes of academic medicine, patient communication, mentorship and so on.
As any author will probably tell you, I also feel my writing style was developing and solidifying as I kept at it; as a result, Book 2 is likely reflecting my personal voice even more so than Book 1. But just as a parent you are not supposed to pick favorites, this might be true of an author and their books as well. It is my sincere hope that readers who enjoyed Mirth is God’s Medicine will find With Mirth and Laughter a compelling read and a glimpse into “what happens next” after the dust settles from a cancer diagnosis.
“Told from the unique perspective of an internist, someone keenly familiar with the ins and outs of the medical system, Dr. Heather Thompson provides a glimpse into the therapeutic process, seen through the fresh eyes of a vulnerable patient. From her vantage point, she soon realizes that we are all connected, and that the medical journey of one woman’s breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and care involves a whole host of individuals from the radiologist who reads the scans to the scheduler who facilitates appointments. Mirth is God’s Medicine is the story of a wife, a mother, and a physician stepping into the shoes of a patient. It is not only informative, but it is full of valuable insight and observations for doctors, nurses, and other clinicians, as well as medical students and residents, direct from one of their own.” –Margaret Lesh, Author of Let Me Get This Off My Chest: A Breast Cancer Survivor Over-Shares
“For anyone who has dealt with, or is in the process of dealing with, a serious physical diagnosis, and for all attending physicians, this book will move you deeply. It offers a wealth of insight into ways of approaching each step along the way, told through the mind and heart of a physician, now also a patient who is sharing what she is going through as it takes place. From breaking the news to spouse and children, to dealing with fears and mental projections, to listening to one’s own needs and inner wisdom, this book makes the entire enterprise one of exploration and learning, as one deals with all the challenges that present themselves. This book is not about hiding from what’s happening, but about allowing the experience of each step to teach you what you need to know as you go. It is the perfect example of the way in which life supports you when you are open and receptive, no matter the situation.”–Sarah Susanka, best-selling author of The Not So Big House and The Not So Big Life series
“After a breast cancer diagnosis lands her on the other side of the stethoscope, author Heather Thompson Buum writes with delightful candor about what happens when the doctor becomes the patient. Mirth is God’s Medicine is an insightful, inspiring read for those us looking for joy on some of life’s most difficult journeys.”–Roxane Battle, former Kare 11 News Anchor and Author, Pockets of Joy
Reader Reviews from Amazon:
“Who knew that a book about cancer could make me laugh? Dr. Thompson Buum takes the serious subject of her own breast cancer diagnosis and tells her story in a way that not only touches your heart, but tickles your funny bone. I felt as if I were right along side of her as she balanced the many roles in her life; from physician, wife, mother and cancer patient, to ultimately, her role as a breast cancer survivor. This book is an incredible read, not just for those whose lives are unfortunately touched by breast cancer, but by everyone who needs to be reminded of the healing strength of love, family and laughter.”
“Mirth is God’s Medicine is a wonderful book I highly recommend about a woman’s journey through the diagnosis of breast cancer from a unique perspective, a physician’s perspective; only the physician in this case is the patient. Dr. Thompson graciously opens up her life in the book through stories; some of which are humorous, others are serious, and still others poignant (but I guarantee you the book will make you laugh). You see in the book, the things she learns about Medicine that are not taught in Medical School, but patients learn them all the time. The book is funny and witty and you see that all cancer patients are united in the things that they have to go through. Cancer patients will find this book an entertaining journey they can easily relate too while physicians might learn a lot about what patients really actually go through, when they are initially going through the process of being diagnosed with cancer. The book is heartfelt and you can see the personal journey that she is on and the book lets us join in for the ride.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The perspective and inner thoughts of Dr. Heather as a patient were thoughts we could all understand, because of her transparency. I laughed outloud several times as she noted things that were NOT patient-friendly. Her humility was refreshing! Her Doctor perspective was impressive, showing her incredible intelligence – and her obvious care for her patients was heartwarming. Her detailed expression of her love of music, her respect for her mentors, her gratitude towards those who work with her and her love of family reveal her faith in God and an understanding of spiritual things.”
“”Mirth” is the story of an attentive, caring doctor who suddenly finds herself a cancer patient. As a doc, she has privileges many people don’t have (like a good, analytical brain, a lot of medical knowledge, and lots of personal connections with medical providers). Nonetheless, her journey through the challenges and fears of a significant diagnosis is difficult, and the story she tells shows that she has gained new perspectives on the patient’s experience, and that this will inform her practice ongoing in important ways. Definitely a book worth reading.”
“This book is the inner dialogue of a doctor newly diagnosed with cancer, with logical medical insight as well as illogical thoughts flying through her mind. The writing is vivid, like you’re in her shoes. There are many laughs as well! Even though the author is a doctor, anyone can relate to her experiences of being a patient. Events like these define us as a person, and it’s a privilege to read about some of the author’s defining moments in life.”
“This memoir is incredibly well written and details a physician’s journey with breast cancer. We travel with Dr. Thompson through her initial shock, to acceptance and eventually to a change in her perspective as a physician. This provides a unique glimpse of medicine through the eyes of a physician patient. It is witty and funny and I laughed out loud during parts. Very well done.”