A surgical life by Donald E. Low
4 May 2023
9 December 2022
When he is diagnosed with cancer, Tiziano Terzani, an Italian journalist and writer, looks back at his whole life, and realises it has been a long ride on a merry-go-round, for which he never paid a ticket. When “sentenced” with cancer, he feels that the ticket collector is demanding his dues. After being seen by several doctors and Western-medicine specialists, he starts to have existential doubts, questioning the role of physicians, and asking himself whether the cancer is an enemy to be destroyed or a part of himself. During his entire life, he had always been a traveler; so, it becomes natural for him to start a new journey. around the world and inside his soul. Travelling leads him to India, where his most difficult trip begins. Every choice is linked to his own survival, oscillating between science and magic. Eventually, this becomes an inner journey, one which will lead him to the roots of man.
Why surgeons should read it:
Diagnosing cancer is something most surgeons have become used to doing. Most are used to communicating such information to patients and relatives, which requires a human touch and communication skills. However, even the most empathetic surgeon might find it difficult to understand what it really means to receive such a diagnosis, which to many patients, sounds like a sentence of death and suffering, frequently involving their family and the people around them. This book provides insights on what patients can experience, offering a perspective of them as a person rather than a patient, each different from the other. Readers will also find themselves questioning some truths they take for granted and will embrace alternative ways of looking at things. Some episodes described will make readers smile, others will move them to tears; but at the end of this poetic description of a potential tragedy, they will be enriched, and, hopefully, also become better doctors and surgeons.
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