fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

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fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

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November 2015

on earth as it is in heaven

On Earth As It Is in Heaven

Trisha Paul

About the artist: 

Trisha Paul is a second-year medical student at the University of Michigan. She recently published a book based on her undergraduate thesis called Chronicling Childhood Cancer: A Collection of Personal Storiees by Children and Teens with Cancer. Trisha blogs about her experiences learning, researching and teaching about illness narratives at

About the artwork:

“I started volunteering with children with cancer when I was a teenager. My experience in pediatric oncology awakened me to the reality that disease can affect anyone, even kids. But the realization that terminally ill children face the prospect of death every day was jarring. I began to wonder what it must be like for people to face death. I don’t know what prompted me to take this picture. In retrospect, I imagine this is what death looks like, or feels like. On death’s door, the vast promise of something more (perhaps heaven) lies ahead–pure and » Continue Reading.

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A Grandson’s Tale

Jonathan Gotfried

From my wife’s grandparents’ Manhattan apartment, I could hear the noises of traffic and pedestrians in Central Park, seven floors below. The sounds made a refreshing change from the beeping monitors, overhead pages and ringing phones that are the usual backdrop to my work as a physician in a large Philadelphia medical center. Here the only background conversations I heard were those of loved ones in the kitchen, not those of patients’ family members, overheard through flimsy curtains ringing an adjacent bed.

The hospice nurse quietly moved about the apartment. My wife sat close by her grandfather, Werner (whom we called Saba, Hebrew for grandfather), speaking softly with him as he lay there in bed. Our two-year-old son sat nearby, dutifully flipping through a Dr. Seuss book, occasionally drawing my attention to a funny-looking fish or tree.

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MRI of a Child’s Auricle

Blaise Allen

From this view of your ear
I see folds of fissures,
curves of shell washed
clean by briny tears. I see
Three delicate bones of
middle ear: malleus, incus
and stapes, the smallest
bones in the human body.
I see angular vestibules,
skull and sockets. Labyrinth
of tubes, tympanic drums.
But there is no pitch or timbre.
Not one note of a lullaby.
Not even one tiny rhyme.

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You Have a Split Personality

Raymond Abbott

I am a social worker working with severely mentally ill adults. One of my clients is Lawrence Walters, a small, thin man in his late fifties, very schizophrenic even while on medication. He talks about spirits holding him down, making him do things he doesn’t wish to do. He is impossible when off meds, tolerable when on, and difficult just about all the time. But at last I’ve got an edge on Lawrence–and it’s not because of any particular social-work skill.

Lawrence often asks me to take him places–usually shopping, but sometimes to medical appointments, such as an eye exam. (Lawrence is missing one eye, which some say he himself poked out when especially ill. I can’t confirm this story, however, and I’ve not asked him.)

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Meningioma Catenaccio

Psammoma Bodies with Whorls

Eva Catenaccio

About the artist: 

Eva Catenaccio is a medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, NY. “I spent my summer rotating with the neurology service. I have always been a visual artist, but have found that as I used sketching to help me study anatomy and histology I became increasingly captivated by the inherent beauty of the human body across a spectrum of function to dysfunction. I like to imagine the patients who I meet examining the work for its validity as a reflection of their own illness experience.”

About the artwork:

“This is a digitally edited reproduction, in colored pencil on paper, of a microscope slide of cells from a meningioma, the most common tumor arising in the brain. Meningiomas are usually benign and often slow growing, but their location can cause serious neurological problems. I drew this after taking care of a young woman with a newly diagnosed brain mass. Participating

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