A cancer diagnosis can change your life forever. And when a doctor receives a cancer diagnosis, it can also change the way they practice medicine. Just ask Marie Carlson, MD, Duke GIM Assistant Professor of Medicine.
This week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows Dr. Carlson as the author of a powerful "A Piece of My Mind" article entitled You Did Not Teach Me What You Thought You Did.
In it, Dr. Carlson shares her story of being diagnosed with leukemia in 2013 and her struggle with trying to return to work a year after treatment and a stem-cell transplant.
"It is the story of being chronically ill, while working among the well. It is the story of being diseased while wearing the healer’s white coat. It is, most painfully, being fully human among those who know human bodies most intimately."
Just when Carlson started to question if her life still had meaning as a doctor, she ran into a previous student who had been wanting to thank her about a conversation they had years before about work-life balance.
"This former student reminded me that we are often not teaching what we think we are. He probably remembered little of my talk on inpatient management of diabetes, but instead it was a moment of honest reflection on work and family that guided him."
Archambault Carlson M. You Did Not Teach Me What You Thought You Did. JAMA. 2019;322(16):1555–1556. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.15849