Oliver Sacks published a piece today for The New York Times in which he discusses the discovery that he has terminal cancer. I am devastated by the news of his health. This is a man I admire for his ability to empathize with nearly everyone. One of his books, simply titled Migraine, has remained a vital text for me personally. Reading that book was the first time I ever felt a doctor was truly empathetic to the unique form of pain I deal with.
In his article he wrote something that will stick with me and I wanted to share it here:
When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.
The main way he seemed to show this empathy was by simply listening to and believing the patients he was writing about. It is unfortunate how many doctors lack this basic skill. ↩