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Helping Others through Writing

Just days after her original cancer diagnosis, Dr. Harpham tried to capture on paper what it felt like for a doctor to suddenly find herself on the other side of the stethoscope. Unexpectedly, the effort of finding the right words for her diary distracted her from her nausea and leg pain, without the side effects of narcotics. Writing became therapy for her.

Weeks later, when colleagues expressed gratitude for the useful insights of her finished essay, Dr. Harpham's writing took on new purpose: helping others.

So Dr. Harpham continued writing through the remaining months of chemotherapy, developing a nuts-and-bolts guide for newly diagnosed patients. She intended to leave the finished manuscript in her reception room for her patients. But her husband urged her to submit the manuscript to a major publishing house. Only 48 hours after mailing the packet to WW Norton & Company, she received news most unpublished writers only dream of: "We want your book." Her writing career was launched.

All these years, one thing has never changed: As soon as Dr. Harpham has an insight about illness or healing -- or learns a useful tip -- she shares it as quickly as possible in articles and books, giving it legs so it can help others, too.

In addition to addressing a wide spectrum of medical and practical issues regarding illness and physical healing, Dr. Harpham focuses attention on healing clinician-patient bonds. As she explains in the Epilogue of Only 10 Seconds to Care: "[N]o matter how clinical practice changes in the future, the heart of medicine will always lie deep within the clinician-patient bond."