Writing & Speaking Engagements


Grief as My Guide: A Brother's Loss through a Doctor's Eyes

Childhood PhotoPropelled by my younger sister Victoria’s surprise diagnosis of acute leukemia, an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, and later her death, I have been exploring the impact her illness had on me, as well as the personal experiences of physicians going through similar experiences. Victoria wrote a powerful journal about her nearly eight-month hospitalization, which I have incorporated into a memoir: “Grief As My Guide: A Brother’s Loss Through a Doctor’s Eyes.” In this book, I advocate for greater compassion and empathy in the way we treat each other and our patients and make specific suggestions of how to improve health care delivery to achieve these goals.


In addition to this memoir, I have written a number of essays. These include:

“Grief as My Guide: How My Sister Made Me a Better Doctor.” New York Times, November 14, 2018 “My Continuing Medical Education: The Power of Human Touch.” International Journal for Human Caring.

“The Healing Garden,” the story of two women who overcame their own losses to reclaim an abandoned wetland at the Cone Health Cancer Center, creating a Healing Garden, which provides a powerful connection with nature for patients and their families; a place to mourn, to remember, and to find peace.

Speaking Engagements

“On the Receiving End of Neurosurgical Care: Lessons I Have Learned,” Presented at the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Department of Neurosurgery at The University of Michigan, September 2018

Less than a year after my sister’s death, her husband, Pat, had a subarachnoid hemorrhage from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. He was in a coma in the ICU at UCLA, underwent surgery, and never regained consciousness. I was his healthcare power of attorney and elected, with his family, including his sons, to withdraw care and let him die. This speech recounts what it is like to be on the receiving end of neurosurgical care and how I learned many lessons about how we, as neurosurgeons, can do a better job rendering care in such difficult circumstances. (A transcript of this speech is available on request).

Educational forum with medical students at the University of Michigan Medical School in 2018. I am excited about educational opportunities to speak with residents, medical, and nursing students going forward.

Frankly Speaking “Cone Health: Our Journey to Top Decile Physician Engagement,” Presented with Mickey Foster and Jonathan Berry, MD at Press Ganey Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida November 13, 2018

Keynote Speaker, Palliative Care Colloquium. Moral Distress on Both Sides of the Bedrail: the Toll on Professionals and Family Members to “Do the Right Thing", Archdiocese of Boston, April 6, 2019 YouTube The Pilot

“My Continuing Medical Education: The Power of Human Touch,” 40th Annual IAHC Conference, May 2019 (Podium Presentation) Cone Health Engagement Series: “Grief as My Guide: Lessons From My Sister,” 2019

Frankly Speaking About Cancer with Kim Thiboldeaux, Cancer Support Community, Aired May 21, 2019