I AM INDEBTED to Karen Edmondson for seeing the potential in this project from day one and for enthusiastically guiding me through its early stages of development. Karen models the same empathy that I hope to foster in clinicians who read this book. Many thanks to the editorial staff at McGraw Hill for skillfully helping me carry this book across the finish line.
Eduardo Bruera is a constant source of inspiration for his courage in blazing new trails in medical practice, for always focusing on person-centered care, and for making countless, high-impact contributions to the field of palliative medicine. Dr. Bruera has unfailingly promoted palliative care for the betterment of countless patients and their families. He is the most supportive, brilliant, passionate, and warm-hearted leader with whom I have ever worked. He also skillfully uses humor to lighten the mood under stressful circumstances, which arise every day in our care of seriously ill patients. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Bruera for enthusiastically supporting this project from start to finish.
My colleagues in the Department of Palliative, Rehabilitation, and Integrative Medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center, including physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, members of the psychosocial team, and the administrative team, have treated me and each other with the same respect and compassion as they treat our patients and colleagues in other departments. Working on the same team with them is extremely gratifying, because I know we practice medicine every day the way it should be practiced, namely by focusing on people’s humanity rather than on their diseases.
I am also deeply indebted to the countless thousands of patients for whom I have cared over my long career. They inspire me with their courage in the face of terrifying circumstances, endlessly fascinating stories, and love for their families, friends, and spiritual communities. I have always been passionate about medical research and education, but my patients are what bring true meaning to my work.
Finally, my wife, Linda Epner, has been a constant guiding light who has nourished my body and soul for nearly four decades. She not only contributed a beautiful story to the current collection, but also generously gave her time in offering thoughtful and constructive feedback about several aspects of the book. She teaches me and our daughters, Margeaux and Eden, every day about compassion by generously sharing stories from her own ophthalmology practice in a community safety net clinic. Linda, Margeaux, and Eden are my constant sources of light and inspiration.