Joseph D. Stern, MD
Neurosurgeon, Author, Inventor
Propelled by my younger sister Victoria’s surprise diagnosis of acute leukemia, an unsuccessful bone marrow transplant, and later her death, followed by her husband Pat’s death from a ruptured cerebral aneurysm, orphaning their two children, I have been exploring the impact her illness had on me, as well as the personal experiences of physicians and patients going through similarly disruptive losses. Victoria wrote a powerful journal about her nearly eight-month hospitalization, which I have incorporated into a memoir: “Grief Connects Us: A Neurosurgeon’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and Compassion,”published by Central Recovery Press in 2021. 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 we can improve health care delivery to achieve these goals. In my TED Talk I discuss the importance of abandoning emotional armor in favor of greater emotional agility.