Until last fall, I had spent a considerable part of my career as a health- care lawyer, first in state government and then in the private sector. I came to know a lot about health-care policy and management, government regulations and contracts. But I knew little about the delivery of care.
All that changed on November 7, 1994, when at age 40 I was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. In the months that followed, I was subjected to chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and news of all kinds, most of it bad. It has been a harrowing experience for me and for my family. And yet, the ordeal has been punctuated by moments of exquisite compassion. I have been the recipient of an extraordinary array of human and humane responses to my plight. These acts of kindness -- the simple human touch from my caregivers -- have made the unbearable bearable.