The Miracle In Front Of You: Raymond Barfield On Practicing Medicine With Compassion



I first met physician Raymond Barfield in 2009 in Tunisia, where doctors and other health professionals had gathered to talk about how to improve care for people with cancer and HIV/AIDS. I heard Barfield speak eloquently of the need to bridge the worlds of medicine and the spirit. On the trip home to the U.S., during a layover in the Paris airport, I spotted Barfield hunched over a notebook and writing in longhand. He told me he was working on a novel and that he also wrote poetry and played guitar. I remember thinking, Isn’t healing the sick enough for one lifetime? Honestly I may have just felt jealous.

After the conference Barfield and I kept in touch. A few years ago I developed a painful condition called burning mouth syndrome, and he has assisted me in my struggle to find a treatment that works, often reminding me that art can help the healing process. He encourages me to see the beauty of the everyday, something he does in his own life, not only in his daily practice as a doctor who cares for children living with cancer and other serious illnesses, but also as a musician and writer.

Read the rest of the excerpt here. And even better, buy a hard copy if you can–subscribe! It is one of the best magazines around. I’ve been a subscriber for years–maybe 20 or more? I first read it in the mid-1980s while having a drink across the street from Guilford College.  Meeting Ray, reading The Sun, graduating from Guilford have all been transformative time in my life.

key words: Raymond Barfield, children with cancer, spirituality and health, compassionate care, medical education, medical training, World Health Organization, Duke University, pediatric oncology, palliative care, empathy in training