A3. Encountering the Limits of Medicine

Larry came to visit me from California during my second year of medical school.  He was proud to tell me that he had received his driver’s license, and that he was thinking about a science-related job to take after high school.


Larry had grown thinner over the years and coughed frequently throughout his entire visit.  But the sparkle in his eyes and joy of life remained.  We visited museums in the city and saw a Chicago Cubs baseball game.  I introduced Larry to some of my medical school friends and showed him some of my textbooks. 


“You’ll soon be able to help me,” he said enthusiastically.


“I’m working as hard as I can,” I replied.


“See you next year,” he said as I saw him off at the airport.


“I look forward to it!” I said, while wondering whether Larry could beat the odds and live a long time.


During my medical studies I often thought about how I might apply what I learned to helping patients with cystic fibrosis.  But as I found out about our extensive understanding of how our bodies work and how to treat illnesses, I also recognized that certain topics were not discussed in our classrooms.  For example, how should a physician react if faced with a patient who actively injures himself, such as a patient who smokes cigarettes or a patient who will not adhere to the treatment plan?  And how do you help a patient for whom medications do not work?


Thus, I was deeply affected when I first encountered Mr. Sharp, a 62-year-old graying man who was dying.  Despite aggressive chemotherapy for his cancer, his disease had progressed relentlessly.  My interactions with Mr. Sharp shed light for me regarding some of the limits of medical therapy, as well as many end of life issues.  In this way, the breadth of my medical education rapidly expanded beyond the boundaries of what was taught to us.




Ran D. Anbar, MD is the founder of Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California.  Before founding Center Point Medicine, Dr. Anbar was Director of the Division of Pediatric Pulmonology at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY.  For more information about Dr. Anbar and the medical counseling and hypnosis services provided at Center Point Medicine, please contact info@centerpointmedicine.com.

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A26. Another Synchronicity of Events

After living in Syracuse for a number of years, my wife said that she was tired of the difficult winter weather there, which affected the city nearly half of each year.

A25. Guided through Life

During the summer prior to medical school I met with the Cantor at my parents’ synagogue and asked him to help me to continue to learn how to chant from the Torah.

A24. Finding my Spiritual Self

The amazing events with DJ reinforced ideas and feelings about life that I had been developing for a couple of decades. Thus far I have shared how my involvement with the world of medicine helped instruct me about how life can work.

A23. Return of a Friend

During the following two weeks until DJ’s next appointment with me, I kept thinking about the remarkable lessons that DJ and his subconscious were teaching.

A22. The Role of a Leader

DJ brought a copy of “Dharma Bums” to his next visit with me two weeks later. “You were right!” he exclaimed. “The part about the paths was not in the book.”