Welcome to our new blog. My name is Dr. Ben Corn. Some people familiar with my mawkishly sentimental puns assume that I adopted my surname in deference to my "corny" personality. In fact, research shows that often, in the 15th century, when surnames--or family names--became popular, they reflected their owners’ occupations.
“Corn” has no relation to my occupation. I''m an oncologist, a physician who treats cancer patients. Patients might be referred to me for any number of reasons involving, for example, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or information about their prognosis. There’s one commodity, however, that all of my patients seek, so if ever I were to change my surname, I’d call myself Dr. Hope.
Although I maintain hospital privileges at both Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, my office sits perpetually at one location: the precarious junction of hope and fear. Whether or not they have, in fact, been diagnosed with a malignant condition, most of my patients experience a confluence of those two emotions, and a fundamental feature of the physician''s job is to sustain that hope, or if it’s missing, to create it.
During the past three decades of practice, I’ve been developing techniques to do just that. I have read obsessively about hope. I’ve queried mentors and colleagues regarding their hope-related pearls of wisdom and tips. I''ve been curious about the physiology of hope, and I’ve sought to determine whether hope has demonstrable therapeutic value. Some of my ideas about hope might be conventional; others might seem radical, even irreverent. From one end of the conventionality spectrum to the other, the purpose of this new blog is to explore hope together with you.
Two great comedians, Jerry Seinfeld and David Steinberg, contend that the hardest thing in life to do is to make people laugh. Moving someone to laugh, I agree, is tough. Inspiring someone to feel hope--especially someone whose baseline hovers near despair--can be even more challenging, I think. And the effort can be stimulating. The opportunity to inspire a human being to hope is a daunting privilege.
I invite you to help us create a laboratory, perhaps even an incubator, of hope. Let''s test and wrestle with different concepts for the purpose of spawning that precious virtue which most of us crave.
Until next time, please post your comments and questions for our discussion. Then join me here on the first Monday of each month if you, too, are moved, motivated, even turned on by hope.