``Listening is the hardest work I do,'' says Rosenblum, a Maryland oncologist. Here, he shares what he has learned about the skill of listening through his dealings with thousands of cancer- stricken patients during the past 25 years. The author, who once spent a year studying the Book of Job, finds no easy way to help those facing the fearsome disease of cancer. Noting that the ears are the most sensitive barometers for measuring human suffering, Rosenblum urges doctors, other health professionals, and relatives and friends of those with cancer to learn to listen sensitively. This learning process is an endless one, judging from the doctor's accounts of his own trials and errors. He re-creates his conversations with many patients, revealing his thoughts about these encounters and reflecting on what he learned from them. Some patients are recalled briefly, but Rosenblum returns repeatedly to one ``Toby,'' describing how the relationship between the two evolved and how the doctor found himself responding to Toby's changing needs. Although each patient has a unique personality and history, Rosenblum sees among them several common reactions to cancer: anger; anxiety; denial; a need for information and self-esteem; a will to fight; and an awareness of approaching death. Coping with these responses requires compassionate listening, and clearly Rosenblum has mastered the art. To those who would like to do the same, he offers no quick and easy guide. A winner of the American Cancer Society's award for public education, Rosenblum teaches by showing us what he does and demonstrating convincingly how important it is to try. Poignant recollections of one physician's long experience in listening to what people with cancer say—and don't say.
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