In this episode, we have a heartfelt conversation with Lee Tomlinson, author of the book “Compassion Heals: From Self-Care to Healthcare.” Lee shares his personal journey as a patient and the importance of compassion in healthcare. His story sheds light on the need for human connection and empathy between physicians and patients.

Lee starts by expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to share his experiences and insights with the listeners. Having spent a significant amount of time in hospitals, Lee understands the dynamics between healthcare professionals and patients. His book aims to bring the patient’s perspective and promote compassion in healthcare.

Lee’s journey began when he visited his ear, nose, and throat doctor for breathing problems before participating in a golf championship. Unexpectedly, he received a devastating diagnosis of stage three to stage four throat cancer. The subsequent intensive treatment and the additional challenges of a septic infection pushed Lee to the brink of despair.

Feeling unsupported and lacking compassion during this difficult time, Lee contemplated ending his life. However, a pivotal moment came when his Doctor (and brother-in-law) visited him in the hospital. The doctor’s heartfelt apology and encouragement to fight reignited Lee’s will to live and inspired him to advocate for compassion in healthcare.

Lee emphasizes that compassion is not just a heartfelt sentiment, but a scientifically proven force that can enhance healing outcomes. He cites studies and references the book “Compassion-omics,” which explores the healing power of compassion and its positive impact on patients, healthcare providers, and the overall bottom line of healthcare organizations.

Throughout his journey, Lee has shared his story and mission with various pharma companies, physician organizations, and hospitals, including Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and UCLA Hospital. He finds therapeutic value in sharing his experiences and witnessing how his message resonates with others. His storytelling abilities, honed through his background in Hollywood studios and the film institute, allow him to convey his story in a compelling and impactful manner.

Lee’s ultimate goal is to ensure that patients receive the compassion they deserve while also advocating for the well-being of healthcare providers. He believes that compassion is a powerful tool for preventing burnout among healthcare professionals and urges them to prioritize self-care and kindness. Lee’s mission has touched the hearts of many, prompting them to reflect on their own experiences and commit to being more compassionate in their roles.

Highlight Quotes:

  • “If you’re lucky enough to live, how about you use your voice to communicate to healthcare professionals the absolute necessity of being treated with compassion and the power it has to heal you when it’s present and the horrible impact when it’s not.”
  • “When you are burned out, one of the greatest tools is just to go out and be kind… Being kind will heal you and your burnout.”
  • “It’s nice to be nice. But it has immense, sometimes lifesaving and life-giving power that we ought to use for ourselves.”

If you’re having an immediate suicidal crisis or emotional distress, I do want to remind you of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US. It’s 1-800-273-TALK, and if you’re listening elsewhere, please find your local suicide prevention line.