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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
A passionate and intelligent memoir, The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles: An Oncologist's Journey by Rana Bitar, M.D. chronicles her life from her humble beginnings growing up in Damascus, Syria to becoming an oncologist. The author had her first taste of disappointment in pursuit of her medical dreams when she failed to secure an immediate visa to attend medical school in the U.S. But this didn’t discourage her from moving to the United States to further her education until she became a fully-fledged doctor in 1998. What follows are her colorful and memorable experiences in the medical field particularly in dealing with patients coming from different walks of life. This is a rare and powerful illustration of a doctor-patient relationship.
Rana Bitar has created a significant impact on the lives of her patients and vice versa. If you have ever wondered why a doctor-patient relationship is important, it is because it does not limit itself to being part of the patient’s holistic process, but such a relationship involves vulnerability and trust. The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles is one of the most moving and meaningful memoirs written by a doctor. Rana Bitar’s prose flows without being too lachrymose. At its core, it shows a profound relationship between Bitar and the patients under her care where autonomy, confidentiality, treatment options, and consent become tools in shaping mutual trust and regard. You can clearly see that Bitar’s capacity for empathy and compassion has been shaped by her own struggles, and this makes for an appealing sentiment that the book has rightfully earned. This is a moving tale that will appeal to anyone who enjoys life writing.