Wendy S. Harpham, M.D. is a doctor of internal medicine, best-selling author, long-term cancer survivor, and mother of three. Throughout her career as a practitioner, author, lecturer and patient advocate, Dr. Harpham has fulfilled her mission, "To help others through the synergy of science and caring." (author photo by Roger Fowler)
Born and raised in New York, Dr. Harpham graduated with distinction from Cornell University and the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and she did her post-graduate training in internal medicine in Texas. From 1983 through 1990, Dr. Harpham cared for patients in her solo practice of internal medicine at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas.
In 1990, Dr. Harpham was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and has been in and out of treatment ever since. Forced to redefine her career, she saw opportunities to use her unique perspective as a physician-patient to help cancer patients and their families. Dr. Harpham turned to writing as a way to continue to educate, comfort and inspire others. Adapting the principles of her office and drawing upon her own experiences as a patient, she has written award-winning books for newly diagnosed patients and their families, survivors dealing with recovery and long-term survivorship, and parents with cancer and their children.
Since her books are informational—and not autobiographical—each book begins with a brief prologue in which she shares her personal story as it relates to the topic of the book. Her first book, Diagnosis: Cancer. Your Guide Through the First Few Months, was written during the months of her initial chemotherapy, bringing to it a valuable combination: the mind-set of a newly diagnosed patient and the experience of an internist. The third edition (June 2003) has a new subtitle: Your Guide to the First Months of Healthy Survivorship. Her second book, After Cancer, was begun during her first remission, but much of it was written while she was undergoing various courses of treatment for her first few recurrences of cancer. Her book for parents, When a Parent has Cancer, unlike her first two books, includes personal vignettes throughout the text. Dr. Harpham explains, "Dr. Harpham wrote my first two books. Mommy Harpham wrote this one. I share my personal story not to teach people about me but to help them think about, talk about and better understand what is happening to them. I hope that others can learn from my successes and mistakes, and more easily find what can work well for them."
Since December 2005, Dr. Harpham has been writing a regular column- View From the Other Side of the Stethoscope- for the professional magazine, Oncology Times. She addresses common challenges to the care of the cancer patient from her vantage as physician-survivor. Dr. Harpham received the silver award from American Society of Healthcare Publications in the category “Regular Column: Contributed.”
In addition to her writing, Dr. Harpham has become a nationally recognized speaker for professional and lay—general public, survivor groups—audiences. She teaches people how to obtain sound knowledge, find and nourish hope, and act effectively when dealing with illness. Among the many aspects of survivorship she discusses are optimizing the clinician-patient relationship, dealing with cancer-related fatigue, helping the children (preschoolers, school-aged kids, teens) of cancer patients, understanding clinical trials, finding hopefulness in difficult times, and embracing life after cancer.
Dr. Harpham devotes her energy to helping survivors directly through her writing and speaking, and indirectly through her activities as a patient advocate. Limited stamina prevents her from returning to clinical medicine at this time. Dr. Harpham lives in Texas with her husband and three children, two of whom are in college. Her hobbies include playing the violin and collecting commemorative thimbles from the cities in which she does work in survivorship.