In I’ve Seen the End of You (WaterBrook, Jan.), neurosurgeon Warren shares experiences that have led to the transformation of his medical practice and his relationship with God.
Why did you want to write this book?
After returning from the Iraq War, I struggled with PTSD. I refused to talk about my experiences. I found that writing helped me work through my emotions and allowed me to begin going deeper into the questions I had about faith. In my medical practice, I kept feeling that I was not being honest with my patients if I allowed them to hold on to hope when all of my training and experience in treating brain cancer made me believe their condition was fatal. So, I decided to write this book to try to decipher this philosophical issue which was essentially a spiritual one.
Did your focus evolve during the writing process?
Yes and no. I began this book wanting to figure out how best to help my patients deal with terminal cancer. In the midst of writing, however, our son Mitch died tragically, and the book turned out to be a process of discovering how to help myself cope with loss, as well. It is very personal, much more so that I had initially thought it would be.
Have your convictions or beliefs changed over your career?
I thought I had seen it all with glioblastoma, that I knew for certain the progress and timeline of the disease and I could even predict when my patients would die. However, then I started noticing that sometimes what I thought would happen, didn’t.
What did you learn?
I learned that physical life or death is not the same thing as spiritual life or death. When my son died, suddenly everything became personal. I wondered if this devastating loss would break me. I wondered where God was, and how he could have allowed this to happen. I discovered that God was still there, and I could be angry with him and not have any answers, but that I don’t have to understand. What is important is what I do with what I have been given, and whether I allow myself to be transformed and sanctified by my experience.
How have your experiences changed your medical practice?
I can credibly tell patients that I don’t know how things will turn out, but that I believe they will be able to face and handle challenges. Hopelessness is a cancer for the spirit. They have control over what their disease does to their spirit. Now, I bring all of myself to my patients, as I can hold faith and science together cohesively.