Remembering Our Humanity in Clinical Care
Aug 25, 2016 2:03 PM
Every once in a while, an opportunity arises for us to impact the world around us and to demonstrate our humanity in the midst of the hardest trials. While only in her third year of medical school at the University of Utah, Daniela Anderson (MS2018) is already providing care, hope and love through her gifted storytelling and intricate watercolor paintings in her moving children’s book, The Moon Prince and the Sea.
The book is based on a true tale of two young people, Sumit and Marina, who form a special bond across oceans. While both face terminal illness, they find joy and beauty as they journey together on a mysterious and magical adventure. With Daniela’s vivid and evocative watercolors illustrated throughout the book, she infuses a story of illness and pain with hope that can fill even the saddest hearts with peace.
I had the honor of attending Daniela’s book launch at the Eccles Health Sciences Library, where the entire audience was captivated by both her reading and by the love she continues to hold for the two main characters whom she befriended in real life.
Daniela met Sumit, a young boy with a debilitating autoimmune disease, while volunteering in India. To keep flies away from his wounds, Sumit wore a yellow cape. To Daniela, his cape was a symbol of royalty—and she transformed him into the moon prince. Marina, whose name means “of the sea,” was a talented classical violinist and Daniela’s college roommate. She was diagnosed with leukemia in her sophomore year.
Sumit and Marina, while never having met in real life, were introduced to one another through letters from Daniela. They passed away within 12 days of one another.
What is unique about The Moon Prince and the Sea is the eloquent way in which Daniela shifts to the inevitable topic of death. While the subject can easily be glossed over in children’s books, Daniela uses an open-ended storytelling approach that allows parents to use their own comforting words to tell children what ultimately happens in Sumit’s and Marina’s journey. For families, and especially children, who have been plunged into the complex world of medicine and disease, I cannot think of a more gentle approach.
And while Daniela never administered medicine to either child, I am certain that her friendship, compassion and humanity were a most comforting treatment for her friends. As I reflect on this beautiful book, I am reminded of the importance of remembering our humanity as we provide clinical care.
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