top of page

"If I die, I'll leave a beautiful world."

This is an interview for the upcoming book Healing Happens: 23 Stories of Healing Against All Odds.

Avital: Bernie Siegel, MD, has transitioned from being a pediatric surgeon to running support groups and being a life coach. He has written numerous books, including Love, Medicine, and Miracles. He developed a therapy program called Exceptional Cancer Patients, in which he utilizes patients’ drawings, dreams, images, and feelings to create a system of care-frontation. He has been designated one of the top twenty spiritually influential people by Watkins Review.

Avital: Would you tell us about somebody you helped heal beyond what we normally see in the practice of medicine.

Bernie: One of my first lessons was years ago with a landscaper, John, who was retiring and had developed an ulcer. Doctors assumed it had been caused by stress because he was about to make a big transition in his life.

John’s ulcer didn’t heal, so the doctors did an endoscopy and biopsy, and discovered it was cancer, not just a stress ulcer. I said, “John, you’ve been walking around with this thing for quite a while. We’ve got to get you in the hospital and get it out of there.” He replied, “You forgot something.”I asked, “What did I forget?” He responded, “It’s springtime. I’m going home to make the world beautiful, so if I die I’ll leave a beautiful world.”He wasn’t trying not to die but was focused on making the world beautiful.

A few weeks later he came back and said, “Okay, I’m ready.” After the surgery and the report, I had to tell him, “I couldn’t get all the cancer out. You need to get chemotherapy, maybe radiation.” He replied, “No, you forgot something.” I asked, “What did I forget this time?” He responded: “It’s still springtime. I don’t have time for more treatments. I’m going home to make the world beautiful. If I die, I’ll leave a beautiful world.” And he left.

One day six years later the nurse in our office handed me John’s chart. I said, “He must be dead; he never came back. We must have two patients with the same name. Get the other chart.” She replied, “Bernie, open the door.” So I opened the door, and there sat John, who said, “I have a hernia from lifting boulders in my landscape business.” I took care of his hernia.

Then John became my teacher. I spent a lot of time with him, walking in the woods and seeing how beautiful the world was through his eyes. He changed me; after that, while jogging or biking I would pull up little plants because they looked so pretty I wanted to put them in my yard. John lived well into his nineties. When his wife died, he turned off his switch, so to speak, and died shortly thereafter. I spoke at their seventieth wedding anniversary,telling people how John had taught me to appreciate the beauty in the world. Seeing beauty and valuing relationships are common themes in the lives of people who enjoy health and longevity.

To learn more about the book Healing Happens: 23 Stories of Healing Against All Odds, and discover more inspirational stories and transformative health and healing tips, please visit:

To connect with Dr. Bernie Siegel, please visit

RSS Feed

Subscribe to Blog

Congrats! You’re subscribed

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page