Dr. Farrell grew up in Sacramento. He studied film and creative writing at Stanford University and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon, writing a collection of short stories for his thesis and teaching undergraduate courses for two years. Realizing that much of his creative work explored illness and, more specifically, oncology, he began pursuing a career in medicine. Dr. Farrell attended medical school at Oregon Health & Science University, where he conducted small cell lung cancer research and led classes in narrative medicine. He stayed in Portland for his preliminary year in internal medicine at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. After, he moved to LA with his wife, a fellow physician, to join the UCLA Radiation Oncology Residency Program.