I’ve just finished the most amazing book, Not the Last Goodbye. I picked it up because I saw that it was written by David Servan-Schreiber (not because I knew what it was about!).
Shortly after my diagnosis, I devoured his first book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life (a must read, by the way, whether or not you have or have had cancer). What I didn’t know until I started reading it was that this is the story of the last year of his life.
In June 2010, the author received the news that a “gigantic, vein-filled mass” had taken over his frontal lobe, the region that had been operated on twice nearly 20 years before.
Though he acknowledged the fact that the survival rate of this type of cancer recurrence is zero, his “desire to live was very much intact.” Rather than falling into despair, Servan-Schreiber faced his many rounds of hospitalization, surgery and radiation treatment with courageous resolve. He also continued to adhere to the regimen of “physical exercise, yoga, and meditation” that he promoted in his international bestseller Anticancer.
Even when he knew that he was dying, Servan-Schreiber never stopped believing in the value of his holistic approaches, despite his relapse: “The fact that I have lived all these years with such an aggressive form of cancer…is enough to support the idea that it was within my power to contribute positively to my health.”
One of the most powerful aspects of this book is Servan-Schreiber’s authenticity. Essentially, he took full responsibility for having disregarded a key part of his own treatment plan: stress management. Instead he had embarked on an international tour (criss-crossing the Atlantic several times a month) to deliver his Anticancer message. Nevertheless, he concludes that he would not have done it any differently.
As his disease progressed and he drew closer to death, which occurred in July 2011, the psychiatrist turned his thoughts toward “dying well.” That meant getting his affairs in order and, more importantly, saying goodbye to friends and family, forgiving others and seeking forgiveness. For the author, dying was not an inevitable fate that would separate him from the life he so loved. Rather, it was a gift that allowed him to cultivate inner peace and forge even closer ties with those who mattered most. How is that for the ultimate Silver Lining?
This book is powerful, honest, and truly inspiring. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!