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Joanne Lynn, M.D. is Director of the Center To Improve Care of the Dying. Joan Harrold, M.D., is a Fellow, National Cancer Institute. The development of team for the book included experts in many disciplines and used input from focus groups to ensure that the content was relevant and complete. Proceeds frome the sale of this Book will be devoted to the education and reform efforts of Americans For Better Care Of The Dying, an advocacy group dedicated to quality improvement for end of life care.
There is an overall tone to the book which is encouraging without denying the difficult realities of living with serious illness. The authors understand that readers must be empowered to live life on their own terms and find opportunities for growth even in the darkest of situations. Early on the book tackles the question "How do you handle the urgent need to find meaning for yourself in what is soon to be a completed life?"
There's a wealth of sensible advice on how to make decisions about care, where to find support and treatment resources, how to communicate with physicians, how to get effective pain management, when to let go of medical treatment, issues in hastening death, and a host of other fundamental concerns. There's a discussion of the ethical issues of assisted suicide that balances arguments from several sides of the question. The book handles many specialized situations, with details on several common disease processes and types of death. A solid resource guide points readers to major sources of information for further study and support.
The book achieves all of this without looking or reading like a textbook. Sensitive photographs, poetry, and anecdotes appear on almost every page, giving support and encouragement while conveying the reality of the subject matter. The balance between content and presentation is extremely well done, making the book accessible to a general audience while still having enough detail to be of value to medical professionals.
Overall the book is a remarkable achievement and should hold a place on the "short list" of books with universal application in end of life care.