Facing Death – With Hope

Click to enlarge

An updated edition of the “Facing Death” chapter from my first book, with a new prolog


This book is for people who are staring death in the face and are wondering, “What on earth do I do now?”

Update: during my trip to the Mayo Clinic as Visiting Professor in 2015, their “Healing Words” in-patient TV program invited me to an interview and reading about this subject. Post and video here.

Every day in America, 4,000 people learn they have cancer. Other patients get other mortal diagnoses, and still others learn their cases have worsened. They all come face to face, for the first time, with the question: “Am I going to die, now? Has my time come?”

In 2007 it was me: I learned I was almost dead with Stage IV cancer, and I stared into that abyss. The story of that diagnosis, drama, treatment and success is in my first book, Laugh, Sing and Eat Like a Pig. It includes a chapter on facing death. I’m self-publishing an updated version now, stand-alone at a minimal price, in the hope it will help others on their journey.

The title talks about hope, but this book does not say “Think lovely thoughts and you’ll live forever.” To the contrary, it says:

People who’ve faced imminent death share a certain awareness. If you’ve just joined those ranks, welcome. You should know, some of us live through it, and some don’t. You will be one or the other.

In the end we’re left with the question: What could be said that would make any difference?

There are no guarantees. It’s not scientific to expect extraordinary results; but neither is it scientific to deny hope. This booklet’s about being awake to life, for as long as we have it.


Release Date: September, 2011.

Table of Contents

  • Prolog: Discovering the Cancer, Discovering the Odds
  • Facing Death
  • “Prepare Yourself  to Follow Me.”
  • Radical Acceptance
  • “I don’t know.  But we will try.”
  • About hope
  • Being scientific  about the unknown
  • Reality is what it is – whether we know it or not
  • “We came to give you hope”
  • “An incredible life force”
  • Epilog

Size: 5×8,” 38 pages

ISBN-13: 978-1466302891

Why print something that was already blogged?

I want everyone who wants this message to be able to have it, so the body of the book (the reprinted chapter) was published last year on KevinMD’s blog, where anyone in need can read it free.

But a lot of people like booklets, especially for a topic like death, where support groups meet, churches give handouts, etc. Plus, this edition includes a new prolog, which provides context. It makes this a standalone, self-sufficient book.

And in the process, I needed to add a (short!) recap of my story, for newcomers. And I saw several things I wanted to add.

About the Price ($5.00):

I’m self-publishing this using Amazon’s “CreateSpace” system, which is pretty amazing in its automation. (My career was in graphic arts technology, so I have some sense of what it means to do it well.)

The CreateSpace pricing system is pre-defined and not bad at all! I used every option I could to keep the price low without selling at a loss.  And at 38 pages with color cover, it’s cheaper than copying it at Kinko’s.

6 comments to Facing Death – With Hope

  • Thank you for your talk on TEDx it is most encourageing and your blogs on Hope I have had Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s and i find your comments helpfull I am 71 years of age and going strong
    Thank you
    Bertie Hemphill

    • e-Patient Dave

      Bertie, your September comment arrived when I was just starting my fall travel blitz – I’m so sorry I didn’t notice it and respond then! Thanks so much for your note, and I’m thrilled that you’re still going strong.

  • Dianne

    Dave, I saw your talk in Washington (about 2012) when my husband received an award. Of course one never thinks circumstances such as you faced will apply to oneself. It was only a week ago – yes, it seems like three weeks, that I received a very sobering diagnosis from an endometrial biopsy, with a cell type – clear cell – that is quite aggressive. Tomorrow is my PET scan and if it is okay, I go to an MRI to see if my surgery on Friday can be laparoscopic. I immediately was able to connect with a gynecological oncologist at MGH, but should the PET scan be bad (I’ll know by Tues), then I have other local options in Boston and will in any case talk to Ursula at Dana Farber and see what studies I can get into. It seems a woman I know had an even worse diagnosis (sarcoma), and she successfully went through a new treatment that may have cured her. But I know your message is that cancer can possibly be (if not fatal) a chronic illness. I am old enough at almost 66 to have seen much younger people die of disease, and though I am from (on both sides) a family with women making it into their 90’s, I don’t think anything is “written” (to quote T E Lawrence in the movie Lawrence of Arabia). We do not think our fate is written – for good or for ill – and that which could not be overcome yesterday, may be overcome today.

    I faced death one night as an 18 year old victim of a crime (a bad one, for which the FBI was called in by the local prosecutor, a crime never solved). I was sure I was to be killed. Then I wasn’t. So I told myself – it’s all gravy after this. And it has been. Perhaps this has given me the ability (or maybe I had it already) to be cool under the most intense pressure. I might get it from my dad, who was in one of the combat units in Italy during WWII that saw more action than any other in Europe or Japan. He could be cool under pressure, but he could also go ballistic. I am hoping to channel the cool soldier facing down the Germans. So that’s one side of how I am coping so far. There are social dimensions which further illness will test. I am not there yet.

    Your story is inspiring, and I am going to read every word as I comb through it for what I can use. I am going to attack attack attack (the motto of my father’s regiment), the Red Bull. He is no longer on this earth, but I can still learn from him. “You should never underestimate the enemy, but it is just as fatal to overestimate him” – Gen. Patton.

    I am soon to face that landing on the beach. Then we’ll see where we go from there.

    (By the way – as to the social dimension, one of my sister’s tries to baby me and she is dumbfounded that I am thinking in military terms about this. Well, that is from almost being killed once, and needing to strategize even then, psychologically. I figure there are young people with everything going for them who have to face death on a regular basis, voluntarily. I am an old-ish woman who wants to be a lot older before I am finished. Unlike the young, I know there is an end, but I do not anticipate that it is in sight, and I want much more life, and hope to learn from all of it.)

  • Dianne

    Correction, I saw you at the AMIA conference in Washington in 2013.

  • e-Patient Dave

    I just added this at top of this page:

    Update: during my trip to the Mayo Clinic as Visiting Professor in 2015, their “Healing Words” in-patient TV program invited me to an interview and reading about this subject. Post and 30 minute video here.

  • […] a summary of the advice I got in the first few weeks after diagnosis.” His follow up book, Facing Death – With Hope, was released in September […]

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>