Tag Archives: terminal illness

man and woman holding the letters L O V E

Most viewed post #3- To Joey, With Love- a movie review

I’m pleased this post was so popular because it is such a touching story of love and commitment, something we need to hear more about. My thanks to Rory Feek for continuing to share his journey with his words and his music.

To Joey, With Love

A Story of Life, Love, and Hope That Never Dies

90 minutes , with Spanish and English subtitles for the hearing impaired

Provident Films 2016

(affiliate links used in this post)

To Joey, with Love is the intimate, authentic, and transparent story of a couple who met head on two of life’s most difficult challenges- a special needs child and a terminal illness. Rory produced the film because he believed their story needed to be remembered, documented and shared.

To Joey, With Love- A Story of LIfe, Love and Hope That Never Dies

To Joey, With Love- A Story of LIfe, Love and Hope That Never Dies The story of Joey and Rory Feek

Joey and Rory Feek had a successful career as a country music singing duo and a happy 12 year marriage when they decided to take a year off to have a baby. For many years Joey had been afraid to have a baby,fearing she would not be a good mother.

Her pregnancy progressed normally and culminated in a planned at home birth attended by a midwife.Sudden complications forced a trip to a hospital where both mother and baby were stabilized and in no immediate danger.

Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses told Joey and Rory that their much anticipated child had a problem- their new baby girl had Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.

Indie’s challenge- Down Syndrome

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions-

  • congenital heart defects,
  • respiratory and hearing problems,
  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • childhood leukemia and
  • thyroid conditions.

Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

Here are more  Down Syndrome Facts

Trisomy 21 chromosomes

Children with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome, number 21 (see arrow) Diagram courtesy of Dr. Clark Heath of the CDC

Joey’s challenge-Cervical cancer

A few months after their baby Indiana’s birth, Joey  faced the recurrence of cervical cancer diagnosed and treated years before. Despite more surgery, radiation and chemo the cancer persisted until further treatments were futile and and likely to cause more suffering. Joey decided to leave their Nashville farm,her horses, chickens and gardens, to move home to Indiana to spend her remaining time with her extended family.

Faced with the persistence of the cancer

“Joey decided to come home-not to die, but to live.”

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the narrow opening into the uterus from the vagina. More than 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 of women will die.

Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer since the widespread use of the Pap test to detect cervical abnormalities leads to early treatment.

Cancer of the cervix tends to occur during midlife. Half of the women diagnosed with the disease are between 35 and 55 years of age. It rarely affects women under age 20, and approximately 20 percent of diagnoses are women older than 65. Women should ask their doctor how often and for how long they should continue having Pap smears.

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition provides this overview of cervical cancer treatment. overview of cervical cancer treatment

Get the Inside Knowledge about gynecologic cancer.

In 2014 Rory Feek started sharing their lives in a blog and on Facebook which is where I first learned about them. In his “About” ,  Rory writes

“My name is Rory. I want to live a great story. I want to be a better man. I film. I write. I show up. God does the rest…”

Rory kept writing. Eventually, he shared the entire story on the blog, which also lead to his book by the same name, and eventually the movie.

This LIfe I LIve by Rory Feek

This LIfe I Live One man’s extraordinary, ordinary life and THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED IT FOREVER

This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life, and the Woman Who Changed It Forever 

“In This Life I Live, Rory Feek helps us not only to connect more fully to his and Joey’s story but also to our own journeys. He shows what can happen when we are fully open in life’s key moments, whether when meeting our life companion or tackling an unexpected tragedy. He also gives never-before-revealed details on their life together and what he calls “the long goodbye,” the blessing of being able to know that life is going to end and taking advantage of it. Rory shows how we are all actually there already and how we can learn to live that way every day.” (Amazon review)

Here is a link to a book excerpt-

RORY FEEK OPENS UP ABOUT HOW HE MET AND

FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS LATE WIFE, JOEY

And now as a single dad, raising their daughter Indie alone, Rory continues to blog at This Life I Live.

Although I cried throughout ,  I’m glad I watched To Joey, With Love, and recommend it to you, as well as Rory’s book. Follow him at his blog and on Facebook.

 

Movie, book, and music also available at
Barnes & Noble – Free Shipping of $25+

 

Please share with your friends and join me  for the year’s 2nd  most viewed post

Follow Watercress Words as we explore the HEART of HEALTH. 

 

Thanks for your time and interest.

Dr. Aletha 

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man and woman holding the letters L O V E

To Joey, With Love- a movie review

To Joey, With Love

A Story of Life, Love, and Hope That Never Dies

90 minutes , with Spanish and English subtitles for the hearing impaired

Provident Films 2016

(affiliate links used in this post)

To Joey, with Love is the intimate, authentic, and transparent story of a couple who met head on two of life’s most difficult challenges- a special needs child and a terminal illness. Rory produced the film because he believed their story needed to be remembered, documented and shared.

To Joey, With Love- A Story of LIfe, Love and Hope That Never Dies

To Joey, With Love- A Story of LIfe, Love and Hope That Never Dies The story of Joey and Rory Feek

Joey and Rory Feek had a successful career as a country music singing duo and a happy 12 year marriage when they decided to take a year off to have a baby. For many years Joey had been afraid to have a baby,fearing she would not be a good mother.

Her pregnancy progressed normally and culminated in a planned at home birth attended by a midwife.Sudden complications forced a trip to a hospital where both mother and baby were stabilized and in no immediate danger.

Unfortunately, the doctors and nurses told Joey and Rory that their much anticipated child had a problem- their new baby girl had Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome.

Indie’s challenge- Down Syndrome

People with Down syndrome have an increased risk for certain medical conditions-

  • congenital heart defects,
  • respiratory and hearing problems,
  • Alzheimer’s disease,
  • childhood leukemia and
  • thyroid conditions.

Many of these conditions are now treatable, so most people with Down syndrome lead healthy lives.

Here are more  Down Syndrome Facts

Trisomy 21 chromosomes

Children with Down Syndrome have an extra chromosome, number 21 (see arrow) Diagram courtesy of Dr. Clark Heath of the CDC

Joey’s challenge-Cervical cancer

A few months after their baby Indiana’s birth, Joey  faced the recurrence of cervical cancer diagnosed and treated years before. Despite more surgery, radiation and chemo the cancer persisted until further treatments were futile and and likely to cause more suffering. Joey decided to leave their Nashville farm,her horses, chickens and gardens, to move home to Indiana to spend her remaining time with her extended family.

Faced with the persistence of the cancer

“Joey decided to come home-not to die, but to live.”

Cervical cancer is cancer that starts in the cervix, the narrow opening into the uterus from the vagina. More than 12,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and more than 4,000 of women will die.

Cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer for women worldwide, but because it develops over time, it is also one of the most preventable types of cancer since the widespread use of the Pap test to detect cervical abnormalities leads to early treatment.

Cancer of the cervix tends to occur during midlife. Half of the women diagnosed with the disease are between 35 and 55 years of age. It rarely affects women under age 20, and approximately 20 percent of diagnoses are women older than 65. Women should ask their doctor how often and for how long they should continue having Pap smears.

The National Cervical Cancer Coalition provides this overview of cervical cancer treatment. overview of cervical cancer treatment

Get the Inside Knowledge about gynecologic cancer.

In 2014 Rory Feek started sharing their lives in a blog and on Facebook which is where I first learned about them. In his “About” ,  Rory writes

“My name is Rory. I want to live a great story. I want to be a better man. I film. I write. I show up. God does the rest…”

Rory kept writing. Eventually, he shared the entire story on the blog, which also lead to his book by the same name, and eventually the movie.

This LIfe I LIve by Rory Feek

This LIfe I Live One man’s extraordinary, ordinary life and THE WOMAN WHO CHANGED IT FOREVER

This Life I Live: One Man’s Extraordinary, Ordinary Life, and the Woman Who Changed It Forever 

“In This Life I Live, Rory Feek helps us not only to connect more fully to his and Joey’s story but also to our own journeys. He shows what can happen when we are fully open in life’s key moments, whether when meeting our life companion or tackling an unexpected tragedy. He also gives never-before-revealed details on their life together and what he calls “the long goodbye,” the blessing of being able to know that life is going to end and taking advantage of it. Rory shows how we are all actually there already and how we can learn to live that way every day.” (Amazon review)

Here is a link to a book excerpt-

RORY FEEK OPENS UP ABOUT HOW HE MET AND

FELL IN LOVE WITH HIS LATE WIFE, JOEY

And now as a single dad, raising their daughter Indie alone, Rory continues to blog at This Life I Live.

Although I cried throughout ,  I’m glad I watched To Joey, With Love, and recommend it to you, as well as Rory’s book. Follow him at his blog and on Facebook.

Movie, book, and music also available at

Barnes & Noble – Free Shipping of $25+

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air- reflections from Dr. Lucy Kalanithi

 

When Breath Becomes Air

by Paul Kalanithi, M.D.,

a memoir

( This is an update of a previous post. This post contains an affiliate,commission paying link)

Dr. Paul Kalanithi was a 36-year-old resident physician who had, as he wrote, “reached the mountaintop” of anticipating a promising career as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist. He had a loving wife, a supportive family and professors who respected his knowledge and skill. He seemed destined to be sought after, well paid, productive, successful, and  famous.

(note: a neurosurgeon treats  brain, spinal cord and nerve  diseases such as brain tumors that can be cured or improved with surgery,)

Unfortunately, “the culmination of decades of striving evaporated” when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer for which the prognosis was bleak, even with treatment. He was admitted to the very hospital where he trained as a neurosurgery resident, now  to learn what it is like to be a patient with a potentially terminal illness.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Dr. Kalanithi faced his diagnosis with the same resolve, fortitude, and determination that served him well through medical school and a grueling neurosurgery residency. After his first round of treatment he was able to return to the operating room as a doctor, not a patient.

Prior to entering medicine, Dr. Kalanithi had studied literature, earning degrees in English literature as well as human biology. He also completed a doctorate in history and philosophy of science and medicine at Cambridge. Thus, when he realized he was facing his own death, he turned to his first love of writing to chronicle his experience and to explore “what makes human life meaningful?” And as he explored the meaning of what life is all about, he also explored the inevitability of death.

“I began to realize that coming in such close contact with my own mortality had changed both nothing and everything. Before my cancer was diagnosed, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. After the diagnosis, I knew that someday I would die, but I didn’t know when. But now I knew acutely. The problem wasn’t really a scientific one. The fact of death is unsettling. But there is no other way to live.”

Dr. Kalanithi passed away without completing his book, although his wife writes in the epilogue, “When Breath Becomes Air is complete, just as it is.” She and his parents kept their promise to have his book published after his death. She writes, “Paul was proud of this book, which was a culmination of his love for literature.”

Even before I finished reading this book, I felt as if I knew Paul and his wife Lucy. As someone who also enjoys writing, I can understand and appreciate his desire to preserve and share this experience.

This memoir is not so much a diary of what happened to Dr. Kalanithi as what happened within him as he confronted his own mortality and chose not to let it define the remainder of his life.

On the copyright page, “Death and Dying” is included in the list of categories for this book. However, you will not find “how to die” instructions here. Instead, you will learn how one man and his family chose to live despite knowing that he would  soon die.

His wife, Dr.Lucy Kalanithi, has recently spoken publicly about her husband, his illness, his death, and the memories he left her and us through his book. Listen as she reflects on his legacy in this interview .

“In the end, it cannot be doubted that each of us can see only a part of the picture….Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete. And Truth comes somewhere above all of them, where, as at the end of that Sunday’s (scripture) reading,

“The sowers and reapers can rejoice together. For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

(note: the referenced scripture is from the Bible, John chapter 4, verses 36-38, precise version unidentified)

I am glad I read this book and think you will be also.

When Breath Becomes Air  was published by Random House.

Other reviews of his life and writing

I regularly review and recommend medical and health related books. I hope you will follow .

6 Best Medical Books of the Past 75 Years

I need to tell you this post contains multiple affiliate links, both for your convenience and to help support this blog by the commission paid if you choose to use. Thank you.

 

I read the Parade magazine in my Sunday newspaper regularly (see previous post). To celebrate  75 years of publication,  the editors commissioned  author Ann Patchett to create a list of “The 75 Best Books of the Past 75 Years” .

 

As Ms. Patchett explained, she enlisted the help of the staff at Parnassus Books, a bookstore she owns in Nashville Tennessee. They limited their consideration  to books written in English. She calls the list a “mash-up that exemplifies the passionate convictions of 17 booksellers.”

 

Many of the books of the list are unfamiliar to me, but I recognized some well known classics like

Charlotte’s Web

The Old Man and the Sea

Fahrenheit 451

A Wrinkle in Time (a personal favorite of mine) 

Where the Wild Things Are

To Kill a Mockingbird, and

the Harry Potter series.

 

Although many books deal with birth and/or death to some extent, I searched the list for ones with a definite medical connection or theme that ran through most if not all of the book.  I’m sharing those with you here.(There might be others, these seemed most  obvious to me) . They are listed in chronological order by publication dates.  

 

Caution: Most of these discuss adult themes and issues which may not be appropriate for children or adolescents without adult guidance.

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This is a novel about a woman with depression but is considered semi-autobiographical. The author , Sylvia Plath, a poet,  suffered from depression and died by suicide not long after publishing this book, her only novel. It was also made into a film.

 

 

 

 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.

This may be more familiar to you as the same titled movie which won five major Academy Awards, including Best Actor  Jack Nicholson and Best Actress Louise Fletcher.

 The novel’s events take place in a psychiatric hospital and examines the treatment and mistreatment of patients in such facilities.

 

The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James D. Watson, PhD.

 

the double helix molecule of DNA

used courtesy of skeeze on Pixabay

 

 

 

As the name implies, Dr. Watson wrote about his and Francis Crick’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. The book mostly ignored the contributions of Rosalind Franklin, who also worked on DNA, earning it criticism for this.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Described as a young adult novel, it relates the story of  a female high school student who sinks into depression after being raped, which she is afraid to report to anyone.   

 

 

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

In this novel ,  Lucy, a young woman hospitalized with a mysterious illness for 9 weeks, receives a 5 day visit from her mother.   

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, M.D.

A memoir by a neurosurgical resident who learns he is terminally ill. I have reviewed this book here. I would vote this as the best medical book. 

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi