cover image And Finally: Matters of Life and Death

And Finally: Matters of Life and Death

Henry Marsh. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-28608-6

In this immersive memoir, retired neurosurgeon Marsh (Admissions: Life as a Brain Surgeon) recalls the transformation he made from doctor to patient when he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. After suffering a bevy of symptoms, 70-year-old Marsh received the news at the beginning of 2021 and plunged into a state of denial: “I thought I was being stoical when in reality I was being a coward.” He recounts his radiation treatment (“It all became very routine”) and the lessons he learned before he retired at age 65; for example, he once operated on the wrong side of a man’s neck, which taught him to be honest with patients, no matter how difficult the situation. Similarly, he recalls telling an elderly patient, who was completely paralyzed from the waist down, that he would never walk again, a memory that forces Marsh to imagine his own last hours of life: “I became increasingly desperate as I imagined how miserable my death might be.” Throughout, Marsh interweaves tender moments from his personal life, including storytimes with his granddaughters, with discussions of gene editing and other medical topics. Readers will find much to appreciate in this pensive probe into what it means to face mortality. (Jan.)