Customer Reviews: Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss
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on May 16, 2012
I was among those who watched Randy Pausch's last lecture on YouTube and bought the book when it came out. It was the story of an inspirational man who loved the life he built for himself, learned things along the way, and died too soon.

Jai Pausch's book provides another angle on the story. Her tale of being a caregiver is heartbreaking, and inspiring in its own way: taking a role you never wanted and would have done anything to avoid, but doing it to the best of your ability, trying to repair your life afterwards, and making the most of the opportunity in tragedy.

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who has fallen into the caregiver role for a loved one, especially a loved one living with, or dying of, cancer.

The promotional materials compare this book to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Trust me, Dream New Dreams is a far, far better book. I found it to be not better written, but more affecting, more emotionally resonant, and more likely to be helpful to those in similar straits.
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Randy and Jai Pausch were married in 2000 and had three children, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe. In 2006, Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer "just shy of his forty-sixth birthday." He had surgery and aggressive follow-up treatment that left him gaunt and debilitated. In July 2008, Randy passed away. "Dream New Dreams" is Jai's poignant account of her relationship with Randy (whose book, "The Last Lecture," was a phenomenon), his two-year battle with the disease, and Jai's dedicated work on behalf of organizations such as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

The author would like health professionals and society as a whole to be more "concerned about the people who struggle to carry the medical burden while also meeting everyday demands." She sees the need for a "network at every oncology clinic" to assist those who are trying to manage complicated cancer care at home. Jai and Randy were lucky to have concerned family and friends, a good income, and access to the excellent physicians. However, not everyone is so fortunate. There are too many relatives of cancer sufferers who feel isolated, bewildered, and overwhelmed with responsibility. Jai asks, "Who will care for the caregiver?"

Jai writes touchingly about her romance with a man who was "a serious [computer] scientist and an intellectual, but not a snob." Randy had a sense of fun and playfulness and swept Jai off her feet with his kindness and sincerity. After their wedding, the couple settled in Pittsburgh, where Randy was a popular professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon. Jai was 34 and Randy forty when they started their family. Little did they know that they would have less than a decade together.

"Dream New Dreams" is eloquent, candid, and gracefully written. Jai makes clear that she and Randy were not saints who never exchanged a harsh word. There were bumps in the road and an occasional argument, but they understood one another and did what they could to nurture and protect their children during Randy's illness. This was no easy task. Randy had to travel to get treatment and he wanted his wife by his side. Jai lost sleep, had to take on arduous nursing duties, and became physically and emotionally exhausted. Fortunately, Jai and Randy developed a strong support system to assist them with the many challenges that they faced.

Jai Pausch leaves us with a hopeful message. Although she and her children will always remember Randy with love, they have begun the process of healing. In addition, they are following Randy's wonderful example of looking for the magic in life every day.
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on October 16, 2013
Yes ouch.

This book is difficult emotionally to read. Most of the book is very raw, and not surprisingly based on the subject matter, depressing. When I picked up this book and decided to read it, I guess I was hoping for something a little more positive than this ended up being. Not that I blame the author for this, this was her memoir chronicling her husband's illness.. however I didn't expect most of the book to be about that. With the title and description I thought this book would be more about picking up the pieces after the tragic too soon loss. In reality, only a few end chapters focus on dreaming those new dreams.

I appreciate her honesty through out the book though. It must have been extremely difficult to tell the story of Randy suggesting they put their youngest child up for adoption or reliving moments when she felt her control over life slipping away before having to regain footing as a caretaker of a sick husband and mother of three young children. This seems like a book that must have been extremely healing for her to write, to finally be able to tell her side of the story.

At the end of the book it is comforting to see that she is a survivor and that in spite of everything, she was determined to find her own path in life again. After going through such a horrible ordeal it is difficult to imagine how you can come back from that and is always inspiring to read the stories of those who do. However it is worth noting that Jai lived a life that is very different than the grand majority of people facing similar circumstances... she has the privilege of money behind her to deal/not deal with aspects of this type of loss that would leave many women in an even more vulnerable state.

A quick read, but this book falls very short from being inspiring and is extremely depressing.
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on May 22, 2012
I was a big fan of Randy Pausch's 'The Last Lecture' and was inspired by his moving words. As the years have passed I've often wondered how his wife, Jai, and their children and how they have been doing. I was extremely happy to hear through 'Dream New Dreams', not only are they doing well, but thriving! It's very inspiring knowing she wrote this fantastic book in on a very real and important subject which I just finished reading.

Although I have not personally been through what Jai has been though or cared for a cancer patient, I wanted to buy and read her story for several reasons. One, I want to support Jai Pausch with her mission, two, I want Jai to know people are still thinking about her and her children, and three, I feel it's important to learn about human experiences we may have not been though ourselves, but to gain more understand what others experienced and gain insight.

There are some sad moments in the book, but overall for me it was a very empowering uplifting book. The will and courage for Jai to keep moving forward and want to enjoy life after loss I hope inspires others who have been through similar circumstances. I suggest this book not only for cancer caregivers, but as a positive affirmation of the resilient human spirit! What a beautiful book, I felt happy when I finished it. Thank you Jai!
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on May 6, 2013
I read Randy Pausch's The Last Lecture, and the book inspired me because I was a person who thought that I had plenty of time until I lost my Dad this year. The grief is suffocating and overwhelming. I have been in counseling. I ran across this book while looking for another book. Jai Pausch is straightforward and honest about her pain, lost, and grief during Randy's illness and after his death. After losing my father, I felt that I would never recover. Reading books like this book help me to see that people survive. It is hard, but you survive. Our loved ones suffering through a terminal illness want us to acknowledge that we will miss them when they are no longer here. I miss my Dad everyday. I was fortunate that I told him that I loved him before he died. Jai Pausch had managed to use her experiences to help others. I recommend this book to anyone who within the throes of grief. It was a big help to me.
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on April 4, 2014
The Last Lecture was a special book written by a clearly special man. Behind every great man, there is normally a great woman. Dream New Dreams simply lets us see this great woman's journey to love, honor, respect and care for her husband as their dreams were shattered by cancer. I found Jai Pausch's chronicles to be honest, loving, and inspirational. Her battle between being a mother and a wife at stages when both jobs demanded her physical and emotional strength was palpable, and she does not shy away from her shortcomings and her need to rely on others to do both to the best of her ability at a given moment. A lesson to any who are caring for a loved one who is ill, a lesson to any who feel guilty that they need their "outs" as they do this unexpected and uninvited job. A lesson to any who simply want to trust that unconditional love exists, and that it is worth fighting for even if it takes work and courage to find it in the darkest hour. I cried, I smiled, I now hold my loved ones a little tighter, a little longer. Every second is precious. Take the time to read this book and dare to follow Jai Pausch's ultimate gift to herself and her family: dream new dreams.
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on May 18, 2012
I read Randy's last lecture and watched his video on Youtube. He was an amazing man. I cannot imagine losing him.
Jai was kind to share her story - it really resonated with me after my son lost his father to cancer. There is "the person on the other side of the fence" and her best advice is that you may think you are doing a great job at juggling so many things or making so many important decisions on your own but you are doing the best you can and you have to give yourself a break. It was truly encouraging to hear how she and her family emerged from their grief to find their own magic. Thank you for sharing!
This book is a wonderful read - you won't be able to put it down!
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on July 3, 2013
Some people say that this book ruins the fantasy of Randy Pausch and his perfect family. But I think this is a side that people need to see b/c it's reality. Especially for other caregivers, so that they can see that they're not alone in their feelings. She is pretty honest, instead of being self-aggrandizing or sugar-coating everything. I don't have personal experience with this, but I have had other forms of loss in my life and I can relate to the feelings and the process.
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on June 12, 2012
The whole time I was reading this book I was thinking - what a lucky couple! Not only did they have excellent health insurance but a close and supportive network of family and friends who came to the rescue - and stayed until the end. And they were wealthy. No foreclosure tales here, no bankruptcy. Just upscale folks dealing heroically with a horrendeous life situation. As nightmarish as this story is, imagine how much more so had Randy not had health insurance to cover the long and expensive chemotherapy he chose. How unspeakable their lives would have been had family and friends not helped out. What unthinkable choices would they have had to make if they did not have the money to cover their living expenses while Randy was out of work? Average people without health insurance, without a strong support network, without money - go through this experience everyday in the United States. It would be interesting if one of their loved ones would write a book. Hurray for Jai still fighting the battle to find a cure for pancreatic cancer. The book is honest and heart-felt. And I hope some thought will go not only to a cure for pancreatic cancer but help for those folks living pancreatic cancer - and their loved ones. No one should have to pick death over financial ruin in the United States of America.
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on June 18, 2012
Having closely followed Randy Pausch's story from the time he gave the Last Lecture to his book and finally his death, I was really interested and curious to read Jai's story. The book itself is well laid out in simple language and is easy to read. I was happy to learn more about Randy, his personality including his faults. The book is entirely a personal tale of being a caregiver to a terminally ill cancer patient while also being a parent to young children and balancing this act without entirely neglecting your own needs.

Like another reviewer pointed out, the Pauschs were financially well off. The way I understand Jai's situation is she had the opportunity (some may say luxury) to some times sweat the small stuff. If putting food on the table or paying medical bills was in the forefront, then survival mode would kick in. Much of the stuff she worried about wouldn't matter at all. There would be no nanny or home cooked meals or house renovation. As a single parent, one would have to even push the grieving aside and get back to work. So amidst this terrible disaster, Randy Pausch and his wife still had a lot in their favor. I fear for the family that faces all of this plus the financial burden.

On another note, I am really thankful that the couple wrote these books. The messages in both resonate with me and come across as genuine human experiences. Thanks to her I will remember to always Dream New Dreams.
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