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Not the Last Goodbye: On Life, Death, Healing, and Cancer Hardcover – November 17, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A small book with a big message that provides a poignant coda to Servan-Schreiber's life’s work. . . . He goes to great pains to remind us that though he himself will (and did) lose his battle with cancer, adopting an antican­cer approach allowed him a measure of life and love that far exceeded diagnostic pre­diction and statistics. . . . When Servan-Schreiber claims this is not his last goodbye to us, he enacts the very thing that allows his gift of sage advice to live on, the best medicine of all (in addition to good eats): optimism, fidelity and hope.” — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“An epistle of hope in which Servan-Schreiber recounts his battle with cancer, his efforts to fully live his final months, and the lessons he has learned along the way. Humbly detailing his fears, regrets, and hopes for his family and those of others fighting cancer, he remains till the end a man committed to living. Readers will find this book touching, enlightening, and most importantly, life-affirming.” — Publishers Weekly

“With poignant simplicity and heartbreaking humility, recently deceased psychiatrist Servan-Schreiber recounts the events of the year preceding his final battle with brain cancer. . . . Rather than falling into despair, he faced his many rounds of hospitalization, surgery and radiation treatment with courageous resolve. . . . For the author, dying was not an inevitable fate that would separate him from the life he so loved. Rather, it was a gift that allowed him to cultivate inner peace and forge even closer ties with those who mattered most. . . . A profoundly human book that touches readers with a rare and healing candor.” — Kirkus Reviews

"A book of dignity, sincerity, and breathtaking beauty. . . . In this often joyous account, David Servan-Schreiber helps us look at death and prepare ourselves to die well. It's a very powerful read that inspires deep appreciation." — Le Point

"Each word rings true, each memory lingers, each detail of his life brings us closer to the human condition. This book is a gift." — Elle

"A book that is as lucid as it is personal . . . brave, bright, committed." — Le Temps

"In this book, David Servan-Schreiber shares with us his many selves - the intimate and the public, the confident and fearful, the joyous and the pained. Each side of David has a story to tell, and a goodbye to offer that is both beautiful and profound. Together, they provide a glimpse of the choreography of spirit that lived within this gifted pioneer."
— Jonathan D. Cohen, Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute

“In his books, David Servan-Schreiber teaches readers methods for taking control of their lives both psychologically and physically. Now, in his final introspective volume, he also teaches us how to face the ultimate and inevitable challenge—our own death. Moving, informative and inspiring . . . Not the Last Goodbye is the gift of a wise and compassionate man ‘dying well’ and leaving a roadmap of empowerment to guide others.”
— Francine Shapiro, PhD, Founder of EMDR Humanitarian Assistance Programs

“In this inspiring book, David Servan-Schreiber tells us the remarkable story of how a brain cancer at age 32 transformed his life and in turn led him to reconsider how cancer can be prevented and should be treated. His writing is both moving and elegant; it will leave no one untouched. His wisdom and lucidity leads all of us to re-examine what is important in our life, and in our death.”— Benoit H. Mulsant, MD, Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto

"In the last months of his life, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber gives us a rare glimpse at the universal experience of dying and reveals lessons on a good life and a good death. This book enriches our lives and provides comfort for those near the end of life and those who care for them. Dr. Servan-Schreiber encourages us to seek 'calm' and be mindful of ourselves and the world around us. In this way, we will be healthier and so will the planet."
— Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, Professor and Director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center

About the Author

David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D, is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Centre for Integrative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. He's lectured at leading international academic centres, including Stanford, Columbia, Cornell and Cambridge Universities. His first book The Instinct to Heal was an international bestseller and France's bestselling non-fiction book of the year in 2004, selling over 600,000 copies in the trade edition alone. His latest book is Anticancer (2008).


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1 edition (November 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025916
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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David Servan-Schreiber, M.D., Ph.D., is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Center for Integrative Medicine.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This short book was written by an accomplished French physician during the terminal stages of brain cancer. He discusses his initial bout with brain cancer some 20 years earlier, the surprise relapse in June 2010, his initial reaction to the terminal prognosis, the factors he felt contributed to the relapse, and most of all how he dealt with his pending demise.

The author was a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Center for Integrative Medicine before moving back to his native France. He was the author of Anticancer, a New Way of Life, an international best seller that was translated into 40 languages. He died on July 24, 2011.

"There are two types of denial," Servan-Schreiber writes. "The first is seen in patients who are so terrified by their illness that they would rather blind themselves to it, to the extent that they might not even seek treatment. This is an extremely dangerous attitude." Servan-Schreiber opted for the second type of denial, one in which there is always hope and every possible cure, including alternative medicine, is explored, even though the prognosis is bleak. At the same time, he surrounded himself with the emotional support of his family, including a wife and children, four brothers, and 20 cousins, pointing out that the more the dying person is surrounded by loved ones, the more he remains connected to life.

Servan-Schreiber admitted to his fears. Would he tremble with fear as he did 10 years earlier or would he face it with composure. What he feared most, he said, was dying in pain.
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Format: Hardcover
As a medical resident at the age of 30 or so, Dr David Servan-Schreiber was diagnosed with cancer of the brain. This profoundly changed the direction of his life's journey. He began to research alternative medicine and wrote bestselling books (Healing Without Freud Or Prozac, Anticancer, A New Way of Life, New Edition and more) that were the culmination of his own experience as a patient but also as a doctor.

Dr David Servan-Schreiber never dismissed conventional medicine but looked at how we can also help ourselves - through understanding the body, the immune system, and the important roles of our emotions & thinking, physical activity, and anti-cancer nutrition.

The story he shares in Not the Last Goodbye: On Life, Death, Healing, and Cancer begins when his brain cancer returned, almost 2 decades after his original diagnosis. The book is deeply moving, powerful and truly inspiring. It is a precious gift from someone whose illness is terminal, but who still lives every day fully and with the knowledge that his life was not in vein.

He died in July 2011, just eight weeks after completing this gift. In the afterword, his brother Emile writes that "until the end, David remained a doctor at heart, a healer" who "took care of our souls" and who, until a few days before he died, had the feeling that he had "defied the cancer in a most meaningful way. He had not allowed it to get in the way of his being useful, of his helping alleviate other people's suffering."

Thank you Dr Servan-Schreiber!

Christine Maingard
Author of 'Think Less Be More:Mental Detox for Everyone'
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Format: Hardcover
The contents are beautifully summarized by previous reviewers Michael Tymn and Dr. Maingard, so no reason to repeat a synopsis but just to add a few thoughts:
I was saddened to find out recently that Dr. Servan-Schreiber passed on in July 2011. His two previous books "Instinct to Heal" and "Anti-Cancer" are significant contributions to human health and well-being, and I was looking forward to reading many more such monumental works by him. Alas, no more. For those of us who admired this author but did not know him personally, "Not .... Last Goodbye" provides comforting closure. The chapter on his regrets about the manner in which he treated women, in my opinion, adds little to this final farewell. Instead it would have been nice if he could, instead, have eulogized some of the more important women in his life. While he writes at length about his father in his final book, I found no such detailed and/or positive mention of his mother. The relationship with his wife also seemed a bit nebulous. If he is happily married, then how come we are not left with a sense that his soul mate provided much comfort in his final year (he mentions how lonely he feels at night)? The book could have used tighter editing, but overall it sounds sincere and 'from the heart'. For those of us who admired this researcher who so successfully blended the best of Western and alternative medicine, the book offers a final farewell. f you are not familiar with Servan-Schreiber, and have ever been faced with or have loved ones who have struggled with depression and/or cancer, run to the nearest book store or download "Instinct to Heal' and/or 'Anti-Cancer' onto your electronic reader. If you want some ideas on how to treat your body kindly, read "Anti-Cancer".
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