Book Review: Last Wish by Dr. Lauren Van Scoy

December 17, 2012

“The only thing we can promise is to try to reverse what’s reversible in hopes of establishing a meaningful recovery.  What defines a truly meaningful recovery is different for each of us.”                       – Dr. Lauren Van Scoy

In her effort to empower readers and reflect upon the emotional attachments cultivated with patients and their families, Dr. Lauren Van Scoy, shares rich, meaningful personal perspectives related to the immense physical, mental and spiritual hardships one can experience during the journey through advanced illness.

In Last Wish: Stories to Inspire a Peaceful Passing, readers live vicariously through Dr. Van Scoy experiences in 5 stories dealing with the more common medical decisions we and our families may face.  She writes, “Each story was chosen to demonstrate a specific concept, whether that is what CPR is truly like, what being on a breathing machine entails, what  it’s like to remove someone from life support, or the possible benefits of hospice care.” Last Wish articulates the importance of thoughtful and timely preparation for end-of-life planning, the value of transparency, unity and empathy between families and physicians and the realities of suffering, the battle and the pressures placed on families.

Dr. Van Scoy is an advocate and facilitator of “Engage with Grace,” a movement designed by Alexandra Drane.  Engage with Grace’s mission is to equip, empower and support people to recognize solutions in extraordinary situations.

Engaging patients and caregivers with grace is leading the charge in the effort to shift the discourse and processes regarding end-of-life care.

Last Wish offers opportunities to discover new tactics and question methodologies in order to recreate practices allowing an individual to pass on their terms with dignity.

The Coalition to Transform Advance Care (C-TAC) is proud to feature Last Wish, a resource which complements the program mission within our Interfaith Workgroup on Spiritualty.  The emotionally powerful and spiritually gripping stories help readers recognize how a person’s faith, beliefs and values inform their goals of care.  More importantly, in the dimension of care treatment of spirituality is paramount.  Ultimately the understanding of death as a medical event is transformed into an understanding of death as a transition that affects all aspects of life.

One final note, look out for an video update on the extraordinary story of Bruce - a Harley Davidson bike rider who’s living with serious illness that Dr. Van Scoy features in Last Wish - at the National Summit on Advanced Illness: A Roadmap for Transformation that C-TAC is hosting on January 29 and 30.  For more information about the Summit and to find out how to sign up, click here.

For more information about Last Wish, visit: 

Call to Action: Raising awareness of advance illness issues as they affect the American public and professional communities is critical. Do you have a question, book or article relating to advanced illness that you would like featured on C-TAC’s blog? Please email Brendan Sinatro at:

Brendan J. Sinatro, M.P.H. Public Engagement Volunteer – Behavior Change Coordinator

Brendan received his Master of Public Health degree from the George Washington University. After volunteering as a Patient Liaison with the Geisinger Medical System, he grew fascinated with the field of health promotion. Scholastic pursuits and professional experiences have equipped Brendan with a detailed understanding of the core competencies of health communication theory and practice; social marketing campaign planning, development, implementation and evaluation. He revers the rigor of data and embraces the importance of accuracy when tailoring communication platforms to execute media relation’s initiatives.


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