IAHPC Book Reviews

2012; Volume 13, No 10, October

IAHPC Book Reviews

by Dr. Roger Woodruff

Palliative Care Book of the Month

Christopher Hitchens
Atlantic Books, 2012
106 pp
ISBN 978 1848 879218
RRP £10.99 $US13.79
These essays are an unsparing account of confronting cancer and the treatment for it by renowned essayist Christopher Hitchens. In his characteristic voice, as if speaking only to you, his torch passes over many issues from science to religion to a code of etiquette for Tumortown. A master-writer, and I wanted to hear so much more.

Other Reviews

Enhancing the End Of Life
Richard Wagner
Nazca Plains Corporation, 2012
343 pp
ISBN 978-1-61098-199-6
RRP $US19.95
This is a refreshing approach to a long-recognised problem. It’s about the how’s and the what’s, it’s about how to get what you want out of the rest of your life, it’s about you. This workbook is a ten-week ‘course’, complete with a support group of ten fictional characters, a group leader and some visiting speakers. Each week, you get to write down your thoughts and comments before and after the group session. I am not sure how well I would relate to the fictional characters in the group, but the sentiments and all the things that need to be discussed are there. This may not be the book, but I felt it was a step in the right direction and more meaningful than simply applying wise reassurances. Who’s Richard Wagner? He’s a psychotherapist/clinical sexologist from California.

Victor Preedy (Ed)
CRC Press, 2011
446 pp
ISBN 978-1-4398-1932-6
RRP $US139.95, £89.00.
In the second chapter of this book, there is a section describing nutrition as both an Art and a Science. I knew then that the nutritionists and biochemists writing this book were talking about real people. There are chapters about palliative care and quality of life, spirituality and religion, surgery and sedation, all seen from the nutritionist’s point of view. The second section of the book is about cultural differences around the globe. The next section includes chapters on stents, artificial nutrition, and withholding or withdrawing nutritional supplements. This is followed by a section on the treatment of all the nutritional problems associated with cancer and its therapy. The final section focuses on the use of pharmacological appetite stimulants. This seems to be a comprehensive guide to all the nutritional aspects of palliative care and it seems to be written in appropriate context.

Stories and Reflections from Palliative Care
Frank Brennan
Published at Calvary Hospice, Sydney, Australia
95 pp
Available from [email protected]
RRP $AU20.00.
Frank Brennan is a palliative care Physician in Sydney, New South Wales. This self-produced collection of stories from palliative care is addressed to a broader audience and aims to enunciate what palliative care is all about. I enjoyed the tales and there are a couple of very well written scenes that really underscored the meaning of palliative care. The proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS in Thailand.

A Documentary on a Taboo Subject
Burning Hay Wagon Productions, 2011
RRP: $US29.95
Put together by a hospice worker and a teacher, this DVD is about advance care planning and the alternatives to the unrelenting pursuit of active therapy.  I thought that this would be a meaningful film to show to groups of lay people and demonstrates the validity of the choices that are available whilst reaffirming that the decisions belong to the individual.  There is also something for people who work in palliative care.  No matter how hard we try to avoid the ‘There is nothing more that can be done for you’ syndrome, that is all that is sometimes heard.  James Cleary tells the story of a man dying with head and neck cancer to whom all the possible benefits of palliative care were explained, but all his wife heard was ‘There is nothing more to be done.’ In other words, no matter what you do, there are some who cannot see palliative care as anything but giving up. Getting a group of palliative care workers to ponder ways of getting around that problem is worth the purchase price.
Roger Woodruff
September 2012 

Roger Woodruff, MD (Australia)
Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime Member of the IAHPC Board and Past Chair. His bio may be found at: https://hospicecare.com/bio/roger-woodruff/

Note for authors and publishers: If you wish to have your book reviewed, please send to:

Dr Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Bookshop Editor
210 Burgundy St, Suite 9
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084

Note: Review copies become property of IAHPC and are not returned to the author. Only palliative care related books which are previously approved will be reviewed. Due to the large number of requests, we can't provide exact dates of when books will be reviewed.

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