Compassion & Choices

02/10/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/10/2020 12:07

Former Nurse and Physician Assistant Records Audiobook on Taboo Topic: How to Live Your Values and Die Peacefully

'Finish Strong' Tells How to Take Charge of Your End-of-Life Care and Avoid Needless Suffering

February 10, 2020 Barbara Coombs LeeFinish StrongFinish Strong Media

Barbara Coombs Lee, president emerita/senior adviser for Compassion & Choices.

An ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years, Barbara Coombs Lee has recorded her a critically acclaimed, groundbreaking book as an audiobook about the taboo topic of how to live strong to the end.

Titled Finish Strong: Putting Your Priorities First at Life's End, the book is based on her decades as a clinician, caring for dying patients who suffered needlessly, and decades more as an advocate, empowering people to avoid that fate. Its recommendations come with both the authority of knowledge and experience, and the compassion of one who knows firsthand how challenging the end-of-life journey can be. Finish Strong, the audiobook, is available for purchase now on Amazon, Audible, and places where audiobooks are sold at: bit.ly/FinishStrongBookBuy.

The usual advice about advance directives and conversations is important but woefully inadequate. This book describes concrete action in the here and now to help live our best lives to the end.

'Finish Strong is the kind of book that comes along once in a generation, and Barbara Coombs Lee is nothing short of a historic figure. This book is a game-changing, paradigm-shifting work that will define an inflection point in the way our country thinks about and cares for people who are dying,' writes David Muller, M.D., Dean for Medical Education, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. 'This is a book that every one of us must read, and that we'll all refer to repeatedly over the course of our lifetimes.'

Coombs Lee, an attorney who co-authored the nation's first law authorizing medical aid in dying, the 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act, has worked for over 50 years in healthcare as a clinician, policymaker and advocate, most recently as CEO and now president emerita/senior adviser for Compassion & Choices. It is the nation's oldest and largest organization working to empower people to expand and improve their end-of-life care options.

'The terminally ill people I work with … want options that can allow death to come peacefully,' writes Coombs Lee. 'But one out of every five U.S. adults will die in the ICU-because intense technology remains the signature of a healthcare system that views death as a failure.'

'Navigating the final stages of a progressive illness like ALS or Parkinson's, emphysema, cancer or heart disease is hard … this is likely in your future, either on behalf of a loved one or for yourself,' concludes Coombs Lee. '… as someone who's floundered, made mistakes, and suffered in the course of trying to navigate this rocky terrain. I hope by sharing how I fell short of my own ideals in dealing with my parents, you may be spared similar heartache.'

Finish Strong is for those of us who want an end-of-life experience to match the life we've enjoyed - defined by love, purpose and agency. We know we should prepare but are unsure how to think and talk about it, how to live true to our values and priorities as vigor wanes, and how to make our wishes stick, even if we can't lift a finger to make it so.

Notable chapters include 'Overtreatment and Diminishing Returns,' 'Let Me Die Like a Doctor' and 'Escaping Dementia.' Here is YouTube video of Barbara talking about how to escape dementia: bit.ly/FinishStrongEscapingDementia

The empowering Finish Strong will guide you through:

  • Finding a partner-doctor well-suited to your values and beliefs who exhibits humanity, deference and frankness.
  • Staying off the 'overtreatment conveyor belt.'
  • Identifying what matters most as advancing illness takes its toll and defining your priorities.
  • Having meaningful conversations with doctors and family about expectations and wishes for life's last precious months.
  • Knowing when 'slow medicine' is the best option to maintain quality of life.
  • Navigating home hospice, the ultimate healing experience.

Written with candor and clarity, this book's stories, facts and dialogue will help prepare for latter days that retain the purpose, grace and dignity you've always valued. It can help you Finish Strong.

The book is receiving rave reviews from numerous respected thought leaders, ranging from NPR radio show host Diane Rehm, author of When My Time Comes to Jeanne Phillips, nationally syndicated 'Dear Abby' advice columnist:

'There is no more authoritative or informed individual than Barbara Coombs Lee to lead us in the battle for a peaceful and dignified end-of-life journey.'

- Diane Rehm, former host and executive producer of NPR syndicated The Diane Rehm Show Author of When My Times Comes

'Finish Strong is the clarion call for the end-of-life choice movement just as Our Bodies, Ourselves was for the women's movement.'

- Jeanne Phillips, nationally syndicated 'Dear Abby' advice columnist