Doctor Reflects On Living, Dying

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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How should we live, and how should we die? Finding grace in life and death is an eternal quest for us all.

Finding Grace on a Less Traveled Road is both an autobiography, and a biography. It is a book that takes the reader on a journey through the life of a cancer physician who learns early, as a child, about the true meaning of life, death, hardship, and suffering. It is through the author's own understanding of what it means to overcome incomprehensible odds that the reader comes to understand the true meaning of how we should live, and the gracious manner in which we should die.

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This book is a firsthand account of growing up poor and gifted in one of the toughest environments in America during the turbulent 1960's. It is an inspirational and unforgettable story of determination and personal triumph. This poignant memoir describes the author's passage from his traumatic childhood in a large family living in Chicago, through medical school education, significant early work in AIDS research during the onset of the epidemic, and, finally, a successful career treating cancer.

Finding Grace on a Less Traveled Road embraces a range of American issues and ideas. It affirms our belief in the possibility of achieving goals through persistent work, no matter the starting point. More, the book illuminates the predicament of the poor. It deals with so-called "giftedness," portrays the true nature of the worst pandemic in history, helps demystify the care of the terminally ill, and interprets society's role in all of these arenas.

The author weaves the events of his life poignantly in-and-out of the life events of his family, friends, patients, and colleagues, revealing how the events in all of their lives stand as a testament to the fact that we humans are more than just flesh and blood. We are mind, body and spirit. In the end, the physical and emotional hardship the author endures crystallizes his faith, compassion, and skill as a physician. The biographical accounts of those he cares for, and those he loves, provide an inspiring spectrum of genuine heroism, and a vision of what the ministry of medicine should be.

R. Elliot Willis attended a high school for gifted students, earned a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry at Northwestern University, and then earned an MD at St. Louis's Washington University School of Medicine. He is the Chief of Medical Oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America's Hospital in Philadelphia.

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