The Measure of Our Days: New Beginnings at Life's End

Overview

With The Measure of Our Days, Dr. Jerome Groopman established himself as an eloquent new voice in the literature of medicine. In these eight moving portraits, he offers us a compelling look at what is to be learned when life itself can no longer be taken for granted.

These stories are diverse—from Kirk, an aggressive venture capitalist determined to play the odds with controversial chemotherapy treatments; to Elizabeth, an imperious dowager humbled by a rare blood disease; to ...

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Overview

With The Measure of Our Days, Dr. Jerome Groopman established himself as an eloquent new voice in the literature of medicine. In these eight moving portraits, he offers us a compelling look at what is to be learned when life itself can no longer be taken for granted.

These stories are diverse—from Kirk, an aggressive venture capitalist determined to play the odds with controversial chemotherapy treatments; to Elizabeth, an imperious dowager humbled by a rare blood disease; to Elliott, who triumphs over leukemia and creates for himself a definition of success—but each, in the words of Maggie Scarf, "transmute the misery of terrible suffering into a marvelous celebration of the sweetness of human life." Far from medical case studies, these are spiritual journeys of questioning and self-awareness, embarked on by the physician as well as the patient.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of these poignant and ironic case histories of terminal patients belies the stereotype of the cold, analytic scientific researcher. A professor of immunology at Harvard Medical School and the Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Groopman writes with the eye of a poet, the heart of a philosopher and the voice of a novelist. In the opening memoir of his father's sudden death when the author was in medical school, he reveals the root of his need to find understanding in the final chapters of life. Now an oncologist and a specialist in the treatment of AIDS, Groopman often walks the wards with the shadow of death at his shoulder, but he writes with the assured wisdom of one who has faith in the meaning of life. We meet a hard-edged, successful old-money businessman with kidney cancer and regrets. A woman balancing the treatment of her breast cancer between chemotherapy and Taoist precepts challenges the doctor's attitudes toward alternative methods. The tale of the gifted homosexual architect from Switzerland who fears both life and death becomes an exploration of the spirit of love. Groopman closes the circle of his reminiscences with the current, ongoing cycles of his mother's own treatment for breast cancer. These and the other extraordinary portraits of life against death are informed by the author's grounding in a living biblical vision of teaching and healing. First serial to The New Yorker; author tour. (Oct.)
Booknews
Through the eyes of a compassionate physician, the lives of eight individuals are translated from medical case studies into spiritual journeys of questioning and self-awareness. He explores the issues of why the knowledge of having a life-threatening illness ennobles some people yet defeats others, and how we can apply to our own lives the lessons learned. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
An astonishingly well written book that illuminates life's meaning without a trace of maudlin sentimentality.

It is a cliché that life's lessons are learned in the face of impending death. Groopman goes far beyond the obvious, however, in this remarkably perspicacious book. Part medical primer, part memoir—of both the author's life and practice and the lives of his patients—the book chronicles several cases of catastrophic illness. Some live, forever changed by their reprieve from a final encounter with the Grim Reaper. Others die, although not before reaching epiphanies about their what their purpose on earth had been. Chief of experimental medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a leading researcher in cancer and AIDS, Groopman has a patient for just about every confusing question that arises at this tricky life-death juncture. He provides a perceptive view of the medical profession as well. Groopman's willingness to bare his soul and reveal his misgivings and hesitancies provide a heretofore unseen view of the hell through which dedicated caregivers pass as they treat dying patients. "So much loss and pain in God's world," Groopman writes as he watches the death of his comatose teenage patient, Matt, who beat leukemia only to get AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion. "I looked down at Matt in a coma and, although I know there was no answer, had to ask why . . . I stood confused, still stubborn in my faith but harshly questioning it in the midst of senseless suffering. Despite these feelings of bewilderment and doubt, I prayed in my heart for God to help."

The well and the sick alike will find much to ponder here—this is the kind of book whose thoughts and messages linger long after it has been closed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140269727
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 801,459
  • Product dimensions: 5.27 (w) x 7.83 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Jerome Groopman, M.D. is the Recanati Professor of Immunology at Harvard Medical School, Chief of Experimental Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and one of the world's leading researchers in cancer and AIDS. He and his work have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time magazine, as well as in numerous scientific journals. He lives with his family in Brookline, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Prologue

Kirk
Dan
Cindy
Matt
Debbie
Alex
Elizabeth
Elliott
Epilogue

Acknowledgments
Index

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2001

    Outstanding treatment of a difficult subject

    I knew of Dr. Groopman from his occaisonal medical column in the New Yorker. I am a physician but my appeal in reading his column was that he wrote with deep humanity, making medical problems accessible to the layman. Measure of our Days makes even better reading than the New Yorker columns. The book describes in detail how he serves not only as as physician for his patients, but also as friend, psychologist, negotiator. He incorporates his own life experience, having lost his father suddenly at age 55, his religious knowledge, and his deep humanism into his work, in many cases treating his patients as he would his own family. My only question is: How does he have enough time for family, clinical work, research, and writing???

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2000

    Provocative Reflections on Things Visible and Invisible

    Groopman brings the reader on a journey in which life-threatening illness becomes the nexus between the sometimes conflicting realms of science and spirituality. I appreciated the author's unapologetic reflections based on his own moral framework and how he has combined these with a mostly open, non-sectarian appreciation of others'. This book will enrich thoughtful people of all religious persuasions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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