Offensive Thinking

Brain tumors suck. Hi, I'm Patrick btw. This is my cancer blog. My "normal" stuff is over here.

Inspiring Books: Randy Pausch — The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I’ve read quite a few books having cancer as the topic since I got diagnosed (I’ll add a books section soon), but none has ever touched me so much as Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture. Someone who had to deal with cancer in the family himself gave it to me when I was still in hospital, recovering from my craniotomy.

I didn’t read it until some weeks had passed though, and in retrospect, that was a good decision. As much as I love the book, I’d say it’s better read by someone who had some time to come to terms with what’s happening first.

But let me give you a short description of the book: Randy Pausch was a professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was asked to give a “last lecture” on September 2007, that means a talk where high-ranking academics give a hypothetical final presentation about what matters most to them. He didn’t have to think long, because he got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. One month before the lecture, he learned that his condition was terminal. What followed was a deeply moving last lecture in a quite literal sense, titled “Really Achieving your Childhood Dreams”. Randy lost his battle on July 25th, 2008.

I first read the book and then watched the lecture on YouTube. It is a truly inspiring presentation. Maybe it also hits so close to home for me because I am a computer scientist, too. Be warned though: you should be ready to think about your own mortality and that at some point, the cancer might win, although the lecture is really positive and even funny sometimes. If you’re ready for that thought (and I know I wasn’t at the beginning) I’ll definitely advise you to watch the lecture and read the book. It changed my perspective on a lot of things and made me reflect on what’s really important in life.