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Henry Marsh

Matters of Life and Death

4.5 (26 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

'And Finally' by Henry Marsh is a memoir that reflects on his life experiences working as a neurosurgeon. Through his poignant stories, he reflects on the highs and lows of his career and the impact it had on his personal life.

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    And Finally
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    A Sick Doctor

    A phenomenon occurs among many new medical students – they become hypochondriacs, at least temporarily. They’re convinced they have at least a dozen of the different maladies they’re studying. Eventually, they outgrow the phase and delude themselves in the other direction by believing that doctors don’t get sick, only patients do.

    That’s still the mindset for Dr. Henry Marsh when he volunteers for a brain scan study at the age of 69, four years after he retired from full-time practice. Marsh is a well-known British neurosurgeon who specializes in removing cancerous brain and spinal tumors. When he views his own brain scan after a volunteer study, he’s stunned. Since he’s a doctor – and a clever one at that – and doctors don’t get sick, he expects his brain to appear young and vibrant. Instead, it’s aged and shriveled just like a normal human brain.

    That same sense of invincibility has also kept Marsh from scheduling a prostate exam, even though he’s been experiencing prostate issues for 25 years. His vague plan to see a colleague for the exam is delayed again by the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic pushes thoughts of decreased urine flow to the back of his mind.

    When he finally sees his colleague in the fall of 2020, the exam reveals a firm prostate that calls for more tests. Marsh is hesitant, the former doctor clinging to his immune status, but eventually, he relinquishes. The results aren’t good.

    Marsh’s blood work shows he has a prostate-specific antigen or PSA level of 127, which is extremely high. Even in men with prostate cancer, the average PSA is below 20 and very few ever reach 100. Marsh conducts some hasty internet research and reads that most men with a PSA over 100 will be dead within two years.

    He’s referred to an oncologist at a well-known London hospital, the Royal Marsden. The oncologist there has more bad news. As Marsh feared, he has prostate cancer. And with his PSA so high, there’s a 70 percent chance the cancer has metastasized and spread beyond the prostate. They’ll need more tests, but if it has spread, treatment is essentially pointless, and the cancer will likely kill Marsh within two years. The internet may have been right.

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    What is And Finally about?

    And Finally (2022) is about a doctor becoming a patient. The process is painful for neurosurgeon and author Dr. Henry Marsh but in the end, he finds acceptance and understands what truly matters.

    And Finally Review

    And Finally (2022) is a captivating memoir by Henry Marsh that takes readers on an emotional journey of a renowned neurosurgeon. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With honest and raw storytelling, it provides a rare glimpse into the challenging world of neurosurgery and the impact it has on both patients and doctors.
    • Marsh's deep reflections on life, mortality, and the complexities of the human brain make this book thought-provoking and intellectually stimulating.
    • The author's vulnerability and self-awareness create a compelling narrative that keeps readers engaged, ensuring that the book is never dull or predictable.

    Who should read And Finally?

    • Anyone transitioning to a new stage of life
    • People with questions about aging
    • Those whose lives have been touched by cancer

    About the Author

    Dr. Henry Marsh is a former British neurosurgeon and author of the best-selling memoir Do No Harm and National Book Critics Circle finalist Admissions. He’s also been the subject of two award-winning documentaries, Your Life in Their Hands and The English Surgeon.

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    Who is the author of And Finally?

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    What to read after And Finally?

    If you're wondering what to read next after And Finally, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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