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Did you know that Home Hospice North Lanark has special sections in our local public libraries that hold a curated collection of books that deal with serious illness, death and dying, grief and bereavement, and other relevant subjects? Each month we feature a review to assist in choosing titles. All the reviews can be found here:

Book Review

Hope for the Best, Plan for the Rest: 7 Keys for Navigating a Life-Changing Diagnosis
Author(s): Dr. Sammy Winemaker and Dr. Hsien Seow
Publisher:  Raincoast Books
Copyright Date:  September 2023
Rating on a scale of 1-5 stars (5 highest rating): 5

Who should read this book?

Every adult should read this book. Although it is written for someone who has been given a life-changing diagnosis, and their family/support team, all of us will be touched at some point in our lives by those close to us who are on this journey. The wisdom in this book is for all of us. In particular, I also believe all health care professionals should read this book, so that they can recommend it to patients and families at all stages of life, but particularly when delivering news of a life-changing diagnosis.

Brief summary of key points:

This book is a guide for patients and families in providing practical help in understanding how to navigate a life-changing diagnosis. E.G., chronic illness (dementia; diabetes), cancer. The authors outline 7 “keys” for a better illness experience, helping patients and families to be “in the know” rather than “in the dark.” Stories of real-life situations are shared to illustrate how the 7 keys support patients and families to be informed and more in control of their journey. As an example, the first key is “Walk Two Roads” which relates directly to the title of the book— Hope for the Best, Plan for the Rest. To quote the authors, “This key teaches you to toggle between staying positive and maintaining faith in medical treatment, and seeking honest, accurate information.”  This key is one of the core points of this book.

What you liked best about the book:

I believe this book is life-changing in its wisdom for all of us. No one wants to think about facing a life-changing diagnosis, but the reality is that many of us will, or someone we love will. We can’t expect our complex health care system to understand our unique situations, we need to do what we can to take control. Although we can’t control the diagnosis, we can control how we experience life as we move through these challenges. This book is practical and creative in its approach and has the potential to significantly help patients and families on these difficult journeys. At less than 250 pages divided into easily readable chapters, the reader can proceed at their own pace. At the end of the book, the authors don’t shy away from discussing death, a topic that is not popular or comfortable with many people in our society. Again, the practical suggestions when facing the end are excellent.

What you did not like about the book, if anything:

As the book moves along it inevitably discusses end of life — death. The authors warn readers that they may not want to read these last chapters if they are not ready. I think that it is very important for people to recognize where they are at, and whether they are ready to think about the end. That said, there is much wisdom especially for families in this last section, and I highly recommend the last two chapters — When Time is Running Out, and Demystifying Dying

Where can this book be found?

I purchased this book at a conference where I had the privilege of hearing the authors present the 7 keys. It is available online for purchase, or can be borrowed from our local libraries in Carleton Place, Pakenham and Almonte. Another option for learning about the 7 keys is listening to the author’s free podcast called: “The Waiting Room Revolution,” now in its 7th season.

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Submitted by Vicki Bassett RN BNSc Med, a Nurse Educator with a passion for improving patient and family experience as they journey through illness. Vicki is also a Board Director with Home Hospice North Lanark. 

The authors of this book also have a podcast for anyone who is facing serious illness or their family. It’s called “The Waiting Room Revolution.” This is what the authors say about their podcast: “Our dream is that everyone is hopeful and prepared when facing a life-changing diagnosis. We all can learn how to advocate for ourselves by being fully informed along the illness journey. We’ll show you how by offering simple, practical things to do right away. Together we can transform the illness experience.”

 Find the podcast here: