10 January 2011

Desert island images

If there were one book / five pieces of music / three kinds of food you could take to a desert island, what would they be?


If there were one book / five pieces of music / three kinds of food you could take to a desert island, what would they be?

In the tradition of desert-island lists, comes the academics’ version: the last lecture. If there was one more talk you could deliver, what would you want to say? What would you want as your legacy?

Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon in the US, made the ‘last lecture’ concept famous beyond campuses, for deeply poignant reasons: it was, really, his last lecture. He’d recently been diagnosed with the terminal cancer that killed him just a few days ago, around 10 months after his lecture.

His subject, chosen partly through his longing to leave a legacy for his children, then aged six, three and 18 months, was ‘Really achieving your childhood dreams’. It’s over an hour long on YouTube, and very moving (he’s an excellent lecturer); out of the lecture came the book. The legacy-message is one thing but, as Pausch moves to talking about living with pancreatic cancer, and about his love for his family, and his fears and hopes and dreams, he soars. If you’re close to someone who has cancer – even a form not as scary as pancreatic cancer – it hits you right in the heart.

In a week where we’re looking at cancer and its survivors, it seems right to say that one can learn much about living from people who’re facing death.

Cancer continues to be the scary one – and the fact that it appears that up to 90 percent of cancers have environmental causes, is both alarming news (what have we been doing to ourselves?!) and cheering – so, perhaps, we can beat it.

(Heather Parker, Health24, August 2008)


More by Cybershrink

2013-02-09 07:27



Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Dangerous winter sun »

Why female students ignore the risks of indoor tanning Can rooibos protect you from the effects of UVB exposure?

Skin cancer always a risk – even in winter

During winter, the risk of skin cancer doesn’t disappear. CyberDoc talks to us about when to see your doctor about a strange-looking mole or spot.

Did you know? »

The 5 saltiest foods may surprise you Craving salt? Your genes may be the reason

10 fascinating facts about salt

The one thing that fast foods, whether it be chips, hamburgers, pretzels or fried chicken have in common, is loads of salt.