The Smooth River: Finding Inspiration and Exquisite Beauty during Terminal Illness. Lessons from the Front Line.
DescriptionKirkus Reviews has selected The Smooth River as one of the Best Indie Books of 2021, giving it a coveted Starred Review.
The Smooth River is the remarkable story of how a well-known public relations expert and her husband met her stage 4 pancreatic cancer head-on. With vigor and strength, they deployed all they and medicine had to offer. But, in contrast to narrow conventional approaches, the couple developed a far more expansive view of what strength means in response to a crisis for which there are no medical cures. They called this the Smooth River.
This clear-eyed transcendent perspective was so vital that they wouldn't let anything disrupt it-not cancer's lethal march, not the strongest chemos and their failures to work, not the frequent episodes of severe pain, not how society expected them to think or act, not the process of dying itself.
The Smooth River demonstrates how to treat one's life as bigger-and far more important- than any medical condition, any tragedy, any setback of any kind. With effusive warmth, refreshing candor and practical detail, it describes how to personalize Medical and Life Plans that affirm the value of a patient's being and guide their loved ones. Its invaluable lessons show how to face the possibility of dying with sanctity and comfort, to view it as an opportunity for personal growth, finding inspiration and intense beauty in the experience-in life itself. There are lessons in the Smooth River approach for everyone.
The Smooth River amplifies the important messages of Dr. Atul Gawande in Being Mortal, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in On Death and Dying, Paul Kalanithi in When Breath Becomes Air, and Julie Yip-Williams in The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After.
Earn by promoting books
Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.Become an affiliate
About the Author
Richard S. Cohen was by his wife Marcia's side when she was diagnosed on September 3, 2019, with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and woke up in her hospital room after she had exhaled her last breath 160 days later on February 10, 2020. Carrying out Marcia's wishes, he coordinated every step of her care, navigating medical resources at four different hospitals while also conferring with leading pancreatic oncologists elsewhere. Trained as a corporate lawyer, Richard is president of a merger and acquisition advisory firm specializing in the healthcare industry. He is an expert in navigating complex transactions, developing grounded creative solutions, and managing many professionals and personalities during stressful conditions. All of these skills were put to work in finding sanctuary, beauty, humor, and spirituality within cancer's decay. Unencumbered by medical convention but having a deep respect for it and the clinicians who cared for her, Richard translated Marcia's ethos into a creative, personalized, and inspiring approach for dealing with terminal illness.
Kirkus Reviews: "This tender and startlingly lucid work offers patients and their loved ones a wealth of knowledge, and it may also show physicians a new way to help people learn to cope with the prospect of dying ... A heart-rending but informative end-of-life guide."
BookLife Reviews / Publishers Weekly: "Bursting with life, The Smooth River leads by example ... An inspiring, beautifully written account of living a life of purpose when faced with a terminal illness."
Dr. Jordan Berlin, Associate Director for Clinical Research, Ingram Professor of Cancer Research, and Professor of Medicine,
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center: "While we work on more effective means to diagnose and treat pancreatic and other cancer, Smooth River demonstrates how to elevate one's being over the turmoil. This wonderful book gives voice to those who don't want to define themselves by the ravages of serious illness."
Eugene H. Hirsh, MD, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Retired, Emory University School of Medicine: "It is difficult for anyone, even those who have experienced the death of a spouse, to empathize fully with another widow/widower. Yet, Richard Cohen brings us as close as one might get to that experience through his remarkable book. The Smooth River guides the couple through shock and confusion, through grief and to resolution in the all too brief time before an anticipated end. This is an important book for care receivers and care givers - families and physicians/medical personnel alike."
Laura Hanlon, M Ed, LCSW, Bereavement Coordinator: "The Smooth River is a great guide for people who have to navigate through serious illness or for those who want to better understand the experience and derive inspiration from it."
Foreword Reviews: 5 out of 5 Rating. "The narrative is the most engaging and transformative element of the book, and the story is told with excellence-compelling scenes, precise diction, well-crafted characterizations ... a self-help book that shows how to live a full life, even in the face of death.".
IndieReader: "In addition to the wealth of knowledge relayed in THE SMOOTH RIVER it is also a book which includes passages of great beauty. Cohen is a writer capable of moving from the practical to the poetic with ease... For all its focus on death and dying THE SMOOTH RIVER is a testament to a life lived to its fullest right until the very end...THE SMOOTH RIVER is a clearly written guide to end-of-life care and contains a wealth of relatable, practical advice. It is also an astute contemplation on life and living containing passages of extraordinary beauty."
Blueink Review: "The Smooth River concept serves as practical inspiration to make life meaningful -- as the current moves us toward what we all inevitably share."