Lee Lipsenthal was the medical director of Dean Ornish's Preventive Medicine Research Institute for a decade and also served as president of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine. In this spiritually rewarding memoir, he recalls having trouble swallowing a sandwich on July 19, 2009. After going to a doctor and having tests, he learned he had esophageal cancer.
Lipsenthal did some research and found that there was a 90 percent chance of dying within five years. His wife Kathy was stunned by the news and even more taken aback that her husband was accepting his imminent death. He wanted to be with the cancer but not fight it. This, of course, also ran counter to the philosophy of his medical friends.
Lipsenthal, at the age of 52, had a gratitude practice in place that helped him approach life a little differently than others. He was in agreement with the Native American teaching that "today should be a good day to die." And he had long been calming himself down with meditation and yoga. He writes: "Fear can be a nasty little prison to live in. Meditation can be the key that unlocks the prison door." From yoga he ponders the corpse pose — savasana — that involves lying flat on the floor with palms raised in a position of surrender. It also signifies the act of letting go.
Also contributing to Lipsenthal's lack of fear about dying were some past-life recollections that came over him. Although they remained mysterious, he was able to see that life did not begin or end with this one. Death is just part of the ride. The most remarkable aspect of Enjoy Every Sandwich is Lipsenthal's ability to use a host of spiritual resources to live with cancer and not be enslaved to a fear of death. He models for us a death with dignity.