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Enjoy Every Sandwich: Live Each Day As if it Were Your Last

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Enjoy Every Sandwich: Live Each Day As if it Were Your Last

Some of you know my friend Dr. Lee Lipsenthal. I†wrote about him here and†he wrote an article for Owning Pink here. A physician, author, and workshop leader who spent most of his career working with Dr. Dean Ornish and teaching physicians how to find balance in a medical life, Lee has inspired hundreds of thousands of people with his work.

And then we lost him way too young to esophageal cancer in September.

I was blessed to honor his life at the memorial service held for him at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, where Dean Ornish and dozens of others celebrated Leeís remarkable life. (Lee insisted that we drink margaritas, listen to classic rock music, and enjoy every sandwich – BLTís to be specific.) As more than 300 of us gathered to remember Lee, we laughed a lot, cried a lot, and remembered how Lee lived his life saying ďToday is a good day to die.Ē

Today Is A Good Day To Die

We knew what he meant – that every bit of love had been expressed, that every dream had been fulfilled, that Lee hadnít held anything back, and that death was nothing to fear. But when he was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and said to his young wife Kathy, ďToday is a good day to die,Ē she wasnít so thrilled to hear his aphorism.

Kathy wanted Lee to fight for his life – and he did, with chemo, radiation, meditation, shamanic work, and a variety of other healing modalities. But in the end, Lee was right. As much as it broke our hearts to lose him, his last today was indeed a good day to die.

Personally, Iíll avoid repeating Leeís wisdom. Even though everyone I love knows it, and every dream I have is actively being fulfilled or pursued, I donít want the Universe to get the wrong message.† Even though I live every day as if it could be my last, Iím thinking today is†not†a good day to die, so I donít want to give the cosmos permission to whisk me off this afternoon.

As Iím learning in the process of researching my book, what we say and believe can manifest in our health, and while Iím not in any way blaming Lee for his early demise, I think Iíll affirm that today is a good day to LIVE. And knowing Lee, I know thatís what he meant.

Making Peace With Death

What Lee demonstrated beautifully in his last two years of life was his ability to face the ultimate uncertainty with grace, wisdom, and peace. As he wrote in his book:

I knew that the more fear and anxiety I had, the higher my stress hormone levels would be. High stress hormones wear down the immune systemís function over time, giving cancer a better chance to grow. Fear promotes cancer growth; calm decreases it. My mode of being became Ďget quiet, enjoy life, and let my body do what it knows how to do – cure cancer.í

In the end, regardless of how well we fight a life-threatening illness, the outcome is beyond our control. We can make our bodies ripe for miracles, but if the Master Plan has other ideas for us, we must surrender. And Lee did. And he is sorely missed.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at†LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities -†HealHealthCareNow.com and†OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

43 comments

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7:10AM PST on Nov 25, 2011

life is preciouse-live it while you can.

4:46PM PST on Nov 23, 2011

Don't loose yourself in the everyday struggle, you are not taking anything with you and the best thing you can leave your friends and family with is beautiful memories of a life well lived. The perfect sandwich, cheese cake and drink where all meant to be enjoyed, don't rush it, experience it

10:21AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

Sorry about loss. I loved Randy Pausch's book and lots of tears from it so I definitely will read Enjoy your sandwich book! It's like last words before death were treasured words.

6:29AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

That I do. Both life and death are my friends.

12:02AM PST on Nov 23, 2011

thanks

10:37PM PST on Nov 22, 2011

Thanks for sharing

7:23PM PST on Nov 22, 2011

Thankyou....

6:58PM PST on Nov 22, 2011

well, had he eaten a veg sandwich instead of those BLTs he would have may be lived longer. seriously, i dont know when people are going to get it. Sorry about the news.

6:04PM PST on Nov 22, 2011

thank you.

4:08PM PST on Nov 22, 2011

Fight and struggle, never surrender and enjoy every breath.Do not go quietly!

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