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Introduction - Unfinished Business
Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD and Isadora R. Rosenbaum, MA
In his 1951 book, The Will to Live, Arnold Hutschnecker, MD wrote, "If we truly wish to live, if we have the incentive to live, if we have something to live for - then no matter how sick, we may be, if we have not exhausted the last of our physical resources, we do not die. We live because we want to live. But the incentive must be one which we inwardly, utterly believe. It is not the everything to live for in the eyes of the world that keeps us alive, but the something which meets our own uncompromising measure of what is worth living for."
Many seriously ill people manifest the will to live because of an upcoming special occasion or a desire to achieve a goal: the birth of a grandchild, a final birthday or holiday, the completion of a novel, a mountain they haven't yet climbed.
Physicians often observe a phenomenon called the Christmas syndrome - when a very ill person decides that he or she wishes to live to enjoy another day that has always been special for him or her, such as a holiday like Christmas.
This section explores the lives of three seriously ill people who had unfinished business that galvanized their will to live.
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