Wednesday, April 09, 2008

ABC Primetime Live: "The Last Lecture" and a Carnegie-Mellon professor

Tonight ABC Primetime Live and Diane Sawyer presented the one hour special "The Last Lecture: A Love Story for Your Life." This was about professor Randy Pausch, 47, who says he will have "fun" during the closing months of his life as he battles aggressive pancreatic cancer.

"The Last Lecture" is apparently a tradition at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

The full story is by Geoff Martz and Samanda Wender, subtitle "Diane Sawyer Talks to Randy Pausch and His Family Seven Months After Inspiring Lecture," link here. The book "The Last Lecture" (Hyperion, April 2008) is available at Amazon here.

Pausch had surgery when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which started with fatigue and led to jaundice. He gave a clinical description. After that, and some chemotherapy, he still had metastatic tumors on the liver and was told that he had three-six months of relatively symptom free health, and he gave one of his lectures a month later. Diane Sawyer's most recent interview occurred after seven months, when he was having considerable difficulty. Michael Landon, star of "Little House on the Prairie" developed pancreatic cancer at age 54 in 1991 and survived only four months.

The ACS reference for pancreatic cancer is here. The lifetime risk is 1 in 79 (1.3%) and the average age of diagnosis is 72.

Pausch, in discussion with Sawyer, said there is a difference with a circumstance being "unlucky" and "unfair" and believes that some cancers occur as totally random events. He also said that his most important virtue is to "tell the truth" but that most people don't want to be told "the truth."

Randy Pausch's own home page is here. He passed away July 25, 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How inspiring Randy Pausch is! If you liked "The Last Lecture", another fantastic memoir I just read and highly recommend is "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Her TEDTalk video ( has been seen as many times as The Last Lecture I think, and Oprah did 4 shows on her book, so there are a lot of similarities. In My Stroke of Insight, there's a happy ending though. It's an incredible story! I hear they're making it into a movie.