What Experts Are Saying
"Hattie Bryant has written an important and timely book that approaches a difficult topic with sensitivity born out of her own experience. This isn't just a book to read but one to use to guide discussion and planning. Everyone with an interest in living life to the fullest should read and use this book."
Joseph J. Gallo, MD, MPH
Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
"The majority of patients and their families facing serious illness that will predictably end with death want enough information to be informed, prepared, and confident. The most recent research continues to confirm that modern healthcare systems don’t routinely meet those needs. The research also shows that physicians and other health care professionals will provide information if the patient and/or family bring it up. Hattie Bryant's carefully researched book, written from a patient’s perspective in a style that your best friend might use over a cup of coffee, is a way to empower the people who most need it to get the information they need."
Charles F. von Gunten, MD, PhD
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Palliative Medicine, VP, Medical Affairs Hospice & Palliative Care OhioHealth
We live in a death-denying society. No one wants to talk or think about, and certainly not make plans for it. So it makes sense that when it is our turn to die (and we all have an appointment), we are many times not prepared. Hattie Bryant candidly and compellingly confronts this issue in I’ll Have it My Way. While it is vital for people to think about and make plans for what they want before they have been diagnosed with a serious, possibly life-threatening illness, human nature all too often works against our better self. The trend of adult children also caring for aging parents compounds the issue, but Hattie provides a powerful and encouraging companion guide for decision-making that will equip the reader with both a sense of freedom and great peace, too."
Pam Malloy, RN, MN, FPCN Director and Co-Investigator of the ELNEC Project
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
"Finding a way to motivate people like us to think about the choices and decisions that need to be made when we are confronted with a serious life-threatening illness has always been difficult, because it raises the possibility or even probability of dying and death. We would prefer not to think about it, much less talk about it with family, friends, and our physicians. This is painful, emotional stuff. Hattie Bryant, determined to help others avoid the difficulties she and her mother endured as her mother died, has used her communication and organization skills to provide the steps to guide you in this process. An experienced educator, she has had the advice and counsel of many national experts in palliative care, geriatrics, oncology, bioethics, psychology, and spirituality in writing this book for you. Have it your way."
John P. (Jack) Mc Nulty, MD, FACP, FAAHPM
"For thirty years I've worked in a hospital setting, including the first twenty as a social worker in ICU. In that time, I've counseled hundreds of patients and their families as they struggled with decisions concerning their loved one's serious illness or end-of-life care without the benefit of previous planning and communication. Hattie Bryant's own experience as an advocate for her dying mother affords her the opportunity to credibly and passionately present the case for personal responsibility in the healthcare and end-of-life decisions that await us all. Using the valuable thought processes and exercises in this book to guide our personal plans, we can remove the burden of difficult decision-making from our loved ones and focus instead on living our lives fully to the end."
Elizabeth Chaitin, DHCE, MA, MSW
Director of Quality and Ethics, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Palliative
and Supportive Institute
"In our fast moving culture, people want control over everything. Yet, the one thing people decline to take control of is their death. We have a society that refuses to admit it is the one thing we all have in common. Therefore empowering people in the process is critical. I’ll Have It My Way is a tool to guide people to considering one’s values, priorities, and preferences for life and death. With the input of experts from all disciplines and specialties, the book reflects the most current literature. Written in a familiar tone, it is as if Hattie is sitting beside the reader and her voice offers support and encouragement. The result is an advance care plan that includes a designation of a trusted person to speak for someone when they can't, instructions for the type of care a person wants, and a description of what is important. And when someone dies, their friends and family will be able to say it was done their way."
Constance Dahlin, ANP-BC, ACHPN, FPCN, FAAN
Faculty, Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care
What Readers Are Saying
A Must-Read for All Adults
"I received this book as a gift from a friend, and I will be forever thankful. I am in my late sixties. I have already lived longer than my mother did, and I have not forgotten what a heart-breaking struggle she faced as cancer slowly, painfully claimed her life. I have also not forgotten how little control she seemed to have over how she got to die. Truth be told, I was not that enthusiastic about confronting my own mortality and dealing with my end of life issues. Bryant's painstakingly-researched, meticulously-documented book helped me understand why it is imperative to think about my choices and make them known to those I love. Not only does Bryant's book deal honestly with an array of choices about life's end, but she also provides a workbook that helps us discern our own choices and shows us how to make them clear to family and friends. I cannot think of a more thoughtful gift to loved ones than to relieve them of the pressure of wondering whether they are choosing what I would want. They will know. Every adult should read and heed this little book!"
Dying on Our Own Terms
"Since I first saw Bill Moyers' excellent documentary on death and dying, ON OUR OWN TERMS: MOYERS ON DYING, I've been an advocate for palliative care and advance decision-making that will help to ascertain a "good death." Hattie Bryant's book is the best book for lay readers that I've read on the topic of end of life decision-making. (and I do know something about this topic, having co-authored 4 academic books on palliative care communication with Betty Ferrell, Elaine Wittenberg, and Joy Goldsmith.) Bryant has done meticulous research: she cites the findings of most of the big names in death and dying and end of life communication and decision-making; e.g., Byock, Nuland, Cassel, Gawande, Callahan, Ferrell, Malloy, von Gunten. Yet this book is NOT academic! Practical and palatable in its style, it's an everyman's and everywoman's primer to dealing with the conundrums that we all inevitably face in the decision to die on our own terms.
Bryant poses 4 steps to a peaceful death: (1) acknowledging death's inevitability; (2) understanding the limits of medicine; (3) educating oneself about the myriad of healthcare choices; and (4) communicating your wishes for how you want to live and die and naming a proxy to do that if you cannot. She thoroughly explores each of these steps, giving the reader thoughtful, comprehensive information about making decisions aligned with one's values and preferences.
The most valuable and innovative feature of the volume is its last 30 pages, titled MY WAY WORKBOOK. In this section, Bryant invites readers, after digesting the book's contents, to actually ponder and then commit in writing to decisions about quality of life, desired medical treatment at end of life, and other answers to the hard choices that we want our health proxy to communicate to healthcare providers if we are unable to. One series of questions, for example, asks the reader to determine how much you think your own healthcare costs should impact the healthy friends and family in your "circle of care." For instance, would you answer TRUE or FALSE to the statement: "Money is not an issue to me if I can add weeks, months, or years to my life." (p. 205). The questions Bryant poses are not easy ones, and the answers may not come easily to the reader. But after completing the workbook, I experienced great peace of mind that my healthcare proxy, family, friends, and healthcare providers will be able to give me the end of life care that is most consonant with my wishes.
This is no small gift that Hattie Bryant gives us in this 215 page, inexpensive volume!"