Race and Culture Matter Chapter Added to SECOND EDITION of FINISH STRONG

Former ER & ICU Nurse/Physician Assistant Tells How to Take Charge of Your End-of-Life Care and Avoid Needless Suffering

An ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years, Barbara Coombs Lee, has added a new chapter about how “Race and Culture Matter” to the SECOND EDITION to her critically acclaimed, groundbreaking book: FINISH STRONG: PUTTING YOUR PRIORITIES FIRST AT LIFE’S END.

The Second Edition of Finish Strong also includes an Afterword by Kim Callinan, Ms. Coombs Lee’s successor as Compassion & Choices president and CEO. With their vision and perspective, Callinan and Coombs Lee, currently president emerita/senior advisor of Compassion & Choices, invite readers into the work of social change to assist not only themselves and their families but the greater community. In addition, since Ms. Coombs Lee has received many requests for an index, the Second Edition includes this feature, increasing the value of the book as a practical resource. 

Barbara Coombs Lee headshot

Barbara Coombs Lee, author, FINISH STRONG: PUTTING YOUR PRIORITIES FIRST AT LIFE’S END. SECOND EDITION, with a new chapter: "Race and Culture Matter."

The book, originally published in January 2019, is based on Lee’s decades as a clinician, caring for dying patients who suffered needlessly, and decades more as an advocate, empowering people to avoid that fate. Its recommendations come with both the authority of knowledge and experience, and the compassion of one who knows firsthand how challenging the end-of-life journey can be. Finish Strong is available for purchase now on eBook via Amazon, KDP paperback & hardcover via Amazon and paperback & hardcover via IngramSpark. 

“...a strained healthcare system during the pandemic brought new awareness and new urgency to rectifying inequalities in healthcare,” writes Coombs Lee in “Race and Culture Matter,” the new chapter in the Second Edition of Finish Strong. “A growing number of hospices are launching or investing more resources in diversity initiatives. Adding incentives to increase the number of people of color who pursue careers in healthcare is also important. Post-graduate education for medical practitioners increasingly includes training to compensate for their inherent bias and build cultural sensitivity.” 

Coombs Lee, an attorney who co-authored the nation’s first law authorizing medical aid in dying, which took effect 25 years ago this month, has worked for more than 50 years in healthcare as a clinician, policymaker, and advocate. Under her leadership, Compassion & Choices successfully led and supported legal and legislative campaigns to authorize medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults to end their suffering peacefully in Washington, D.C., and six states: California, Colorado,  Montana (via a state Supreme Court ruling), Oregon, Vermont, and Washington

Since Kim Callinan succeeded her as president and CEO of Compassion & Choices in 2018, four more states have enacted medical aid-in-dying laws: Hawai‘i, Maine, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

“Since FINISH STRONG was first published in 2019, progress to advance medical aid in dying has not merely continued but has accelerated. The pandemic and protests for racial equity elevated awareness and brought increased attention to injustices that exist for historically underserved Americans throughout their life, up to and including their death,” writes Callinan in the book’s Afterword. “FINISH STRONG recognizes that even as we are changing laws and improving medicine, we can’t stop helping those who need it now. My goal, and hopefully yours too, is to change the way medicine is delivered so that all people, regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or geography, can ‘FINISH STRONG.’”

The book has received rave reviews from numerous respected thought leaders, ranging from Jeanne Phillips, nationally syndicated “Dear Abby” advice columnist to spiritual icon Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, NPR radio show host Diane Rehm, author of On My Own and former NBC correspondent Betty Rollin, author of Last Wish and First, You Cry

Finish Strong is the clarion call for the end-of-life choice movement just as Our Bodies, Ourselves was for the women’s movement.”

 — Jeanne Phillips, nationally syndicated “Dear Abby” advice columnist

Finish Strong is for those of us who want an end-of-life experience to match the life we’ve enjoyed — defined by love, purpose, and agency. We know we should prepare but are unsure how to think and talk about it, how to live true to our values and priorities as vigor wanes, and how to make our wishes stick, even if we can’t lift a finger to make it so. The usual advice about advance directives and conversations is important but woefully inadequate. This book describes concrete action in the here and now to help us live our best lives to the end. The empowering Finish Strong will guide you through:

  • Finding a partner doctor well-suited to your values and beliefs and who exhibits humanity, deference, and frankness.
  • Staying off the “overtreatment conveyor belt.”
  • Identifying what matters most as advancing illness takes its toll and defining your priorities.
  • Having meaningful conversations with doctors and family about expectations and wishes for life’s last precious months.
  • Knowing when “slow medicine” is the best option to maintain quality of life.
  • Navigating home hospice is the ultimate healing experience.

Written with candor and clarity, this book’s stories, facts, and dialogue will help prepare for later days that retain the purpose, grace, and dignity you’ve always valued. It can help you Finish Strong.