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Book Review: Enjoy Every Sandwich

BY VICTOR S. SIER PINA, MD, ABFP, ABIHM, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Family and Integrative Medicine, UTMB Health January 2012

This book is an autobiography of the soul of Dr. Lee Lipsenthal in which he describes both his living and dying. Lee was a well known holistic physician whose life work evolved from being an internist in private practice, to being a researcher with Dean Ornish’s prevention programs, and finally an internationally known presenter on creating a balance in a medical professional life.

He died a few months ago from advanced adenocarcinoma of the esophagus at age 53. His diagnosis was a mystery and shock to many as Lee had in many ways epitomized a wellnessoriented life. He truly practiced and taught focusing on balance, prevention, good diet, exercise, meditation, and other ingredients we all would prescribe for optimizing their and our physical-mental-spiritual being.

Despite his early transition from this life, Lee left a profound impact on the holistic and integrative medicine community in which he was a recognized leader. As a former President of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine, his work, his heart, and his soul reached out to touch many lives, friends, patients, and many other souls.

One way he continues to touch lives is through Enjoy Every Sandwich in which he reminds us to be mindful of and to enjoy each and every moment. A poignant turning point in his life was when he had a problem swallowing while eating a sandwich. As a physician, he immediately knew the potential differential diagnosis. His “cancer story” started at that moment. His story follows an amazing, winding road as he leads us through the psychology of his childhood, his deep, intimate marital and family life with wife and physician, Kathy and their kids, and with many patient stories of healing and of mystery.

Dr. Lipsenthal further guides us skillfully through his own spiritual path, through transpersonal psychology, through dreams, images, prior life remembrances, and psychic premonitions. In all of this journey, he evolves and we evolve as the subtitle of the book “Living Each Day As If It Were Your Last” dawns slowly then brilliantly. He continues, as he had done all his life, to teach us how to be mindful, grateful, joyful even when faced with doubt, despair, and anguish. He died peacefully in the warm embrace of family and spiritually connected with thousands of friends.

To conclude, I’d like to cite integrative oncologist, Don Abrams, MD who wrote in praise of this book, “At once playful and profound, Enjoy Every Sandwich serves up a delicious double-decker. Lee gifts us with gracious guidelines not only for those facing death but for everyone seeking to live life the fullest. Should be required reading for all!”