Randy and Jai Pausch were married in 2000 and had three children, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe. In 2006, Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer "just shy of his forty-sixth birthday." He had surgery and aggressive follow-up treatment that left him gaunt and debilitated. In July 2008, Randy passed away. "Dream New Dreams" is Jai's poignant account of her relationship with Randy (whose book, "The Last Lecture," was a phenomenon), his two-year battle with the disease, and Jai's dedicated work on behalf of organizations such as the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.
The author would like health professionals and society as a whole to be more "concerned about the people who struggle to carry the medical burden while also meeting everyday demands." She sees the need for a "network at every oncology clinic" to assist those who are trying to manage complicated cancer care at home. Jai and Randy were lucky to have concerned family and friends, a good income, and access to the excellent physicians. However, not everyone is so fortunate. There are too many relatives of cancer sufferers who feel isolated, bewildered, and overwhelmed with responsibility. Jai asks, "Who will care for the caregiver?"
Jai writes touchingly about her romance with a man who was "a serious [computer] scientist and an intellectual, but not a snob." Randy had a sense of fun and playfulness and swept Jai off her feet with his kindness and sincerity. After their wedding, the couple settled in Pittsburgh, where Randy was a popular professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon. Jai was 34 and Randy forty when they started their family. Little did they know that they would have less than a decade together.
"Dream New Dreams" is eloquent, candid, and gracefully written. Jai makes clear that she and Randy were not saints who never exchanged a harsh word. There were bumps in the road and an occasional argument, but they understood one another and did what they could to nurture and protect their children during Randy's illness. This was no easy task. Randy had to travel to get treatment and he wanted his wife by his side. Jai lost sleep, had to take on arduous nursing duties, and became physically and emotionally exhausted. Fortunately, Jai and Randy developed a strong support system to assist them with the many challenges that they faced.
Jai Pausch leaves us with a hopeful message. Although she and her children will always remember Randy with love, they have begun the process of healing. In addition, they are following Randy's wonderful example of looking for the magic in life every day.