Book Review: I’ve Seen the End of You
A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know
Dr. W. Lee Warren is a devout Christian and a practicing neurosurgeon. And he is a blazingly gifted writer. In his beautiful new memoir, I’ve Seen the End of You, he focuses mainly on the work he does with patients suffering from a nearly always fatal brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). GBM is, Warren writes, “a stone-cold killer … pretty much the most malignant, mutated, destructive form of human cancer.” It brings havoc and an ugly death to those unfortunate enough to have the disease.
As a man both spiritual and scientific, Warren respects the holy space that is our brains, wherein lies people’s mental capacity, their memories, their beliefs, their personality traits—all of what makes them them. Warren prays before he does surgeries. He prays with his patients, too, if they request it. And he respects his patients enough to be square with them about the truth: They will most likely be passing away in roughly 15 months. But still. He always hopes, and he prays.
How do you keep faith in these circumstances? (In fact, one chapter is titled, “Why Bother Praying?”) Warren writes, “How can I pray for God to heal some- one of something no one ever survives? How do I ask God for something he never does?” It’s a question he cannot fully answer, but he strives to find peace with. Reading this book, we see that faith is believing that God knows what he (or she) is doing, though we don’t. With being okay with doubt. With accepting that though people may not be cured, they may still be healed.