In Awe of Being Human


In Awe of Being Human: A Doctor’s Stories from the Edge of Life and Death, by Betsy MacGregor, M.D.,  weaves tales of the seriously-ill children and adults who were her patients together with descriptions of the soul-stretching experiences that physicians undergo in seeking to help people whose lives are at stake, taking readers deep into the challenging world of hospitals and the medical professionals who work in them. For more information, visit

“The luminous stories in Dr. MacGregor’s book show how doctors and patients alike step forward to meet the most daunting challenges life can bring and in so doing demonstrate beautifully for the rest of us what it really means to be human. Read this book—it will nourish your soul!”

~ ANDREW WEIL, M.D., author of Why Our Health Matters; Healthy Aging; Spontaneous  Happiness

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In Awe of Being Human is a book of inspiration and renewal. It is impossible to read these beautiful stories without remembering that, at its core, medicine is not a work of science but an act of love.”

~ RACHEL NAOMI REMEN, M.D., author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings

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In Awe of Being Human is a brilliant, inspired work.  It is the view of a physician who can marvel at the spectacular ways the human condition displays itself in health and illness.  As these sparkling essays reveal, Betsy MacGregor is the kind of physician everyone wants.  If you can’t have her as your doctor, do the next best thing: read her magnificent book.”

~ LARRY DOSSEY, M.D., author of The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things; Healing Words; Power of Premonitions, and Reinventing Medicine

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“This is an extraordinary book that reminds the reader of the preciousness of life and the mystery of death. Written by a compassionate clinician, one whose humanity shines through every word, Dr. MacGregor gives us a view of living, illness, dying and death that is remarkable in its hopefulness and wisdom.”

~ ROSHI JOAN HALIFAX, Founding Abbot, Upaya Zen Center; author of Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death; founder and director of the Being with Dying Project, committed to educating health-care professionals in the contemplative care of the terminally ill.

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“Betsy MacGregor has been a wise and compassionate guide for critically ill children and for the dying.  The beauty of her soul is reflected in this wonderful exploration of healing and medicine. Don’t miss it.”

~ MICHAEL LERNER, Founder of Commonweal, cofounder and President of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, author of Choices In Healing: Integrating The Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer

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“In these tender, powerful stories, hurt yields to healing, and despair flowers unexpectedly into hope. Page after page, tears filled my eyes as my heart opened and my spirit soared. Betsy MacGregor is the loving, life-affirming physician all of us want, the wise teacher every doctor needs.”

~ JAMES GORDON, M.D., founder and director, The Center for Mind Body Medicine; author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression

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“Betsy was not only our son’s doctor but our family’s partner and counselor, a scientist who helped us manage a variety of serious issues with our newborn child without ever being less than a kind friend. Her gifts as a writer mirror her abilities as a doctor who demystified medical concepts without ever oversimplifying. . . . This was not merely humility, but a rare wisdom that proved enormously significant to our family’s future. Betsy MacGregor personifies the ideal of medicine as a social engagement, a thoroughly modern scientist who is as much a student as a teacher, deeply respectful of the families she worked with and always unfailingly kind . . . and she tells wonderful stories that have a great deal to teach us all.”

~ DANNY AND PATTI ABELSON, parents of a young patient

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“There is no better way to summarize In Awe of Being Human than to quote from the very first sentence of the prologue: this is indeed a collection of ‘gut-wrenching, heart-expanding, soul-uplifting stories that chart the human journey.’ These stories reflect the author’s extraordinary compassion, insight, sensitivity and humility. They are a joy to read—though, like most joys, complemented by great sadness as well. That, after all, is the essence of being human.”

~ ROBERT G. NEWMAN, M.D., former president and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center and president emeritus of Continuum Health Partners, Inc.

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“This is a tender and moving book, filled with grace. You can catch sight of heaven by entering the gripping, raw, and powerful world of Betsy MacGregor—a skilled doctor and compassionate soul who offers insightful and often surprising stories from the edge of existence.”

~ DUANE ELGIN, author of Voluntary Simplicity, The Living Universe, and Awakening Earth

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In Awe of Being Human is simply superb writing, with its moving patient stories, anecdotes of personal authenticity that draw the reader close, and messages that illuminate why the principles of integrative medicine are essential for the healing of the field of medicine. Every page touched me deeply, every encounter with patients and medical colleagues has an important point to make. It is obvious the care this book has been given, and speaking from the heart as Dr. MacGregor has done is both brave and compelling. I did not want it to end.”

~ PENNY GEORGE, The Penny George Institute for Health and Healing, Abbott Northwestern Hospital; cofounder of The Bravewell Collaborative