Henry Marsh talks about his book 'And Finally: Matters of Life and Death'

Virgin Radio

6 Sep 2022, 11:54

Chris Evans poses with Henry Marsh and his new book

Credit: Virgin Radio

It's never an easy subject to talk about, but retired neurosurgeon and medical pioneer Henry Marsh joined The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky to talk about his deep and meaningful new book.

Called 'And Finally: Matters of Life and Death', Henry approaches the realities of life and the end.

He also gave an update on his health, having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and confirmed he is currently in remission. The book reflects on his life as a neurosurgeon and now being on the other side as a patient.

"It was quite something to actually experience it, that being a patient is essentially a humiliating, demeaning, and disempowering experience... I didn't really understand just how frightened and upset my patients would have been," he revealed.

"Because of course, as patients, as an English culture, we tend to hide it. We don't want to burst into tears and throw ourselves around the room. So as a doctor, breaking bad news you get a very, very limited view of what your patients are going through."

Chris asked if he would change anything in hindsight, knowing what he knows now.

"I think if I could go back all over it again, I simply would be more more sensitive and patient with patients on the whole, but it's difficult," he explains,

"Doing very dangerous surgery as I did, you have to be detached to some extent... we talk about empathy, but strictly speaking, empathy means to actually feel what somebody else feels. You couldn't do surgery if that was the case. So you need a sort of very difficult balance to find."

Marsh had the chance to see a scan of his own brain and was surprised by what he found.

He recalled: "I spent my professional life looking at people's brain scans... one of my colleagues was doing research and wanted some controls scans of normal brains. So I thought, I'm pretty clever. I'm pretty smart. I'm sure it'll show my brain looks in pretty good condition for my age, and to my absolute horror it looked awful!" he laughed.

"It had shrunk. As we get older, our brains shrink and you get these little patchy areas of damage. High blood pressure can certainly cause the patchy areas of damage. It might be speculation on my part, but as I operated my blood pressure would have been through the roof."

It was an eye-opening experience for the retired neurosurgeon, who details his experience and more in his new book.

And Finally: Matters of Life and Death, is out now.

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.