Despite the depressing subject of the book (Randy Pausch, having only months left to live from cancer, speaks about his life, his wife and children, and his dreams of the future), The Last Lecture is an upbeat, frequently humorous examination and celebration of life. Pausch was determined not to let the cancer define his remaining time with his family, and so aside from the literal Last Lecture ("Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams") he speaks to his children, explaining how he lived and the lessons he would have taught them had he lived. This upbeat presentation can be seen in the first lines of the Introduction:
I have an engineering problem.
While for the most part I'm in terrific physical shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and I only have a few months left to live.
(Pausch & Zaslow, The Last Lecture, Google Books)
This is typical of Pausch's view on his cancer. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, or appealing for the sympathy of the reader, Pausch refused to play the victim role and instead defied the cancer to keep him from achieving as many of his dreams as possible. He also took pains to keep his family front and center, spending his final days out of the public eye with his family.