I don’t have cancer, but I have a chronic neurological illness that is very painful and potentially fatal: chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy or CIDP. My memoir, Fierce Joy -which offers a quite a number of silver linings is being published by Greenpoint Press, New York, NY. It tells the story of how illness shattered our lives–I have a loving husband and at that time two young children–and how I learned to listen to my body, rediscover my soul, and discover that despite everything I was buoyed up by a fierce joy that just wouldn’t quit.
I also discovered that my body was not the enemy and my body hadn’t betrayed me; rather, my body and I were both being attacked by disease. That was a huge step toward healing, even though I could never be cured. I also learned that I could react to my disease like an adult woman rather than a child–a tremendous shift, when I faced years of painful treatments and had to inject myself every day with life-saving drugs. Another key realization: while I couldn’t control my body or my treatments, I could control my reactions to them–and that changed everything. I was no longer at the mercy of what was happening to me. In my book, all of these insights are told as stories, instead of in a list, like this, which makes them so much more meaningful.