A medical diagnosis can trigger fear, anxiety, and confusion as a person becomes “the patient.” It can be immensely helpful to read about someone else’s experiences. Alec Russell, Weekend editor of Financial Times Weekend, wrote (July 8, 2017), “One of my ambitions on becoming Weekend editor last summer was to explore the increasingly powerful literary form of the medical memoir.” Sharing experiences through medical memoirs is cathartic for the writer, but also informative and encouraging for readers. I know two local writers whose memoirs are helping many readers who are confronted with the news that they have heart disease or the realization that someone they love has dementia. One of our Columbus area newspapers is planning an article profiling people who have experienced cancer. Perhaps you are someone whose story would help others face intimidating medical experiences.
Rosalie Ungar’s book, In a Heartbeat, the Ups and Downs of Life with Atrial Fib, is not a medical book, although it has a medical theme and Ungar is painstaking with the accuracy of the medical information she includes. It is the story of her experience with A-Fib, from her first diagnosis through several years of treatment. Ungar relates how she went from knowing little about her condition to educating herself and becoming a partner with her medical professionals in her treatment. Through diet, exercise, and medicine, she has healed damage from a heart attack and enabled herself to live an active, comfortable life with Atrial Fib.
Rosemary Barkes relates her experiences helping her mother struggle with dementia. Her book, The Dementia Dance, is always candid, and sometimes heartbreaking. Barkes writes honestly. She tells of the journey she made by her mother’s side, from realization, to denial, to desperation, to the acceptance that she did all that she could to care for her mother.
This Week News, a weekly newspaper that goes out to several central Ohio communities, will feature profiles the week of July 13 of people who have been affected by cancer. This article compliments news about Pelotonia, a fundraiser for cancer research, that will take place in the Columbus area August 4 – 6. Those profiled plan to ride in the cycling event.
Writing a book or article, taking part in discussion groups and interviews, or creating art that expresses your medical experiences could open a world of positive experiences that stem from difficult ones. Especially in frightening situations, we all need to feel that we are not alone, that someone is there to shine light upon the dark path and help guide us though the tough times.