"No one can be lonely who has a book for company." ~ Nelle Reagan

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review and Giveaway: Saving Each Other by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy (book review)

Saving Each Other
A Mystery Illness ~ A Search for a Cure
A Mother Daughter Love Story
Authors: Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy
Published: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Vanguard Press, A member of the Perseus Books Group
Pages: 253
Category:  Memoir
ISBN 978593157333
Source: A complimentary copy was provided by FSB Associates to facilitate this review.  The views expressed here are my own unbiased thoughts.

My Thoughts:

Saving Each Other is a story of the bonds of family, the unconditional love and the lengths a parent will go to to save a child.  What began as a search for a cure became a foundation to fund and facilitate research into defining, identifying and looking for the cure for an "orphan" disease, NMO, which struck Ali Guthy, Victoria's daughter, in her teen years.  It all began one day with what Ali called an "eyeball headache" in her left eye.  "Really inconvenient" were Ali's terms.  (This gives you a hint as to Ali's nature.)  This optic neuritis progressed to some loss of sight in that eye but with treatment and the administration of some steroids, her eyesight soon returned to normal.  That was just the beginning, however, as the disease went on to turn her body against itself, attacking the spinal chord with lesions up the length of it, causing excruciating pain, numbness and prickling sensations.

NMO (Neuromyelitis optica) is explained in some depth near the end of the book so I won't go into detail here.  Needless to say this family had one enormous battle on their hands.  Victoria Jackson, queen of the Shopping Network "no make-up" make-up and her husband Bill, king of the Pro-active spots on the Shopping Network, facilitated a research foundation, funding research and operating a once yearly symposium with specialists the world over.  Included in this symposium were patients and their families with a special patients' day.  

This incredible story is told from the points of view of both Ali Guthy and her mother Victoria Jackson, which is likely the best approach, allowing the reader to become acquainted with the fighter that is Ali and her biggest champion, her mother.  The insights into their fears, cares, struggles, and progress are revealed over a timeline of three years.  Saving Each Other not only is an eye opener, but a work of hope for all out there who may be fighting their own battles as patients or loved ones.  Whether it's NMO or any other disorder or disease, reading Saving Each Other just may be the vision of hope to enable you to climb another mountain ... cross another sea, in your own challenges in life.

From 2008 to 2012, much progress has been made thanks to the unification of the efforts of a variety of specialists and some very determined individuals.  As of the writing of this book, Ali Guthy is symptom free.  The lesions along her spine are no longer visible on MRIs.  Ali now attends university and continues playing tennis, her one great love.  Together they have conquered much and together they will continue to serve the cause.

Saving Each Other is a heartwarming and hopeful insight into what a family can accomplish and what it means to be a fighter. 


Every Day Is a Miracle
By Victoria Jackson,
Author of Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, A Mother-Daughter Love Story
Every day is a miracle. That I do know, even though I forget it sometimes.

Isn't that kind of the point of 2%? It's like by throwing a rare light show or random nightmare storm in our direction, the universe is just trying to get our attention so we don't take anything for granted and just appreciate our days and the hours and minutes that make them up.

That's what's on my mind as I talk to a mom who has just lost her son, my daugher Ali's age, to Neuromyeltis Optica (NMO). She sounds so strong. For all these years I've been waging war with the image of Ali having to be wheeled across the stage at her graduation, maybe not even getting there. Maybe that's why I'm looking for ways to delay the ceremony. And here is a mother whose son didn't make it. Not only that, incredibly, she's calling not to talk about her loss but to thank us for the work of the foundation that gave him longer than they had expected. She lets me know that friends and family have sent in donations for our Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation to be used in his memory. Her voice is clear and resolute as she tells me to call on her for anything she can do to help raise awareness in the ongoing search for a cure.

When I get off the phone, sad and mad that we couldn't do more, I fight a flood of fearful thoughts and just try to be in the moment to appreciate where we are. The truth is that every worst fear that I could and did imagine for Ali -- none of it has happened. The dire prognosis that we were given hasn't come to pass.

It's true that I have lived too often with the subliminal concern that special events and usual rites of passage may be her last. The irony, of course, is that she prefers low key. But my impulse was always to give all the kids happy memories and make all the details so memorable that they'll be able to relish them long into the years to come.

Even thinking that there could be a cap on the years to come for Ali is so sacrilegious, not even something I allow myself to think about, that I compensate by making every milestone the ultimate.

Senior prom, of course, had to be the absolute best in the world because (a) it's prom, (b) there might not be another event like it and (c) I never went to prom and refuse to let her miss out on anything that life has to offer.

The logic and the love were really uppermost in my mind. But then again, finding the most amazing dress and then having it altered -- I went a little crazy, almost going so far as to tell the tailor that it has to be perfect because only God knew how much time she had left.

Evan once told me that you have to try to just have faith in the world. That's the lullaby I kept trying to sing to myself now. He has always said that to me. Still, I looked around at other moms at the pre-prom party and realized that probably no other mother was thinking of her daughter in her very special dress the same way I was thinking of Ali.

This piece is excerpted from "Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story" by Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy. Available from Vanguard Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright 2012

Copyright © 2012 Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy, authors of Saving Each Other: A Mystery Illness, A Search for the Cure, A Mother-Daughter Love Story
Win a copy!!  Cancelled.  Due to lack of entries, (0), this contest has been cancelled.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Shirley. What a beautiful review!
    ~Anna (FSB Associates)


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