Thursday, October 31, 2019

Chasing My Cure - Book Review

Read the Five-Star Reviews
When I first began to read Chasing My Cure by David Fajgenbaum, the proverb that came to mind as an alternate title was Physician, Heal Thyself.  Though it may have been apt with regard to his early love life, and perhaps some of the medical establishment he encountered, I certainly have nothing but respect for the author, and compassion for what he and his family have lived through.

Fajgenbaum was still reeling from the death of his mother to an aggressive brain cancer when he began to experience mysterious flu-like symptoms.  At first, he ascribed the overwhelming fatigue to the stresses of medical school and tried to power through it to complete his rotations and exams.  When his condition rapidly deteriorated, landing him in a hospital's emergency department, the early indications and tests pointed to Lymphoma cancer.

While that diagnosis would have been a severe blow, the real blow was yet to come.  There would be no quick identification of Fajgenbaum's mystery illness.  With all of his major organs shutting down, death seemed imminent.

As a doctor in training, the author wasn't ready to give up hope.  He kept noticing details of his extreme illness that others did not recognize as significant.  One of Fajgenbaum's strengths was a laser-like focus born of what others deemed a disability (the hyperfocus variant of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder).  When he got hold of something that captured his attention, Fajgenbaum did not let go.  In this case, that would be his eventual salvation.

After several weeks of multiple near-death experiences and debilitating pain, and after insisting on a lymph node biopsy, Fajgenbaum finally received his diagnosis: Castleman Disease.  In nearly every respect, this medical sentence was much worse than the initial fears raised by a potential cancer diagnosis.  Knowing what he was fighting did not make this an easy or fair fight.

To read Chasing My Cure, is to obtain an intimate glimpse into the world of living tenuously day to day.  It will take you into the often perplexing universe of attempting to find a cure for a relentless, ruthless, incredibly complex disease.  You will meet people of heart and courage who invoke a brand of hope that is invincible—and just as relentless as the enemy.

Fajgenbaum has not only had to fight the ultimate foe within his body.  Equally daunting has been his mission to revolutionize the medical research field and to convince others that it takes a whole different approach when chasing down a cure for Castleman Disease.  Attempting to change the deeply seated ways in which institutions, corporations, physicians, and researchers operate has been essential to this enterprise.  To create this kind of change will be as critical as solving the mystery of the disease, for systems are often as much in need of cures as are the people they serve.

I encourage you to read this inspirational memoir of how hope, faith, and love accompany Fajgenbaum on his ultimate journey of discovery.  This recently published book is consistently receiving five-star ratings.  I believe that is so because this is much more than a story.  It is a call to each of us to act on the kind of invincible hope that makes a true difference for others.









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14 comments:

  1. Oh, oh, oh, I like this kind of book Diana. I(t's one my husband would enjoy too, being retired out of the medical community. Going on my Christmas book list for him and for me! Thanks!

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    1. I believe you will both appreciate this journey of discovery. I love inspirational memoirs and this is one of the very best. Books focused on hope make for good reading. Hopefully, Santa will leave this book under your tree.

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  2. Your review has captured my attention. I will definitely be looking for this book to read.

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    1. I try to write just enough to pique the interest without spoiling things for the reader. I'm pretty sure you will find this to be a compelling read. I'm not alone in my enthusiasm for this memoir. People are raving about it. Let me know what you think after you read it. I value your insights.

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  3. Sounds quite interesting, thank you for your calling it to our attention.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Bev. I do think most readers who are captivated by health-related memoirs will find much of interest here. I know I am really drawn to inspirational true stories featuring individuals rising up to meet nearly insurmountable challenges.

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  4. This certainly sounds like a very powerful memoir. I can't count the number of times when I wished we had known something sooner, or in advance. Being able to diagnose something early on is very often the difference between a treatable disease, and death. If nothing else, this book should encourage all of us to be more in tune with the changes in our bodies as we experience them. I understand mistaking symptoms for fatigue due to a rigorous schedule. Most of us chalk things up to getting older. No doubt, we all need the dose of encouragement this book will offer. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    1. As I reflected on your comments, I thought about my mother's stroke. She was having some symptoms the day before her massive stroke, and friends wanted to take mom to the hospital, but she didn't want a fuss made over something that could be nothing. I always wonder about how things might have turned out differently if she had taken those symptoms more seriously and gone in for treatment. As you mentioned, we do need to listen to our bodies and not ignore early signs that something might be wrong.

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  5. "Not an easy or fair fight" rings true on the path of discovery. Thank you for the review and bringing this book to our attention.

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  6. Yes... the real journeys of discovery are rarely easy. And breakthroughs seem to have different rules about what is fair and right.

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  7. You always manage to find and share the most thought-provoking and inspirational books! This sounds like a must-read for so many reasons. Looking forward to sharing it with my husband as well.

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    1. I'm glad these books find me. I read inspirational books almost exclusively. Stories like this one keep me centered and focused on developing the kind of inner strength that matters when life gets tough. I hope you both find this memoir to be thought-provoking.

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  8. Your review has me intrigued. My heart goes out to him. Like many others I did go through a time when I wasn't sure what the issue was, then I couldn't believe it, then denied it etc. I understand his plight, although I'm sure on a scale of one to ten mine was much easier to manage than his. I'll have to save this book suggestion.

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    1. Those are really difficult seasons. It's pretty hard to fathom just how the author survived. There is no earthly reason to explain it. I wouldn't want anyone to suffer as he has suffered. After his mother died of brain cancer, David was inspired to go to medical school to contribute to finding a cure for the disease that has cut short so many lives. It is ironic that he was then so horribly stricken by such a rare disease that has cancer-like elements. I believe he was meant to be the one to lead the efforts to help other Castleman Disease sufferers. It's the kind of book and story that makes one ask: Is there a higher cause I am supposed to be advancing? It's the type of example I would have used in my leadership classes at the university.

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