THOSE OF US who face chronic illness remember the before and after moments: the day the phone rang, or the doctor walked into your hospital room, and it was clear that life as you had known it was about to change. You discover that you have cancer or multiple sclerosis or that your child has been stricken with leukemia. You hang up the phone or walk out of the hospital feeling as if your world has been transformed. It’s not simply fear that makes you so disoriented—it’s because you are in the midst of experiencing a true glimpse of the great preciousness and precariousness of life. Falling ill is like joining a private fraternity—one you would never enter voluntarily, but whose membership reveals profound truths that most of us are too busy rushing through our days to consider. In the midst of everyday life, you are suddenly jolted by your own fallibility and finiteness, by the fact that you are no more durable than the shoes on your mortal feet.
I start my review of Roxanne Black’s book with a quote that I can truly relate to as the first anniversary of my official diagnosis comes closer, and years of suffering and looking for answers do not compare to the moment of knowing – finally knowing that you become so disorientated – relieved that the truth is finally there and wondering what lies ahead. “Falling ill is like joining a private fraternity—one you would never enter voluntarily, but whose membership reveals profound truths that most of us are too busy rushing through our days to consider.” No words could be truer.
At the age of fifteen, Roxanne was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic inflammatory condition that attacks the vital organs of the human. For any teenager, this is a scary experience, and for Roxanne, she was forced to find connections with others to help her to understand what it was she was going through. She started a support group from her hospital bed called “Friends Health Connection
,” which is now a nationwide community that matches people who have similar conditions, whether it is cancer, lupus or any other chronic condition.
Roxanne has had a long journey, which included two kidney transplants, she has met and inspired some many people. Roxanne’s mission, for the last twenty years, to help turn her condition into something positive. She recalls the words of her now deceased mother from years prior telling her that maybe that her being diagnosed happened so she could help others, and those words remind her why everyday. No matter who she’s met, whether it was a young girl in a New Jersey hospital who had lost her mother to AIDs, and was HIV positive or whether is the most inspiring of people, like the late Christopher Reeve, Roxanne does not stop believing in extraordinary things, heroism and hope. She reminds us that healing comes from the heart.
You can purchase Unexpected Blessings through Penguin Group (USA) for $15.00.
For more information on Roxanne Black and her book Unexpected Blessings, please her website.
For more information about lupus, visit the Lupus Foundation of America website.