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Monday, April 1, 2013

Living Well With Chronic Illness by Richard Cheu

Living Well With Chronic Illness by Richard Cheu
Published by Dog Ear Publishing ISBN 978-1-4575-1343-5
Trade paperback, $16.95, 214 pages

Chronic illness is something that will touch each of us in some way, whether it is something that we face ourselves or watching someone whom we love deal with it. Author Richard Cheu has extensive experience dealing with this as a neurophysiologist teaching medical students, an EMT working the streets of New York City, and a chaplain working in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice facilities, and he uses those experiences to help people deal with chronic illness in his helpful book Living Well With Chronic Illness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide.

Cheu sets out to guide people coping with the stages of illness, from the initial shock "to overcoming emotional hurdles that stand between you and your goals" to "finding new meaning for your life", and his extensive experience is invaluable in this journey.

The layout of the book is wonderful; he gives examples of people he has met, like Joan and Jack, two tourists he met in an NYC emergency room. Joan had stomach pain and thought it was food poisoning. Cheu was with them when the doctor came in and brusquely told her she had stomach cancer. In one moment, their lives were turned upside down, and their reaction is one people who have dealt with this will recognize.

Cheu tells Sharon's story, a woman with breast cancer who refused to allow her friends and family see her in the hospital, saying that they could see her when she looked and felt better. She died and her parents and siblings were not allowed to say goodbye to her. She wouldn't even allow her husband to tell her what she meant to him.

He contrasts that with Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor and author of The Last Lecture, who when told he only had a few months to live, delivered a lecture that he wanted to be his legacy. He shared the life lessons he learned to not only his students and his young children, but to all who read his insightful book.

The book is divided into four parts:

  • The Personal Impact of a Chronic Illness
  • Overcoming Emotional Hurdles
  • Finding New Meaning in Life
  • Free Your Spirit
Along with the examples that we can identify with, Cheu has worksheets in the book that will help you deal with your illness. There is a Self-Help Fear-Management Plan, A Plan to Increase My Connections that will help you deal with loneliness, and a Worksheet For Creating Your Own Life Story, to tell your  life's journey for those you leave behind.

Living Well With Chronic Illness is not only a helpful guide for those who find themselves dealing with it, but also for those who love and care for people with chronic illness. Even if you don't face a chronic illness, the insights you will draw from this wonderful book will help you live an emotionally healthier life.

rating 4 of 5

Richard Cheu's website is here.
You can follow Cheu on Twitter here.

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