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Lean on Me: Ten Powerful Steps to Moving Beyond Your Diagnosis and Taking Back Your Life

Lean on Me: Ten Powerful Steps to Moving Beyond Your Diagnosis and Taking Back Your Life

by Nancy Davis

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The prognosis you give yourself is the only one that's important. You can't allow yourself to become the victim of a negative prognosis.

At the young age of thirty-three, Nancy Davis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The finality of the neurologist's prognosis was devastating: "There is nothing you can do. Go home and go to bed...forever." Nancy


The prognosis you give yourself is the only one that's important. You can't allow yourself to become the victim of a negative prognosis.

At the young age of thirty-three, Nancy Davis was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The finality of the neurologist's prognosis was devastating: "There is nothing you can do. Go home and go to bed...forever." Nancy left her doctor's office in shock and despair. How could it be that within a year she would be confined to her bed, at best able to push the buttons on her television's remote control? She had plans. She had a family. She had a life that she desperately wanted to live.

Nancy made a choice. Rather than accepting this hopeless prognosis, she began to educate herself, to create an effective health regimen, and to expand her range of therapeutic options. She literally reinvented her prognosis and in doing so she created a healthy new life.

Lean on Me couples Nancy's deeply personal story with a step-by-step guide to empower anyone to take charge of his or her own health care in the face of any life-threatening disease:

Step One Embrace Change

Step Two Fear Less

Step Three Never Take No for an Answer

Step Four Find Your Dr. Right

Step Five Build Your Health Team

Step Six You Are What You Ingest

Step Seven Let's Get Physical

Step Eight Explore Alternative Therapies

Step Nine Tame the Health Care Monster

Step Ten Give Back

Life-altering diseases often come with a list of "can'ts," "won'ts," and "no's." Nancy teaches readers how to move beyond these negative concepts and focus on what they personally can and will do to improve their health. Each of these steps offers readers the strategies and strength to carry on when they're feeling overwhelmed, and the concrete tools for actively seeking and receiving the best treatment.

Lean on Me is the health advocate that each of us needs to adopt in the face of a medical crisis. It is a book that shows how to navigate the health care waters, to find hope, to take positive action, and to celebrate progress -- all kinds, every day. It provides the knowledge and power to make good choices. It supplies the authoritative information that can enable you to save your life or the life of a loved one.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author, founder of the Center Without Walls (a medical research foundation), has written an inspirational book for anyone with multiple sclerosis (MS). When she was a mother of three small children, she was diagnosed with MS at the age of 33. Her neurologist told her to go home and "go to bed... forever." Determined to have an active life, Davis developed a program to live as fully as possible. First she ditched a troubled marriage and surrounded herself only with people who would support her emotionally. She learned as much as she could about MS, working her way through the maze of medical information and misinformation to find which physicians and treatments would be the most help. In order to remain positive, avoid stress and commit to a healthy diet, she explored alternative approaches (among others, Davis has found homeopathy, acupuncture and osteopathy to be useful for her condition). Davis provides readers with an informed overview of how to negotiate the health-care system as well as Web resources. Today, remarried with two more children, the author, an MS activist, has devised a thoughtful plan for dealing with a devastating illness that should motivate others. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
These books take different approaches to the same issues-personal illness, patient participation/advocacy, and smart decision making. In After the Diagnosis, Pikula, a dentist who has dealt with family members suffering from various illnesses and who herself was diagnosed with hyperthyroid disease, is clear, thorough, and practical, providing step-by-step forms and checklists that can be used by patients in their own proactive healthcare journey. Readers will encounter many examples of cancer and thyroid conditions, but the book can be used to address and cope with diagnoses of any kind. In Lean on Me, Davis, a mother of five with multiple sclerosis and the director of the Race To Erase MS, tries to accomplish the same task as Pikula but somewhat misses the mark. Her memoirlike narrative, while encouraging at times, can be clich d and self-indulgent; it contains numerous references to Davis's famous friends and her own charitable endeavors. Both titles are suitable for larger nonfiction and consumer health collections in public libraries; however, After the Diagnosis, the more useful and well-written title, is recommended.-Nicole A. Cooke, Montclair State Univ. Lib., NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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How to Use This Book

It would be wonderful if this book was given as a graduation gift for every high school or college student. It contains important information that everyone will need at some point in life. We all need to understand the fundamentals of taking responsibility for our own lives and our own health, but there are few classes taught in school that provide this basic knowledge. Realistically, when you find yourself or a friend in a life-altering situation, you will want to read this book as soon as possible.

You have come into possession of this book because either you or someone you love is already facing a major medical crisis. You may need help in a specific area. Most likely, that area is covered by one or more of the ten steps I have outlined in this book. Although I learned the lessons of these steps in approximately the same order as I have presented them, you may need to start immediately on a particular section, develop your understanding from there, then come back to the other chapters later as different crises present themselves.

For example, if you are in a hospital emergency room and are fortunate enough to have this book in your hands, read the short section "ER Basics" at the back of this book. You may not have prepared for the emergency room visit, but the information provided will teach you quickly how to stay in control of the situation, how to help the ER personnel, and how to understand what is going on around you.

If your doctor has given you a copy of this book because you have just been diagnosed, please go home, sit down quietly, and read my introduction, "You're Lucky." I believe that it will be a comfort and an inspiration for you. I have been where you are now, and I know that you are going through many of the difficult emotions and experiences I describe. You must turn hopelessness into hopefulness. I am absolutely sincere about the title of this book: Lean on Me. If you or your loved one or friend suddenly finds his or her life turned upside down with a devastating illness, you will understand the importance of the phrase, "We all need somebody to lean on."

Perhaps you are a relative or a close friend of someone who has just been diagnosed with a devastating illness. First, put a copy of this book into this person's hands. If reading is difficult, offer to read it to him or her. Second, skim the entire contents and see what seems to apply to the most pressing problem that you or your friend or relative is facing. Absorb that section and take appropriate action.

Undoubtedly there will be many people who have heard that I have useful advice about how to deal with the medical establishment. You need this help especially if you feel that you do not have the insurance or financial ability to get the health care you need. Remember that no matter what your current financial situation, you have the right to the best care possible. Please turn to Step Nine, "Tame the Health Care Monster," to see if I have addressed your specific problems. The information in the resources section will take you further.

If your parent has chronic medical problems, you may have obtained this book as a guide to advocacy. Consider this a fresh start, a new way of looking at your parent's problems. This is the time when you may have to reverse roles and become your parent's caretaker, just as he or she has always cared for you. There are a variety of positive elements to be introduced as you implement the ten steps. You will definitely see how these concepts apply to your life, too.

Finally, if you are that rare and truly lucky person who is not facing an immediate medical crisis in your life or in a loved one's life, I hope this book will inspire you to take charge of your life and prepare intelligently for a medical crisis that surely will affect you or a loved one in the future. I hope these steps will give you the strength and independence that they have given me. I hope my story will empower you and encourage you to live your life in a way that will inspire and help others.

Copyright © 2006 by Nancy Davis

Meet the Author

Nancy Davis is an award-winning illustrator and graphic designer. Her most recent work includes titles in the Little Scholastic series for Scholastic, as well as Who's at Home?, Christmas Shapes,  and The First Thanksgiving for Little Simon. Nancy resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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