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The Story Behind Otherwise Healthy

The Story Behind Otherwise Healthy

I was lying on the examination table crying to my gynecologist during a routine checkup because that very morning my six-year-old daughter, whom he had delivered, was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a serious and non-curable chronic inflammatory bowel disease. His sympathetic face clouded over as he examined my breast: “Lynda, this is not your day. You have a lump.” So began, on that terrible day, our journey into a medical nightmare land of second opinions, diagnostic tests, surgeries and treatment plans.

Thankfully, I had a medical background. As a licensed registered occupational therapist and a licensed master’s level social worker, I have practiced in the field of geriatric rehabilitation for over twenty-nine years, the last twenty-one in my own private practice. Having served as a chief researcher on a study of geriatric rehabilitation, I was well versed in medical chart review and able to negotiate my way around large medical centers. But all the medical knowledge in the world does not prepare you for the overwhelming shock of learning that both you and your daughter have serious potentially life-threatening diseases.

What made the difference for me were my penchant for organization (even my lists have lists) and my two degrees. Occupational therapists practice the art of taking seemingly overwhelming tasks and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks. Social workers practice the art of empowering people to call on their inner strengths to overcome adversity.

Four years after my daughter’s and my diagnoses, when my mother was found to have an extremely aggressive cancer, I found the impetus to start writing. Once again there was so much to keep straight at a time when it was virtually impossible to focus. Together, we designed “to do” lists that soon evolved into Focusheets®.

These worksheets help patients manage their lives and their medical care, and became the key to Otherwise Healthy®.

Much of the advice and stories contained therein come from a wide variety of sources. I learned a great deal from being a cancer patient and thankfully a survivor. I also gleaned tremendous perspective from those who participated in Breast Friends, a self-help support group I developed and directed, and from those with whom I came in contact while presenting numerous lectures on the subject. Finally, I gained much knowledge from my years of mentoring hundreds of breast cancer patients.

These past several years have brought to the surface an inner strength that lies deep within each of us. It is that basic survival instinct that makes us face troubling situations and do whatever is required to weather the storm.

You too have that inner strength and basic survival instinct. I promise there will come a time when your every waking moment will not be focused on breast cancer. Take it one day at a time. Let’s do it together.

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