Thursday, November 1, 2012

Saving Each Other

By Victoria Jackson and Ali Guthy
Philadelphia, Vanguard Press, 2012
252 pages       Memoir
The Shortlist

Victoria Jackson and her husband Bill Guthy are Infomercial superstars and celebrities. That doesn’t keep them from having the same life problems that other families have. Their teenage daughter Ali was diagnosed five years ago with an uncommon syndrome called NMO, which affects the optic nerve and the spinal cord.

Their book, Saving Each Other, describes the family’s fight to get control of the disease in Ali’s body and to get control of the effect the disease was having on Victoria and the rest of the family. Written in two parts (Victoria’s part and Ali’s part), the narration is part journal entries and part detail of the journey they took over the next few years to heal Ali and to get control over what would seem to be uncontrollable.

Saving Each Other is also the story of the beginnings of their foundation the Guthy Jackson Foundation, whose mission is to alert the world to NMO and to raise money to find a cure and to give support to those who are suffering from NMO, an “orphan” disease.
Victoria Jackson has a powerful personality and is a person who has overcome a lot of odds to achieve success. She holds to the relatively fatalistic attitude that if there is a 2 percent chance of something bad happening, it will happen to her. She discusses this several times in the book and she calls it her 2 percent rule. In telling the story of Ali’s disease, she is also telling the story of her life and her career.

Ali seems to be a pretty level-headed girl who thought that she could manage to ignore as best she could what was happening to her body. She told her doctor and family that she didn’t want to know what was the matter with her. The family went to great ends to try to keep her unaware of the nature of the illness. When she inadvertently finds out, she joins the family in the fight for a cure and in developing the foundation. She says that she doesn’t think that she should be the poster child for this “orphan” disease because she is currently is in such good health. She closes her portion of the book with some very good advice for those who receive a life-challenging diagnosis:
  • 1.       Discovery: She suggests that her ignoring the diagnosis wasn’t such a good idea.
  • 2.       Throw a Fit: It’s OK to be mad about the diagnosis.
  • 3.       Face the reality: “Put on your makeup and get out there.”
  • 4.       Don’t be a victim
  • 5.       Remember “The Sun will come out tomorrow.”
  • 6.       Never give up
This memoir of illness was sent to me by the publicist and could be beneficial to other families who face a child’s debilitating illness. It is never fatalistic, despite Victoria’s 2 percent rule, and it is very encouraging.

The Guthy Jackson NMO Foundation:
Victoria and Ali on the Ellen Degeneres Show:

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