March 18, 2013

Writing Through Illness


In a single moment, with a single jump, you suspend in the air. Putting life on pause for one, joyful, split second, only to moments later land safely back on your two feet, either lifting off again or climbing down to solid ground.

But when something unexpected double-bounces you off life’s trampoline, suddenly, the suspension of reality feels less free and more threatening. The landing pad looks less even and more unsteady. The fall becomes fearful and threatening. And the next few moments, days, months, and years…uncertain.

We’ve all had those moments — a shocking diagnosis, the discovery of a lump, the loss of a loved one, a life with a chronic illness. We’ve all felt the jolt of the double bounce and the struggle for a steady state. We’ve all felt alone and scared, weak and wilted, changed and converted. And we all have the chance to use those experiences to take flight once again.

This is Writing Through Illness.

An opportunity to bring meaning to those double-bounce challenges and turn life-altering moments into life-changing messages. It is a course I am offering through Stanford Continuing Studies this April (yes, two weeks away) in which we turn lemons into lemonade and then turn that lemonade into powerful pieces of writing that will in inspire and encourage and catch others as they free fall.

This is the time to tell your story so that, when someone else flies off their expected path, they can just keep flying.

So I’ll keep it short and simple for now: please pass this information forward. To your support group, doctor, favorite health organization, and Zumba class. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and your work’s water cooler. To young people, wise people, medical professionals, grant writers, caretakers, health warriors, and novices. Because you never know what obstacles people have faced or are currently facing. You never know who this class will empower and touch. You never know what stories need to take flight.

Registration information can be found here:

And thank you in advance for passing it forward.

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Elizabeth Barone March 19, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Hey Jessica!

Your course sounds right up my alley. Is it an online course, or is it on location at the university? Maybe I’m blind—and I almost am, with these coke bottle glasses—but I can’t tell from the page you linked to.


jessg23 March 29, 2013 at 8:17 am

Hi Elizabeth – it is on location at Stanford for now. But I’m hoping to offer it online next time. I’ll keep you updated!

Dana Stern March 20, 2013 at 1:05 am

Thank you for the post, it is very powerful. Sad but powerful. Things happen in this life and some of them are very disappointing and unexpected. You cannot be prepared and must deal with this.

Ed. P March 24, 2013 at 3:20 am

Hi there,

I really like your blog a lot. Personally, I am suffering from Lupus as well but it is the discoid form, not the systemic form which affects the internal organs. I am inspired by your story. You have given me hope that I can overcome my condition and lead a normal life while helping other people to do the same. 🙂


Christal Boxberger March 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm

If you ever offer this class online, please let me know as I am not California. I was diagnosed with a rare condition, 5 years ago, called Systemic Mastocytosis and this class sounds right up my alley. Thanks!

jessg23 March 29, 2013 at 8:13 am

I’m hoping to offer it again but online. I’ll be sure to let you know!

Minnesota Nice March 31, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Yes I’d also be very interested in taking the course online!!

Ruby Carter April 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Thank you for this site and your posting. Just recently I was diagnosed with heart failure and have been put on a low salt diet. I am here to confess I had no idea what the sodium content was in nearly every thing. I really was afraid to eat any thing. However inch by inch my husband and I started researching. Your site has just opened another door. Thank God you are doing what you are doing to help others through your own illness.
Thank you

Ruby Carter April 2, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Thank you so much for your site. I was recently diagnosed with Heart failure. I was in congestive heart failure and told I would have to stay on a low sodium diet from now on. I am 76 years old and really had no idea that there was so much sodium in nearly everything. Well inch by inch my husband and I started researching. Today your site opened another door.
We are so thankful for you God Bless you for sharing even though you have so many things to deal with for your own health.
Thank you

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Alana April 28, 2013 at 1:19 am

Hi there,

I totally love the idea of using pain and illness as motivation. In fact, someone once said that it’s during our darkest hours that our inner light shines the brightest. It would be great if you could share some of the coursework on your writing class via your blog in the coming weeks and months.


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