Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, totally worn out and screaming,
"WOO HOO, what a ride!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Review: The Power of Two by Brian and Gerri Monaghan

Surviving Serious Illness

with an Attitude & an Advocate
Includes 50 Ways to
Help a Loved One.

The Power of Two has the power to change lives. This much-needed book combines an inspiring story of hope and survival with a compelling practical blueprint for how to be a loved one's advocate. And if ever there was a time when a chronically ill or disabled person needs an advocate, that time is now, with HMOs, the medical establishment, and patients in a chaotic free-for-all.

Brian Monaghan, a fifty-nine-year-old lawyer at the top of his game, got the news that all of us dread—Stage IV melanoma had metastasized to his brain; he was given three to six months to live. That night Brian and his wife Gerri made a pact: "We are going to love and laugh and fight this. And we are going to win." That was ten years ago. Between Brian's courage and attitude, and Gerri's determination to stand up for him—tirelessly researching options, reaching out to friends, family, and anyone who could help, resisting the status quo, and always thinking in terms of "we"—they did win. This book is the story of that journey, told back and forth between them. utterly riveting, inspiring, and uplifting, it is a road map for everyone facing a tough medical challenge, and for the people who love them.

Along the way, Gerri lists her top 50 tips for how to be an advocate: #1 Trust your intuition. #6 Create a battle plan. #15 Get copies of records. #26 Make doctors speak in a language that you understand. #49 This is not a dress rehearsal.

I was thrilled to receive this book. My first thought was for my cousin and her battle with a brain tumor - medulloblastoma. I had hoped to send this to her but she passed away before I could. I did find that many of the treatments and advice they listed were things that my cousin had already used. And this isn't only for patients with brain cancer, or any cancer for that matter. These tips are important for any serious illness.

The authors take turns telling their story. I really appreciated the different perspectives and how varied their thoughts and emotions were. The caregivers involved in serious illnesses are under enormous strain as well. Along with telling their story they also provide "The Monaghan Manual', a list of tips that were helpful to them during their experience. They cover a wide variety of issues from paying attention to your bills and writing down your medical history to personal issues of getting dressed up for appointments to feel more positive and celebrating the milestones. Insights from others are also provided at the end of the book. Their children, a law partner, doctors and others contribute a few paragraphs each telling their own thoughts about Brian's illness. Helpful resources and information are also listed with phone numbers, websites, email addresses and brief descriptions of services and agencies that helped empower this couple and can be adapted to other people's needs as well.

I was very touched by the Monaghans' story and thought it was very insightful. While fighting their own battle they have found a way to help others along the way. I found this book to be very helpful and inspiring and I highly recommend it.

From LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Publisher: Workman Publishing Company
Release date: 3/09
Pages: 288
Price/format: $22.95/hardcover
Type: Nonfiction (memoir)

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