PERIPLUS: A Review of Passage to Nirvana by Lee Carlson

I was compelled to begin this review having not yet finished the last page. Perhaps it’s that while the “end” is important in some way, no less – or perhaps even more significant and relevant – is the inspiration at any moment in Passage to Nirvana.

An unconventional autobiography, we come to know Carlson as he comes to know himself again after an ironically-charged event leaves him to live a life transformed irreparably by Traumatic Brain Injury. It is the story of a writer, now struggling with writing, writing to heal, writing to learn, writing to share the specific and the universal of our human condition. Carlson’s observations and narrations undulate, integrating the realms of life – inspiration, challenge, spirituality, reality, cause+effect, expanding one’s experience of mind, body and soul. It is in his authenticity, his meeting and telling of truths, in this unselfconsciousness that one finds one’s own comfort in being, in one’s own (auto)biography and condition.

I knew Lee prior to this book. But, I did not know him well. And wish I had had the opportunity. Our paths crossed through the familial lines, sometimes leading to light conversations, but as I recall, mostly short and simple pleasantries or greetings. I was not aware of the depth of his Zenness, the richness [...] continue the story

Anne Marie Cerato

Anne Marie Cerato 4-Year Lung Cancer Survivor

Patient Advocate and Speaker

I am living with stage 4 Lung Cancer. A little over a year ago, I was certain that my life would be cut short and I doubted I’d see my 35th birthday. Thanks to a targeted treatment I’m looking past 40, my condition although incurable is now manageable and chronic, not terminal.

One of the most challenging parts of this journey has been the isolation I felt, during and after treatment, both as a Lung Cancer patient but also as a Young Adult. Even living in a world-class city like Toronto, I found it incredibly difficult to find the resources and outlets I needed as a Young Adult living with Lung Cancer. After having experienced the stigma and isolation of having this condition I decided I would do something to change things for the better.

I began These Are My Scars to provide other young adults with a place and the tools to see their own scars in a new light. Through this new perspective, we hope that individuals are able to heal from the deeper emotional scars emanating from the cancer experience. This personal project has led me into Patient Advocacy and [...] continue the story

Gail Attara, President and CEO, Gastrointestinal Society (GI Society)

Gail Attara, President and CEO, Gastrointestinal Society (GI Society) | With offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, the GI Society supports Canadians with a full range of resources in the sorely neglected gastrointestinal health area. Gail Attara began in 1996 as Executive Director of the organization’s sister charity, the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research (CSIR). She led the organization from a small BC charity into a national presence, accounting for the largest growth period since inception in 1976, before co-founding the GI Society in 2008 and now serving as its president and chief executive officer.

Gail’s motto, “The patient comes first,” directs her leadership of the GI Society, as she advocates on behalf of patients to promote patient-focused health care and for a wider public awareness of digestive illnesses that affect as many as 20 million Canadians.

Government, non-profit, media, medical, and corporate stakeholders in GI health regularly seek out Gail for consultations and speaking engagements from coast to coast, where she is known for captivating listeners with her straightforward and engaging style.

Gail has a sound background in public relations and fundraising, and she is also a published freelance author and artist. She is an active community volunteer in Canada and overseas, [...] continue the story

Holly Bridges

Holly Bridges Three years ago, I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids (non-cancerous tumours facing 1 in 4 women and are the leading cause of hysterectomy in Canada) and told that hysterectomy was my only option.

Today, I am pain-free and period-free, with all my reproductive organs intact, thanks to a gynecologist I found through

my own research, who performed two of the most high tech, state-of-the-art procedures available in the world today – a hysteroscopic myomectomy and hysteroscopic endometrial ablation.  Women should not have to rely on their own detective skills to get the best possible outcomes for the medical conditions that threaten their well-being.

So what?

Every year in North America, some 700,000 women (650,000 American and 50,000 Canadian) undergo hysterectomy and of those, 60 and 80 per cent of those hysterectomies are medically unnecessary, performed for benign conditions such as uterine fibroids, cysts, polyps, adenomyosis and the most crippling of all benign conditions, endometriosis.

The reason I am so passionate about helping women become more aware of minimally invasive medical and surgical options is they present outcomes for women that are:

Less painful Less risky Less invasive Less expensive

I wrote The UnHysterectomy and started my online community as a resource for women to learn, connect and share about their own [...] continue the story

Anna Brundage

Anna Brundage Anna Brundage  is an accomplished and respected Diabetes Nurse Educator. She is the recipient of the Diabetes Educator of the Year Award from the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre and the recipient of the Honourary Lifetime award from the Canadian Diabetes Association in the Diabetes Educator Section. The DES grants honorary lifetime membership to recognize active DES members whose longstanding excellence in practice and significant contributions have improved the quality of life for people affected by diabetes.

Anna is co-founder of the T1 Think Tank, a highly specialized collaboration of Patient Leaders and Healthcare Professionals focused on Type 1 Diabetes. The T1 Think Tank has 3 main objectives: 1) Improve communication between Patients and Healthcare providers. 2) Elevate the Standard of Care provided to Type 1 Diabetes 3) Empower patients with skills for better self-management of Type 1 Diabetes (Editor’s Note: True to her tradition, Anna did not reply to our request for information. The picture we chose to represent her reminds us of her life’s work and the constant balancing act that diabetes management demands from those living with the condition. Anna’s modesty and humility is well known. Yet the impact she’s had on literally thousands of people living with diabetes over her long [...] continue the story

Lee Durdon

My Journey: Lee Durdon, President and Founder, Sjogren’s Society of Canada

Sjogren’s Syndrome is the second most prevalent autoimmune disorder that few have heard of. Sjogren’s takes an average of 5–9 years to be diagnosed. Sufferers may not look sick on the outside adding to the delay in diagnosis. Affects 430,000 Canadians; 3 x more than Multiple Sclerosis and Lupus; and 9 out of 10 are women, but men and children also suffer.

After a long road and finally being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome several years ago, I was fortunate to find excellent doctors and excellent care, but it still wasn’t enough. As many of us living with Sjogren’s are all too well aware of, just as we seem to get one symptom under control, another equally annoying, disruptive, painful symptom appears or an unwanted one returns again. The unpredictability of Sjogren’s is particularly difficult to live with. So goes the journey.

I felt I owed it to my husband and family but more importantly, I owed it to myself to find a way to try to live a better life or even have a life with Sjogren’s. I needed to find support from other people with the same disease that could understand [...] continue the story

Mandy Maresky

Mandy Maresky My son Aaron was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the tender age of 7. In 2009, shortly after my son’s diagnosis my family and I started Aaron’s Apple.

Parents of children with chronic illness are faced with the harsh reality that they are unable to control the illness that their child has been diagnosed. One of the options to ease the suffering of these children comes in the form of highly priced medical treatments. Some parents are fortunate enough to have medical insurance that will cover such high costs. However many are not so fortunate and simply don’t have the financial means to ease the intolerable pain that their child is experiencing.  Aaron’s Apple’s primary goal is to help families cope with overwhelming medical costs. As the costs of delivering healthcare rises, the ability of families to afford the appropriate and necessary healthcare diminishes. This places enormous stress upon families. In their time of need, Aaron’s Apple helps families pay for expensive medication and treatments.

Aaron’s Apple has raised over $400,000 in it’s short existence, and amazingly has helped 20 families gain access to unaffordable medications. In addition, in 2013 Aaron’s Apple donated $50,000 to the Aaron’s Apple Amenities fund, administered by [...] continue the story

Joan Park

Joan Park Joan Park’s enthusiasm about her work and commitment to superior patient care has gained her admiration and respect from patients, colleagues, nursing leadership, physicians and other disciplines.  Collaboration, innovation, scholarship and advanced practice are the hallmarks of her leadership.

In 1998 the dynamics of the healthcare system were changing to be more dollar efficient and yet of higher quality and more responsive to patients.  Joan was selected to develop the role of Case Manager at St. Michael’s Hospital.  This journey led her to discover that the potential of Case Management is to optimize quality patient care while at the same time managing the effective and efficient use of resources.

Her definition of quality became:

“Right Place, Right Time, Right Care, Right Provider = Right Cost”

From there, the spark of leadership grew to a roaring flame as she created momentum to both define and promote Case Management nationally.

By connecting with others, a small network of Case Management providers representing diverse disciplines, sectors, provinces and territories was formed. The National Case Management Network of Canada was launched in November 2006.  As President of the National Case Management Network (NCMN) she spearheaded the creation of the Canadian Standards of Practice for Case Management in 2008.  [...] continue the story

Guida Clozza

Guida Quaglia Clozza Guida Quaglia Clozza (B.PHE; B.ED) is a retired secondary school teacher with 31 years of experience in Physical and Health Education and has a specialist in Special Education. Her passion for teaching and advocating for the rights and the needs of exceptional students have led her over the years to become a voice of support for fairness, in both the educational and medical communities.

Guida has always been a strong advocate for special needs children and promoting inclusion in school and in the community. She has sat on parent school councils, presented workshops on navigating the school system, and has been involved in many school and community special education programs and parent workshops

(Erinoak Kids Treatment Center, Hospital for Sick Kids, Geneva Center for Autism, Community Living in Peel region, Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board Special Education Advisory Committee). In 2009, Guida was recognized for ‘her advocacy and efforts on behalf of special needs students’ by the Ontario Association for Developmental Education as the recipient of the Fred Soplet Humanitarian Award.

Guida has actively been involved in Epilepsy awareness as an Epilepsy ambassador for 20 years working through Epilepsy Toronto, where she received the H.O.P.E Award (Helping Out People with Epilepsy) [...] continue the story

Dee Christensen

Dee Christensen Dee Christensen is a writer, social advocate and the owner of Canada’s leading addiction magazine. This former street junkie turned entrepreneur used her life experiences and an academic background in Criminology and Social Work to found Recovery Wire Magazine. This common interest publication has become a vehicle for uniting the broader addiction community, and a medium to reach people who might not be ready to get help yet. As Editor in Chief, Dee is passionate about joining the fight to educate people about addiction, and end the cycle of isolation and recidivism. This grass roots magazine, written by people impacted by addiction personally, has become a major resource for addiction professionals and individual subscribers around the globe: from Canada to the United States, Australia, Italy, the United Kingdom and even China.

Derek Forgie of MTV Canada writes, “One would be hard-pressed to find a hipper, slicker, unapologetically honest approach to the important issue of recovery.” 

Dee credits her success to the everyday, hard working heroes in the mental health field that she met along the way. For every person who steered her in the right direction and cheered her on during her voyage back to life, she works tirelessly to pay [...] continue the story