Heather’s Story

Ask Dr. Heather Stuckey about her diabetes, and you probably won’t get the answer you’d expect. You won’t hear about insulin doses or what her blood sugar was earlier that day. She may not mention that she has Type 1, and not Type 2, diabetes.

What she might say, though, is this: “My diabetes is like dry bones. For me, it’s just a never-ending dryness.”

Heather has been managing Type 1 diabetes for most of her life, since she was diagnosed at age 12. And for as long as she can remember, creative expression has been part of her coping strategy. She recalls that, even as a child, she felt the need to search for support outside of traditional medicine, as she has long been aware of the emotional gap in diabetes treatment. “There are so many different specialists who treat diabetes,” she says. “But the psychological aspects of having diabetes are simply not recognized.”

Compelled by her love of writing and an interest in art, she sought to make peace with the range of emotions that often accompany chronic illnesses like diabetes. She did this by engaging in creative expression. “I was asking myself, how do I thrive with this disease? How [...] continue the story

Stephanie’s Story

By Stephanie Paseornek

When I was a child, I used to sit in my room and write for hours. In my notebook, I was anywhere and everywhere. Soaring above my eight-year-old body, I found a place for myself – a place amongst words. Writing gave me wings. It made me feel free.

When I was sixteen years old, I unexpectedly went through severe heart failure. After waking up from a month-long induced coma, my UCLA doctors told me that in order to survive, I would need a heart transplant. I was stuck in a room with four blinding white walls, tethered to machines on full life support. In the process of suffering, with death just around the bend, I made the conscious choice to continue. I asked my parents if there was any way I could write. I knew in order to find strength I needed the tools to soar above my sixteen year old body, and I needed words to set me free.

My time spent in the hospital was a time spent between life and death. All of my organs failed and my parents were told to “prepare for the worst” every day for months. During this time, my brain drifted [...] continue the story

Counting Backwards

The day before Joe was diagnosed with Leukemia he was content with ignoring his passion and walking the safe road in life. Now that his days are numbered, the questions that used to be so easy to avoid are now impossible to ignore. Joe refuses treatment in order to live his final days to the fullest. Deciding that now more than ever, it’s important that he experience love – he chooses not to tell Claire, the girl of his dreams, about his dismal prognosis. He begins writing a novel about his experiences as both a method of coping and an attempt at a legacy. As Joe turns the comedic disaster of his life into fantastic triumphs of fiction, he learns to be the courageous and artistic hero of his mind, and ultimately discovers that he is living a life worth fighting for.