Reviewed by Krista Castner

My mother has been struggling with a chronic illness, and I thought that this book might provide some tips or tools to help her focus on something other than her diagnosis. Dr. Julian Seifter writes from experience since he has had diabetes for years, and works with patients struggling with renal disease. I thought that After the Diagnosis gave some practical insights for moving beyond the diagnosis of a chronic illness and back into the mainstream of life. It’s not about ignoring the diagnosis, or becoming excessively focused on it; the key is to acknowledge where you are and move forward with the things that are in your power to change or affect.

Dr. Seifter observes, “In the course of my long career, I’ve seen many people battle their illnesses, and I’ve come to see that each person writes a narrative as individual as a thumbprint. Some stories are about successful adaptation or, happiest of all, about conquering the foe, others are darker, more tangled, more troubled. But every story deserves respect. Every story has a real, actual teller, and needs to be listened to.”

The book contains many stories about patients who managed their conditions well and lived a full and enriching life, as well as stories about patients who did not do so well. The patients who were able to cope with the chronic illness were the ones who were able to talk about their situation and come to some sort of decision about how much they’d let the illness control the pieces that made up their essential selves.

There are discussions about the stages of acceptance of a chronic illness, and a section for the caregivers of chronically ill patients. One of my favorite quotes comes towards the end of the book and sums up the philosophy of the book succinctly.

Dr. Seifter asserts, “Facing up to adversity is less a matter of deciding to be strong than of letting go and seeing what comes next. What is most required in order to thrive ‘after the diagnosis’ is the capacity to stay open to experience. By letting life happen and time go forward, we can hold on to future hopes and present meanings.”

This philosophy is really true for everyone, but becomes more immediate for those thrust into making potentially life altering decisions because of chronic illness. After the Diagnosis has helped me understand my Mom’s journey, and made me more compassionate about the choices she’s making for herself every day.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.