Fierce Joy: A Memoir
“Ellen Schecter creates a visual symphony with her extraordinary command of the unique language of the soul. . . . Fierce Joy is a powerful story full of hope, redemption, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.”
Most of us don’t give much thought to the physical and emotional ramifications of being diagnosed with a life threatening illness, especially in the prime of life.
In this poignant and powerful memoir, author Ellen Schecter shares her very personal story of a transformational journey that begins with two dreaded diagnoses: Systemic Lupus Erythematosis (SLE, an autoimmune disease otherwise known as “the wolf” coined from the distinctive rash around the eyes that resemble the markings on a wolf) coupled with Peripheral Neuropathy (PN). PN damages the protective sheath surrounding the nerves causing the loss of mobility.
In that all-consuming moment when the doctor explains the depth of this earth shattering news, Ms. Schecter realizes her life and family will never be the same.
Either of these catastrophic illnesses can be completely overwhelming but in juxtaposition, the prognosis is daunting. During her research, Ms. Schecter learns that “the average life expectancy for people with lupus is nine years after diagnosis.” In the early phases of facing the truth, she states, “My disease and I are locked in a silent, relentless struggle.”
In the midst of IV steroids, loss of mobility, chemo, and the concomitant side effects, Ms. Schechter tries to keep her frantic feelings under wraps.
Naturally, she experiences the entire grief process, particularly the eventual loss of her high-powered career writing children’s books and serving as a greatly respected Director of Publications and Media at a major company.
Eventually the disease leads to a downward physical spiral progressing from the use of a cane to the necessity of braces and crutches.
In the midst of these traumatic events, Ms. Schecter vividly describes her journey from being a person with a disability to one that becomes empowered to focus on all of her abilities.
With the support of attentive physicians and a loving family she rises above the pain and begins to flourish in the idea of new possibilities, opening doors whenever the opportunities arise.
Fierce Joy is no ordinary memoir: neither a simple journal nor a chronicle of events. Nor is it a tale of self-pity or bitterness. More importantly, Ms. Schecter strikes a wondrous new chord within her heart and soul that allows the reader to bathe in her new insights about healing and the power of the life force within us.
The reader may be immediately awed by her search for meaning within the context of spirituality as well a loving environment she finds with new friends from a support group and her foray into the exploration of her faith.
Ellen Schecter creates a visual symphony with her extraordinary command of the unique language of the soul. She paints a poetic visual and auditory masterpiece that blends color with sounds on canvas. She transforms sights we take for granted into phrases such as “indigo skies and the magenta twilight” as if she is viewing them for the first time. The reader is transfixed by her hypnotic writing style with its melodic tempo and soulful metaphors.
Some readers may have emotional difficulties with portions of Fierce Joy. Bearing witness to moments of Ms. Schecter’s excruciating physical pain and the debilitating effects of her illnesses is not easy; however, in the final analysis, Fierce Joy is a powerful story full of hope, redemption, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit.