Suleika Jaouad (c) Lise-Ann Marsal

Suleika Jaouad

What Does Almost Dying Teach Us About Living?

Festival of Ideas Online/
Tue 09 March 2021
18:00-18:45
Crowdcast
Price: £0—£8

Suleika Jaouad

What Does Almost Dying Teach Us About Living?

Suleika Jaouad (c) Lise-Ann Marsal
Tue 09 March 2021,
18:00-18:45
Crowdcast
Price: £0—£8

Exploring universal questions about how we thrive after illness and life’s unwelcome interruptions, Suleika Jaouad provides a wise, fierce and funny dose of inspiration.

At age 22 Jaouad was diagnosed with leukaemia and given a 35% chance of survival. For the next five years her world comprised four white walls, a hospital bed, and tubes and wires running to and from an IV stand. Instead of pursuing her dream to become a war correspondent she found herself dropped into a very different conflict zone.

At age 27, and celebrating her first year in remission, Jaouad realised that being cured is not where the healing ends but where it begins. She had survived but she had no idea how to live. To try to find an answer she set out to meet some of the many strangers who had written to her during her years in hospital in response to her New York Times column ‘Life Interrupted’. Their letters had sustained her when she was sick, maybe they could offer perspective into her predicament now and help guide her passage forward?

Her trip would circle around the United States. She would take her rescue dog Oscar and drive roughly 15,000 miles, through 33 states, and visit more than 20 people including a teenage girl also recovering from cancer, a teacher grieving the death of her son, and a death-row inmate who had also been confined to a room. She would go where the letters took her and see what she found.

The trip would take just a hundred days, the maximum amount of time Suleika’s medical team had agreed to until her next follow-up appointment. It would be her way of reclaiming a number that, during the countdown to Day 100 after a patient’s bone marrow transplant, represents a critical turning point in recovery. The difference, this time, was that the rite of passage would be of her own making.

In conversation with Jenny Lacey.

Suleika Jaouad book jacket

Suleika Jaouad’s Between Two Kingdoms: What Almost Dying Taught Me About Living is published by Bantam. Buy a copy from Waterstones, our bookselling partners.

Image credit Lise-Ann Marsal

 

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