Medically speaking, science journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa and author of the newly-released The Last Best Cure: My Quest to Awaken the Healing Parts of My Brain and Get Back My Body, My Joy, and My Life (Penguin Group, 2013) was an accident waiting to happen. Suffering from autoimmune disorders for over a decade (detailed in her first book, the award-winning The Autoimmune Epidemic), one day she found herself lying on the floor to recover from climbing the stairs, laundry basket stuffed with clothes by her side. Bouts with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition similar to multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis, nerve damage, clotting disorder, low red and white blood cell counts, bowel problems, slipped discs, fevers…and a pacemaker…such was the reality this writer, wife and mother of teens was living with and she realized it was stealing her joy.
Her doctor, Anastasia Rowland-Seymour, a clinician and assistant professor of Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins, asked the question that led to the creation of what is sure to be Nakazawa’s second award-winning book. “Did anything happen in your childhood that could have contributed to all this?” I won’t be a spoiler and answer it…you’ll have to read the book to find out all about ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and how trauma in childhood can change a person’s brain chemistry bringing on chronic illness later in life. But take it from me the science is amazing and Nakazawa has a knack for writing about it in a personal, clear and exciting way. She is the Nancy Drew of science writers and I mean that in a good way.
Taking up on Dr. Rowland-Seymour’s advice that “Your brain may be your last best cure,” Nakazawa becomes the subject of her book. She sets out to investigate and test for a year four mind-body strategies – Mindfulness, Meditation, Yoga and Acupuncture. As Nakazawa told me in an enjoyable conversation a few weeks ago, this was not a self-imposed term of seclusion in some ashram, but rather a journey that anybody can take while living their daily lives, where the learning of tools employing the powers of the mind and body can influence the workings of the nervous systems to allow us to gain a way back to well-being even in the midst of the harsh realities of…reality.
Understanding the science behind the discoveries that Nakazawa makes is one thing. You will lean how much we can do with our minds to really affect the systems of the body, especially when physical illness is already in progress and how captivating a mindset of joy and well-being help reverse or at least stop the progression of symptoms, pain and disease. But to experience the ups and downs of her personal journey in such a compelling, heartfelt and earnest recounting is enormously satisfying on so many levels. We laugh, we cry, but more importantly we learn and share in the joy that Nakazawa experiences with her improved physical, emotional and spiritual being. We are enormously fortunate that Nakazawa embarked on this quest and that she has so skillfully shared her story with us. –Margaret Emory
About the author
Donna Jackson Nakazawa is an acclaimed journalist, public speaker and author of the award-winning book, The Autoimmune Epidemic. She has contributed to The Washington Post, More, Glamour, Working Mother, AARP Magazine, and Redbook. Her work has been featured on Today, NPR, and ABC News. An alumnus of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, Nakazawa is a graduate of the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Program and Duke University. “The Last Best Cure” is available at Amazon.com.
Here are four video clips from the Donna Jackson Nakazawa, author of “The Last Best Cure”