Wish by Spirit
by Joan Young


Gemwrite, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-984-09880-4.
Reviewed by Penny Leisch
Posted on 02/17/2010

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Body Language

In Wish by Spirit, Joan Young describes her lengthy battle with ITP, immune thrombocytopenic purpura. Young's descriptions of ITP are very graphic. The disease, as well as the treatments, is brutal. During the first couple of chapters, I almost quit reading several times, in spite of my medical background and nursing classes. However, the author is honest, well informed, and provides balanced information that is worth reading, even if you are a person who needs to skip a few of the graphic details. Her experience and insight easily apply to many other medical situations.

As a Certified Holistic Health Practitioner and Reiki Master-Teacher, I want to take a moment to explain one particular issue. Treatments not offered by allopathic doctors in the U.S. may be labeled complementary, alternative, integrative, or blended. The sole difference is whether the allopathic physician works with non-medical practitioners. Young's medical doctors did not work directly with other practitioners. Her non-medical treatments are alternative modalities because she evaluates and chooses her care alone.

The explanations, reasons, and discussions about Young's choices are excellent. She explored the majority of the most popular alternatives and gives concise and accurate information. Practitioners of Ayurveda, Reiki, kinesiology, Transcendental Meditation (TM®), yoga, macrobiotics, shiatsu, homeopathy, and Louise Hay books for positive thinking played roles in Joan's healing process. Joan also introduces interesting facts about foods, treatments, and medications, and points out some myths as well.

For example, she explains that vincristine comes from the Madagascar periwinkle. It belongs to the family of poisons also found on poison dart frogs. Well-written descriptions of procedures help readers understand the clinical procedures and protocol too. To Young's credit, she also documents the failures and the dangers of embarking on your own treatment plan, such as the time she tried shiatsu pressure points—in spite of the book warning against it in her condition. She says, "using these techniques when very ill is not a do it yourself project."

The author shows excellent introspection skills too. She describes her feelings and the results of treatments in ways readers can easily understand. In addition, she shares intimate details of her struggles and the meaning of her personal discoveries. Her healers and her intuition lead her on a journey that results in a complete overhaul of diet, exercise, thinking, and living. Such a project is daunting. To add to that challenge, insurance did not cover some of the most helpful treatments, and her relationship with her live-in boyfriend, twelve years her junior, was deteriorating. These things are not exactly a recipe for remaining uplifted and positive. However, the journey paid off in renewed health against all odds.

Fortunately, blended care (also called integrative care) grew in popularity and availability during the ten years since Young fought her battles with the medical community. The cancer center at the University of Arizona Medical School began using Reiki in 1996. Memorial Sloane Kettering Hospital embraces Reiki. Nurses take Reiki training, and a medical school in New York now teaches Reiki.

The insurance companies are also becoming more open to supporting proven techniques, which means fewer people will be on their own to choose their care and try to cover the costs. We are slowly moving toward wider access to the valuable non-invasive techniques Young explores, and that make her information all the more valuable.


Joan Young is the founder of the Platelet Disorder Support Association. She founded the association over ten years ago when a chronic autoimmune bleeding disorder, ITP, almost cost her her life. She is a writer and systems consultant who lives in Maryland. However, she says her most rewarding career is helping others improve their health. Read more about the author here.

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