The story of a mysterious medical ailment that blindsided a tightly knit family.
Jackson, a successful cosmetics entrepreneur, writes in her prologue about surviving a turbulent, insecure childhood fraught with emotional neglect and exacerbated by a violent sexual assault she endured as a teenager. These experiences seem to have prepared her to deal with the sudden onset in her teenage daughter, Ali, of an extremely rare, crippling autoimmune disorder called Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disease, which attacks the optic nerve and the central nervous system. Ali’s eyesight and pain levels worsened, and she was given four or five years to live. Jackson shifted into “warrior mode” and began canvassing the Los Angeles medical community for answers. A stay at the Minnesota Mayo Clinic initiated several radical chemotherapy treatments, though each debilitating stage further compromised Ali’s youthful dreams of excelling on the tennis courts. Interwoven through mother’s and daughter’s individual accounts of shock, denial, resignation and eventual acceptance are lighter scenes in which Jackson appeals to holistic healers for alternative solutions to the needles and MRIs of traditional medicine. She leavens the unsettling details of her daughter’s daunting ordeal with a personal history of her romance with infomercial magnate Bill Guthy and her progression from Hollywood makeup artist to cosmetic guru. Fully immersing herself in Ali’s malady, Jackson became medically knowledgeable about an obscure disease and ultimately founded a charitable foundation for the education and eradication of NMO. The closing “Thriver’s Guide” by Ali provides a brief five-step plan for those coping with the ailment.
A compassionate mother-daughter memoir written with inspiration, empathy and hope.