Books

The team from Sickboy recommends 5 books that will help you understand illness

Sickboy is a podcast that breaks the stigma associated with disease and illness. The fifth anniversary is Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Sickboy's fifth anniversary is Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.

Brian Stever, Jeremie Saunders and Taylor MacGillivary are the hosts of the podcast Sickboy. (North by North)

Sickboy is a podcast that breaks the stigma associated with disease and illness. It's hosted by best friends Brian Stever, Jeremie Saunders and Taylor MacGillivary as they address topics like addiction, inequity in health care, mental health and more. The show, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary, was inspired by Saunders' own illness, as he lives with cystic fibrosis.

The podcast is now part of CBC Podcasts. New episodes will be released on Mondays and Fridays beginning Sept. 14, 2020.

CBC Books asked the team at Sickboy to recommend some books. Stever, Saunders, MacGillivary and co-producer Lauren Sankey shared five books that explore disease, illness and death.

This Is Not the End of Me by Dakshana Bascaramurty

This is Not the End of Me is a book by Dakshana Bascaramurty. (McClelland & Stewart, Jenna Marie Wakani)

The team says: "This Is Not the End of Me recounts the final years of Layton Reid, one of our first and most influential guests. Our conversation with him set the tone for what the podcast would become, just as it solidified our belief that humour can be found when dealing with disease.

This book is a beautiful tribute to his memory and his family that lives on with the gifts that he left for them.- the Sickboy team

"Bascaramurty makes you feel like you're with Layton and his family as they came to grips with Layton's diagnosis, illness and eventual death. She included letters he wrote, pictures he took, even the Facebook post that inspired his Sickboy episode — so you really get to know the funny, inspiring and dedicated person Layton was. This book is a beautiful tribute to his memory and his family that lives on with the gifts that he left for them."

Bird's Eye View by Sue Robins

Bird's Eye View is a book by Sue Robins. (Bird Communications, suerobins.com)

Brian says: "Sue Robins knows healthcare: as a mother of a child living with a disability and a recent cancer patient, her intimate experience with the health system gifts her with the ability to offer a powerful perspective on how the system can be better.

Bird's Eye View fans the flames of the burning desire in all of us to build a more patient-centred system, where patients can play a more active role in the care they receive.- Brian Stever

"Robins is a fellow storyteller and healthcare activist. Bird's Eye View fans the flames of the burning desire in all of us to build a more patient-centred system, where patients can play a more active role in the care they receive."

Die Wise by Stephen Jenkinson 

Die Wise is a book by Stephen Jenkinson. (North Atlantic Books)

Jeremie says: "I'm obsessed with Death. A big part in this obsession stems from the fact that I've lived my entire life with a "fatal" lung disease. I was only 10 years old when I learned that living with cystic fibrosis meant that statistically speaking I am not long for this world. Since this moment in time, I've been on an active journey to change the way I relate to the concept of death.

"Die Wise is one of the most thought provoking and paradigm shifting explorations of death I have ever discovered. First and foremost Jenkinson has spent years of his life in the 'Death Trade.' As a theologist and social worker, he's spent most of his career around folks who are facing their imminent death and for those who care for the dead. 

Die Wise is one of the most thought provoking and paradigm shifting explorations of death I have ever discovered.- Jeremie Saunders

"His writing is as poetic and as elegant as can be. He takes the reader on a sobbing, wildly beautiful, sometimes uncomfortable, yet immensely important, journey of exploring every aspect of death — from the way we die to the way we care for and hold space for those who die. I honestly believe this should be recommended reading for anyone who will one day go through the inevitable human experience of death. In other words this book is for everyone."

Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl's memoir of surviving the Holocaust, has sold over 10 million copies in 24 languages. (Prof. Dr. Franz Vesely, Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons)

Taylor says: "Man's Search for Meaning is, for me, a key ingredient in the understanding that one's ability to visualize positive outcomes, even amidst the most bleak of circumstances, is essential to survival. That survival might not be physical survival, but mental.

Viktor Frankl reminds us, through the lens of his experience in the Nazi concentration camps, that the beauty we behold is relative, and the capacity to perceive beauty keeps the fire of life burning brightly inside all of us.- Taylor MacGillivary

"Viktor Frankl reminds us, through the lens of his experience in the Nazi concentration camps, that the beauty we behold is relative, and the capacity to perceive beauty keeps the fire of life burning brightly inside all of us. This was most strongly illustrated to me in an excerpt wherein Frankl describes taking the train to work, years after the fall of the Nazi's. The man next to him is shaking his head in disbelief at a photo of concentration camp prisoners sleeping on a crowded dirt floor, during winter, with the door half open. The man turns to Frankl and says something to the effect of, 'How horrible that looks.' Frankl responds by saying that the sun coming in through the half-open door in the morning was the most beautiful moment of each day, and the moment that kept his desire to live strong.

"Speaking with people who often live with life threatening illness on Sickboy, I am often reminded of Man's Search for Meaning. I am reminded of the beauty to be found in the seemingly desolate experience of being sick, and the incredible lessons of perspective that I am so lucky to be treated to on an almost daily basis."

There's Something in the Water by Ingrid Waldron

There's Something in the Water by is a book by Dr. Ingrid Waldron. (Fernwood Publishing)

Lauren says: "On Sickboy, we make a point to explore the ways our guest's experiences with illness are affected by their identities- including their gender, age, different ability, sexual orientation and race. These factors, which are among the social determinants of health, shouldn't affect the way people are treated in the medical system, but all too often they do. Talking about racism and other injustices can be tough, but our podcast is all about having open and sometimes difficult conversations.

There's Something in the Water will open your eyes to just how pervasive health inequities caused by racism truly are in Canada.- Lauren Sankey

"Earlier this spring, Dr. Ingrid Waldron came on the show to explain how environmental racism causes alarming rates of illness and death in communities populated primarily by Black and Indigenous people in Canada, especially here in Nova Scotia, where Sickboy is based. There's Something in the Water will open your eyes to just how pervasive health inequities caused by racism truly are in Canada."

Comments in this article have been edited for clarity and length.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now