Narrative dimensions advances a culture of caring by helping people discover and express their personally unique experience of health and illness. We promote personal narrative, self awareness, authenticity, and resiliency to enrich the lives of all those touched by illness, including patients, caregivers, and health care professionals.
Our primary program is the Living Well With Illness Workshop, a half-day workshop for people with all types of chronic illnesses who want to gain perspective on the ways chronic illness has changed their lives and how they can improve their ability to adapt. This program is based on the work of British philosopher and author Havi Carel who has found great benefit from the some of these themes for her own struggle with a rare, severe lung condition.
Our team of facilitators includes Janet Greenhut, M.D., a preventive medicine specialist in Ann Arbor Michigan; Idelle Hammond-Sass, certified Open Studio Process creative expression facilitator, and our CEO, Ryan Hart. Ryan is a philosophically trained cancer survivor. In 2010 I was diagnosed with bone cancer in my jaw . After a year of chemo and surgery, he returned to his life as a student athlete on the baseball team. But after a few years it was back. More of Ryan’s story can be found at his online open cancer story-telling platform, cancerexpressions.org
“This time, I needed a highly specialized cancer hospital with world-class surgeons to get out of a possibly fatal situation. The surgery was relatively successful, but when I continued treatment with that institution, there was a big difference between my treatment there and my previous experience with Children’s hospital where the team knew of the strange sores I managed with chemo, the certain tactics need to avoid chemo sickness, and the intricacies of the case history in general. So while this highly specialized hospital had the technology and skill I needed to survive, my everyday, first-person, experience felt less involved medically. Something in me instinctively withdrew from this, in feeling that something was missing.”
What we’re talking about here is the particular insight of a patient’s first-experience of a disease. With this wave of precision medicine, it’s becoming more and more clear that the same exact disease and diagnosis shows up in incredibly individual ways from one person to the next. It seems that the distinct character of an individual’s illness experience can only be found from within the ill person’s first-person viewpoint of it.
Well, this inspired him to begin piecing together an organization fueling this work of addressing the gap between various attitudes toward illness.
Narrative Dimensions furthers the human flourishing of the various perspectives on health and illness--that’s patients, practitioners, and caregivers alike. People whose lives have been impacted by illness will have the chance to take advantage of time and space to reflect on the meaning of their illness for their lives.
We are proud to have conducted a few workshops...they have truly been amazing experiences. Still, that’s only about a fifth of the impact we look to have in 2018.. We have a long way to go but we are excited for the opportunity to tackle the challenge!