Author: Victoria Jackson & Ali Guthy
Awe inspiring. On your tippy toes good reading. To Kill a Mockingbird warmth and courage. Victoria and her 16 year old daughter Ali present a gut wrenching true account of how they created victory out of the threat of death.
Similar to Lorenzo’s Oil (which had me in tears), Saving Each Other defines the torrential love of the Jackson-Guthy family and their unwillingness to allow a terminal, almost unknown disease stop their athletic and beautiful daughter in her tracks.
Jackson, a makeup artist to the stars, went on to create a natural makeup empire – from nothing. Her husband Bill Guthy, self made principal of infomercial marketing giant Guthy-Renker, also went from unknown to phenomenally successful entrepreneur from poor beginnings. This amazing couple, with their three children, is not your usual wealthy Silicon Valley/California duo, for their primary focus have always been their three children and their family life.
Sounds so simple, and yet, in an era where family comes second to success, Victoria and Bill are inspiring. No, that’s not even the right word. Let me just tell their tale.
“I once said that life is found in the dance between your deepest desire and your greatest fear. Saving Each Other is about a pathway where two women face their greatest fears and experience their deepest desires together as they take on an incurable disease. It’s quickly obvious this disease is no match for the powerful combination of a mother’s love and devotion with a child’s hope, determination and will. You will be moved and inspired as you go on a journey with these two extraordinary women and find newfound courage within yourself.”
— Anthony Robbins, New York Times bestselling author, internationally-acclaimed speaker, and peak performance expert
At the peak of their success in 2008, the Jackson-Guthy’s teenage daughter Ali experienced a bout of strange symptoms. A top tennis player, at 14 Ali had always been in superb health. Her vision blurred and her she developed an excruciating pain in her eye. When the diagnosis of Neuromyelitis Optica came, or NMO, was given, her doctor told the family she had at most 4-6 years before the almost unknown disease would attack her spine and kill her. Ali insisted that she didn’t want to know what she had, and her parents kept her diagnosis from her as she wished.
Victoria swelled into action. With Bill as the funder and Victoria as the finder, they established a foundation to cull the best doctors who were studying the disease from Europe and the United States. However, they were facing the Big Pharm and medical hospitals that would not cooperate with their research, as patenting the “cure” would create fame and dollars for their corporations. PLUS, the disease, similar but different from MS, had never been funded as only 20,000 cases through the years were on file, and as an almost dead end to research, only a few doctors were researching the fatal disease. Bill and Victoria made a condition for their foundation: their funding would only go to a “group” of doctors and medical experts who would meet together and work together, sharing any knowledge, within the parameters of the foundation. Unheard of in the foundation world, Victoria went to work, with Bill funding every step of the way.
As the Guthy-Jackson Charitable Foundation came into being, the parents worked fast. Within a year they were up and running, gathering medical personnel, and making strides in the rare autoimmune disorder.
In a startling account of persistence and refusing to allow harm to come to her only daughter, Saving Each Other is told with Ali and Victoria speaking in alternate accounts that run parallel to each other. Both are relentlessly honest and Ali’s maturity and Victoria’s phobias mesh together in one of the most excruciating and loving accounts of a mother-daughter relationship every written. Warmth, humor, and candor allow us to enter their world, which is our world. Victoria cannot get on airplanes. She has to overcome this deep phobia to help her daughter. Ali tries not to allow her mother to see the pain when the attacks of pain overwhelm her. Ali continues to be head captain of her tennis team and leads them to victory while keeping them unaware of why she is missing practices when she is in the hospital.
A wonderful treatise on the power of family, Victoria creates a place in the Foundation by gathering all the families she could find and including them in the Foundation itself by creating NMO family days. Ali works with children and adults with NMO at the gatherings, although when she finally finds out what her disease is called, she refuses to be “the poster child” for NMO. And with absolute humility, Victoria wants to share their financial success with others to cure the disease.
Amazing. Horrendous. Unbearably honest. And yet, Nicholas Sparks could take lessons from Saving Each Other. Not only an incredible journey to read, Victoria and Ali create a journey so well written that you almost believe you are reading a New York Times bestseller. If you are having a bad day, pick up this book and you won’t put it down. Bill, Ali, their sons, Victoria, the families of other NMO patients, and their team of doctors and friends will cause you to put down the book, wipe away the tears and encourage you to get on with your life. They are the heroes we so seldom see and their family creates a palette of emotion that is enduring and hopeful.
Five stars, hamburgers and fries to an outstanding book on love, family and what one family did to create a cure.
Saving Each Other: A Mother-Daughter Love Story is available from Amazon.com
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A” – Ava
We received a copy of this title for our book review. All opinions are our own.