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Kids Turn Books

When Life Throws You a Curve When Life Throws You a Curve: One Girl's Triumph Over Scoliosis
by Elizabeth Golden

Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Five Star Publications, Inc. AZ (June 9, 2008)

New York, NY (March 3, 2008)—Elizabeth Golden led the life of a typical 13-year-old girl, spending time with her friends, schoolwork, and sports until a routine checkup revealed two curvatures in her spine. Diagnosed with Scoliosis, a condition that affects the alignment of the bones from nearly every angle, Golden kept a diary throughout her treatment, major surgery and long uphill climb to a complete recovery. Her humorous, candid and heartwarming memoirs are the basis for an inspiring new book When Life Throws You a Curve (Five Star Publications, ISBN 978-1-58985-102-3, $12.95), which will be released June 9, 2008 to coincide with National Scoliosis Awareness Month.

Now in her first year at Yale, Golden serves as spokesperson for the National Scoliosis The Foundation reports that Scoliosis affects approximately 2-3% of the population or an estimated 6 million people in the United States. It impacts young and old without regard to race or socio-economic status. The primary age of onset is 10-15 years old and females are eight times more likely to progress to a curve magnitude that requires treatment. Though the vast majority of sufferers do not require spinal surgery, Scoliosis can impact quality of life due to pain, reduced respiratory function and limitations on physical activity.

The condition wasn't completely unknown to Golden, as both her grandmother, Frances Jacobson, and her aunt, Joanne Jacobson, were diagnosed when they were teenagers. "I knew it could run in families," Golden says, "but I never in a million years thought it would happen to me." Like Golden, both women survived major back surgery which enabled them to live strong, healthy lives.

A number of women in the public eye have battled Scoliosis, including Olympic gymnast Alexandra Marinescu, Olympic swimmer Maritza Correia, swimmer Janet Evans and actresses Elizabeth Taylor, Sarah Polley, Sarah Michelle Gellar and JoBeth Williams. “Having dealt with my own Scoliosis since I was a teenager, I applaud Elizabeth Golden for writing this insightful book and sharing her story with teenagers and their families,” Williams says.

“I hope that any girl facing an illness will read this book and be inspired,” says Correia a 2004 Olympic silver medalist in the 400m free relay who overcame severe Scoliosis in her childhood.

While men are less likely to develop Scoliosis, acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma is one of several notable men whose artistic ambitions were threatened by Scoliosis. Ma underwent surgery in 1980 to successfully correct the curvature.

Recognizing not everyone has the support system she does, it is Golden’s hope that those with Scoliosis, or other medical problems, receive the full benefit of her personal experience. “Once I was diagnosed, I searched for similar stories that might have helped me to get through this” Golden says. “Similarly, I hope this book will serve as a resource for others and help them negotiate the unexpected curves that can take one’s life down an unplanned road. It’s important for people to know they are not alone and that someone else out there understands what they might be going through.”

Dr. Denis S. Drummond, Emeritus Chief of Orthopedic Surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, notes the author “relates her own journey of personal growth with the acquisition of coping skills to deal with life’s difficulties. This is the book for anyone facing similar life challenges.”

“Patient networking, which this book helps facilitate, is critical to the education of patients and families about Scoliosis,” says Dr. Randal Betz, a Past President of the Scoliosis Research Society and Chief of Staff at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Philadelphia. “This book will result in more knowledgeable and honest discussions between the physician and patient, which is so important for a good treatment outcome.”

When Life Throws You a Curve is a firsthand account of a normal American teen’s journey through painful struggle to uplifting victory, culminating in her becoming a nationally ranked squash player on the high school level and varsity tennis player. Golden now considers the scar running down her back as a symbol of her—and every young person’s—capacity to develop lifelong focus, determination and inner strength by facing down fears and overcoming adversity. “I had no way of knowing how strong I was until I was tested,” Golden says. “Although my scar and frightening experience may seem like unwanted baggage to many, it has in fact lightened my load and greatly changed the way I live my life.”

Books | Scoliosis Resources

Elizabeth Golden grew up in Philadelphia, where she lives with her parents and brother. A freshman at Yale University, Golden is an active spokesperson for the National Scoliosis Foundation. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read, backpack and play squash and tennis.