Book Reviews

Joffe, Rosalind & Joan Friedlander.

Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend!

“Despite having been diagnosed with chronic illnesses, coauthors Joffe (founder,, who has multiple sclerosis and ulcerative colitis, and Friedlander (founder, LifeWork Business Partners), who has Crohn’s disease, both enjoy successful careers. Here, they offer their expertise to help women with these and other autoimmune conditions (e.g., chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, Graves’ disease) do the same. Thriving at work while living with a chronic illness, they write, will help preserve these women’s independence and senses of self. The authors use first-person accounts to illustrate their advice on coping simultaneously with symptoms and the challenges of the workplace; developing a financial plan; communicating with coworkers, employers, and loved ones; building a support team; and balancing work and family responsibilities. A little book with lots of useful advice; recommended.

” Chronic Illness can be a problem with the quality of our lives, but it doesn’t mean one has to stop living it. This is the premise of co-authors Rosalind Joffe and Joan Friedlander in “Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend!”, a book of encouragement and practical wisdom for those women who are faced with some form of chronic illness on top of dealing with a career. Focusing on how to overcome it for your career and how to excel at it, it’s an optimistic although realistic look, also containing chapters on dealing with job loss from illness. Any woman with a chronic illness needs to read and can substantially benefit from “Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease”.

“MS expert and Crohn’s disease sufferer present a book of inspiration and wisdom for women that live and work with chronic disease… discusses hope and resilience.” –ForeWord Magazine

“An essential resource and guide for women living with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis… The final chapter ‘Developing Your Warrior Spirit: Hope and Resilience,’ is a beautiful summation of the tone of the book. The authors include an excellent list of additional reading materials.”–InFocus (Autoimmune Diseases Association)

“For the chronically ill, the decision to continue working or not, can be an agonizing one. Optimistic, but realistic, Women, Work, and Autoimmune disease helps the reader carefully weigh the pros and cons of working so that they can make an informed and rational choice. Specific steps are offered to help you make accommodations that may allow you to stay in the workforce longer than you thought possible.”–Allison Shadday, author of MS and Your Feelings: Handling the Ups and Downs of Multiple Sclerosis.

“If ever two things were once considered mutually exclusive, they were career and chronic illness. Add to that being a woman and the whole thing sounded like a joke. Well, we’ve come a long way, Baby. According to Rosalind Joffe of and Joan Friedlander, there are millions of women out there succeeding in the workplace despite living with an autoimmune disease (AD). Specifically, as many as 50 million Americans — 20% of the population — are currently living with one of 63 distinct autoimmune diseases. By some estimates, 75% of those people are women.

“Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease — a much needed field guide to navigating the workplace with a chronic illness. I find this book clear, down-to-earth, and extraordinarily helpful. But first, why women? And why working, when you are supposedly so ill? According to the authors, “women are exposed more often than men to possible AD triggers primarily from the biological hormones and functions associated with the reproductive cycle.” Estrogen plays a role, they say, citing evidence that symptoms of certain illnesses may increase just before and during menopause. Ugh! I couldn’t find any stats, but do wonder if LADA diabetes is more common among women than men (?)

And why do we need a guidebook for this? That’s pretty clear, in my eyes. Have a look at my last post about Rosalind’s work coaching all sorts of people (men and women) on workplace issues. The hurdles begin with disclosure — who should you tell about your illness? and how much do they need to know? It moves on from there to fatigue, frustration, and guilt about not living up to expectations. Then there are all sorts of discrimination issues. Did you know, for example, that very few people struggling at work due to chronic illness engage the Human Resources (HR) Department? Why should they trust HR, which by default always puts the company’s interests first? If HR knows too much, wouldn’t they just be angling to get rid of you?

The ladies’ new book walks you through all of these issues, helping you develop a positive strategy for requesting any accommodations you may need, all while positioning yourself as a valuable team player.” —

“Experts agree that going back to work is important for self esteem, independence, and for financial freedom. Others say that one should not feel pressure to go back to work and that you can gain a strong sense of self in other ways through hobbies, friendships and more. It is a fine line to walk when your health is at stake. People on both sides of this issue feel strongly on their positions. I am just happy that books like this are out there to help you make a decision that is right for you. I am also happy that many more employers are helping their employees stay at work, or adjust their work arrangements for disability. We have come a long way baby!

Reading other women’s personal experiences was enjoyable and uplifting giving me specific experiences of hope in the work environment. I found the advice in this book, on finding balance in work and life; setting realistic goals for your career and communicating efficiently with your supervisors and co-workers, could be valuable reading for anyone with any chronic health condition, whether you are a man or a woman, whether the condition is autoimmune or not.

I will say that the book’s encouraging, positive nature can possibly be seen as trying to convince the reader to keep working despite illness. I only felt this way at certain points in the book, but I enjoyed the “coaching spirit” behind it.

This is a short easy to read book, packed with information.I think it is important for everyone to make the best decisions for themselves. I also think it is important to make a well informed decision. I recommend this book and I think this book will help anyone going through this process of deciding whether to go back to work or not.
So I say to you, Rosalind…Keep writing Girlfriend!!! “   – But You Don’t Look Sick

“Pain + Work = ??? The combination can go well, like a burger with fries. You may be able to accomplish great things despite pain, and work can be a focus away from discomfort.

Or it can feel like trying to whip up a 10-course gourmet dinner… in 5 minutes… with your eyes closed.

But what if you had a short-order chef helping with that burger, or Julia Child behind you all the way? Well, support, advice and wisdom is here for you on the subject of work and chronic disease.

Rosalind Joffe (of and Joan Friedlander have written Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend, which a great resource.

The book, which is strongly pro-work, reviews:

1. The benefits of working, including money and health coverage, as well as enjoyment and self-esteem.

2. The challenges to working when coping with a chronic illness, such as fatigue and the unpredictability of illness.

What is wonderful about the book is that it doesn’t shy away from tricky subjects such as, Should you discuss your illness with your boss or co-workers? And, What do you do when you physically can’t do your job. Instead it gives thoughtful, knowledgeable advice.

Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! is easy to read and practical. I particularly liked the complex, real-life examples. Both authors are experts in this field – Rosalind coaches people through these issues everyday. And both women also understand these issues personally, having dealt with MS, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis. I strongly recommend adding this book to your reading menu!