Explore dyslexia, multiple sclerosis, and books

KNEES shows us what it is like to live with dyslexia, how it makes life difficult, especially reading and writing, even talking. Fortunately Louis has parents, a teacher, and friends who understand and support him in his quest to overcome what can be a significant obstacle.

I have been a reviewer for NetGalley for several years, but only recently reviewed any children’s books. I received a digital PDF copy of this book provided by the publisher and NetGalley. This post also uses affiliate links that can help support this blog. Now, let’s learn about…


the mixed-up world of a boy with dyslexia

by Vanita Oelschlager , illustrated by Joe Rossi

KNEES is a book about a boy, Louis the Third, who is in the 4th grade. It is not about his knees but about his dyslexia which he describes as a “mix up between eyes and brain” such that his words come out backwards, like this-


Except that not only are the letters in reverse order, but the letters are also backward. When you see a “b”, he sees a “d”.

KNEES shows us what it is like to live with dyslexia, how it makes life difficult, especially reading and writing, even talking. Fortunately Louis has parents, a teacher, and friends who understand and support him in his quest to overcome what can be a significant obstacle.

Louis learns the key to living with dyslexia is finding an activity he is good at. After trying, and failing, at several different ones, he eventually excels at a skill that surprises us.

The author tells us about super achievers who also have dyslexia; Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney and others are mentioned in the book.

The illustrator, Joe Rossi, used simple pencil sketches that portray Louis somewhat as a comic strip character; I think it was a wise choice. The strong clean lines make Louis the star of this book and kept him from getting lost in detailed color pictures.  This is Mr. Rossi’s first illustration of a children’s book . A note explained that hard copies are printed on cream colored paper to be easier for people with dyslexia to read.

This book is fun, entertaining, educational, and inviting to kids and adults; I enjoyed it and recommend it for your kids.

About the author of KNEES

Vanita Oelschlager is a wife, mother, grandmother, philanthropist,  former teacher, current caregiver, author, and poet. She graduated from Mt. Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where she serves as a Trustee. She is  Writer In Residence for the Literacy Program at The University of Akron.

Her first book, My Grampy Can’t Walk, was widely praised. It’s an uplifting story about the wonderful relationship between her husband Jim, who has multiple sclerosis, and their grandchildren.

Mrs. Oelschlager is a publisher as well as an author. Her company, VanitaBooks, is an independent publisher with “a large heart for children with life problems”.

VanitaBooks help children through those life experiences adults call ‘growing up.’ In her books she explores of history, folklore, origin traditions, poetry, grammar fun, pets, family and more. She also tackles difficult topics like disabilities, childhood fears, family life: adoption, fostering, loss, non-traditional, military and more.

Through her company VanitaBooksLLC, she dedicated the book KNEES to Lawrence School in Ohio and donated the book’s net profits.  

After creating VanitaBooks, her successful children’s book publishing company, Vanita launched Newburn Drive Press for adult books. Titles include her first novel, Silent is the Magpie, and her first poetry book, Air Mask.

About Air Mask:Poems of Passion, Love, Life & Survival

MS is hard on everyone–the person who lives with the disease and those who live with the person with the disease. Its toll on family caregivers can be especially hard. As a wife and caregiver, Vanita knows exactly how hard it can be. She’s captured those experiences and emotions in Air Mask, her first book of poetry.

Air Mask is a record of trial and triumph, both Vanita’s and her husband’s. It reaches out to those who have been tested by the daily struggles of living with multiple sclerosis and other chronic diseases.

Newburn Drive.com

VanitaBooks and Newburn Drive Press donate all net profits to the Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis and other selected charities.

Jim & Vanita Oelschlager

2016 Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award Recipients

Jim Oelschlager founded Oak Associates, Ltd., an investment firm in Bath Township, (Ohio) and the Oak Clinic, a nonprofit facility in Uniontown that treats patients with multiple sclerosis, regardless of their ability to pay. 

Jim was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1973. He founded the clinic in 2001 as a comprehensive resource for multiple sclerosis patients’ nursing and medical care, social services, education, rehabilitation and social enrichment.

The Oelschlagers remain the Oak Clinic’s primary funders. Vanita donates a percentage of her revenue from writing to the clinic and other related charities.

The Oelschlagers’ philanthropy has benefited health care organizations throughout the region where they live, including Akron Children’s Hospital. Over three decades, they donated more than $12 million and created three charitable funds at the hospital: the Oelschlager Center for Child Advocacy Endowment Fund, the Adoption Advocacy Center Fund, and the Global Health Fund, which provides health care resources to children in disadvantaged locations throughout the world.

Read more about multiple sclerosis and find links to other resources at this link from the National Institutes of Health

NINDS– Multiple Sclerosis

exploring, and sharing, the HEART of health

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. What I thought would be a review of a cute children’s book, turned into an opportunity to meet a talented author and illustrator, and a couple who share my passion for sharing the heart of health.

While not all of us have the resources the Oelschlagers have, anyone can donate time or talent to help someone else. I hope this post prompts you to find a way to share the heart of health with someone soon.

Please subscribe and you’ll know when I post another new article.

Here is another review of a children’s book

Kids with migraine-a book review

Ms. Stein introduces her book by explaining it is fiction based on personal experience, so when she describes the migraine “aura” she understands what that means. (Aura is the intial sign of an impending migraine headache, usually visual changes.)

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Dr Aletha

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How families can face cancer with confidence and hope-a book review

Together they wrote this book to help cancer patients navigate the journey with both personal and professional guidance. Joining them are other families dealing with cancer who candidly share their experiences and what they have learned along the way, both positive and negative.

After You Hear It’s Cancer

A Guide to Navigating the Difficult Journey Ahead

By John Leifer with Lori Lindstrom Leifer, MD

Dr. Lori Leifer, a radiation oncologist, was well qualified to author a book about cancer. As a physician who treats cancer with radiation, she has extensive training and experience managing patients diagnosed with this devastating disease.

(Note: the photos and graphics are for illustration and are not associated with the book. The book links are affiliate links for possible compensation to this blog.)

But her professional expertise expanded to a new level when she found a lump that turned out to be cancer. Then she and her husband John faced the daunting task of confronting cancer as a patient and patient’s spouse.

chance of developing breast cancer by age 70-National Cancer Institute
Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI)

They turned this life changing experience into another chance to help the people she has spent her career caring for. Together they wrote this book offering personal and professional guidance to help cancer patients navigate the journey. Joining them are other families dealing with cancer who candidly share their experiences and what they have learned along the way, both positive and negative.

Cancer- the difficult journey

Their guidance follows the same journey cancer patients follow. First there is a diagnosis, followed by treatment option review and planning . Then there is the active treatment phase which may involve some combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Finally, there is life after the treatments. Each phase has its own issues to navigate, which they explain with advice that is specific and understandable.

A mammography on left and a Magnetic resonance image (MRI) on right. Breast imaging technology has changed over the years. Note MRI’s enhancement ability to confirm diagnosis.
Mitchell D. Schnall, M.D., Ph.D. University Of Pennsylvania
Creator:Unknown Photographer, Public domain

Navigating the journey

In part I, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, they review how doctors diagnose and stage cancer, and how that influences treatment. They discuss when and why to get a second opinion, how genetic testing can help, selecting doctors and facilities, and considering a clinical trial.

This image shows a triple-negative breast cancer cell (MDA-MB-231) in metaphase during cell division. Tubulin in red; mitochondria in green; chromosomes in blue. A better understanding of how mitochondria play roles in tumor cell division may provide new therapeutic targeting strategies to stop tumor cell growth.National Cancer Institute \ Univ. of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Creator:Wei Qian-public domain

Part II, During Active Treatment, they advise on the practical aspects of paying for cancer care and how caregivers fit into the treatment plan. Other vital topics include pain control, managing side effects, and the importance of nutrition and exercise. They also review why and why not to consider complementary therapies.

There are different subtypes of women’s breast cancer. Knowing which subtype is important for guiding treatment and predicting survival. This graphic was created for the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011, published in 2015. Source:
National Cancer Institute (NCI), public domain

And in part III, After Initial Treatments Are Over, they acknowledge the challenge of cancer survivors, and what to consider when treatment is not effective. Sometimes patients and families must face “difficult decisions,” with guidance on when to stop curative treatment and use hospice care.


All along the way the Leifers advise readers to “ask questions” and each section concludes with a list of specific questions to ask.

The book ends with a list of Resources such as advocacy and support groups, websites on cancer treatment and research, foundations and other nonprofits, government websites, and professional associations.

Some of these are

Recommended for “those who hear its cancer”, their families, and friends

I recommend this book to any families currently navigating this “difficult journey.” Others wanting to understand and support friends and co-workers with cancer will find the advice useful.

Since cancer is common and likely to strike any family, everyone should consider reading it proactively. Finally, this general approach to diagnosing, treating, and living with a serious illness can be applied to other diseases that are potentially life threatening.

Read the Prologue here.

About the authors

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The book was published in 2015 by Rowman and Littlefield.

You’ll be happy to know Dr. Lindstrom is still practicing at the University of Kansas Cancer Center; listen to her discuss her approach to cancer care .

John Leifer is a senior health care executive, consultant, academic, and writer, including four novels. He is also an accomplished photographer.

“In this chilling prequel to 8 Seconds to Midnight, the most devastating terrorist attack ever recorded on American soil begins and ends without spilling a single drop of blood. Four jihadists, armed with nothing more than a briefcase and a pen, walk nonchalantly through the country’s busiest airports, killing time and killing people. A deadly mist, laden with a universally lethal virus, trails close behind them. Their goal: foment a global pandemic. Their vision: Armageddon, where only the Chosen Ones – those loyal to the United Islamic State – survive. The job of stopping them falls squarely on the shoulders of one man, Commander John Hart, but will he be in time?” (Amazon links and promo text)

exploring the HEART of health

I thank NetGalley and the publishers for asking me to review this book, and especially the Leifers for sharing their story.

Dr Aletha

The Leifers’ books are also available from Bookshop.org. Visit my online shop at this link.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. They believe bookstores are essential to a healthy culture and they are dedicated to the common good. Bookshop.org donates a portion of every sale to independent bookstores.

Celebrating Life after Cancer

Celebration of Life Mural-The mural was created to honor those surviving the disease of cancer. The mural’s tiles are inscribed by cancer survivors and represent the continuous flow of life.

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