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University of Nebraska Medical Center

“Living Library: Bringing Stories of Women’s Health to the Forefront” event registration open

Living Library: Bringing Stories of Women's Health to the Forefront a McGoogan Library event generously supported by Humanities Nebraska and Nebraska Cultural Endowment

Join the McGoogan Health Sciences Library online Tuesday, February 6 from noon–1 p.m. for their living library event, where people are “living books” who share their unique experiences and inspiring stories in a small-group setting. The focus of this year’s event is “Bringing Stories of Women’s Health to the Forefront.” 

The intended audience for this virtual event is UNMC and clinical partner communities. The public is welcome to join the library for the in-person version of this event on Thursday, February 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Community Wellness Collaborative space at the Highlander. More information and registration can be found at this site.

Emily Glenn, dean of the McGoogan Library, shared her thoughts on this upcoming event, “We are excited to welcome the UNMC, Nebraska Medicine and Children’s Nebraska communities to our second living library event. This event centers diverse voices in storytelling and information sharing to enact McGoogan Library’s mission of connecting the past, informing the present, and building the future.” 

“We have a tremendous group of people who have agreed to be our living books for this event and share their stories,” said Jess King, education and research services librarian at McGoogan Library and principal investigator for the “Living Library: Bringing Stories of Women’s Health to the Forefront” project. 

Individuals interested in attending the virtual event need to: 

Registration for the event closes at noon on Monday, February 5. When registering, individuals will be able to select one of ten living books to speak with and hear their story. Attendees will be able to engage with their selected book for 30-45 minutes. Due to the sensitivity of this topic, attendees must be ages 19 and older to attend.  

Prior to the event, attendees are encouraged to review the audience guidelines document to ensure open, respectful conversations take place. 

“Our books will be sharing their perspective on a variety of women’s health topics,” said King, “including autism, urinary incontinence, dissociative identity disorder (DID), unique and complicated pregnancies, and more. Our hope is that this event sheds light on areas of women’s health that our students, faculty and staff may not be as familiar with, allows for candid conversations, and provides an opportunity for learning and growth.” 

The library would like to thank Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment for their generous support of this event. 

Attendees can select from the book titles and synopses below.  

A Researcher’s Perspective on Urinary Incontinence in Women 
I am a faculty member in the College of Nursing, and I research urinary incontinence in women which impacts approximately 50% of women throughout their lifetime. Urinary incontinence is so common, yet it lacks social recognition as a problem worthy of fixing. Women need the knowledge and power to advocate for themselves and I hope that the story I share will encourage women to seek care, equip them with knowledge, and provide them with language to advocate for their health. 

Near Death to Bring Life: Hyperemesis Gravidarum During Pregnancy 
Only 3% of pregnant women have hyperemesis gravidarum which is morning sickness to an extreme level. When I experienced it with my first child, I was told it was unlikely to happen again. However, I experienced it with my second and third pregnancies as well. I was told there is not much you can do. I felt hopeless. I hope to share the story of how something difficult can bring life into the world and how my mental/emotional road to recovery is still in process. 

Pediatric Cancer: Survivor, Physician, Mom 
I am a survivor of high-risk pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia and now work as a pediatric hematology-oncology physician. Through my own battle with cancer and long-term side effects, I have felt uniquely gifted with the ability to relate to others, help them feel validated in the myriad feelings they experience, and provide a much-needed aspect of healing: being understood. With just six months left of my pediatric hematology-oncology fellowship training, my firstborn son was diagnosed with brain cancer. I hope that sharing my story will increase the understanding and empathy for pediatric patients and their families. 

DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES THIS BOOK IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE: One but Also Many: Living Life with Dissociative Identity Disorder 
I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID, formerly multiple personality disorder) and feared that my life as I had known it was over. Now I am embracing a lifestyle called ‘functional multiplicity.’ This means that I have different, distinct personality states (called alters), but we work together as a cohesive team. This is the story of how I grew to love all parts of myself, and I hope that by sharing my story I can make the world a safer and more understanding place for people like me. 

Gender-Affirming Care: Health Equity for All 
I work at Nebraska Medicine’s Gender Care Clinic as the primary nurse care coordinator. I will speak on the concept of “trans broken arm syndrome” and share my personal and professional experience as a trans man caring for gender-diverse patients. I began my own journey as an adolescent over 15 years ago. The landscape of gender-affirming care has become both increasingly sensationalized and stigmatized, and there is still much work to be done to combat the staggering health disparities and inequities this community experiences. I hope that in sharing my story, individuals will be better able to differentiate misinformation from the media, show how important it is for individuals to have access to this care, and humanize experiences that differ from their own, especially regarding providing empathetic and affirming health care. 

“Are you Sure it’s Not All in your Head?” A Journey to Diagnose Endometriosis and Adenomyosis 
After years of chronic abdominal pain, numerous tests that showed no abnormalities, and being told that it was “just menstrual pain,” I finally found a doctor who diagnosed my endometriosis. However, years later my symptoms worsened, and I learned of endometriosis’ ‘evil cousin,’ adenomyosis, which led to a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy at the age of 32. I hope that sharing my arduous journey towards receiving a full diagnosis and treatment will contribute to more awareness of these conditions and remind women of their right to advocate for their health care. 

A Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Diagnosis during My Pregnancy 
I am the mother of two young children and have worked as an oncology nurse for ten years. When I was pregnant with my second child, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at the 11-week mark. My child and I survived 16 rounds of chemotherapy together and now, three years after my diagnosis, my child and I are both thriving. I hope that by sharing my story I can help inspire and encourage others who may be experiencing similar struggles. 

You Are Not Alone: Pregnancy Loss and Grief 
I was a Bereavement RN at a large women’s health clinic for four years and in my work, I met thousands of women experiencing pregnancy losses. Despite how common pregnancy loss is, it can be isolating as many people are not open about the experience. It is heartbreaking that we live in a culture that places the weight and blame of this on women—so much so that the first question they would often ask me is, “What did I do wrong?” I hope that by sharing my experience I can bring awareness to pregnancy loss and create an open dialogue. 

Gaining Clarity through My Autism Diagnosis 
After years of feeling weird, quirky, being bullied and misdiagnosed with a host of other conditions, I was able to finally gain clarity through my autism diagnosis. Autism shows up differently in women than it does in men, and most screening tools are geared toward the male presentation of the condition. Because of that, I remained in the dark about my condition for more than 30 years. I began connecting with other autistic women who were able to provide me with much-needed validation. I hope that by sharing my story I can pass that along to others. 

A Journey through Complicated Pregnancies and the Impact of Birth Trauma 
I am a nurse practitioner working in maternal mental health and have experienced my own struggles with complicated pregnancies and the impact they have on the family unit. Within a period of three years, I experienced three pregnancies. One ended in miscarriage, one resulted in a premature delivery due to pre-eclampsia and the other resulted in inpatient bedrest for many weeks with a premature delivery due to placenta previa. I hope that sharing my experiences will help decrease the stigma associated with complicated pregnancies, prematurity, and maternal mental health. 

Members of the “Living Library: Bringing Stories of Women’s Health to the Forefront” project team include: 

The “Living Library: Bringing Stories of Women’s Health to the Forefront” project is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and sponsored by McGoogan Health Sciences Library. 

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