Author, Writer, Advocate, Mentor
Karen Steward is the author of the book, Doctors: Bound By Secrecy? Victims: Bound By Pain! Written from the heart of a mom who fought for the correct answer to her daughter Melissa's excruciating abdominal pain, Karen's book lifts the veil from an all-too-common yet medically-hushed illness: adhesions. At age thirteen, Steward's daughter, Melissa, suddenly became ill. Originally diagnosed with Crohn's disease, Steward noticed her daughter's symptoms were quite different than many of the other children's symptoms in the Crohn's support group they had joined.
Puzzled and curious whether or not her daughter had been misdiagnosed, Steward began studying the illness from the perspective of a physician by reading medical journals. Reading until the early hours of the morning and often challenged by the medical jargon, Steward soon stumbled upon a sentence that would change everything. Armed with new-found knowledge, Steward phoned her daughter's gastroenterologist to make an appointment. That appointment set in motion a desperate journey into a medical maze that would span fourteen years before a proper diagnosis would be made. Today, Melissa is well and living life to the fullest.
Looking back, Karen Steward realized many physicians along the way knew exactly what was wrong with her child, yet even though they witnessed her agonizing pain, countless specialists and top medical centres refused to properly diagnose her daughter. During the trying years, Steward made a vow to God numerous times: show me what is wrong with this child and I will tell the world. Now, Karen Steward dedicates much of her life to ARD (Adhesion Related Disorder) awareness, fulfilling her pledge as she promised to do.
How did you start writing?
Karen: This particular work came about after my daughter suffered for 14 years, often in excruciating pain. When we finally found the answer to her suffering, I knew I needed to share her story. Once I began writing the book, I realized I had been writing my entire life; it had just never before occurred to me to write a book. Today, I continue on with a gift that was in me all along. I thoroughly enjoy writing poetry (often humorous), songs, children's books as well as a few novels that are in progress.
Tell us about your book.
Karen: This book is about my oldest daughter, Melissa, who, at age thirteen, suddenly became extremely ill. The book lifts the veil of darkness that surrounds an insidious illness—adhesions—and exposes the reasons behind the medical wall of silence adhesion sufferers encounter when they seek help for the disorder. The book is also a tribute to my daughter who continued to believe in God during such a painful and lengthy trial, who only sees the best in humankind and whose amazing spirit continues to challenge me in my own personal walk with God. Though she had times of overwhelming sadness and even times of anger during the fourteen years of illness, she always believed God surely had a greater purpose for what was happening to her. Though Melissa's illness impacted our whole family, the challenges we all faced only proved to tighten the thread of love between us all.
What inspired you to write this book?
Karen: During Melissa's illness, I made a vow to God: if He would just reveal the illness so I could find help for Melissa, I would share the message with the world. It was that bargaining prayer we all seem to use when facing a mountain that simply won't move! I was willing to do anything, give up everything, if only God would help. Thankfully, He did! Thus, I followed through with my commitment.
Was it challenging to get a publishing company to publish your books?
Karen: Because of the nature of the book and because I had read so much about rejection letters, I never pitched the book to a major publisher.
Are you working on any projects right now? What are they?
Karen: Humorous art/writing geared toward women, children's books, songs, poetry as well as a few novels.
Any words of encouragement or advice for other writers who want to pursue a career in writing?
Karen: You either love to write, or you don't. If you do, you are a writer. If you do not, stop writing and find what it is you love. While Melissa's story remains too painful for me to read, it was very therapeutic for me to pound it all out of my system! My own humorous writings make me howl with laughter. Okay, so maybe I am the only one howling, but who cares?