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

By Rosalind Joffe, MEd and Joan Friedlander (Demos Health, July 2008)

Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease is a book for women who live with chronic illness, encouraging them to stay employed to preserve their independence and sense of self. Rich with information and inspiration, it is the voice of warmth, wisdom, understanding, and compassion.

Filled with tips, tricks and first-person accounts from women who have made similar choices in their own lives, this unique book is a resounding call for self-reliance and resilience. The book identifies the factors that making working particularly difficult for women with autoimmune disease, and then offers practical suggestions to address them.

Women, Work, and Autoimmune Disease covers issues such as:

  • The complex nature of autoimmune disease
  • The correlation between disease, diagnosis, and career development
  • How life-changing strategies and concrete tactics can allow you to discover the spirit within

You'll meet women who face challenges that are physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

We have changed their names, but the heart of their stories remains unaltered. In each instance, these brave women have found ways to keep a strong sense of quality, satisfaction, and fulfillment in their lives.

While the ways in which they have maintained their forward momentum differ, they share one fundamental decision: to stay in the workforce.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is an Autoimmune Disease, and Why Is It a Women’s Issue?
  2. Why Should You Keep Working?
  3. The Challenges of the Workplace
  4. The Relationship among Diagnosis, Disease Course, and Career Development
  5. Success in the Workplace: When Knowledge and Experience Are Not Enough
  6. Talking about Your Chronic Illness
  7. You’re Fired — By Your Body or Your Boss
  8. Building Your Support Team
  9. Developing Your Warrior Spirit: Hope and Resilience

Book Reviews


"Despite having been diagnosed with chronic illnesses, coauthors Joffe (founder, cicoach.com), 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.

~ LibraryJournal.com Review

" 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".

~ Midwest Book Review/ Book Review Index/ Internet Bookwatch

"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

"The book is frank and honest, and it spoke clearly to me, a creative career woman exhausted by the perplexing unpredictability of my illness. I have read many chronic illness books. This one is very special because of the premise that career is so fundamental to our identity and to our healing. I was inspired to revisit fundamental issues related to my career plan, my outlook on life, and my responsibility to be my own ally and advocate."

~ Diana Murray, pancreatic and biliary disease, Associate Professor in biological sciences, Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University.

"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"

"Any woman who struggles with chronic health problems needs to read this inspiring and empowering book. In a caring, straightforward style, Joan and Rosalind reveal how continuing to work can ultimately be the path to a healthier and happier life. Women, Work and Autoimmune disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! will help you find the courage and strength to reclaim your career and your independence."

C.J. Hayden, MCC, Author, Get Clients Now! and Get Hired Now!