AfterShock: what to do when the doctor gives you -- or someone you love -- a devastating diagnosis, Jessie Gruman Ph.D.

AfterShock: Free App

Newspaper and Magazine Articles About and/or
Written by Jessie Gruman

For more recent interviews and articles about and from Dr. Gruman click here.

Note: Some links associated with past articles may no longer be active. These are provided as general background.

The New York Times
At Too Many Hospitals, a Revolving Door

By Judith Graham
Posted July 23, 2013
> Read article in full

Health Affairs
An Accidental Tourist Finds Her Way in the Dangerous Land of Serious Illness

By Jessie Gruman
February 2013
> Read article in full

Experience Life
When Your Doctor Says 'I Have Bad News'

By Jon Spayde
November 2012
> Read article in full

US News and World Report
U.S. News & World Report
Healthcare Reform Means Taking "No" for an Answer
Saying yes to every new drug, device, or test doesn't necessarily lead to better health.

By Jessie Gruman
Posted June 23, 2009

Something's gotta give in healthcare. As individuals, we can't just go on saying "yes" to every drug, device, test, or intervention that might work. And as a nation, we can't just allow our health bill to continue to climb, bankrupting sick patients and our economy. > Read article in full.

US News and World Report
U.S. News & World Report
Cost of Healthcare Transparency Is Trust in the American System
As Americans learn just how vigilant they must be, and become wary, the entire system suffers.

By Jessie Gruman
Posted February 25, 2009

Trust is the glue that holds an open, democratic society together. A successful democracy depends on our confidence that professionals and institutions are competent, that both private institutions and government at all levels operate within the bounds of the laws, that an independent judiciary enforces those laws, and that a free press shines a light on any of these guarantors when they fall short. > Read article in full.

Parade Magazine
October 19, 2008
6 Ways To Help When Someone Has Cancer

Parade Magazine Cover
Parade Magazine features article, 6 Ways To Help When Someone Has Cancer.

By Jessie Gruman
The people who love me have made each of my cancer diagnoses easier to bear. They have helped me understand complicated medical information when I was too anxious to think. They listened to my worries, did my errands when I was too tired to move, and distracted me from my pain with funny cards.
> Read 6 Ways To Help on

> View the Slideshow


Parade Magazine
September 14, 2008
7 Ways To Cope with Chemo

Parade Magazine Cover
Parade Magazine features article, 7 Ways To Cope with Chemo.

By Jessie Gruman
The drugs used to treat cancer can have different results in different people. They can be a miracle — they cured my Hodgkin's disease — or not. Side effects vary greatly too. Many of us approach chemo with fear, but a few steps can help you cope.
> Read 7 Ways To Cope on


Meriter Health Services
Meriter Health Services
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
What to Do When the Doctor Has Bad News

By Barbara Floria
People react to grave health news differently. Some get angry, others shrivel up in self-pity. Some people lose their faith in God, others find it. Some families fall apart, others draw closer together. Read online.


Forbes Magazine
Monday, January 28, 2008
Bush's Big Boo-Boo | Unnerving But Necessary

By Steve Forbes
Here's a book you are not going to want to read but can't live without. You, a relative or a close friend is going to need it. Amazingly, even though tens of millions of us will be given a ghastly medical diagnosis during our lifetimes--cancer, heart disease, MS, among others--there's very little comprehensive, easy-to-access information on what to do once we're given that bad news. Read Steve Forbes Fact and Comment online.


The Washington Post
The Washington Post
Tuesday, December 18, 2007; Page HE08
A New Kind of Happy Ending

By Abigail Trafford
He became very sweet, this big man with a big ego who had been a noted architect; now he was smaller, childlike, and he'd follow my cousin around the house. She'd smile at him, and then he'd ask her, "Will you marry me?"


USA Today
USA Today
Monday, December 17, 2007
Cancer's newest prescription: Comprehensive care

By Kathleen Fackelmann
Her first battle with cancer was more than 30 years ago, but doctors today still fall short when it comes to addressing the psychological needs of cancer patients, says a report released last month by the Institute of Medicine.

Gruman, who sat on the institute's panel, says doctors are so focused on eradicating cancer that they sometimes ignore the shock and other emotions that can hinder treatment. Even the best cancer treatment can fail if doctors don't pay attention to the psychological and social needs of patients, the report says.


Fox News
Fox News
Thursday, November 29, 2007
How to Find Help In a Hospital

By Kelly Jad'on
You are admitted to the hospital. What can you expect? Entering the hospital can be a nerve-wracking experience, basically because we're afraid. Will I get sicker by possibly developing an infection? Can the specialist see me right away? What if the nurse gives me the wrong medicine and I die? Will the treatment hurt?


Visit the Register-Guard to read Jessie's Editorial
The Register-Guard — Eugene, Oregon
Friday, November 2, 2007
Preparation Key to Getting the Best Care

By Jessie Gruman
Complexity is a price of progress. In modern medicine, that price is a painfully high one. It imposes responsibilities that patients find ...


The Capital Times
The Capital Times — Madison, Wisconsin
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Cancer Tale Is Triply Inspirational

By Debra Carr-Elsing
Jessie Gruman's cancer journey began at age 20 when she was diagnosed with an advanced case of Hodgkin's disease. Her sophomore year in college came to a ...


Visit Newsday to read about Aftershock
Newsday — Long Island, New York
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Meet The Challenge Of A Cancer Diagnosis Head On

By Saul Friedman
I am not a doctor, but I am a cancer survivor (so far), which means I know from deep experience what I'm talking about. And I'm talking today about dealing with a cancer diagnosis in one's older years and surviving. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 60 percent of newly diagnosed cancers occur in persons...


The New York Post
The New York Post
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Liz Taylor Returning To Stage

By Liz Smith
SELDOM DOES a book cross my desk recommended by Barbara Walters, Judy Woodruff, Tom Brokaw, Lesley Stahl, Betty Rollin, Vartan Gregorian, Joe Califano and distinguished doctors such as Jimmie Holland of Sloan-Kettering.
So we all need After Shock...


The Washington Post
The Washington Post
Tuesday, July 24, 2007; Page HE06
Crises Happen. Are You Ready?

By Abigail Trafford
My friend talks rapidly on the phone. Her husband has just been diagnosed with a rare skin cancer. It is a second marriage for both, a good marriage. But suddenly they've started to bicker. This is not like them. The change is scary. What is happening here?


Time In Partnership with CNN
TIME In Partnership with CNN
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
How to Handle a Medical Crisis — Q & A with Alice Park


The New York Times
The New York Times Health News
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Finding Dr. Right for a Serious Diagnosis

By Jane E. Brody
After getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, coping strategies include second opinions, online checks and more. Read the second of two columns on receiving a life-threatening diagnosis in full.

The New York Times
The New York Times Health News
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Advice on Dire Diagnoses From a Survivor

By Jane E. Brody
I consider this book so valuable I plan to keep it on my bedside table should I need it later on. Its recommendations are based not just on the author's experiences with illness, but also on interviews with more than 250 others: patients, family members, nurses, doctors, health plan administrators, managers of busy practices and nonprofit leaders. Read the first of two columns on receiving a life-threatening diagnosis in full. Next: Getting a second opinion.


The Providence Journal
The Providence Journal (Rhode Island) EDITORIAL; Pg. B-04
Friday, June 15, 2007
Providence Journal Endorses Aftershock

Then there's AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You — or Someone You Love — a Devastating Diagnosis, by Jessie Gruman (Walker & Company). (The subtitles of books get longer and longer, constituting a mental-health problem themselves.) Ms. Gruman, a social psychologist and founder of the Center for the Advancement of Health, provides practical, ingenious and energizing advice.


The Newark Star Ledger
The Newark Star Ledger
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
When Bad News Comes

By Meg Nugent:
"The book is not about studies or research," said Gruman during a recent interview a few blocks from the home she shares with her husband in New York City. "It's focused on what it feels like to be in that situation and what people need to know. It's about from the moment you're diagnosed to the point where you make your treatment decision and you're ready to go ahead."

She leads her readers through a 10-step comprehensive guide filled with advice and strategies for a host of potential situations, including how to find the right doctor and hospital for you; how to make your way through a complicated health-care system; how to handle your insurance; how to check a doctor's background; how to handle your job; how to deal with finances when facing a potentially catastrophic disease that could clean out your wallet. Read in Full »


Shape Magazine
May 1, 2007
The Best Way to Help When a Friend Gets Sick

SECTION: Health Care
Pg. 140(1) Vol. 26 No. 9 ISSN: 0744-5121

One of the hardest things when a friend learns she has a serious illness is figuring out what to say or do. "You may think you need to do something big to really help," says Jessie Gruman, Ph.D., author of AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You—or Someone You Love—a Devastating Diagnosis. "But your friend will probably appreciate the simplest gestures most of all." And above all else, the most important thing is just to let her know you care. Here, Gruman's top four suggestions for offering support.

    An independent pal may be reluctant to "burden" her friends by requesting their help. Offering to run a particular errand — such as "Can I pick up some groceries for you?" —may feel less invasive.
    While well-intentioned, a phrase like "I know you'll be okay" can actually upset someone whose prognosis is poor or unknown. A better idea? Call or write to say you're thinking of her and you're there whenever she needs you.
    "You shouldn't volunteer to drive a friend to the doctor if you're not sure you truly have the time," says Gruman.
    Giving your pal enough funny DVDs to last her a week or surprising her with a pint of her favorite sorbet can be the best medicine.


The Baltimore Sun
The Baltimore Sun
April 1, 2007
Cheer Mrs. Edwards' choice, but chart your own course

To the Editor:

Elizabeth Edwards' response to her latest cancer diagnosis offers useful lessons and cautions for the rest of us. The wife of former Sen. John Edwards has decided on her course: to receive treatment while continuing to participate in her husband's quest for the presidency. I applaud her stance because she is responding to a difficult situation by considering carefully all of the contingencies of a complicated public life and will now move forward with confidence that this is the right way for her.

But her solution isn't necessarily the appropriate one for others with similarly serious diagnoses. It would be unfortunate if she became a role model that they measured their decisions against. Read in Full »


U.S. News & World Report
February 26, 2007 (Page 20)
Jessie Gruman: "I Have Some News"
Visit to read the Q&A.


New York Times
February 6, 2007
Readers respond to articles in Science Times with thoughts on cancer, the future of civilization and more.

To the Editor:
Re "Too Young for This: Facing Cancer Under 40" (Jan. 30): As someone who was diagnosed with cancer at 20 and then again at 30, this article hits home.

Both the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in young people happen outside the norm: physicians just don't see that many cancers in younger adults, and treatment trials are not conducted on them. And so, in the midst of the shock of a serious diagnosis, we also find ourselves smack up against the inferential nature of medicine as doctors try to cobble together treatments that are effective in curing or controlling our cancer, but that will not produce side effects that kill us in the long run.

There is no time in one's life when it is more important to find the best available science-based information and imaginative, well-informed doctors, yet there is no time when it is more difficult to do so. The expectation that we will all act in situations like this as dispassionate consumers of health care is absurd.

Jessie Gruman
New York
The writer is the president of the Center for the Advancement of Health.


The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 6, 2007; Page HE01

How Much Do You Want — or Need — to Know?
Jessie Gruman Special to The Washington Post

Four times, I have been diagnosed with life-threatening diseases. Each time, the news stopped me cold; it landed me in a hospital; it forced me to rearrange my life and rethink my responsibilities while my body was battered by drugs and surgery.

And it immersed me in a cold, uncomfortable reality that is familiar to anyone who has received a sudden diagnosis of serious illness. Our connections, our skills in finding information and acting on it, our abilities to cope — all of which are necessary for making the right decisions and getting the right care — feel suddenly inadequate.

But through my own experience — as well as the experience of talking to more than 200 others who have faced a devastating diagnosis — I've discovered that people are remarkably resilient once they gather the information they need to reconstitute their immediate futures.
> Read in full


Dallas Morning News
08:08 AM CST on Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Facing a crisis one day at a time
By Judy Foreman

Sure, cancer specialists "are busy," says Mark T. Hegel, the clinical psychologist who headed the Dartmouth study. "They have short visits. They are very focused on treating the cancer. They are not well-trained to look at the psychological issues," he says.

But we're talking about life-altering events. And although there are books, support groups and therapists galore to help with the long haul - clarifying the diagnosis, bearing up under treatment, then living the rest of your life as best you can - there's much less help in the first days and weeks after your life has been turned upside down.
> Read in full


Monday, Jan. 22, 2007 7:31 AM ET

Survivor offers a life map after diagnosis
By Lisa Baertlein

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) — After getting four life-threatening health diagnoses, and being thrown for a loop with each, Jessie Gruman sat down and put everything she and 200 others have learned from their ordeals into a book.

Titled "AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You — or Someone You Love — a Devastating Diagnosis," scheduled for release on February 7, Gruman's book maps the journey from shock to managing treatments, family and finances, and beyond.
> Read in full


The Boston Globe
Monday, January 22, 2007

How to cope with shock of cancer diagnosis
By Judy Foreman

Late last fall, Dartmouth Medical School researchers reported in the journal Cancer that all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in their study experienced at least some level of distress, and nearly half met the criteria for a significant psychiatric disorder such as major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Well, duh!
> Read in full


Parade Magazine
January 14, 2007

Parade Magazine Cover
Parade Magazine features article, When the Diagnosis is Scary, adapted from Dr. Gruman's book "AfterShock".

The first 48 hours after you or a loved one receives a serious diagnosis can be terrifying. Receiving bad health news sparks great personal upheaval. Some people rage against the unfairness while others wither from sadness. Some people lose their faith and others find it. Some are torn between their fear of pain and their fear of death. Families are wracked by the threat of loss. It is a time when nothing is certain, and the future looks dark.
> read the article on


Wisconsin State Journal :: Front :: A1 — Madison, WI
Sunday, November, 25, 2006

Dealing With Fear Of A Life-altering Illness
SHARYN ALDEN For the State Journal

Knowing How To Respond Can Help Patients, Family Make Good Choices
"Being diagnosed with a serious illness is akin to being a stranger in a strange world ... I have no idea what is expected of me, I have no map, and I desperately want to find my way home," says former Madison resident Jessie Gruman, president of the ...
> Read in full