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Written on iPhone, best-selling book chronicles alumna’s ALS challenge

Published: July 12th, 2013

Category: Spotlights

Susan Spencer-Wendel

Alumna Susan Spencer-Wendel covered the murderous grit and grime of Palm Beach County’s criminal courts for more than a decade, but her spirited account of her own face-off with death is what’s now making her known around the world.

Susan Spencer-Wendel, MAMC 1991, covered the murderous grit and grime of Palm Beach County’s criminal courts for more than a decade, but her spirited account of her own face-off with death is what’s now making her known around the world.

“Until I Say Goodbye, My Year of Living with Joy” lays bare Susan’s life, travels and relationships after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease gradually causes nerves throughout the body to die, leading to total paralysis and usually within a few years, death. Susan tapped out all 357 pages of the book on her iPhone using her right thumb, the only digit that remained functioning.

Determined to salvage as much happiness as possible from what she estimated to be her one remaining year of reasonably good health, Susan embarked on a series of trips with family and friends. Some of her UF College of Journalism and Communications classmates are central characters in the book. One of them, Nancy Maass Kinnally, MALAS 1991, MAMC 1995, Susan’s lifelong best friend, shares their story here. http://www.jou.ufl.edu/communigator/living-with-joy/

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