Living Well, Even While Sick | Joy Selak

October 28, 2014

Joy Selak was raised in San Antonio, TX and entered Arizona State University in 1966 where she earned four degrees, taught in the English Department and served as a consultant in Language Arts Curriculum Development for various Arizona school districts as well as the State Department of Education. In 1980, Joy entered a new career as an investment advisor. She was named Vice President, Investments at Smith Barney in 1985 with over 30 million dollars in client assets under her management.

In 1994, due to a complex and debilitating chronic illness, Joy could no longer work. With her physician, Dr. Steven Overman, she co-authored a book about their shared experience called You Don’t LOOK Sick! Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness, published in 2005, with a second edition in 2012. The book is dedicated to helping patients like Joy build meaningful lives that include long-term illness.

For nearly 20 years, Joy has found great satisfaction in non-profit service. She was a founder of the San Juan Island Community Foundation, in Friday Harbor, WA and later, in Austin TX, she was a founder of A Legacy of Giving, a non-profit dedicated to teaching children to be philanthropists through their school curriculum. She has served for over a decade on the board of ZACH Theatre, the professional regional theatre in Austin, and was Board President during a successful 23 million dollar capital campaign and the opening of a new 420-seat theatre on the ZACH campus.

In 2014, with her health greatly improved, Joy returned to work and is now the Director of Development and Communications for MINDPOP, an Austin non-profit working with partners throughout the city to provide equity and access to creative learning and the arts for all Austin’s school children.

One of the challenges of living with a chronic condition is navigating the phases you must travel to make peace with it. While Getting Sick, the challenge is just finding the right doctor and getting a diagnosis that can lead to treatment.

Then comes Being Sick, employing the medical plan that will be most effective and making lifestyle changes that positively support the realities of long term illness. There is a necessary, but painful period of Grief and Acceptance as you realize this illness is part of who you are now and is not likely to go away.

All along the way there are challenges around gaining acceptance, understanding and sympathy from friends and loved ones. Finally comes the last phase, Living Well, which is the time to build a new and satisfying life that contains illness.

My series for Global Genes will support patients as they navigate each and all of those stages successfully, so that in spite of illness and all the challenges that come with it, readers can collect tools, ideas and support in building lives that are full and meaningful. 

 Keep up with Joy on her website:

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See her books at Amazon:


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You can also connect with Joy on her Facebook here. 


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