A Doctor's Healing Journey

Non-Fiction - Memoir
272 Pages
Reviewed on 01/01/2022
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Author Biography

Dr. Chacko, author of multi-award-winning Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey, practiced medicine for decades, first as a radiation oncologist and later as a family medicine doctor caring for the poor in Washington DC. Now Donna's passion is to promote abundant health based on a foundation of faith. Her website is serenityandhealth.com. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother and lives in Maryland with her husband.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite

Pilgrimage: A Doctor's Healing Journey by Donna Chacko MD is a revealing and motivational memoir about the author reaching a crisis and recovery. When people are sick, overwhelmed, and in pain, most of us go to a doctor. But where does a doctor turn to with these crushing feelings? Can doctors reach a breaking point too? Are they allowed to? What happens when they go over the edge? This is the wonderfully gripping and enlightening true story of a dedicated, harried radiation oncologist whose outward demeanor masks inner turmoil. We think doctors must always be in control, but this physician's healing odyssey shows that relinquishing control can sometimes be the best thing to do.

Chacko delves into her past to unearth the issues that are contributing to her marital problems and health concerns. God is in her equation, and she puts it all on the table for you to consume. Just when you think doctors are somewhat immune to everyday problems or must have super coping mechanisms, this author shows you how frail yet strong a doctor can really be. Anxiety and stress plague many people today, and there is an abundance of substance use, sleep disruption and persistent health issues. One of my favorite parts of the book is near her breaking point and spends time with the prayers and poems she has in her closet--one being her grandmother's. The support systems we depended on seem to be disintegrating, or ineffective. When these are stripped away, when you come to the end of yourself, what, or who, do you have left? God. If you're looking for inspiration on how to begin your own healing journey, take your first step by reading the amazing Pilgrimage: A Doctor's Healing Journey by Donna Chacko, MD.

K.C. Finn

Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey is a work of non-fiction in the memoir genre. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by Donna Chacko, MD. The book serves as a chronicle of the author's journey through their career and personal life during a period of serious upheaval, as well as the path to finding happiness that followed this period. Reflecting on the unfortunate reality of living with poor mental health and the effect this has on one's physical health as well as one's personal and professional life, the author seeks to share a message of hope for those in a similar spiral.

Memoirs live and die based on the author's willingness to be frank and vulnerable with their readers, with so many potentially fascinating life stories being wasted on accounts that are unwilling to discuss the big issues of the author's life. Donna Chacko is to be highly commended for exposing so much of her unhappiness and poor mental health, and her gift for prose expands on this vulnerability to create an unmissable memoir. The author’s success in moving through the obstacles of her life resonates so strongly because of these things, and Pilgrimage is a book that will give great consolation to readers in difficult places in their own lives. The journey that the author undertakes throughout the memoir is difficult but proves to readers that the overwhelming negative feelings that we struggle with are something that can be defeated. As such, I recommend this book highly to those who seek a sense of solidarity as well as guidance for their own troubles.

Natalie Soine

In her book Pilgrimage: A Doctor's Healing Journey, Dr. Donna Chacko shares valuable lessons about health, illness, relationships, and all else relating to the mind, body, and spirit. Dr. Chacko explains how stress and trauma create physical and mental illness, yet how faith, love, respect, listening, and community promote healing. We learn how human suffering is more than a disease or illness that can be treated with a pill or a procedure. The book includes many case studies and steps to help us find our own path to more abundant health and to thrive during challenging times. Dr. Chacko is candid about her life experiences including her upbringing, education, work, and family life. In this book, Dr. Chacko repeatedly emphasizes body, mind, and spirit and how they are connected.

Pilgrimage: A Doctor's Healing Journey is one of the best books I have ever read. Donna Chacko, MD does an outstanding job of writing her life story and sharing her knowledge, skills, and experience with us. We learn from her book that any memory born in a bed of negative emotions, like anger or shame, will be retained longer and more vividly than a positive memory. As explained by Scott Peck, the four discipline tools or “techniques of suffering” are honesty, delayed gratification, personal responsibility, and balance. Each lesson in humility makes the next easier and even humorous. For example, moral distress is feeling distressed because of a conflict between what your conscience and ethics call you to do and what you are reasonably able to do. The book is well researched and well written, including a list of suggested study material and other books. Highly recommended to all adults, young and old.

Vincent Dublado

A deeply moving memoir with valuable life lessons, Pilgrimage: A Doctor's Healing Journey by Donna Chacko, MD offers a timely message and wise words to live by. To the world, the author is known as Dr. Chacko, a radiation oncologist on the top of her game, a wife, and a mother of three beautiful daughters. But what the world doesn’t see is what takes place within the high walls surrounding her stately waterfront home. She openly shares everything because her challenges and how she faced them can transform your life. Since retiring, she has seen much unease plaguing not only her personal life but the world as well. What she brings you is a message of hope—for it is always there. Learning from many teachers, from her patients to her turbulent marriage, has set her on a path that has led to a better understanding of herself.

Pilgrimage: A Doctor's Healing Journey is a no-holds-barred revisiting of a life that does a great service for us readers in gaining a better grasp on how to mend our hearts and souls. Life is not always fair, so we need to be well-equipped with the necessary means to withstand existential scourges. Dr. Donna Chacko has a simple yet proven approach in helping those in need of a lift from their own struggles; a holistic method that takes into account one’s mental, social, emotional, and even spiritual factors. Her easy-to-read prose will keep you invested from start to finish. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is burdened and feeling hopeless because Pilgrimage is a compass that will point you in the right direction.

Bernadette Longu

In Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey by Donna Chacko, M.D., the author has used a most unusual way to offer help and guidance to people who have fallen through the cracks in life. Pilgrimage is a very interesting book as it brings to the forefront how easy it is to fall into a pattern where we allow people to abuse us without really seeing it for what it is. The exercises in the back of the book are very helpful, so it is a book that one can return to again and again to make the best use of the author's journey and encouragement to survive in the dysfunctional world that we live in. Once you open the book and start reading, it is hard to put it down and you find you want to read one page more and then another until time has flown past. Pilgrimage is a must-read from cover to cover, especially as you reach the last section of the book. Here you find that you will stop and re-read and re-read. It made me think of my life and what had influenced my life and what is influencing my life at present and how I can possibly improve it.

In Pilgrimage: A Doctor’s Healing Journey, Donna Chacko brings to light how we enable people to abuse us without really understanding or accepting that what they are doing is wrong. But thinking that they are having 'a bad day,' we put up with the shouting and belittling words that can destroy a person’s confidence and self-esteem. Dr. Donna Chaco’s Pilgrimage is a book very well worth reading and one that should be kept on the bookshelf at home for the family to read together or individually. Thank you for a wonderful and helpful book. I will recommend it to my sister who really needs encouragement on her journey back to health. A very enjoyable and encouraging read.