A memoir of the author’s twenty-five-year, self-designed experiment with a nonpharmaceutical approach to multiple sclerosis and of the indomitable mother who taught her to meet trouble with active resistance.

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When novelist Edith Forbes experienced her first episode of multiple sclerosis in 1993, few treatments existed. The famously crippling disease was a medical mystery, its cause unknown and its course unpredictable. The only medical advice Forbes received then was to “live your life.” She had other ideas.

Forbes grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, raised by a widowed mother who met challenges head on. Besides shouldering responsibility for seven children and a cattle ranch, Forbes’s dynamo mother had ambitions to change the world. As a forward-thinking woman in a largely male business, she became a model of tenacity and independence for her daughter.

After her MS diagnosis, Forbes turned her fear into action, immersing herself in the medical literature to search for ideas. Finding an unexpected connection between the medical information and her own knowledge of agriculture, she embarked on a self-designed experiment that continues to this day.

Tracking a Shadow weaves together the story of Forbes’s personal twenty-five-year medical experiment with a memoir of the mother whose constant determination to look for better answers shaped the author’s unique approach to her disease.

Watch video of Edith Forbes’ book reading at Norwich Bookstore »

Praise for Tracking a Shadow

“This is a remarkably intelligent and inspirational account of finding a personal path to living positively with the uncertainties of MS. Interwoven with a page-turning chronicle of growing up shy and gay on a Wyoming family ranch is a meticulous investigation of the evolving scientific understanding of MS. The author would be my perfect patient—inquisitive, well-informed, respectful of medicine, and yet thoughtful about balancing the potential benefits of treatment against the attendant intrusions on everyday life with constant reminders of having a chronic ailment.”
— Ford von Reyn MD, DSc (Hon), professor of medicine, Geisel School of Medicine

“Edith Forbes’s account of her quest to understand a little-understood disease will be useful not only to those with MS but to everyone making choices in a medical system that doesn’t have all the answers. A lucid thinker, a dogged researcher, and a graceful writer whose sentences are simultaneously lyrical and spare, Forbes shows us how an understanding of one’s illness is inextricably connected to an understanding of one’s life.”
— George Howe Colt, author of The Big House, Brothers, and The Game

“I have had RRMS for eighteen years, and it was so refreshing to read a narrative that was much closer to my lived experience… if you’re an MS patient or love someone who is, I highly recommend this wonderful book. It is a breath of fresh air–an honest portrait of life with this bizarre, confounding, and frustrating disease.”
— Jamie A Hughes, a writer/editor whose work can be found at tousledapostle.com

“Edith Forbes is a citizen scientist who grew up on a family ranch where she and her brothers and sisters were armed with clipboards to collect data about the cattle raised there, analyze it, and report the results. Her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis … led Edith to conduct a multi-decade research study of a single subject, herself…. With the help of her brother-in-law, a cancer researcher, Edith uncovered how dairy could be linked to an autoimmune reaction—and that industrial agriculture could actually be the root cause. Fascinating reading for anyone who wants to learn more about how what we eat can affect our health and well-being.”
— Gail Nickel-Kailing, GoodFood World

“Nearly three decades after she experienced the early signs of multiple sclerosis, Edith Forbes has written an extraordinary memoir recounting her experiment with an unorthodox—yet successful to date—treatment to prevent the highly unpredictable flare-ups of this potentially devastating disease… There is a lot to learn from this well-researched, highly readable, and compelling account…”
—Dr. Stephen J. Atwood, MD