Sanctuary of Illness: A Memoir of Heart Disease

By Thomas Larson


Sample (PDF) Paperback: $15.00 Ebook: $9.99 Bookstore & Library Orders Bulk Orders

Page count: 160
ISBN: 978-0-9768813-8-4 (Paperback)
Pub Date: January 2014
Category: Health Care

“That the conscious acknowledgment of love, in addition to diet and exercise, heals the heart should come as no surprise, but Larson writes of his emotional growth without sentimentality. Larson makes clear that emotional awareness helps a damaged heart to keep beating.”
Rain Taxi

We all know someone who has suffered a heart attack. But how often do we learn the intimate, potentially life-saving details that accompany coronary disease? In The Sanctuary of Illness, Thomas Larson (The Memoir and the MemoiristThe Saddest Music Ever Written) gives a powerful and personal inside tour of what happens when our arteries fail. He chronicles the three heart attacks in five years that he survived, and the emergency surgeries that saved his life each time. Slowly waking up to the genetic legacy and dangerous diet that pushed him to the brink, he reveals a path to healing that he and his partner, Suzanna, discovered together. Told with urgency and sensitivity, The Sanctuary of Illness is a subtle reminder that heart disease seldom affects just one heart.

TL Aug 2013 3Journalist, critic, and memoirist, Thomas Larson has been a staff writer for the San Diego Reader for fifteen years. His books include The Memoir and the Memoirist and The Saddest Music Ever Written: The Story of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” He is also a creative nonfiction instructor at Ashland University in Ohio.

“…graceful and engaging…”
Rain Taxi

“…the most powerful learning Larson shares with readers is how relationships suffer when people allow themselves to succumb to illness, and how relationships flourish alongside the deliberate choice to pursue health.”
ForeWord Magazine

“Written in the tradition of Sherwin Nuland and Anatole Broyard,  Thomas Larson’s The Sanctuary of Illness is both a meditation on mortality and a call to arms in the face of the inevitable. By turns  defiant, humorous, earthy, and literary, the work is a felicitous mix of  memoir and reporting: the heart as a pulsing source of both truth and  fact.”
—Madeleine Blais, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

“Thomas Larson has written a sumptuous and insightful personal chronicling of the pathway into and away from coronary artery disease.”
—Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

“In the realm of fear and suffering and grief there must be poetry, and Larson finds it again and again in this memoir. His clarity, his humility, and his grace are profoundly moving.”
—Richard Hoffman, Half the House

“This powerful book conveys one man’s struggle fighting heart disease. Thomas Larson describes multiple heart attacks, interventions, and his decision to try to change his fate with a plant-based diet. His example and dramatic rebound are truly inspiring.”
—Neal Barnard, M.D.



“My Vegan Heart” – Everyday Health online – 1/2014

“Stress Echo” – Yale Journal of Humanities in Medicine – 6/2013

“Disenthralled: An End to My Heart Disease” – RiverTeeth – 1/2012


San Diego Reader – 1/2014


Thomas Larson’s Heart & Soul, Brevity – 1/2014

Digital Journal – 2/2014

Rain Taxi - Winter 2013

Foreword Reviews –  Spring 2014

California Society of Anesthesiologists – August 2014

Other Appearances

Q/A with Richard Gilbert – Collateral Damage – 1/2014

Dr Radio, interview with Fred Feit, Director of NYU Langone Medical Center’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab – 1/2014

Excelsior Life News & Events – 2/2014

Wisconsin Public Radio – 3/2014

Blog Series

Psychology Today