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Author Lee Woodruff Gives Talk on Caregivers

04/17/13
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Photo courtesy of Emily Stansky for The Heights.

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Apr. 17, 2013

Author Lee Woodruff spoke to more than 300 people gathered in the Yawkey Center last week about the journey she and her family embarked on after her husband, journalist Bob Woodruff, suffered a near-fatal traumatic brain injury while on assignment in Iraq in 2006. Her talk, “Family Journey, Recovery, and Resilience: A Caregiver’s Perspective” was part of the Connell School of Nursing’s Pinnacle Lecture Series, which invites speakers to campus each semester to address issues at the forefront of healthcare today.

In her talk, Woodruff praised nurses for putting their own concerns aside on a daily basis to deal with patients and family members who may be hopeless, angry or fearful.

Woodruff said it was the nurses who nurtured her hope during the five weeks her husband was in a comma after being injured by a roadside bomb. During that time, Woodruff said, it was unknown if he could talk or breathe on his own. Since there wasn’t a lot of medical evidence or data to go on for brain injuries, she relied on the stories the nurses told her about recoveries they had witnessed.

“Sharing those stories was the most powerful thing. It nourished me and gave me hope,” she said. “[Bob] is a medical miracle. He’s a testament that there are miracles out there. Let people believe in miracles.”

Woodruff and her husband co-authored the best-selling memoir, In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing. She also is the author of collection of essays, Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress, and a novel, Those We Love Most. Woodruff, who has worked as a freelance writer and public relations executive, is now a contributor to “CBS This Morning.”

The Woodruffs’ experiences led them to create a foundation, the Bob Woodruff Foundation, that has awarded millions of dollars in grants and provided support to help injured service members, veterans and their caregivers. Woodruff added that she has become a passionate advocate for veterans’ issues.

“Sometimes your moment chooses you,” she said.

More: Video of Woodruff's Pinnacle Lecture.