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A Burden of Silence: My Mother's Battle with AIDS Paperback – July 28, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 156 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse (July 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 141845107X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1418451073
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,446,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Nancy Draper has written a moving account of her elderly mother's battle with HIV/AIDS. The disease was diagnosed in 1988, the result of a blood transfusion given during cardiac surgery several years earlier. The title refers to the fact that her mother felt compelled to keep the diagnosis secret and suffered in silence because of the social stigmas associated with the disease. During the earlier part of her illness, there are numerous examples of the pain and harm caused by insensitive health care professionals, which serve as lessons for those who work in palliative care. Thankfully, her mother finally received some proper palliative care during the terminal phase of her illness." Roger Woodruff, M.D. (Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia) --International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

"This is a devoted daughter's story of her elderly mother's painful and lonely journey through AIDS. Because her mother was not part of a so-called AIDS risk group, she felt ignored, rejected, stigmatized, and ashamed. For years, she suffered in excruciating silence. Nancy has given her mother's story a voice. There are lessons for everyone in this book - lessons about acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness." --Ann Webster, Ph.D. , director, HIV/AIDS Program, Mind/Body Institute, Boston, MA

Nancy Draper has written a tender account of a daughter's devotion to her dying mother. This story, about a grandmother who developed AIDS from a contaminated blood transfusion, will inspire admiration for Ms. Draper's courage and persistence. It will also inspire rage against the blood banks that failed to screen blood donations adequately." --Ann Pozen, Psy.D., president, National Association for Victims of Transfusion-Acquired AIDS, Inc., Bethesda, MD

"Nancy Draper's mother told her, 'I want you to write about me having AIDS because I don't want anyone else to suffer in silence like we have.' Nancy's mother must be very proud of her and this account of three years of fear, heartache, some good days and always deep love." --Father Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., Editor, "St. Anthony Messenger"

From the Back Cover

"A Burden of Silence: My Mother's Battle with AIDS" is a heartwarming story of an affectionate bond between a daughter and her elderly mother. It will evoke emotions of faith, inspiration, anger, and love. Anyone going through an illness will benefit from the holistic techniques described in this book.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 44 customer reviews
The tears I had were from how beautifully the book was written.
D. Rogers-Thornton
This was a burden the entire family shared and it wasn't till after her mother's death that Nancy was able to share this heartbreakingly sad story with all of us.
Janece A. Shaffer
They were able to provide needed comfort to one another, which was extended even further by group interaction.
William Hare

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on March 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Nancy Draper was enjoying her life as a busy wife and mother in New Hampshire when she was hit with a tremendous jolt. She was shocked to learn that her mother, a vital woman in her sixties, had been infected with the AIDS virus. She provides a compelling account of her experiences in dealing with AIDS along with those of her mother in "A Burden of Silence: My Mother's Battle with AIDS".

Nancy's mother had received blood from a contaminated pool from New York City while receiving a blood transfusion. Those with knowledge of this tragedy failed to pass along word. Tragically, certain individuals in authority placed a premium on protecting themselves and not providing vital information to family members, beginning with Nancy's father.

Having been dealt this terrible blow, Nancy Draper summoned all the courage and energy at her disposal to help her mother through her travail. A former teacher and current piano instructor, Nancy plainly likes people and has an essentially optimistic viewpoint which shows through in her writing. She was therefore stunned to observe that so many with whom she dealt in the health care field, rather than displaying the type of caring compassion toward Nancy's mother that her situation warranted, instead sadly operated at a cold distance.

When Nancy sought answers on how to ease her mother's painful burden she sometimes received more of a shrug than helpful assistance. Incredibly, in one instance when she took her mother to a doctor's office, he remained seated and did not even get up to acknowledge their presence. Such conduct is a long step downward from the teachings of Hippocrates.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on February 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Even with all the publicity about AIDS today, there aren't enough books out there that describes a personal battle with this dreaded disease. This book is a wonderful attribute to the author's mother ~~ and a courageous story of her mother's battle against the stigma of having AIDS. I will even admit that when I first hear or read the word AIDS, I automatically think of the movie, "Philadelphia," and the courageous battles that those afflicted with the disease fight to get the virus studied so there will be a cure for it someday.

I do recall reading about tainted blood transfusions back in the late 80s and early 90s ~~ but you don't hear stories about those victims. Nancy Draper changed that. I will not be able to think of an AIDS victim without thinking of her mother.

Not only did AIDS afflicted her mother, it afflicted her whole family ~~ not with the virus but with the ignorance and the stigma associated with AIDS which people did consider it to be a gay disease. Nancy kept her parents' wishes to keep silent about the real cause of her mother's illness ~~ but it was a struggle for her. People's comments about not wanting to touch anyone if they knew that person had AIDS left a silent echo in Nancy's life as she struggles to take care of her mother and to make her last days comfortable. Her mother wanted so much to be held but she "felt dirty" and contaminated because of this awful virus. People's impersonal reaction to her situation leaves one shaking their heads ~~ and at the same time, reflective of how much more we need to educate people on this disease.

Nancy wrote a beautiful tribute to her mother and her mother should be proud. Nancy says that she wants the world to know about how AIDS affect not just the individual, but the family as well and their friends.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Rogers-Thornton on September 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read Mrs. Draper's book in one sitting. Although I knew the ending I turned each page in hopes of a kinder outcome. She gives a loving voice to her mother's story and dignifies a disease that is still misunderstood. The tears I had were from how beautifully the book was written. Nancy walked us through several private years of her life in a way only a loving family member could do. I applaud her courage in writing so openly about such a painful subject.
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Format: Paperback
Nancy Draper had to face one of the saddest things ever to happen; her dear mother was infected with AIDS through contaminated blood in a transfusion. This accidental infection led to a long and painful illness, but what was even more painful for the Drapers was the way in which her mother's illness was ultimately handled. Interestingly, well-known author Isaac Asimov also received a contaminated transfusion and it was years until his widow published a book about his last days. Some of his story is similar to Nancy Draper's experience with her mother.

The confusion of the 80's about the AIDS epidemic have repercussions even up to today. Back in that decade, GRIDS (gay-related immune disorder) was known in the medical community, but the threat to the public was not dealt with in a reasonable manner (was it stigmatized because an unpopular segment of the population had the disease? See "And the Band Played On.") Then the stigmatization of the disease preceded public health policy, and the lessons that had been learned in the 1900's about tuberculosis were apparently forgotten. (TB was also stigmatized and people were shunned with the disease until public policy established laws and santatoria to treat the ill and protect the public.) Meanwhile, people were becoming ill and dying. Nancy's mother faced the untruths, the stigmatization and the marginalization of her treatment.

Draper describes the family search for holistic care, for hospice help and how her mother's illness affected the family. In some ways, this information is helpful to anyone with a family member who has a terminal illness and is seeking the best and most appropriate care for their loved one.

As a personal history/biography of someone with AIDS, this is interesting reading. As a story of the deficiencies in our public health system, it's enlightening reading. It's not an easy book to read, but an important one.
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