My name is: Cynthia Li, MD.
My book is called: Brave New Medicine: A Doctor’s Unconventional Path to Healing Her Autoimmune Illness. (Reveal Press; September 2019).
My background before becoming an author was: As an integrative and functional medicine doctor. I’ve practiced everywhere from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center at San Francisco General Hospital to St. Anthony’s Medical Clinic for the homeless to rural China with Doctors Without Borders, focusing on HIV/AIDS care. I’m currently in private practice and on the faculty for the Healer’s Art program at the University of California San Francisco Medical School.
I was inspired to write it when: I developed a complex, debilitating illness that left me housebound, baffling specialist after specialist and baffling myself. I had to quit working; my marriage was hanging on by a single thread; and I had two young children. So in truth, it was less inspiration to write and more desperation. Writing in my journal had always helped bring clarity to me. Now, I was writing as though my life depended on it. Because it did.
It's about: What I’d been taught to believe as a child, how I'd been trained as a conventional doctor and how my autoimmune conditions and chronic fatigue challenged all of it—well beyond the science, even, taking me into mysterious realms I couldn't have imagined. Step by step, I was resistant to change, becoming my own most difficult patient. At its core, this book is about how beliefs can trap or free us—and about how, sometimes, we have to break down in order to break open.
The most unexpected takeaway is: Autoimmunity is reversible.
It’s a game changer because: It expands how we understand health and disease. It’s not about diagnosing and treating. It’s about identifying the root causes and healing.
My hope is that readers will: Begin, as I had, to ask new questions. At the heart of healing is the discovery of one’s truest nature. And the hardest step in healing is also the simplest: believing it is possible.
My next book might be: An autobiographical novel, like Richard Bach’s Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.