Debra Jarvis

Debra Jarvis offers a witty yet daring look at the way that survivors of disease and trauma can achieve new levels of emotional and psychological healing.

“Let that old story go, so that a new story, a truer story can be told” - Debra Jarvis, TEDMED 2014


For writer, ordained minister, and hospital chaplain Debra Jarvis, humor is a powerful balm. She is not afraid to be funny even when doing very serious work with the sick and dying as a hospice chaplain, a pastoral consultant for volunteer groups caring for people with AIDS and MS, and staff chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Debra is the author of It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer and numerous other books. Currently on sabbatical in Geneva, Debra’s last job was as writer-in-residence for the University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle. In her free time, Debra accompanies her Cairn terrier Max in his therapy dog work.


Q&A with Deb
We caught up with Debra and asked her more about her talk and experience at TEDMED.

Listen to Debra on NPR: Gaining a new understanding of cancer

It’s Not About the Hair
Keep up with Debra at her blog. And to learn more about her palliative care work, click here.

It’s Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer
Jarvis, D. Sasquatch Books. 2008.

Man’s Search for Meaning 
Frankl, V. Beacon Press. 2006.

Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity
Solomon, A. Scribner, 2013.

How does an illness become an identity?
Andrew Solomon, TEDMED 2013 Talk

Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can
Myss, C. Harmony. 1998.

The Fault Is In Our Stars
Green, J. Speak, 2014.

The Way
The Fault in Our Stars
The Straight Story
The Station Agent
The Way Back