playlist

Survivor’s wisdom

Powerful, perspective-shifting talks on what it means to live courageously.

  1. 16:09
    Debra Jarvis Yes, I survived cancer. But that doesn't define me

    Debra Jarvis had worked as a hospital chaplain for nearly 30 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. And she learned quite a bit as a patient. In a witty, daring talk, she explains how the identity of “cancer survivor” can feel static. She asks us all to claim our hardest experiences, while giving ourselves room to grow and evolve.

  2. 16:54
    Jamie Heywood The big idea my brother inspired

    When Jamie Heywood's brother was diagnosed with ALS, he devoted his life to fighting the disease as well. The Heywood brothers built an ingenious website where people share and track data on their illnesses — and they discovered that the collective data had enormous power to comfort, explain and predict.

  3. 14:13
    Maysoon Zayid I got 99 problems ... palsy is just one

    "I have cerebral palsy. I shake all the time," Maysoon Zayid announces at the beginning of this exhilarating, hilarious talk. (Really, it's hilarious.) "I'm like Shakira meets Muhammad Ali." With grace and wit, the Arab-American comedian takes us on a whistle-stop tour of her adventures as an actress, stand-up comic, philanthropist and advocate for the disabled.

  4. 14:08
    Martin Pistorius How my mind came back to life — and no one knew

    Imagine being unable to say, "I am hungry," "I am in pain," "thank you," or "I love you,” — losing your ability to communicate, being trapped inside your body, surrounded by people yet utterly alone. For 13 long years, that was Martin Pistorius’s reality. After contracting a brain infection at the age of twelve, Pistorius lost his ability to control his movements and to speak, and eventually he failed every test for mental awareness. He had become a ghost. But then a strange thing started to happen — his mind began to knit itself back together. In this moving talk, Pistorius tells how he freed himself from a life locked inside his own body.

  5. 3:17
    Stacey Kramer The best gift I ever survived

    Stacey Kramer offers a moving, personal, 3-minute parable that shows how an unwanted experience — frightening, traumatic, costly — can turn out to be a priceless gift.

  6. 16:07
    Ananda Shankar Jayant Fighting cancer with dance

    Renowned classical Indian dancer Ananda Shankar Jayant was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. She tells her personal story of not only facing the disease but dancing through it, and gives a performance revealing the metaphor of strength that helped her do it.

  7. 11:57
    Robin Morgan 4 powerful poems about Parkinson's and growing older

    When poet Robin Morgan found herself facing Parkinson’s disease, she distilled her experiences into these four quietly powerful poems — meditating on age, loss, and the simple power of noticing.

  8. 13:21
    Tom Shannon, John Hockenberry The painter and the pendulum

    TED visits Tom Shannon in his Manhattan studio for an intimate look at his science-inspired art. An eye-opening, personal conversation with John Hockenberry reveals how nature's forces — and the onset of Parkinson's tremors — interact in his life and craft.

  9. 9:44
    Amy Purdy Living beyond limits

    When she was 19, Amy Purdy lost both her legs below the knee. And now ... she's a pro snowboarder (and a killer competitor on "Dancing with the Stars"!). In this powerful talk, she shows us how to draw inspiration from life's obstacles.

  10. 18:53
    Nancy Frates Meet the mom who started the Ice Bucket Challenge

    Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge craze this summer? Meet the mom who started it all. When Nancy Frates's son Pete hurt his wrist in a baseball game, he got an unexpected diagnosis: it wasn’t a broken bone, it was ALS, and there is no cure. In this inspiring talk, Nancy tells the story of what happened next.

  11. 19:29
    Roger Ebert Remaking my voice

    When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, come together to tell his remarkable story.

  12. 15:24
    Amanda Bennett We need a heroic narrative for death

    Amanda Bennett and her husband were passionate and full of life all throughout their lives together — and up until the final days, too. Bennett gives a sweet yet powerful talk on why, for the loved ones of the dying, having hope for a happy ending shouldn't warrant a diagnosis of "denial." She calls for a more heroic narrative for death — to match the ones we have in life.

  13. 11:13
    Ramona Pierson An unexpected place of healing

    When Ramona Pierson was 22, she was hit by a drunk driver and spent 18 months in a coma. In this talk, she tells the remarkable story of her recovery — drawing on the collective skills and wisdom of a senior citizens' home.