Add speakerRemove speakerSpeaker added

Suleika Jaouad

Emmy Award-winning writer, activist, and cancer survivor

TED | What almost dying taught me about living
  • About Suleika Jaouad

    Suleika Jaouad is an award-winning writer, speaker, and cancer survivor. During her years spent in cancer treatment, she started the incredibly popular New York Times column, “Life, Interrupted,” which chronicled her illness. The column garnered over one million views, and the video series she made as part of the project won an Emmy Award. A warm, funny, and passionate speaker, Jaouad talks to audiences of all kinds about her life-changing illness, what it means to be healthy and well in the 21st century, and how to thrive in the wake of life’s unexpected interruptions.

    In April 2020, Jaouad started “The Isolation Journals,” a 100-day creativity project in which subscribers are given daily writing prompts. Well-known and respected artists and writers have been featured in the daily prompts, including Elizabeth Gilbert, Priya Parker, Mavis Staples, and Rachel Cargle. Though it started as a response to the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, “The Isolation Journals” has taken on a life of its own, having gained tens of thousands of subscribers and receiving abundant praise.

    Jaouad’s upcoming memoir, Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted (February 2021), details her journey of illness, healing, and self-discovery. After a harrowing three-and-a-half years of chemo, Jaouad was finally cancer-free. But in putting all her effort into surviving, Jaouad realized that she had forgotten how to live. Jaouad embarked on a cross-country road trip where she spoke to many strangers about the trials and joys of life. Between Two Kingdoms is a deeply reflective meditation on health, sickness, survivorship, and everything in between.

    Jaouad served on Barack Obama’s Presidential Cancer Panel, and she currently sits on the national advisory board of The Bone Marrow and Cancer Foundation, and the Brooklyn Public Library’s Arts & Letters Committee. She travels the world teaching and speaking, including on the main stage of TED, the United Nations, Capitol Hill, UNICEF, and many more. She has appeared on TODAY, NPR’s Talk of The Nation and All Things Considered, CBS News, and Vogue, among others.

  • Speaking Topics

    Making the Most of a Life, Interrupted

    At 22, Suleika Jaouad was diagnosed with leukemia and given a 35% chance of survival. From her hospital bed, over the following 3.5 years of intense treatment, she transformed her limitation into an opportunity and wrote an award-winning New York Times column called "Life, Interrupted." When the doctors deemed her “cured”, she hit the road on an ambitious 15,000-mile road trip around the US, interviewing dozens of strangers from all walks of life about how to overcome hardship. Now, she shares their wisdom, and hers, with you. In this fierce, funny, and moving talk, Jaouad tells her story of how a harrowing illness became a springboard for extraordinary personal and professional transformation. Audiences will leave with tools to thrive in the wake of life's unexpected interruptions.

    The Road to Wellness: What Almost Dying Taught Me About Living

    Humans are living longer than ever before. Many people now survive illnesses and injuries that would’ve killed our grandparents and parents. Throughout our lives, we travel between the two kingdoms of the sick and the well, spending much of our lives somewhere between the two. In this provocative talk, Emmy award-winning New York Times journalist Suleika Jaouad challenges us to stop seeing our health as binary — sick and healthy, well and unwell, whole and broken. Jaouad shares a firsthand account of navigating the healthcare system as a young cancer survivor, and the inspiring and entirely unexpected lessons learned in recovery. Her unique perspective will change the way you think about what it means to live and to be well in the 21st century.

  • Video

  • Praise for Suleika Jaouad


    Suleika Jaouad is a captivating and moving speaker—she has a gift for balancing gravity with levity. Her story of unlikely survival offers powerful lessons on resilience and reinvention that leave audiences inspired to overcome obstacles and to make meaningful changes to their personal and professional lives.

    Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist; Bestselling Author; Host of Worklife Podcast

    Inspirational” doesn’t really cut it when you’re talking about Suleika Jaouad.

    Refinery 29

    We were searching for a keynote speaker to kick off a think-tank gathering of leaders in the scientific and healthcare communities and Suleika came highly recommended by a leading executive. We gave her a try and were simply blown away. Suleika is a riveting story teller with a truly captivating presence and unique ability to tackle difficult topics with vulnerability and humor, making her the highlight of the conference—not an easy feat with such an esteemed group of guests. We’ve since invited her back for a host of important corporate events, including our annual Investor Day and an all-company retreat. Leaders at all levels of the organization have come away with a deepened sense of professional purpose, and motivation to tackle the company’s mission and the complex challenges that come along with it.

    Joel Marcus, Executive Chairman and Founder, Alexandria Real Estate Equities

    Writer Suleika Jaouad is changing the conversation about what it means to thrive in the wake of illness and life’s unexpected interruptions.


    Suleika is one of the most genuine and moving speakers I’ve heard. Drawing upon her New York Times column, and her own story of survivorship and resilience, Suleika takes us on an authentic journey that offers inspiration and unique insight into how to remake your life and your career after a setback.

    Susan Cain, NYT Bestselling Author, Quiet; Co-founder, Quiet Revolution

    Praise for Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted

    A beautiful, elegant, and heart-breaking book that provides a glimpse into the kingdom of illness. Jaouad avoids sentimentality but manages to convey the depth of the emotional turmoil that illness can bring into our lives.

    Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies

    In a book bubbling with ambition and impeccable skill, it is what Suleika Jaouad does with courage and secondary characters that is simply once in a generation. Between Two Kingdoms mended parts I thought were forever disintegrated.

    Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

    When the life we had is snatched away, how do we find the conviction to live another? Between Two Kingdoms will resonate with anyone who is living a different life than they planned to live. This is a propulsive, soulful story of mourning and gratitude – and an intimate portrait of one woman’s sojourn in the wilderness between life and death.

    Tara Westover, author of Educated
  • Books by Suleika Jaouad

  • Media About Suleika Jaouad

Request Fees
and Availability

  • 212 572-2013
  • Suleika Jaouad travels from Brooklyn, NY

Similar Speakers

Cheryl Strayed

Author of the #1 New York Times-bestselling memoir Wild and "Dear Sugar" columnist