Short Biography

Julie Devaney is a patient-expert based in Toronto. She is the author and performer of the critically acclaimed show, educational workshop series, and book, My Leaky Body. My Leaky Body was named one of Quill and Quire’s Top Five Non-fiction books of 2012. According to the National Post, “While this memoir is an uncompromisingly detailed account of one woman’s medical experiences, it acts as a sort of Everyman tome, a handbook on the rights of the patient to dictate their own path to wellness.”

Devaney was named a Woman Health Hero by Best Health Magazine in 2011 and has been profiled on CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art and The Current, Chatelaine and the Toronto Star. Her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and numerous anthologies.

Julie has performed at medical schools, nursing conferences and theatres throughout Canada and in the US and the UK using participatory techniques with patients and professionals to formulate strategies for change and innovation in healthcare. Her work at the University Health Network in Toronto has transformed real patient stories into staff training.

Full Biography

Julie Devaney is a health activist and patient-expert in the fields of disability rights advocacy and health care delivery. Based in Toronto, she is the writer and performer of the critically acclaimed show, educational workshop series, and book, My Leaky Body (MLB). Julie is sought after as a facilitator who uses participatory techniques with health care professionals to stimulate discussion and collaborate on strategies for change.

Since the inception of the project, Devaney has been invited to perform and facilitate workshops in over 75 venues (see “calendar”) including medical schools, nursing conferences, disability and women’s studies conferences and classrooms, arts festivals and theatres, including a successful 6-show run on the mainstage of Theatre Passe Muraille in the SummerWorks Theatre Festival in Toronto in 2008. She has performed her work and provided workshops coast to coast in Canada and in Washington, New York and the UK.

Julie was named as one of 2011’s Women Health Heroes by Best Health Magazine and has received national media attention including on CBC’s White Coat Black Art “Talking Back” episode and profiles in Chatelaine, Abilities Magazine and the Toronto Star; as well as on the York University website and campus and local press across the country (see “gallery” for clippings).

My Leaky Body, the book, was published in Canada by Goose Lane Editions in 2012. Julie is editing a collection of stories from patients, loved ones and providers called “MESS: the hospital anthology for Tightrope Books, due out in 2013. In addition she is participating in a series of books for young activists being launched by Between the Lines in 2014. Her book, “Stand Up for Healthcare”, will be a manifesto-style call to action that looks at current and historical issues in Canadian healthcare.

Julie blogs for Huffington Post Canada and has chapters in four anthologies, From Discord to Discourse: A Collection of Contemporary Canadian Literature (2011: McGraw-Hill Ryerson); Living the Edges: A Disabled Women’s Reader (Innana Press: 2010); Dissonant Disabilities (2008: Canadian Scholars’ Press; eds. Driedger & Owen) and Turbo Chicks (2001: Sumach Press, eds. Rundle, Mitchell & Karain). In 2005 her essay “Lorelai the kitty is part of the cure” was published in the Globe and Mail. Her essay “A Gut-Wrenching Ordeal”, was published in Toronto Life in September 2012.

Julie has a Masters’ Degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University in Toronto. The initial phases of MLB were part of her Master’s Project: “Clinical Encounters: the politics of my leaky body”, which was supervised by Dr. Margrit Shildrick. After being awarded her Master’s Degree in February 2007 Julie began to perform more extended versions of her piece publicly, and develop educational workshops specifically designed for students and professionals.

At the same time as traveling with MLB, Julie coordinated the Gateways to Cancer Screening Project which explores narrative accounts of disabled women accessing the healthcare system. Gateways has made recommendations to healthcare facilities and policy-makers while establishing creative techniques to teach healthcare professionals how to better facilitate healthcare access. She is a principal co-author of an article about this project in the international, peer-reviewed journal Disability & Society. Currently, she is the medical curriculum developer for the project, collaborating to create a documentary, eLearning and educational workshops based on disabled women’s own stories — for clerks, technologists and radiologists at the University Health Network in Toronto — and ultimately for the use of health care education across the country.