In 2015, both my father and father-in-law were diagnosed with metastatic cancer (pancreatic and mesothelioma) within months of each other. In June of that same year, life threw our family yet another curve ball. A brain meningioma was discovered incidentally while I was getting evaluated for a concussion. I was hit on the head with a foul ball at my oldest son’s baseball game. Due to the tumor’s size and location, surgery was recommended.
In July, of 2016, I underwent a partial resection of the tumor and unfortunately had an intraoperative stroke. I had to learn to talk, walk, drive, and write again; I am so grateful for my amazing therapy team. My husband was my biggest cheerleader and literally walked miles with me and my walker and accompanied me to every appointment. I was dogged in my determination to get back to clinical practice (so much of my identity was wrapped up in being a doctor) and I returned to practice 4 months later. I refused to identify as a patient any longer.
“You say impossible, but all I hear is ‘I’m possible.’”
In 2019, I hired a life coach. I was having an identity crisis of sorts and on many days felt I wanted to leave medicine altogether. Over the preceding five years, I had almost completely left my positions in medical education and was wondering if continuing my career in academic primary care as a full -time clinician was even sustainable. Immediately, I fell in love with coaching and thought work.
This motivated me to become a certified life coach. Initially, I thought this could be an alternative to medicine and a new career. Years of thought work have allowed me to find joy in my practice again and even to take on a new role in medical education at our medical school.
Coaching IS teaching and whether that’s with my patients, residents, students or clients; the power of showing another individual their mind and allowing them to see the role their thoughts play in the creation of their life is by far the most powerful teaching I have done.
Coaching supports me in my roles as wife, mother, daughter, sister, doctor and teacher. The identity as a life coach allows me to see new possibilities, to heal and teach, and maybe the most important student is myself.