22 Aug 2011 04:41 pm

Preview: Introduction
When someone overcomes a large obstacle, many people are quick to say that it was a “blessing in disguise.” This statement only has meaning after-the-fact. The shock and fear of a new tumor or cancer diagnosis are far from a “blessing.” Adversity is never truly a blessing. Adversity sucks, but it can bring out the best in all of us. I’m positive that Michael Jordan did not think getting cut from the varsity basketball team in high school was a “blessing.” I’m sure that Abraham Lincoln didn’t think it was a “blessing” that he lost numerous elections for Congress before being elected President of the United States. In both cases, Jordan and Lincoln used their adversity to improve on themselves and ultimately accomplish bigger goals.

My brain tumor diagnosis helped me realize that I need to continue to challenge myself in order to progress. Adversity and the challenges that come with it help you evolve. Pushing my limits has helped me accomplish so much so fast! In the past five years, I have published articles; published my first book; spoken at numerous hospitals, colleges and universities across the USA; started a nonprofit; and dabbled in movie and video production.

I graduated from physical therapy school with my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree a year and nine months before my unexpected brain tumor diagnosis. My life was put on hold while I was recovering from the treatments to address the impairments left after my shocking brain tumor diagnosis. The tumor left me with severe balance and coordination impairments and took away a promising career in physical therapy I was just learning to love. I was faced with the dilemma of finding a new direction in life since almost everything I was preparing for was taken away.

Although I have accomplished much, I’ll admit, the brain tumor (as difficult as it was) was the spark that led to the pursuit of many activities outside of my comfort zone. I am doing and have done many things that I never dreamed I would do. I am still very hesitant to call the tumor a “blessing.” A blessing is something you bestow on someone. I would never wish someone to be diagnosed with a brain tumor. I think the tumor was more of an “awakening” than a “blessing in disguise.” The tumor opened my eyes to many opportunities I didn’t see before. Even if you become aware of the new opportunities, you still need to seize those opportunities. Bottom line is… first I needed to see the opportunities before I actually pursued them. Action is always needed once opportunities arise. Adversity dealing with the tumor helped me to become more aware of what I was capable of doing. I used to tell my patients as a physical therapist that, “instead of focusing on things you can’t do, focus on the things you can do.”  For me it was fun figuring out the things I could do. I’ll admit that I ventured out of my comfort zone quite a few times. I will credit the adversity of brain tumor recovery for helping me discover new opportunities.

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