March 22, 2007, Vol. V Issue 6
Continuing with my feast of speaker events this year, I attended three events in the span of one week, and what a variety! To put all three in one issue is too much (for me to write and you to read) so I’m saving one, like a savored dessert, to be devoured in a future issue!
Last week, I took a short drive to our state capital, Salem, Oregon, to a meeting of the Oregon Association for Home Care, where humorist Suzie Humphreys was leading the audience in laughter. Then on Saturday, I attended the 9th Annual Conference on Issues After Breast Cancer, where friend and speaker, Fern Carness spoke on “Joyful Living in the Face of a Terminal Illness.”
Each one of these speakers has so much to offer that I can give you just a small taste in this e-news — a few sound bites along with a birds-eye view of my personal experience. Please visit our website for more details, including credentials and background information. Of course, you are always welcome to call or email me to talk about any speaker.
Also, I wanted to mention that we’ve been getting last minute calls about speakers for Nurses Week, May 6 – 12, and some of our speakers do still have availability that week, so if you or your hospital has decided to give your nurses a much-needed dose of appreciation with a first class motivational speaker, please give us a call. We can help!
Suzie Humphreys: I Can Do That!
One thing I know for certain is that women like to laugh so I always have my eyes and ears open for female humorists. I’d heard Suzie Humphreys’ name many times recently so I was thrilled to learn that she was scheduled to speak just an hour down the highway in Salem, Oregon. My preference is always to preview a speaker in person and Suzie was just as thrilled that I was investing my time in her as I was to get to sit in her audience.
By the time you’re part way through Suzie Humphrey’s “I Can Do That!” program, you know that the answer to any question involving a job is always, “I can do that!” and it’s always accompanied by nods and gales of laughter. It’s an answer that’s served Suzie well in a colorful life that has led her from administrative assistant to television talk show host and 20 years in radio. “Don’t put limits on yourself,” she told the audience, encouraging them to take risks.
“Confidence isn’t about knowing how to do something,” Suzie says. “Confidence comes from knowing you can get out of it!” What was really interesting to me about Suzie’s presentation style, was that while it was mascara-smudging hilarious, it was also loaded with wisdom, the kind that everyone could relate to. It swung from the serious, “In every criticism, there is a grain of truth,” to the simple, “To get people in a happy mood in the morning, start by being happy yourself.” That one comes from her riotous first day of as a helicopter traffic reporter – a day loaded with mistakes that turned into her long-lived career in radio.
Suzie is about believing that you can do anything you want to do and enjoy getting there, heartbreak and all. As a breast cancer survivor, Suzie admits she’s had her ups and downs, and follows her own best advice. That is that the best thing to do is keep moving and always hope for the best.
Suzie has perfected the art of making fun of herself, and that endears her to her audiences. She’s a down home Texas gal who, as a television talk show host (no previous experience, of course!) hobnobbed with movie stars and politicians. She brings all of that and good common sense to the messages she shares. Actually, if you’re not willing to admit to it, she is, and that opens the conversation for everyone.
Another of Suzie’s most popular topics is “Life Is What Happens To You While You’re Making Other Plans.” This is for anyone going through depression, cancer treatments, divorce, job change, or anything else that seems painful but forces us to grow. In sharing her own trials and failures, she reveals how those same failures turned out to be the very best things that ever happened to her.
“Regret and fear are twin thieves that rob us of today,” she concluded. “Remember the joy of the journey is in the trip.”
Fern Carness – Joyful Living: A Model for Life
As her speaker introduction states, Fern Carness, RN, MPH, has the “uninhibited gift of gab.” That and she’s never been afraid to speak her mind, so when Fern opens a talk about “Joyful Living: Managing Terminal Illness as a Chronic Condition,” she doesn’t mince words. “Let’s get the death topic out of the way up front,” she said in her talk that was part of the Long-Term Survivorship track of the 9th Annual Issues After Breast Cancer Conference, held in Portland, OR, March 10th.
Matter-of-factly, she told the audience that, “The data suggests that 3 out of 3 people die. The death rate equals 100% of the birth rate.” Simple, but true. Have you ever heard anyone put it quite that succinctly? Fern is a 15- year breast cancer survivor, and is in fact, living with metastatic breast cancer, so she knows what she’s talking about. Those of us who have witnessed her journey are in awe and respect of this remarkable woman who makes us laugh as she creates life in the face of death. Her life is full of a whirlwind of projects — quilt-making, Halloween costumes for the grandkids, sumptuous entertaining and a new puppy, Cedar, the labradoodle. Fern says Cedar is her therapy of choice. I mean, really, is there anything like a puppy to bring joy to your soul? Fern’s goal, is to get 12-15 more years out of this non-toxic, Cedar-Therapy. Meantime, she’s decided they’ll spread the joy together by becoming certified for assisted dog therapy. That’s Fern!
But, I digress. Her program at the conference was filled with facts: 9.8 million people are living with cancer today. 14% have lived over 20 years. 64% will live at least 5 years. But more than facts, it was filled with heart and the kind of information that comes from living an informed life, one that questions the status quo and looks at “what is” creatively, and then lives life the best way she knows how –with gusto!
“The T-word, for terminal is no longer used,” Fern told us. “What’s important is Whole Person Health – the manner in which we live well despite our mental and physical illnesses or disabilities.”
Joyful Living is how Fern describes the current stage of living well with a terminal disease by managing the illness as if it were a chronic condition. “Heretofore we believed in the concept of compressed morbidity,” she said. “That’s the premise that if you followed all the health rules by exercising regularly, eating a low-fat, nutritious diet, and getting all the recommended, regularly scheduled medical screenings, etc, you could stay well right up until you died and never really be sick.” Fern showed us that this notion is being challenged daily as cancer patients are living longer and living well due to advances in technology and pharmacology and in no small part to the improved health status of those receiving these treatments. That is to say that patients like Fern, who have followed the health rules and continue to take care of themselves are more likely to be successful than those who are in poor health to begin with.
Fern is a long-standing advocate for women’s health – “It’s your body, ladies, take charge!” — and was talking about women and heart health long before it became popular. She will be a featured keynote speaker this summer at The National Wellness Conference in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, July 14-19. Her topic: “The Tyranny of Health Promotion: Confessions of a Wellness Queen.” Knowing Fern, it will be funny, insightful and thought-provoking. Speaking engagements are still at the top of her list of priorities in life so if Fern’s expertise tempts you, give me a call and I’ll see if we can tear her away from Cedar and her sewing machine. To learn more about Fern Carness, her background and other topics, call us at 503-699-5031 or visit the Speak Well Being website.
Seeds of Life
The daffodils started declaring spring’s arrival a couple of weeks ago here in the Northwest and flowering trees are now blessing us with their fragrant canopies. Gorgeous! I’m savoring the beauty every time they come into my view. Compared to my memories of short-lived spring in Michigan, I continue to revel in the unfolding of spring so early in the Northwest. It’s not yet time to turn the heat off and leave the windows open, but my husband did mow the lawn for the first time this season last Sunday, releasing an aroma that brings to mind warm summer days.
How are you celebrating this new season? I share the pleasure of honoring the spring and winter equinoxes, as well as the autumn and summer solstices with a circle of friends. This week, we got together and as part of our ceremony, we planted small pots with nasturtium seeds. In the bottom of each pot, we put stones that we’d each blessed with our intentions for growth and renewal for this new season. It will be fun to watch them grow and prosper – both the plants and the intentions!
Until next time, relish the newness of spring and take care of yourself, for your good health and those you love.
Yours truly in good health,