What would you do, if you were offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that, if accepted, would force you to leave the stability and comfort of an ‘everyday job’ BUT – might also give you the opportunity to change the world?

This is the question I found myself faced with at the end of 2016. The opportunity is so incredible, and so aligned with my personal mission, that in the end, I could not let it pass me by. Could not face the thought of looking back months (or years) from now and wonder, “What if I had taken the road less traveled?”

So three weeks ago I resigned from my position as Director of Communications for a major California nonprofit organization and embarked upon a new journey, destination unknown.

Over the ensuing weeks I have been studying and preparing, and soon will be headed off to Austria to join the Salzburg Global Seminar where I will be a Fellow working with an international team of experts on improving relationships and communication between clinicians and patients.

I am honored that I was chosen to represent the U.S. patient community. And I find myself simultaneously over the moon and fighting my inclination toward ‘imposter syndrome;’ convinced that the Seminar organizers have made some terrible mistake by including me. But my travel arrangements have been made, my name is on the meeting materials, a hotel has even been booked. (And a big thanks to my amazing partner, who is holding down the fort while I am gone.)

So it’s official. I am off to Salzburg. And I promise to do my absolute best to have a positive, transformative impact on the design of healthcare, both now and into the future.

My inspiration: Emily Morrison, David Salmi and Monika Carlson Alle
PHOTO: My current inspiration.

I am a person living with brain cancer – a disease with no cure. My diagnosis has a high rate of recurrence and a 5-year survival rate of just thirty percent. Over the last eight years I have become friends with incredible people living with the disease. Some of those people have died. I reflect on the individuals we’ve lost, often. I remember the lessons they taught me, and try to view the world through their eyes.

If these people were alive for one more day, I imagine they would hold their loved ones closer. If they were alive two more days, I imagine they would immerse themselves in the activities they enjoyed the most.

And if they were alive for a few more weeks, maybe they would try to change the world, just a little bit.

At least, that’s what I would do.