Heidi Gottlieb is a brain cancer survivor who uses her experience as a patient and cancer survivor to guide others through their own life crises.
Twenty-five years ago, Gottlieb was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her experience with being diagnosed at a young age (29 years old) at a time when there was no internet and limited treatment options for brain cancer taught her perseverance and the importance of patient empowerment.
After being misdiagnosed, enduring two grueling brain surgeries, undergoing two bouts of radiation treatment and a long re-education period where she had to relearn certain life functions such as how to swallow, Gottlieb made a commitment to teach others how to help empower themselves and march forward rather than give up.
One of the first events Heidi Gottlieb undertook as a cancer survivor and advocate for patient empowerment was to create a
250-mile fundraising walk from New York to Boston. As she walked, she spoke at schools and organizations along the way about her experience and her thoughts and feelings about cancer survivorship.
That walk taught Gottlieb that she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others through their life crises. She enrolled in classes and recently earned her certificate through the International Coaching Federation as a Professional Coach.
In her role as a Transformation Coach, Gottlieb teaches people (20% are cancer patients) how to overcome personal crises, energize themselves, reach their full potential and move toward a more productive, happier life.
“There is a lot written about empowering the patient, which is good. But the people that I want to reach are the survivors. Those who want to lead a so-called normal life, have a job and have a personal life. These people are sometimes “lost”. They are thinking about getting new jobs and wondering if they should tell their potential employer that they have cancer. I would like to help them”.
I asked Gottlieb if she considered herself an empowered patient. She replied,
“Yes, I am an empowered patient. I have been a student of my illness for 25 years and if you have been a student of anything for 25 years, you live and breathe it. I have been immersed in the medical field since I became ill because I wanted to know everything I could about my condition. It was difficult. There was no internet. Since I was not a medical student, there was no way to research about my brain cancer. I was bounced around from one doctor to another. I underwent surgery and radiation without knowing much about what I was doing.
After my experience, I really wanted to dedicate my time to finding out more about brain surgery, brain cancer, and cancer survivorship in general.”
I asked Gottlieb what advice she could give other cancer survivors. She explained her philosophy as follows:
“I know that the fact that I have been through so much and am still here is highly unusual. Not many brain cancer patients are survivors. My cancer could come back at any time. I have come to a place where I try very hard to live in the now. You never know what will happen. Through my experience, I have been given the gift of understanding that I must enjoy every moment.”
Heidi Gottlieb has her own website where you can learn more about what she does as a Transformational Coach. She blogs often about her feelings on being a cancer survivor and an empowered patient. I have posted one of her latest blogs; read it here.