7 Things A Brain Tumor Taught Me

As a coach, I have had all sorts of training over the years, some very good and some only mediocre. The very best lessons I learned, however, came in 2008 when I was diagnosed with a rare, non-cancerous brain  tumor . Although the  tumor  was benign, the doctors assured me that if it did not come out, it would eventually kill me. Well, that got my attention! About 8 weeks after diagnosis, I had brain surgery.

It was a learning year for me. I had quite a few complications following surgery, and I found myself in the unique position of having to coach myself through some very challenging times. Following surgery, I was deaf in one ear, half of my face was paralyzed, and my balance was terrible. So, what did I learn?

1. I learned that sometimes you need to ask for help. Sounds simple, but it is something many of my clients have difficulty doing. And, people do not know what you need unless you tell them.

2. Set small goals. My balance nerve was removed during surgery, so walking was a bit challenging for me in the early days. I started by walking down the driveway, then ventured a half-block down the street. Now, I can do just about anything.

3. Do not let yourself off the hook. One side of my face was totally immobile at first and I was so self-conscious about going out in public. My inclination was to hide in the house until I looked normal again. I forced myself to go to meetings and do the simple little things in life, like going to the store. And, each time, it felt like a small victory, and encouraged me to tackle the next challenge.

4. Go naked. No, I do not mean take your clothes off! What I mean is that it is okay to let people know you are not perfect. I am deaf in my right ear now and sometimes I do not hear people on my right in meetings. So, I just tell them in advance âEUR” it takes the pressure off and no one thinks less of me.

5. Practice patience. There is a fine line between being patient, and letting your self off the hook. My husband has a saying that good food takes time. Actually, most worthwhile things take time. Being patient with yourself, and those around you, is a skill worth learning.

6. Celebrate the victories, big and small. When I saw that first little muscle twitch on my cheek, it was like winning an Olympic Medal. I told everyone. And, you know what? People were incredibly supportive and so enthusiastic!

7. Know when you need to take a time-out. Ever have a client who pushed so hard that they ended up losing ground? I learned about this first hand and what I learned is that you have to be smart about how you use your energy. Sometimes a short rest allows you to run further.

So, in a strange way, there have been some upsides to having a brain  tumor . I am still learning.