One Month in at Carewell: On Cancer, Courage & Coaching

Around ManilaInspirationVolunteering
March 28, 2010

Wow, it’s hard to believe, but I just crossed the 1 month mark at Carewell.  In those four weeks I was able to hold seven different group coaching sessions not only for cancer patients, but for their spouses and children as well!

It has been such a gift to spend time with them.  I am constantly humbled and awed by the courage and resilience they display in their everyday lives.  It has really served to put things in perspective for me; to pause and ask, “Is this really such a big deal?” when I am faced with my own life challenges.

As with all new things, there is always a learning curve.  There was differences in how ‘ready’ people were to be coached.  Some dove in deep and fast, finding incredible answers from within.  And as they found their answers, others decided they weren’t ready to explore yet.  While it’s always hard to see someone walk away from coaching, I’ve learned to respect that they will seek it out in their own time.  No matter how much I want it for them, it’s not enough.  They have to make the conscious decision to do their work.  And when they’re ready, I’ll be here greeting them with open arms.

There have been lessons for me as a coach too.  I learned that when doing visualization exercises with Cancer patients, they have a hard time looking 20 years into the future!  Oops… thankfully they have good senses of humor.  I have also improved my ability to stay connected to the client and not let the distractions in the environment pull my attention away.  This is a fairly new skill to me since I do the majority of my coaching one-on-one via the phone.  I’m not used to groups or visual distractions!

The part that has surprised me most is how rigorous they are with holding each other accountable.  I can see that it is a blessing to be able to take the focus off themselves and help another beloved community member step into their best self and take aligned action.  I swear, the person who got coached that week must get 20 follow-up texts throughout the week checking on if they did their homework!  I LOVE IT!  :)

I know that many of these coaching sessions are going to stay with me for a long time to come.  The depth of their experience has created a comfort level with their emotions that allows us to explore things in the first session that I would often only be able to reach by the 10th session with other clients.

Not only does this take great courage, but a real willingness to trust me as the coach.  I’ve had the the opportunity to coach a woman who lost her voice from Cancer but was adamant about being coached.  We crafted a creative system of hand squeezes, pad & paper and input from her husband to make the coaching work.  And the beautiful thing was, it STILL worked.  There was not a person in that room of 15 that didn’t feel the energy shift.  Truly Amazing…

There is a calling for me in this work.  I am proud to realize that I can handle the emotional intensity that accompanies coaching Cancer patients.  Yes, the topics can be heavy….but I can’t think of more impactful coaching work than helping someone make  peace with their issues before death or helping them create a lasting legacy.  This is truly spirit-filled work and I’m learning first-hand from some of the most incredible individuals I’ve ever encountered.

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  1. Diane says:

    Thanks for posting this! We’re scheduled to arrive in Manila in July and I have been searching for volunteer opportunities. I am a clinical social worker and have been working in hospice for the past five years, so perhaps I can continue my work and volunteer at Carewell when I arrive.

  2. minnesotagal says:

    Absolutely! It’s a sensational organization. Would you like me to connect you to the Director now or when you arrive? What is bringing you to Manila? I look forward to meeting you!

    Cheers, Sarah

  3. Diane says:

    My husband is a new FSO (151st class) and Manila is our first post. What do you think is best–now or when I arrive? I look forward to meeting you as well!

  4. minnesotagal says:

    Too cool! I’ll introduce you in person to him when you arrive. In the meantime, check out all the great things they’re doing on the website. Let me know when you arrive and we’ll do a coffee date!

  5. Diane says:

    Sounds good!

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