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Saying Thank You................

Dear Friends,

Just one week ago as some of you know I was honored to be the national recipient of the GreatComebacks award. Thank you Balihigh for posting the announcement - I am still floating in the clouds and was grateful to you for doing that.

The evening of the event was so beautiful - picture a ballrooom with almost 600 guests - many WOCN colleagues. There were candles on the tables and a huge backdrop behind the stage that looked like a shimmering forest with the GreatCombacks bird logo which appeared to be moving and floating. Best of all were my friends Randy Henniger, Karen Lewis and Jenn Stahl who also were honored with stories and announcements before the showing of the new GreatCombacks youtube video. http://www.youtube.com/greatcomebacks

Some of you have asked me what I said up there on the stage with the shimmering backdrop so I am posting my "thank you". It is a wonderful thing in life to have the opportunity to say thank you to the important people in my life - and that includes all of you. I comment on what I have learned from you at the end.
I also want to say a special thank you to Rolf Binirschke - founder of the GreatComebacks program and his amazing staff, and to Tom Exeler for getting my story posted on his site - Courage To Shine.

Saying Thank you.............

When I was three years old my surgeon told my parents that children do not survive rhabdomyosarcoma of the bladder. When I became a nurse I ordered my medical records from Boston Children’s hospital. The first thing that I was shocked to read, because it was never anything that I have ever felt or knew – was that I was an unfortunate three year old. According to the medical community I then became an unfortunate 6 year old and 12 year old and 20 year old and on and on. How little did they know how fortunate that I really was. One should never try to state or predict the fortune of another without factoring in the strength of the human spirit.
My fortunes have been many. I would like to thank Rolf, his staff and the GreatComebacks program for this honor and for all that you have done to bring beauty, strength and compassion to the ostomy community. I have sent patients and friends to the GreatComebacks website to read the stories that are there and I can see that they are able to use these stories as a springboard for empowering their own lives. I have learned that this wonderful program and its collection of stories is not about bringing a person closer to their disease, or even their ostomy, but rather this program is about showing others how to grow closer to life and the healing power and strength which lies within each one of us.
My fortunes have been my family who are here with me today. My father and mother whose determination allowed them navigate the world of a medically fragile child while given very little resources - they are also worthy of this honor. They too have had their own GreatComback from fear and grief to living, and feeling and seeing the beauty of my life with me. My sister Rebecca who was my constant protector and advocate and who is my living example of what can be accomplished in life determination. And my brother in law Douglas and niece and nephew Meghan and Jack who provide the laughter and the smiles which for me equal healing on every level.
On October 10, 2010 I was very fortunate on a warm fall day to marry my husband Ross who always saw beauty in a girl with two ostomies. I believe his engineering mind was always quite fascinated by the workings of the whole thing. His steadfast care and love for me made me always know that he was the one for me. He has given me the foundation and strength to tell my story on a much larger scale than I ever dreamed possible.
I remember those days of long ago, playing in my home made little hospital in the basement – feeling alone and wishing that I knew others like me. That alone feeling ended on a beautiful day in Dallas with Randy, Karen and Jen. The three of you are a part of my life fortunes. I would like to thank you deeply for all that you have done to inspire hope and courage in others. I am not standing here alone today – you are right here with me. I would also like to add Justin Blum to my family of fortunes for all that you have done to make me laugh over the last nine months – you have been a wonderful friend and kindred spirit.
My list of fortunes would not be complete without recognizing all of my nursing colleagues here today. Thank you to Dorothy Doughty and the staff at Emory for encouraging me every step of the way to become a WOCN. And to Jane Fellows, Michelle rice, Jan Johnson, Stephanie Yates and Krys Dixon for continuing that encouragement in my clinical experience. Thank you to Leanne Richbourg who recommended me for my first and current WOCN position and to Melanie Johnson who believed in me to hire me for that position at WakeMed in NC. And to my incredible team of Leigh Ammons, Gloria Tabron, Deb Orr and Laura Zinc. As I look out to all of you here – my WOCN colleagues – we share the common bond of choosing to align ourselves with the unending possibilities of human nature and we are the ones that have the ability to help our patients feel meaning in their joys and in their suffering.
The fortunes that I have gained in the last nine months, since being a part of the GreatComebacks program are endless and it is my promise to carry these messages forward: These are the things that I have learned from the ostomy patients that I counsel and care for and who in turn - care fo me with their courageous stories.
1) Everyone has a story to tell. No matter what your story is - it may be the key to unlocking a story in someone else – a story that needs to be told. If we tell our story the gift of its message goes on and on and on.
2) Everyone wants to be heard. When we stop and listen to someone’s story we have the opportunity to listen generously and generatively – to listen in a way as if we were giving that person life.
3) We have the ability to help those who are facing difficult situations to have a change of perception. A change of perception can be someone’s miracle to healing, to adapting and to coming back fully into life.
I truly am a fortunate almost fifty year old. Thank you so much for this honor and for letting me share my fortunes with you today for I am so very grateful.

Thank you all again..........................
Joanna:)

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