Part I: Becoming a Storyteller
My life changed at the sound of a bell. I was pursuing a career as an actress in NY while working at an after-school program as a teacher. One day, the principal came into the room furious, “Didn’t you hear the bell ring?” she demanded. “This delay has caused quite a traffic jam outside!” Several students protested, “Yea, but wait, just tell us the rest of the story.” Her mouth dropped. This was unprecedented, hearing students beg to stay after the bell. With the help of this principal, Story Theater was born. Within 5 years, I carved out a career sharing stories with meaningful messages in an unforgettable and engaging way.
Part 2: Transition to Motivational Speaking
I was performing at schools, festivals and educational conferences nationally for 12 years when a non-healing sore on my tongue was diagnosed as stage IV oral cancer. Tragically ironic for a storyteller! I never smoked and rarely consumed alcohol. My doctors are still perplexed as to why I got this disease. The radical surgery and ensuing treatment was devastating. Fortunately, my outcome was extraordinary.
As I waited at a bus stop in NYC after a follow-up appointment with my surgeon, #103 went by with a picture of a young woman and a sore circled on the side of her tongue. Holy Smoke! (pun intended) This was an effort to raise awareness about my disease. I was that woman and wanted to tell my story. I called the ADA (American Dental Association) and left a voicemail, “You are promoting oral cancer awareness in NY. You need to know my story and I want to help you.” They called back.
In 2003, the ADA invited me to speak at their annual conference on the main stage in front of 9000 dentists. I felt their hunger to understand the patient perspective and experience the pain, fear and uncertainty through my eyes. Healthcare professionals cannot possibly gain true insight from words on a page. It’s the interaction and connection that creates a bond, stirs emotion and ignites a desire to do better. Patient stories matter.
Part 3: A Calling to Patient Advocacy
As I contemplated my own extraordinary recovery, silence was not an option. I couldn’t stand by and allow what happened to me, happen to others. I’ve made it my personal mission to raise awareness about this disease with Six-Step Screening. More than a personal choice, I feel an obligation to be a part of the revolution, awakening healthcare providers to the urgency of detecting oral cancer in the early stages and educating the general public about knowing the signs and symptoms of this disease.
Part 4: Using Storytelling to Build Business
After presenting at a dental conference, a Henry Schein sales manager approached me and said, ‘If my team could tell a story like you do, we would be golden.’ I gave my first workshop on finding and crafting the story you are meant to tell to showcase individual strengths, build rapport and inspire trust. A newbie to the team used my methods to score the sale of a high ticket item, proving that story is an effective way to build business. Since then, I’ve expanded my model for teaching a story platform, using personal story to effectively communicate value.
A two-book series empowering children with coping skills and communication strategies when someone close to them has cancer.
A 12-page guide for documenting personal stories, an invaluable resource for future generations.
An oral cancer awareness campaign. Eva had been given a 15% chance of survival which fueled her passion to prevent what happened to her from happening to others.
Eva’s Newsletter Archive
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