A heart to heart with Joann

Joann needs to hear stories of survival and overcoming adversity as she continues to heal from her losses.  She is the manager of the Comprehensive Care Clinic at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, but to the students, she is the go-to person for emotional distress because she coped with more than most human beings can imagine.  After my lecture, she hugged me saying, “Your will to survive inspired me beyond words.”  I asked her to join me for lunch.

Joann smiled through her tears as she told me about her ‘miracle’ daughter conceived against all odds and how she lost her to a brain tumor at age 19.  Just before her daughter passed away, her beloved husband got ill.  His health went downhill and a few years ago she sold their home and moved in with friends so he could have the 24-hour care he needed until his passing.

Believe it or not, I had heard this story before.  Ronni survived the passing of her ‘miracle’ daughter , followed by her husband, a physician who died of a broken heart when he couldn’t do anything to save their only child.

Neither woman has ever met another who had survived the same.  Both were excited to speak to the other.  I was excited to help make it happen!  But, I can’t take all the credit. Dental student Jake Masters, president of the American Student Dental Association Louisville Chapter, found me online in search of a speaker to inspire the student body. Jake made an extra effort to encourage Joann to take an hour out of her day to attend the presentation.  Because of his urging, she attended.