A framed picture with these words hung in the front entry of my home throughout my childhood:
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
I wonder now how much those words influenced my decision to be a “fearless first” at a time in my life where there was simply no one else to be that person.
It was 2008 and I had been suffering with a debilitating, chronic illness for far too long—one that, at times, I truly believed would take my life. I had heard about an extremely controversial treatment in a tiny clinic in Delhi, India.
It held promise. It held hope. It held the possibility for a new life.
There was only one problem. There hadn’t been a single patient treated there with my condition: Chronic Lyme disease. By the time I had come to the realization, I would need something drastic to save my life, my body had deteriorated to a frightening place. I was only 28 years old and I had brain lesions, cardiac issues, full-blown arthritis and pain in every inch of my body.
I asked for guidance from somewhere. Then I decided the reality was somebody had to be the first, so I committed to that somebody being me. How many lives would it affect if this treatment helped me heal? How many people would be impacted even if the treatment was unsuccessful? How many signposts could I leave for the next lost patient trying to determine if this treatment might be a cure for them?
I tried to prepared myself to the best of my ability but it turns out, no amount of preparation would have been enough. The treatment was unfamiliar for my disease. Every new symptom or unexpected reaction led me to question the process. There were many nights where I literally wondered if I’d ever see my home again. I debated with myself.
Would this turn out to be the worst mistake I’d ever made? Or the decision that saved my life?
During my treatment, I received support and feedback through my increasingly growing blog. I received question after question, all leading back to the single piece of information every sick person seemed to be searching for: Is it working?
These daily communications helped me uncover how to be a leader. I discovered that the rules are really quite simple:
> You must be transparent. You have to share your experiences as they are but communicate them in a way that leads with hope, not fear. Your lens might be tainted with your own disappointments and doubt, but as a leader, you are responsible for balance. You are accountable for your words and the way they fall upon those who have nothing else to go on.
> You must constantly look at the energy, you are transferring about your story.
> You must acknowledge your fear, but also release it so it doesn’t cloud your communication ability.
> You must remind yourself why you were led there in the first place—because you are strong, you listen to your heart, and simply, because somebody has to.
Amy B. Scher is the author of This is How I Save My Life—A True Story of Embryonic Stem Cells, Indian Adventures, and Ultimate Self-Healing (Jan. 2013). With a history of chronic illness, Amy set out to discover the foundation of healing. She is an expert in mind-body-spirit healing with offices in Los Angeles and Monterey, California. She uses energy therapy techniques to help those with chronic illness and those in need of emotional healing to identify, release and move on. Amy is an Ordained Minister of Holistic Healing. She is a frequent contributor to healthcare blogs and has presented to groups including the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Amy lives by the self-created motto: “When life kicks your ass, kick back.”
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Assistant Ed: Lacy Rae Ramunno/Ed: Bryonie Wise