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Issue 413 - "The Chemo Spa" (Valorie Kondos Field Part 4)

Woodens Wisdom
Wooden's Wisdom - Volume 9 Issue 413
Craig Impelman Speaking |  Championship Coaches |  Champion's Leadership Library Login



As the Gymnastics Coach at UCLA from 1991 to 2019 Valorie Kondos Field, often referred to as Miss Val, coached the Bruins to seven National Championships.
Miss Val's book Life Is Short, Don't Wait to Dance is a must read for everybody.
In the Spring of 2014, Miss Val found out she had breast cancer. She, with the help of chemotherapy and surgery, not only beat the cancer, she also continued to coach her team and keep those around her in a positive productive mindset.
A key part of Miss Val's approach was that she used language that created a positive perspective for everybody. In her book, Miss Val expands on the topic:
"I purposefully referenced going to chemotherapy as going to my "Chemo Spa." A spa is where you go to get healthier.
I could have thought, "I have to go to the hospital to get chemotherapy." But I chose to think, "I get to go to my chemo spa." Either way, I was still going to the same place for the same amount of time and would experience the same insertion of the needle. Once I reframed the process with a positive spin, I no longer dreaded it.
A few months into my chemo I was riding up the elevator with another woman and saw she had pushed the button for the sixth floor, the chemo spa floor. So, I cheerfully asked, "Are you heading to the chemo floor?" She replied, "Yes, I have to get chemotherapy." And I cheerfully said, "No, we get to get chemotherapy. We get to receive something that will hopefully make us better."
A peer-reviewed article appearing in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looked at 16 different studies spanning 30 years for a variety of ailments and the research absolutely confirmed that patients who expressed positive expectations had better health outcomes and faster recovery times.
So, regardless of how I was feeling, whenever I was asked, "How are you doing?" I always replied, "Great! Life is amazing!" And, I told my fellow coaches, the team, and Bobby regardless if I was not feeling great to not to treat me like I was sick.
Just as cancer can spread if not treated properly, I didn't want the negativity to spread either. I didn't want to magnify this part of my life but rather enhance the positivity around me. I didn't and don't have time to waste on the negative. The year following my diagnosis was the best one of my life.
One Thursday during that year Ellette Craddock, one of our athletes, asked if we could meet later in my office. I was getting ready to leave our team training for a chemo spa appointment and I told her, "My chemo spa is sure goofing up my day." To which she replied, "Yes, but Miss Val it's giving you a lot more days." Ahh, perspective. My message was getting through."
When faced with a challenge, do you use language that gives those around you a positive perspective?

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman




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Application Exercise




This I think as I go my way:
What can matter the words I say,
And what can matter the false or true
Of any deed I am moved to do?

This I think as I go along:
What can matter my right or wrong?
Whichever path I may choose to take,
What possible difference can it make?

This I think as I go to town:
What can matter my smile or frown?
Can any one's destiny altered be
For better or worse because of me?

And something whispers;
'Another may be sadly deceived
By the words you say.
And another, believing and trusting you,
May be led astray by the things you do.'

'For much that never you'll see or know
Will mark your days as you come and go.
And in countless lives that you'll never learn
The best and the worst of you will return.'

Edgar Allen Guest (1881-1959)






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