The Strongest Woman I Know

To engage in systems change, one must have deep inner strength. It also helps to have role models who demonstrate how they use their deep inner strength for positive change. Yesterday, it dawned on me that the strongest woman I know is my wife of over 34 years, Sheryl Spitzer-Resnick.

To be clear, my wife is not an athlete or weight lifter. However, since she was 8 years old, she has faced numerous life threatening maladies, including 8 abdominal surgeries and a recent lung lobectomy. At 8 years old, due to probable medical malpractice and doctors refusing to listen to her mother, Sheryl suffered from peritonitis when her appendix burst.  She was fortunate to survive, but she lost a lot of weight and missed a lot of school. It is perhaps this childhood trauma that set her on a trajectory to become a doctor.

Fortunately, her health recovered and she remained generally healthy until we tried to have children. Her reproductive system did not cooperate and multiple abdominal surgeries and two attempts at in vitro fertilization brought us our miracle son, Josh. However, her pregnancy was extremely challenging requiring surgery for a bowel obstruction while 27 weeks pregnant. Fortunately, both she and Josh survived that difficult episode and she carried him to term over 19 years ago.

Just under a year ago, my non-smoking wife discovered she had lung cancer, necessitating a partial lung lobectomy last December. While Sheryl could have decided to go on disability or to simply retire, she made a very different choice, exemplifying her deep inner strength once again.

After recovering from her latest surgery, Sheryl decided to leave her medical practice which has been successfully based at Wildwood Family Clinic for 28 years and take a few months to open up her new clinic, A New Way Forwardwhich opened for business yesterday. Her new clinic is the culmination of her tireless work to help women live healthier, happier lives.

I stopped by her new clinic with some flowers yesterday to help celebrate her opening, and I was fortunate to encounter the happiest patient I have ever seen at any medical practice as she was paying her bill and setting up her next appointment. She wanted everyone to know that she called on October 1st (the first day the new clinic started taking appointments) so she could see Sheryl on November 1st, the day the clinic opened.

What I also saw was that Sheryl’s staff, the amazing Nurse Practitioner Pat Stretcher, and tireless office manager, Lisa Marks, were smiling from ear to ear, with the joy of knowing that they had just opened the clinic of their dreams that would help many women find, “a new way forward.”

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My admiration for Sheryl is simply boundless. Many people would have given in to defeat or depression given all that she has been through. Less than 1 year ago, she was diagnosed with lung cancer, and then had major surgery to remove 1/3 of her lung. Instead of giving in to defeat and despair, my beautiful wife dug deep into her inner strength not only to recover physically, but to assemble a phenomenal team to build her dream come true which will help countless other women fulfill their dreams. Sheryl is, quite simply, the strongest woman I know and she inspires me to keep moving forward even when I have my own difficulties. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

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For more information on how I can help you accomplish effective, progressive systems change contact Jeff Spitzer-Resnick by visiting his website: Systems Change Consulting.

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