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Getting Cancelled

I was scheduled to speak to a large multispecialty medical group in early Spring 2020. They were looking for someone who could educate, entertain, tell stories, and inspire doctors to sustain their healing spirit in these rapidly changing times in healthcare delivery. This is my arena of expertise and I was looking forward to addressing 1000 of their clinical and executive leadership.

A conference call was set up with the planning committee, the Chairperson, (an ER doc) introduced herself, told me about the organization, and then asked me to tell the group a little about myself.

I started speaking, and within 30 seconds started getting short of breath. I managed to get out that I needed a moment to catch my breath… but it was more than a moment and after 30 seconds she asked me if I was OK? I mumbled yes, and when I began again acknowledged that I had a chronic heart condition and sometimes needed to take a momentary pause, then blithely moved on uninterruptedly.

Before the call ended however, the Chairperson asked me more about my heart condition, and I probably said more than I should have because an hour after we hung up my agent called to tell me they wanted to cancel my engagement. She never spoke with me directly, but it was clear that my condition scared her sufficiently that she didn’t want to take the risk of my crumbling on stage. 

 I get it, and even see the dark humor; 1,000 doctors coming to Vegas to get away and play, and instead get treated to just another day at the office… probably not the best way to set the tone for a meeting. But I’m thinking what a wasted opportunity, I can’t think of a better way to demonstrate the importance of living your truth, owning your strengths and your vulnerabilities, and be joyfully engaged wherever you are in the moment.

The cancellation was a bit of a blow, but what bothered me far more was the prognostication about the imminence of my demise. Doctors may know a lot about diseases, but not a lot about how long somebody can live with it. We are abysmally poor at such predictions, and we ought to stop doing it. Such pronouncements tend to immobilize patients, they get frozen by somebody else’s sense of who they are and what they will become. Don’t let somebody else tell your life’s story, it diminishes you. Live your life every day enraptured in the here and now.

I got cancelled and this week confirmed another engagement.

8 Responses to “Getting Cancelled”

  1. Katelon says:

    I agree with you. How can they can guarantee anyone’s health for an event months away?! To me this reflects one of the most dangerous aspects of the medical profession…their ability to diagnose and having that label define you.

    When I used to go to my pulmonologist, he’d test my lungs and the diagnosis is 50% lung capacity and COPD. Most people with this verdict are on oxygen and don’t leave their homes. I do an hour or more brisk walk every day and stay active. I chose a different verdict.

    I’m glad you were able to brush off their short sightedness. Obviously it wasn’t the correct audience for you.

  2. Dearest Brother, You live the Hero’s Journey. Paraphrasing Joseph Campbell when asked by Bill Moyers, Aren’t we all heroes? In essence, All of us know there is a dragon in the cave. Not all of us are willing to pick up the sword, go into the cave, and confront the dragon. The hero is the one who picks up the sword, goes into the cave and confronts the dragon….That is the Hero. You have always picked up the sword, and now is no different. You go into the cave of life’s challenges and continue to confront the dragons. Doubt and fear are often the biggest dragons. Keep wielding that sword of courage and invincible light.

  3. Cheryl Stauff says:

    Oh Carl….. what a shame. You have so much to offer, and that group of doctors will never know what they missed. It’s too bad.
    I would love to hear you share your life experiences just one more time 😔

  4. Carl Hammerschlag says:

    Thanks my dear ones for sharing the journey with me. I am blessed, :O)

  5. Ruth Daby says:

    Creator knows. You are needed somewhere else next year. Blessings!

  6. Live your truth and do not be that person intimidated by the western medical system. Take all the risks. Live. Love and laugh. Be not afraid of the projections put upon you. Go for the gusto. Enjoy every moment.

  7. Annie Morrison says:

    It is their loss. You are a wonderful speaker. I wish I could see you again. I am living in Woodland, California–and have lived there for the last ten years. It is in the Sacramento Valley. If you are ever close, I’d love to sneak in on a speaking engagement, and sit quietly in the back. I am still teaching, and live happily with my two dogs. Sending you love, and a huge hug.

  8. Tom Evans says:

    Carl. Those docs missed a gem of a talk….. And for me, I say as you do… keep moving and breathe in deeply each and every day. From a follower of yours for a very many years on this incredible journey…

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Dr. Carl A. Hammerschlag, M.D., CPAE is a psychiatrist, author, and professional keynote speaker. He is an authority in the science of psychoneuroimmunology mind, body, spirit medicine and speaks about health and wellness, healing, leadership and authenticity . He has delivered motivational keynote speeches to corporate and business clients around the world.