Sharmyn McGraw: A Patient’s Perspective

SharmynWhat is our Purpose In Life?

Daily, I communicate with a lot of people. I'm in outside sales in the building industry. And the one thing that stands out the most is that, with the majority of people (after the niceties are out of the way) our conversations always seem to turn to a more personal note.

I always have to laugh because while I drive home and reflect on my day; only about ten percent of my conversations with clients were actually to discuss business. The other 90 percent of the time spent with each other is always more focused on their personal feelings and concerns about their life outside of work.

One of my very passionate desires since my pituitary surgery has been to figure out what my bigger purpose is on my life's journey. Of course my strongest passion has been directed at helping to raise awareness for pituitary disorders as well as to help to educate our medical professionals. However, it is equally important to me to help people, healthy or unhealthy, find whatever their unique gift is and motivate them to share their gifts and talents with the world. So of course, like so many of us, "don't give up your day job" types, I can't afford to just give up my job in outside sales to follow my dreams. Well, not quite yet, but surely someday - right?

But what's interesting is, like I talked about earlier, 90 percent of my day (even though I am still working my day job) is spent helping people, by listening, sharing nice conversations and letting them know that someone in the world heard what was important to them and enjoyed being part of their journey. When you dissect it and look deep into what it is, I'm actually really living my dream. Maybe I am not your average sales person - who knows? But I can guarantee if you were to walk into any one of my client's office and ask them, "Who is one your favorite/best sales reps?" I can honestly say I know they would have me at the top of their list. My competitors (other sales reps) are always letting me know, "Oh, so and so LOVES you. I've tried to get their business but they won't budge when it comes to giving me their business instead of you" and of course that makes me feel great! But what is even more important is that I'm making a difference in someone's life.

I have one client who grew up with a father who was always in a deep depression and even lost their family business because he went so long with an unmanaged pituitary tumor. And as you can imagine, removing a tumor even nowadays is challenging even with modern technology and much more medical understanding of the disease. But more than 30 years ago, they knew even less and my friend's father suffered in silence. So did his family. They didn't have anyone who truly understood the challenges a patient faces when he or she is left undiagnosed for far too long. But for my client, meeting me was a blessing, because for the first time she had someone that understood her pain. Finally, she had confirmation that her father was a good man and many of his health problems truly weren't his doing. It was difficult (to say the least) growing up with a father who suffered for many years with an undiagnosed hormonal imbalance caused by a pituitary tumor. At the time there was no awareness in the media, no 5K walks to help the cause, none of her little friends at school could understand. So, as a little girl, no one could relate to the fact that her father had to be on full hormone replacement therapy. Gosh, how do you prepare children for those lessons when you don't even understand the disease yourself? But now, for the first time, my client has a good friend who understands completely her dysfunctional childhood. And for me, having the honor to be that friend is a dream come true... I am living my passion to help raise awareness and share compassion.

I had another client that everyone warned me about. They said, "Oh, she is all business. She's straightforward and to the point - no personal chit chat." But one day she called me in her office and shut the door. I thought, "Yikes, what did I do?" But ironically she'd heard I was a spokesperson for pituitary tumors and she wanted to talk with me about her sister. Her sister had a prolactinoma when she was only sixteen years old. In those days, more than 35 years ago, they had to fly from California back east to the Mayo clinic to have neurosurgeon Ed Laws, M.D., do her surgery. Her sister and their family felt as if this was taboo and they did not talk about it much because it concerned hormones. In those days, there were certain things you just did not discuss. Well, thank goodness her sister has remained in remission all these years and thank goodness nowadays we can openly talk about pituitary tumors and hormonal disorders! So of course we have become very close friends.

Just a few weeks ago, I gave a luncheon presentation for one of my accounts and after the presentation we started our "Purpose In Life" conversation with each other. And like always it turned into a beautiful, meaningful afternoon. In fact one of my clients even asked, "Sharmyn, why are you a rep? Why don't you do motivational speaking full time?" I just laughed and said, "Well, actually I do. Just don't tell my boss, he thinks I just sell our products."

I have been fortunate to have tons of these types of stories and I can honestly say I am blessed everyday to be an outside sales rep. And although many people tell me they don't know what their purpose in life really is, I say, that just isn't so. Our purpose in life may often be just cleverly disguised as a horrible illness, a stressful job, an unfortunate divorce, or whatever is going on with you. But your purpose is always the same: share with others a part of you that is loving, compassionate and authentic and they will gladly share back with you a part of them that is the same.

Please join us for our next Pituitary Patient Support Group Meeting April 14, 2015. This meeting will be a very special meeting because it is my 15th anniversary of remission from Cushing's disease. On April 14th, 2000 Dr. Daniel Kelly successfully removed my entire pituitary tumor and literally helped to give me my life back. And for the past 15 years he and I have continued to work together helping other pituitary patients get their lives back. Now that's a blessing!


Sharmyn McGraw
Patient Advocate, Published Author and so much more!

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