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Gutless & Grateful for Patients


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Based in part on Amy’s personal experience surviving ten years of medical interventions, sexual abuse and PTSD, Amy brings a voice to the patient experience with Gutless & Grateful – a 60-90 minute program combining storytelling, music, and a keynote speech.

Explore key themes in more detail here.

Amy will explore topics and provide insight on:

  • The importance of cultivating a positive mental outlook, reducing stress, fostering relationships, and building creative outlets
  • The intricate body-mind dependency relationship
  • Learn visualizations and  stress-reduction techniques that aid the healing process
  • Steps to building a support system
  • Patient as Warrior: Advocate for Yourself
  • The Person in the Patient: Staying Anchored
  • The 4 Levels of Wellness: physical, functional, emotional, and social.
In Amy’s workshops and programs, patients learn invaluable tips including:

  • Exercising their emotional health
  • Processing  the emotional affects of recovery
  • Accepting the physical and emotional impact on their of intensive care
  • Coming to terms with the Before and After in their lives
  • Reclaiming healthy patterns of  sleep, memory and concentration
  • Feeling comfortable in their own unique path to recovery
  • Living with the “patience” required of a patient
  • Taking an empowered approach to mental health as a patient and reclaim their lives
  • Finding independence coming after patient-hood
  • Learning to discuss feelings with support network
Perfect For:

  • Medical Conferences and Associations
  • Benefits and Fundraisers
  • Supporters and Family Members
  • Support Groups
  • Med and Pre-Med Students
  • Medical Field Professionals
  • Practitioners and Researchers
  • Patient and Family Advocates
  • Mental Health Events
  • Healthcare Products and Services Industry
  • Confidence, Peer-to-Peer Communication and Team-Building
  • Eating Disorder Awareness (see Eating Recovery Center Foundation Benefit)
  • Arts and Healing Advocacy
The Problem: (See PTSD: The Illness I Couldn’t See)

Leaving the recovery room, the doctor’s office or a hospital bed often leaves us with scars we can’t see.  We go to doctors to tend to our physical concerns, but often we don’t have the resources available to get to what’s underneath.“It is common for people who have experienced an event like sudden critical illness to feel shocked and, later, anxious or depressed. Losing control over one’s life and being weak, dependent and immobile for quite some time can affect many people who have previously been relatively healthy and active. How much professional help and support people receive is sometimes a personal choice and, sometimes, dependent on resources.” (Read more at Health Talk)Storing emotions in our body keeps us sick.The Solution:“The cognitive and emotional aspects of illness are quite responsive to techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which can be considered like a cognitive/emotional fitness program.”  Read more here.
I was never expected it to make it past 18 years old.  Ten years later, I’m married, in college, have flourished as an artist, actress, writer, health activist and speaker.” (Learn more about Amy’s unique story here.)

With a keynote combining Broadway theatre and mental health advocacy, Amy has changed the way doctors view the role they have in their patients’ recovery.  Her incredible story of physical and spiritual survival demonstrates the importance of emotional support and expressive arts, in times of critical surgical interventions, as well as the tremendous impact that doctors have on their patients.

“There is a body of research on how psychological processes and the central nervous system interact with the immune system. Thought processes involve chemical communications among neurons in the brain and central nervous system. The immune system also communicates chemically with the central nervous system to perform a variety of functions.” –

This is an easy program to put on—a 90 minute, 3 component keynote/program:

  1. A 70-minute one-woman autobiographical musical – Gutless & Grateful – a comedic yet poignant story on how I survived 27 stomach surgeries, organ failure and sexual abuse, tuning those obstacles into opportunities. Through interwoven song and dialogue, I share a primal piece of live-storytelling – a powerful message that it’s possible to overcome physical and mental obstacles.
  2. An educational session/speech where I discuss an alternative approach to  health,  and how to help patients thrive with a physical or mental health condition, or one of the speech topics listed below.
  3. A Q&A session where members have the opportunity to ask about my own journey and my experience with healing, and the idea of “patient as person”.

As a health advocate, Amy’s presentations have been accepted to international conferences, including International Critical Case Reports (Dubai), Traditional and Alternative Medicine (Netherlands), Diversity and Disability (Honolulu) and Critical Care and Disability (Reno, NV).  View sample abstracts here.


A survivor’s first hand experience and encouragement:

Amy was the Eastern Regional Recipient of the Great Comebacks award for her ostomy advocacy. She is a  PTSD peer-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, award-winning founder of the Fearless Ostomates, and health activist who’s writings on health advocacy have been featured in Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Phoenix Magazine – the official publication of the UOAA.

Graduating High School in the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital ICU
Amy lends a voice to patients, spending the past ten years in eight hospitals, and nearly 40 CTs-scan procedures (fondly called “field trips).  Through her workshops, speaking and dynamic performance, she helps others find the person in the patient.

high school graduation
Learning karate a month after being discharged from the ICU

“After 27 surgeries, I have been called both a “surgical disaster” and “medical “miracle” by 13 surgeons in eight hospitals.  In ten years I’ve survived multiple episodes of sepsis, organ failure, and mesenteric artery thrombosis resulting in ischemic necrosis of the stomach and large and small intestine.  I fell into a coma for months after both lungs collapsed, my stomach literally burst to the top of the OR, and I required 122 units of blood to keep me alive.  I owed my life to intravenous nutrition for the six years I was unable to eat a morsel of food or drink a drop of liquid.


Graduating with the doctors who saved my life 

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Select Testimonials – view more here.


“Wow. Absolutely incredible! My life too, changed over night during what I thought would be a routine ER visit… I have felt many of the same emotions you described. A “why me? This isn’t fair!” phase, followed by “I am a fighter and a warrior and can do anything!“, to “it’s too much, I don’t want to any more” all interspersed with “am I making the right choices? What am I doing wrong?”. Ugh! It’s such a roller coaster that many people can’t even begin to fathom. Like you though, I am grateful for the person it has made me.”

“ Thank you for taking the time to write your story … I know how hard it can be to relive those memories andpresent it in way that the reader can understand”

You really should also be a motivational speaker for kids and young adults with ostomies – your story would break their fears wide open – these surgeries can be so overwhelming for many, but certainly not a sentencing! — this is such a great piece!”

This is the most inspiring story I’ve ever read. Every group concerning ostomies should make this available for everyone. You have accomplished amazing things. Bless you for all you’ve overcome, fought for and won.”

“What an inspiration. Here i am feeling sorry for myself…. I am healing… Slow and with complications every week. Thank you for helping to put things in perspective. I WILL face today with such a mote positive attitude and desire for the hood fight. Thank you!!!!”


Learn more about Gutless & Grateful for students, corporate events, artists, and all of us here.

Get in touch with me and inquire about Gutless & Grateful now!

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