Carolyn Chang

Surgeon Carolyn Chang was about to operate on a patient four years ago when she got a call to come look at some medical test results for her daughter. Carolyn’s toddler had not been eating and wasn’t growing at a normal rate. The news turned out to be terrible: Carolyn’s only child had a dangerous form of cancer and the surgeon knew right then and there that she probably wouldn’t survive. At that moment, Carolyn—someone used to dealing with crisis—froze, uncertain she herself could survive. And then something completely expected kicked in: Carolyn’s own innate skills to cope and survive kicked in.  She shares how those coping skills helped her get through her daughter’s grueling treatment and ultimately go back to work—providing as much normalcy for her family as possible. The surgeon also took deliberate steps to ensure a life in the future for her and her husband—one that would avoid “walking around for the rest of our lives known as the couple who lost a child.” Those steps included making plans for another child via surrogacy. For anyone who fears loss and wonders if they could get through it, this is an illuminating episode—and one filled with hope.

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