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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

While I Was Busy Thinking, she did that...

Women, the Fabric of Our Lives: Featuring Cheryl Woods Giscombé

Cheryl Woods Giscombe, PhD, PMHNP-BC

Assistant Professor-Research Scientist, School of Nursing, UNC Chapel Hill

A year ago, I experienced a bout of depression unlike any I’d ever experienced before. I did not want to leave my house. I alienated family and friends. I wanted to take no part in what was happening in the world. But giving up was not an option for me. Eventually, I went on to talk to someone about my feelings, and she helped clear the fog. She helped me understand that my depression was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. She said that it was my body’s way of communicating to me that I was suffering from some kind of imbalance, and that the imbalance was a result of extreme stress. So what did I do? Of course, I took to the Internet in search of ways to overcome stress, and to discover a path that would lead me back to the land of the living.

It was around this time that one of my high school classmates shared an article on FB from the UNC University Gazette; the article just happened to feature someone we went to school with as well, Cheryl Woods Giscombé. The article titled "Cheryl Woods Giscombé feels deep commitment to public service" highlighted Cheryl’s dedication to public service, but it did much more. Her article enlightened me about my depression as well. Because as you will see, while I was busy thinking, Cheryl was busy becoming a doctor and a nurse-- at the same time.

Cheryl Woods Giscombé is a wonderfully-gifted woman. Simply put, she is awe-inspiring and not just because I say so, it’s because she just is. I met Cheryl when we were students at Northern Junior High School in Roxboro, NC. It was there that we became cheerleaders together and very soon after, fast friends. Cheryl was one of the kindest individuals I’d ever met, not to mention beautiful. Even then, she was a force to be reckoned with. She was both brilliant and talented, and what’s more, she was full of humility. It is no wonder that Cheryl went on to attend the NC School of Science and Math. Even then, Cheryl was in a league of her own.

College happened for both of us, and then we lost touch for a while, but FB allowed us to maintain contact, but even then, I had no idea about the great work Cheryl was accomplishing for the betterment of African American women. Cheryl has been doing amazing work to understand the disparity African American women face when it comes to their health and how their cultural conditions influence how they cope with stress and other illnesses, which brings me back to the article in the UNC Gazette featuring Cheryl. In this same article, Cheryl also shared that during her pursuit to become doctor and nurse, she became ill as result of debilitating headaches called cluster headaches, and as a result she had to take some time off from her studies. Upon her return, Cheryl found that “mindfulness meditation” helped sustain her health, both mentally and physically. Like the genius that she is, Cheryl immediately saw "mindfulness meditation" as a method for African American women to employ in order to battle and/or overcome the many ills they face as they become “Superwomen.” I, of course, became obsessed with this method as a way to aid me in my endeavor to get better and rid myself of stress. Cheryl, my dear friend, was none the wiser that she was unknowingly helping me become a better me.    

Cheryl is a testament to the women who want it all but sacrifice themselves, mind and body, to accomplish it. Because of women like Cheryl Woods Giscombé, women are becoming stronger, and they are changing history. Thank you Cheryl for being a Superwoman and for becoming a part of the fabric of my life and the lives of many other women. 

To learn more about Cheryl, you might want to start with the article referenced in this post “Cheryl Woods Giscombe feels deep commitment to public service” featured in the UNC University Gazette. From there, you’ll too become intrigued by Cheryl and want to learn more about her studies and the “mindfulness meditation” approach. Cheryl has also shared her journey on Ted Talk as well. I look forward to Cheryl’s future endeavors as I am sure they will continue to improve the lives of all women.

For more on mindfulness meditation, you can begin here. 

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At March 4, 2015 at 6:13 PM , Anonymous Karen said...

Love this!

At March 4, 2015 at 8:18 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

Thank you, Karen!

At March 5, 2015 at 4:04 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Tamara!! You are really an inspiration, too!!! I am humbled that you considered me to profile! I am so happy that we are in touch with each other! Looking forward to getting together soon. Sending loves and hugs to you! ~Cheryl

At March 7, 2015 at 1:01 PM , Blogger Tamara said...

Cheryl, you are truly worthy. Keep changing the world. Keep being the flower you are!


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