In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

April 14, 2015

Finding Big Meaning in the Little Things

By In the Loop


When Tasha Schuh talks about how "the little things in life" have helped to "truly bring meaning" to her life, there's weight behind those words. Because she's been through some truly big things. Tasha was a junior in high school in 1997 when, in a freak accident, she fell through an open trap door during play rehearsal and crashed onto a cement floor 16 feet below. She was airlifted from Ellsworth, Wisconsin, to Mayo Clinic Hospital's Saint Marys campus, where she learned that her spinal cord had been crushed and she'd be paralyzed from the chest down. After struggling through the weight of that realization, she says she found hope with the help of her care team at Saint Marys.

The accident changed Tasha's plans and set her on a new course, eventually leading her to become an inspirational speaker and author of a book called, "My Last Step Backward." She recently returned to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus to deliver the keynote address at Mayo's 2015 Radiology Allied Health Symposium. In a talk titled "Little is Huge," Tasha talked about those "little things" that bring meaning to her new life. "I'm really passionate about three different areas and shared them all in my keynote: living a purposeful life, choosing daily to have a positive attitude, and knowing that there is hope no matter how dark things get," she says. 

Tasha says being a "a former and continued" Mayo patient helped inform her perspective and gave deeper meaning to her message to those in attendance that what they, and everyone else at Mayo Clinic, do every day really can make a difference in the lives of patients. She was also grateful to be "able to thank them for all of the services they have provided for me in my journey," she says. "And for the impact they've all made in my life along the way."

That message, from a patient, struck a chord with the audience, who thanked her with a standing ovation, along with a number of post-event messages and emails. "It was a truly wonderful day as I was able to visit with many of those in attendance after my speech," Tasha says. "I've also received many messages on Facebook and through email thanking me for coming to share my story and how it's impacted them." Kevin Seisler, education coordinator for the Department of Radiology, summed up that impact saying, "I couldn't be more pleased with the response … I've never seen such rapt attention and delight throughout a keynote lecture. Tasha truly had us from the very start and provided us with the perfect message to keep us energized in our careers in health care."

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Tags: Kevin Seisler, Patient Stories, Radiology, Tasha Schuh

I met Tasha when she was still in high school and was visiting Winona State University as a prospective student. I will never forget her positive attitude and beautiful spirit – I truly learned a lesson from Tasha that day about focusing on the positive things in life versus letting the little things get you down – Tasha had overcome so much with beauty and grace, how could I complain about my much less significant struggles. Almost 20 years later I still vividly remember that day and the lesson I learned from Tasha!

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