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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Episode 39 (Epilogue): Maya Angelou and Women's Health

We began tonight's Conversation by talking about some stand-out findings from this year's HealthGrades report on Trends in Women's Health in Hospitals. Key findings were that for the first time in 8 years, the cesarean section rates have stabilized at 33%, and that large disparities in women's healthcare still exist in most areas of medicine. Read the report here.

We then welcomed by phone Dr. Chere Chase-Gregory, Medical Director for Neurosciences at Novant Health's Forsyth Medical Center, and a key member of the team that created the vision for the Maya Angelou Center for Women's Health and Wellness. Dr. Chase-Gregory talked about the unique model of women's healthcare that the Center is taking--more than just "babies, breast and bone," the three key areas women's healthcare is known for, the Center takes a holistic, preventative, decade-by-decade approach, focused on empowering women to advocate for themselves. We discussed her passion for advocating for women in rural areas, and agreed that in some parts of America, things are happening in such numbers as would shock most of us--that we are faring worse than some developing nations in terms of infant and maternal mortality, and that we simply MUST advocate for change. Finally, we asked Dr. Chase-Gregory about the upcoming and inaugural Maya Angelou International Summit for Women's Health, taking place in September in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We will keep you posted on ways that you can attend or view this historic gathering of minds in all disciplines affecting women's health.

Then, we introduced the transcendent and inspirational Dr. Maya Angelou. For all biographical information, a listing of her complete works, please visit her website.

We are so honored to have spent fifteen minutes we will never forget with Dr. Angelou. As mothers, we were deeply moved by Dr. Angelou's practical advice:

"I think that if you have music in the house, have good music. Have it playing. And that means that blues and rock 'n roll and rap and country music and European classical--make no distinction, put good music in. And if you have any paintings or art in the house, have uplifting art. For $2 you can get posters and frame them, that lift up the spirit. Read some poetry in the house. African American poetry, European poetry, women's poetry, men's--just read. And continue to encourage the child, the person, who is counting on you for everything--encourage him and her to be her own advocate. Speak up for yourself."

And the overwhelming message of tonight's show: ""We have to continue to speak. Speak up. Speak up and out. We have to have enough courage to be our own advocate. Be on our own side. My encouragement is to educate yourself, all women, and avail ourselves of the chance to be courageous."

We then played the final clip from Dr. Angelou's reading of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in which she gives birth to her son Guy when she is just 17.

As we closed the show tonight, we listened to Sweet Honey in the Rock's rendition of On Children, the poem from Khalil Gibran's The Prophet. This beautifully summarizes Dr. Angelou's advice for mothers, and is something we should all revisit as our children unfold.

Your children are not your children. 
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you, 
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. 
You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
For they have their own thoughts. 
You may house their bodies but not their souls, 
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. 
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. 
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. 
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; 
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

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