Interview with Diane Nathaniel
Do you have a favorite experience from your speaking career?
My favorite speaking experience was when I spoke to 1st and 2nd year medical students at SUNY Stony Brook University School of Medicine. I shared my story about my battle with cancer but more importantly how I am turning that experience with being affected by cancer into educating and motivating others about prevention and screening.
Being able to share a patients/survivor perspective with them before they start their careers as doctors was rewarding and necessary. It gave me joy to speak to this set of 1st and 2nd year medical students and be involved in building their foundational skills to improve the patient/doctor experience as future doctors of the world.
Who or what inspires you most?
I am inspired by children, the elderly, survivors of tragedy, and Oprah Winfrey. I am grateful and love the elderly people in my life because they prayed for me and poured into me. Because of them I am….. My parents adopted me as an infant when they were in their late 40’s. Their friends are now my extended mothers and fathers whom I appreciate and take care of. If not for their sacrifice, I would not be afforded the endless opportunities, rights and privileges I have today.
Oprah Winfrey impresses me with her determination to overcome obstacles despite her dark past. Her wealth does not impress me, it’s her resilience that captivates me and motivates me to be my best self. She is a pioneer in charitable giving, she continues to create pathways, so others can have a chance to exercise their gift. That moves me to consciously give back, just as my ancestors gave back to me.
Children are resilient and keep me motivated to cultivate their social emotional intelligence. Lastly, survivors who lived through a tragedy that could have ended their lives and change the narrative to “live on purpose”.
How did you begin your speaking career?
During my bout with cancer, I had many friends that supported me and took great care of me. One of my mentors and best friends Charlee Patterson, said to me after my last chemotherapy treatment that I needed to share my testimony with others because I offered hope and inspiration. I was totally against it and decided that I did not want to talk about any of this when I was done.
Charlee asked me to speak at her church for a women’s night of inspiration and I respectfully declined. I was away in Washington, D. C. with American Cancer Society for Cancer Lobby Day and some of my friends were calling me asking why I didn’t tell them I was speaking at a church. I had NO idea what they were talking about. They told me there was a flyer on Facebook with my photo and stating that I was one of 4 women speakers. My heart dropped, and my throat closed up as I could not imagine what they were speaking of or who did this? I went on Facebook and there was my face and name on the flyer, I couldn’t believe the picture! first of all… Yes I was immediately concerned with the unflattering photo of me doing a chemo treatment, but secondly, I was on a flyer!!!
I called Charlee and told her there was no way I was doing this! Her words to me were, “God did not save you so you could be quiet about his power of healing. It is your duty to share with others his goodness and how you were able to pull through.” After that…here I am….
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
- In the next 5 years I want to expand my personal brand and do speaking/moderating engagements full time.
- I want my Non-profit organization, Beat Stage 3, Inc. to be renowned for its cancer services, positive impact on reducing the number of people being affected with cancer, involved in the development of inclusive health care policies through advocacy, and increased activities in awareness about cancer health.
- I want to obtain my Doctoral Degree and conduct some meaningful research on adoption and colon cancer.
- I hope to get my adoption records unsealed and gain some insight about my biological history.
- I would love to travel internationally.
- Meet Oprah.
- Create a documentary that highlight the effects of keeping family secrets about health and how it is detrimental and life-threatening other family members.
- Most importantly, I want to increase the number of people taking responsibility for their GI health.
Can you describe your speaking style in three words?
3 words is not enough LOL.
Captivating, honest, inspirational, reflective, funny…and I am still figuring it out.
What do you gain personally from being a public speaker?
After rejecting the gift of public speaking, I realized that it is my calling. Every time I stand on stage, I am reminded and realize how blessed I am. The ability to stand before others and share my story with words of inspiration brings me joy. Each time I am asked to share such an intimate part of myself, I appreciate my journey even more understanding I could have been dead, but I am NOT… I am very much alive!
If NOT for a shoulder surgery, I would be dead…. I have a gift that allows me to possibly save a life each time I speak; using my voice to encourage someone to follow their dreams after any tragedy not just cancer, but especially cancer inspires ME. Hopefully I convince someone to share their story too, encourage them to exercise their gift and fulfill the purpose that was bestowed upon them. Most importantly, it makes me happy.