Coaching People Who Have the Deck Stacked Against Them

Coaching those with chronic illnesses has been very rewarding. I’ve gotten to work with people who haven’t been able to find the help they need, and the suggestions and ideas I give them continue to make a positive difference in their lives long after their last coaching session with me.

But while it’s very rewarding, the coaching I do is often difficult. The hardest thing about it is facing the reality that health-wise, some of my clients don’t get better, and some of them continue to get worse as time goes on.

So far, a client I’ll call Jason seems to be in that latter group. He has amyloidosis, which is the formation and buildup of an abnormal protein. While the sites of the buildup vary depending on the individual and the type of amyloidosis he or she has, the buildup causes cell toxicity and organ damage that can result in its failure.

The type of amyloidosis Jason has is called familial. He inherited it from his mother, who died from it when she was 47. Jason is 34, and he is understandably afraid that he will die at a relatively young age. And at times he is consumed by feelings of helplessness, especially when starts or attempts to work on a long-term project. He often thinks, “What’s the use?” and abandons the project.

I gave Jason some suggestions to help him manage his feelings of hopelessness and fear. Then, because my blog readers (that’s you!) also have many of years of experience living with a chronic illness, I told Jason I would write a blog post about him. I said I would ask you for your suggestions about what he can do to stay with his projects and have a satisfying and fulfilling life, in spite of having a life threatening illness.

Thank you for your suggestions and comments!


Tom Robinson, who has Crohn’s disease himself, helps people with chronic illnesses mend their broken spirits and then he helps them find inspiring dreams – and achieve them!

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2 Responses to “Coaching People Who Have the Deck Stacked Against Them”

  1. Jill says:


    I too inherited several medical conditions from my parents that have caused me pain and discomfort for most of my life. I had no control over that. Am I angry? Of course, there are regrets about things that I was not able to do. But, that said, I also firmly believe that God put me here for a reason… that there is something special that only I could do, that needed to be done. In my case, I started a support network that has helped patients around the world find hope. And so I ask you “What would you say to a young man who was just diagnosed?” “How could you ease his journey?” From offering support or encouraging research, you and only you have a powerful mission that can change the lives of many other people in need. I was 32 when I started my support group. Now 51, we’ve helped millions of patients and I regret not a minute of the effort it took nor the wonderful people that I’ve met. I think that you could do exactly the same thing. So, think outside of your life to the others who also struggle. How can you help them? Think about it! – Jill O. Founder of the IC Network

  2. Richie Perl says:

    Most of us need a “why” to go on living. For many, fulfilling our social obligations, like going to work, providing for a family, going to school to “better” ourselves, are what keeps “society” going.

    Without that “why,” there is no reason to get up in the morning.

    Consider what your real “passions” are. Maybe it’s creating something, artistic or otherwise. Maybe it’s helping people become aware of your disease. Maybe it’s getting involved in community politics.

    A hint on how to determine your “passion,” ask yourself, “What really ticks me off that I might be able to do something about?” “What pushes my ‘buttons?'”

    Then, start doing whatever it is you can do! It may be simple as writing an email to somebody!

    Whatever it is, keep looking forward, if not to the next day, then to the next hour!

    As I tell many people…
    Keep On Truckin’!

    Peace and Blessings!
    Coach Richie Perl

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