A group of health, public health and community minded experts serve to provide a practical, uplifting experience to help women grow emotionally, spiritually and physically. Meet Brenda.Women's Health Committee, Brenda Bry
If you could leave one message with the WHC attendees, what would it be?
My one message is always, you are stronger than you think you are, and if you quiet your mind, and ask for guidance, the answer will come and you will find comfort from your faith in that which is greater than ourselves. None of us, are ever truly alone, so don’t give up! When you least expect it, God will send an angel to cross your path, some for a moment, and others for a lifetime.
Where do you work? How did you get into your line of work?
The American Cancer Society. I had customer service experience in the retail, airline, hospitality, and health insurance sectors when I decided to go to school at age 42 to practice massage therapy. I traveled to Fargo weekly, for 13 months to attend Sr. Rosalind Gefre’s Schools and Clinics of Massage Therapy. Owning my own business and practicing for six years gave me the flexibility that I desired so that I could attend my youngest sons activities. When he graduated from high school, and left home to attend NDSU, I stepped back into the structured world and helped with a start-up business for at-risk elderly. After two years, when the role of quality of life manager opened up, I felt that my back ground had given me the skill set necessary to increase outreach for those diagnosed with cancer.
How has your health or that of a family member or friend changed you?
I was 25 when I met my father-in-law struggling with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Witnessing his decline for two years was frightening; and at the same time brought keen awareness to the fragileness of life. Then witnessing the decline of my mother-in-law due to Alzheimer’s for eight years, losing the ability to communicate with her seemed even more difficult at times. Then losing my dad suddenly from a massive heart attack when I was 33 with three young sons brought an awareness that your life as you know it can change in the blink of an eye. All of these experiences remind me to be grateful and to live life fully. Do not put your dreams on hold, for only God knows when the last grain of sand will fall from your hourglass.
What quality or trait is most beneficial to you, your family, and community’s health?
Empathetic listening skills with feedback for empowerment has guided me, my family and those I meet in our community. If we listen to others, we can learn a lot. We can learn how others handle their struggles, how others find strength, how others celebrate their lives and who the most important people are in their lives. Only after listening with nonjudgmental attitudes can we offer any feedback to help empower someone to find their own answers in life. Answers to life’s challenges come from within each of us as we hold the key to our own health and happiness.
What are 1-2 lessons you've learned in how to live?
Lessons in humbleness, patience, and being my own best friend have been some of my own challenges. I can be far more critical of myself then I would be on a friend, or for that matter, a stranger. Learning to accept myself, flaws and all, remembering the blessings I bring to those I love, knowing that God does not create anyone without gifts to share with others. Remembering we are all perfectly imperfect.
What lessons has your work-life taught you?
That life can be short and unpredictable. That Illness can give people back to themselves. When a person is faced with a life threatening disease, they remember who and what makes them happy and they reprioritize their lives. It’s a reminder to take care of themselves, to put the themselves first and that God is in control. That the small voice inside that speaks of love is that of God’s strength and it will speak clearer and with more power than the voice of critics, if we stop and listen with intention of hearing him.
In what ways is your life remarkable?
When I reflect on the day at age sixteen when I chose life for my unborn child, and then chose to raise him; I marvel at where I am today. By keeping him, I thought I may be limiting the possibilities of our futures. The blessings that have come into my life since that decision have far exceeded what I could have imagined. The people I’ve met, the friends I’ve made, the places I been and the experiences I’ve had are remarkable. Some lessons have been tough, the path bumpy, but I am so grateful for the journey I’ve been on. Through strength, pragmatism, and gratitude, I have a beautiful family of six and look forward to becoming a grandmother soon.
How do you want to be remembered?
As a mom, I hope I will be remembered for always being there for my sons when they needed me and at the same time, counting on me to step back enough so that they could discover their own independence, talents, and strength. “Be safe, and have fun!” were often my words to them as they left the house and into our community. I believe in giving enough guidance for safety but with the freedom to become who they were meant to be ~ then shut your eyes really tight and pray!
I would also like to be remembered as a true friend who inspired others to live their lives fully, to keep their head up during times of struggle, to feel their emotions with respect, and to empower individual growth. I hope those I love know that they are always more important to me than any material possessions that I have acquired. The 2011 Missouri Flood near Bismarck taught me that one!