At LBBC’s Metastatic Conference, Learning to Find Inner Courage, and to Face Mortality

April 17, 2017

Kelly Grosklags, LICSW, BCD, is an oncology psychotherapist in private practice in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a fellow of the American Academy of Grief Counseling. She will speak as part of two breakout sessions during Thriving Together: 2017 Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer, April 28-30, in Philadelphia. Ms. Grosklags’ sessions will be Finding Inner Courage: Living With a Life-Changing Diagnosis, on Saturday morning; and Discussion Group: Facing Mortality, on Saturday afternoon.

Here, Ms. Grosklags talks about these sessions and tells us why she’s passionate about helping people live well despite a life-threatening diagnosis.


I'm excited to be meeting you all at LBBC’s metastatic conference in April. It is my honor to be speaking in two of the smaller groups. I realize the importance of community when going through difficult times in life. I remember distinctly a group session I went to on grief, where I felt like "these people get me." Having lost my mother at age 11, I was instantly placed in a group to which I did not want to belong. I imagine that is true of cancer survivors as well. But I am part of this group of motherless daughters and my lifelong healing work has taught me many things. I don't see this traumatic loss as a gift, but I do see it as an opportunity to walk a path that holds deep meaning and insights. A path we walk alone, yet we meet many along the way.

I chose to do this professional work after years working in a hospital setting in Minneapolis. Through my work in oncology, palliative care and hospice, I quickly realized the importance of mental and spiritual support during illness. Even if a cure isn't possible, healing is. This work is such a privilege, because you get to enter into places in people’s lives that most people don't get to.

My first session at the conference is about finding your inner courage while living with a life-changing illness. I think it is so important to listen within to our intuition as a guide in life as we make decisions for ourselves. Within each of us is a strength that we must trust is there, and we can rely on this. In this session, we will also explore the need to be authentic and vulnerable and how that contributes to healing. Together, we can help each other find the courage to face each day.

My other session, about facing mortality, may sound sad and depressing. But I like to look at this topic as real and important. I have worked in the field of death and dying and have been at the bedside at close to 400 deaths in my career. Leading up to the moment of death, many moments of wisdom have been shared with me.

At this session, we will be exploring topics that help us LIVE. We all live until we die and oftentimes those who are more aware of mortality will find more meaning in moments. We will also explore forgiveness, gratitude perspective and healing. My patients who are terminal have taught me the most about living. I would like to share this wisdom with you. This will also be a safe place to discuss fears and ask questions about the dying process you may have, but have not wanted to face. Don't be surprised if we even laugh in this session – laughing is medicine as well.

Interested in hearing more from Ms. Grosklags and our other speakers? Get  up-to-date medical information and connect with others at Thriving Together: 2017 Conference on Metastatic Breast Cancer, April 28-30, in Philadelphia.


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