As part of July Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we would like to take a moment and give you the opportunity to get to know Minh. You may have seen Minh in the office, read about her in our newsletter, seen her in our social media, or you may have worked with her, or are currently working with her. We hope that by reading about her, you will get to know Minh better outside of her role as a therapist.
How has your family’s journey shaped your career profession?
I can answer this question in many ways, but I think when it comes down to it, I always think back to my mom. My sisters and I were born and raised in Germany, and after my parents separated, we moved to the U.S. for a chance at a better life. I remember going grocery shopping with my mom and wanting something as simple as a bag of chips. I remember the pain in my mom’s eyes when she told me no because she couldn’t afford it. I watched my mom raise 3 daughters on her own and the challenges she faced as a single mom. On that day, I understood why my mom wanted a better life for us. So, long story short, it is because of my mom that I went to pursue a higher education and worked hard for my career.
How has having cancer impacted your perspective, and how did you learn to let go of the fear of cancer?
I remember the day I was diagnosed as if it was yesterday. Having cancer changed my life, and even though I faced some of my darkest moments in life, I wouldn’t change a thing. Having cancer gave me the chance to appreciate the little things in life. I have learned to value what is most important in life. Cancer taught me that even when life is hard or unfair, there is a lesson in everything. I learned to look at the world with a positivity, so when I think about my battle with cancer, I think of it as a blessing in disguise.
I don’t think I ever let go of the fear of cancer. Although I am a cancer survivor, I am always going to deal with health complications due to the chemotherapy and radiation I had during my treatments. Having battled cancer for so long, I learned that I couldn’t control the disease, but instead, I focused on what I could control. The fear of getting cancer is always going to be there, and sometimes I still find myself paranoid that something is wrong with my health, but instead of focusing on my fear, I choose to focus on living a healthy lifestyle.
How do you not become your family and friends therapist?
Over the years, this has been a tough one for me. I think because I naturally care so much for others and take on their pain, I can’t help but stop and listen to someone who needs it. In some ways, it feels unnatural and cold of me not to be there for someone. However, I’ve learned to set boundaries for myself. One of the ways I do that is to take off my “therapist hat” when I am not working. I’m always going to be the person who will listen to my friends and loved ones, but when I feel that their issues are bigger than some friendly advice, then I would recommend they see a therapist.
What is your favorite form of self-care and why?
I am very introverted, so a lot of alone and quiet time helps me to recharge. I’m a homebody so I love being home with my 2 dogs and my fiancé. It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I am with them, I know I am home. I also love food, so I love spending time in the kitchen and cooking up meals. I like to think I am creative so I enjoy doing arts and crafts like sewing or crochet. I never thought I would admit this, but I also really enjoy running and doing yoga. If I get the opportunity, I love to travel, be at the beach, or hiking.
How did you know you wanted to be in this profession?
It’s funny, but I always knew I wanted to be a therapist when I first watched the show Growing Pains and I saw Alan Thicke’s character. I remember telling myself, “I want that! I want to have an office and talk to people.” However, I actually went to school at UNC Charlotte to be an Elementary school teacher because I love children. It wasn’t until my second year of undergrad that I changed my mind and ended up pursuing a degree in Sociology and Psychology, but even then I still questioned what I was meant to do. Then one day during one of my chemotherapy treatments, it just hit me. I remember feeling so alone and thinking no one understands what I am going through, and I knew in that moment that I never wanted anyone else to ever feel that way. So, I felt determined to beat cancer because I knew then, it is my purpose in life to help others, and that’s how I knew, that I wanted to be a therapist.