A true yogi – story of humility, courage and gratitude

Dr. Suzi

Dr. Suzi

My name is Suzi. I have Polycystic Liver -Kidney Disease. PKLD is a hereditary disease that causes cysts to grow on your liver and kidney stopping these organs from functioning. As a result the body is slowly poisoned to death. Dialysis and transplantation are available treatments. There is no cure.

I spent many months in many hospitals on dialysis waiting for a donor. My life became a waiting game on a 3 foot by 6 foot hospital bed. My physical and mental pain overwhelmed my desire to continue the fight. Being a doctor myself, I knew too much. My husband and I prepared for the worst.

The final stages of her disease waiting for a donor

The final stages of her disease waiting for a donor

But at the eleventh hour on March 11, 2011, because a man who never knew me signed a donor card on his drivers license, I received a chance at rebirth…. A MIRACLE….a new liver and kidney!!

I am now a healthy 52 year old woman who feels 30 years younger. When asked how I have gotten this far after coming so close to death , I have a huge list of answers. But TOP 5 are , of course- my donor , a skilled surgeon, an amazing support group of family and friends, a faith in my God AND finally the sanctity of YOGA.

BEFORE my illness I found the ‘concept’ of yoga silly! My ignorance led me to believe I had better things to do with my time. The stretching and balancing positions I had seen in pictures ‘looked’ odd at best to a amateur exerciser.

When I had laid for months in that hospital bed waiting for a miracle my sister (who ironically runs her own spiritual community in Rochester-The Assissi Institute) played yoga music to soothe my soul. It worked and eventually became the reason I looked to yoga for a peace I longed for AFTER my transplant. I knew I had been blessed with a second chance at life but I struggled with the whys and how’s of my deserving. I believed I owed my donor, my family, my friends to stay strong in body AND mind and prove I was worth the saving. My urge to ‘payback’ was overwhelming.

NOW I lay on that mat , close my eyes and immediately am brought back to that 3 foot by 6 foot hospital bed. But I am no longer confined . I mimic the breathing technique of my instructor, his soothing voice reminiscent of my sisters voice. The music talks about courage…… Courage to try again tomorrow. The mantra in my head repeats that everything is fine, just the way it is. Ironic that I fought so hard to get off that hospital bed yet I rest peacefully never wanting to get off this mat. It represents security. Security in my self worth.

Embracing her new life's journey with yoga

Embracing her new life’s journey with yoga

Yoga may not answer all my questions but it teaches me NOT to question. I move and breath without competition. I simply feel GOOD – not only physically GOOD but mentally GOOD. And there’s nothing silly about that!

Thank you Jeff Phelan.

You will never truly know what you have given me.

See ya in class.


From the very first time Dr. Suzi walked into the The Yogi Coach Studio it was quite apparent she was in the right place. Her contagious smile along with the determination gleaming from her bright eyes said it all. Her journey’s next stop was the practice of yoga. She was seeking the special harmony yoga has to offer.  For Dr. Suzi the gift of life is not taken for granted. Yoga is a means to cherish every moment we endure, and she savors each and every one of those seconds.
The physical aspects of hatha yoga has been the most challenging and also the most gratifying experience for her. Since childhood she has not been able to participate in normal childhood physical activities because of the limitations that her disease imposed on her. However, now in a very short period of time her yoga practice has reached a level whereby she participates in an intermediate level 90 minute hot yoga class. She may not be able to do every sequence or pose, but yoga teaches us to listen and respect our edge. Yoga is not about ego, rather the ability to accept things as they are. The practice of yoga has taught her to be at peace in everything she does. 
Thank you Dr. Suzi for sharing your story.  
The Yogi Coach