As a cardiologist, Shirley Williams understands the many meanings of the word discovery. In her case, she knows even an ominous discovery can be the starting place for more hopeful ones.
Shirley’s own journey of discovery began when she found out she had two life-threatening aneurysms. “As a physician, I knew I was a walking time bomb. I had fear and anxiety about being blind, having a stroke, neurological symptoms. … I knew my life would never be the same.”
She turned to UT Southwestern’s Zale Lipshy Pavilion – William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital for help. “It was a simple choice. UT Southwestern is well-known for its work in this field.” Dr. Babu Welch performed the surgery and had both aneurysms treated in a few hours. To Shirley’s surprise, she experienced no long-term side effects. “Physically, I came out the same as I did going in.”
Shirley discovered that her perspective as a physician was forever changed by the experience.
But Shirley discovered that her perspective as a physician was forever changed by the experience. “It made me sympathize with my patients in a new way,” Shirley says. “It helped me explain things to my own patients better. Patients who were going through something like end-stage heart failure.”
And in Shirley’s own life, her spiritual journey through this difficult time helped her discover deeper meaning in even the small moments with her own family. Though she considers herself a workaholic, she says, “The little things became important again. Now I take the time to smell the roses.”
The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute brings together transformative research and patient-centered care to improve the lives of patients today and those of generations to come.