My Thalassemia International Federation Speech

Last week was my first trip to the Middle East. I was asked to speak on the topic of emotional wellness at the Thalassemia International Federation’s conference in Abu Dhabi.

I was very nervous, because I had never presented to a group outside the USA and I wasn’t sure if my message would resonate with everyone.

Fortunately, the crowd loved what I had to say. The event taught me that stories about life are truly universally appealing.

What are some lessons that life has taught you in your most difficult times? Share them in the comments section below.

Here are some picture highlights of my speech:

  • Jo Presentation

    This is a picture of me at the beginning of my speech.

  • Jo at eight years old

    I was a sick child who was always in the hospital. I was afraid of dying because my best friend at the hospital died from hemophilia when I was seven. All of these factors made it difficult to concentrate in school and do well.

  • Jo Presentation Mean Teachers

    Some teachers were very mean to me and tried to make me believe I would never achieve anything in life. They showed a severe lack of compassion.

  • Parents supported me

    My parents challenged me to believe in myself. They never let me accept that I was unable attain goals or excel in life.

  • 3 Lessons

    Life taught me three big lessons: 1) Talk about the things that challenge you and don’t hold them inside, because that will make you unhappy and keep you in a negative state of mind; 2) Be passionate about something in order to be happy and have something to live for; 3) Don’t listen to the negative things other people say about you. They’re 100% wrong.

  • Jo Tears of Joy

    This is my emotional response to the crowd’s cheering. I couldn’t stop crying, even though I had already returned to my seat! I felt overwhelmed with happiness to know that I have seen myself through all of the difficult health and interpersonal challenges that I’ve faced. I have created the life I envisioned for myself and am working toward an even brighter future!

I would love to share all of my photos from my trip with you. Please sign-up to my newsletter by entering your email address below and receive a link to my photoalbum.

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Live with passion,


I am finally sitting down and able to comment on your blog. I was at a loss for words after your trip; hearing about your speech, the standing ovation, cheers, the tears and reading about this amazing journey and chapter of your life. As I scrolled through this blog, reading it and looking at the photos I burst into tears. First, in your newsletter, thank you for dedicating this blog to your father and I. We are so proud of you; our hearts are bursting with love and pride. It wasn't easy but we always knew you could rise above life's challenges with thalassemia, to become a strong, intelligent and gifted woman. Second, thank you for taking that gift and using it to benefit and help others. You are a hero to your family and friends. Now, you have touched the world. This is just the beginning. May God continue to bless you and all you do. I love you to infinity and beyond xo.


Impressive! Loved the photos too. 


Sooo proud of and happy for you Jo!!! 


@CarlaGolden  Thank you, Carla!  Look at all that has happened for us in one year of working towards our life's mission!  Amazing!! xoxo