Most people don’t know I had my daughter when I was still in high school. Like so many teenage mothers, having a baby when I was still basically a baby myself meant my future seemed inevitably redirected from student leader with a bright future to, well…something less desirable.

But whereas my peers and community decided I was destined to now fail, my grandparents persisted in holding me accountable to a future they knew I could still own. They believed in me. And they were going to make darn sure I didn’t allow teenage parenthood to change a thing.

Probably equally as profound was the overwhelming support from my doctor. I wasn’t yet another teenage pregnancy case to him; I was someone to be empowered. I eventually followed in his footsteps, thanks–in part–to his belief in me.

Today, as a practicing physician and Chief Medical Officer at Women’s Healthcare Associates (WHA), my goal is to do as my own wonderful doctor did—help every one of our patients believe in themselves and feel empowered to live their own version of a full and healthy life.

At WHA, we’re lucky to care for women at various stages in their lives, from backgrounds of all kinds, with incredible stories to tell. Some of those women have children, some are planning families, and some have chosen not to have children. Some have ready access to support from family, some are separated from the ones they love, and some are making it work in a less-than-ideal situation. Some are in need of healthy food ideas, some live next door to organic farmer’s markets, and some use food stamps to feed their families. They are in circumstances and have made choices in their lives that make them who they are, and our job is to meet them where they are and help them find a healthy balance.

That’s why the most important question I’ll ask my patients is: “What does wellness look like in your life?” It’s different for everyone, and that’s okay. Whole wellness can mean more exercise for some, more “me time” for others, or addressing a harmful addiction for some. Ultimately, the question boils down to: “What percentage of your day needs to be focused on your own wellness in order for you to be successful and happy—and where is that focus best spent?”

Fundamentally, my goal is to help people not need me. Because the truth is that they can do so much through their own intuition, with the right knowledge and tools to help them get the care they need.

Intuition is something I learned about when the odds were stacked against me. Most of the women I meet have strong intuition, but they don’t always have the knowledge or confidence to make the right decisions. Magic can happen when a woman has access to the tools she needs, and has someone who believes in her. This is why I wake up every day and come to work. Confidence can make the world of a difference for someone who really needs it.

Are you looking for a health care provider to believe in you? We have 15 locations throughout Portland — from Hillsboro, to Gresham, to Newberg.