Eva Grayzel is an oral cancer survivor that is about increasing awareness and the need for oral cancer screening.
Eva Grayzel, a nationally recognized Master Storyteller and performance artist, was diagnosed at age 33 with stage IV oral cancer and given a 15% chance of survival. After regaining her deep vibrant voice, Eva applied her stage skills to communicate the depth of her experience in a unique and powerful way. For over a decade, Eva’s programs have captivated dental professionals worldwide. A champion for early detection, Eva founded the Six-Step Screening™ oral cancer awareness campaign for which she was recognized by the American Academy of Oral Medicine. Eva is the author of two children’s books, ‘Mr. C Plays Hide & Seek’ and ‘Mr. C the Globetrotter,’ in the Talk4Hope Family Book Series.
Part I: Becoming a Storyteller
My life changed at the sound of a bell. I was pursuing a career as an actress in New York City while intercepting boredom with interactive stories for 8-12 year olds at an after-school program. One day, the principal came into the room furious, “Didn’t you hear the bell ring?” she demanded. “This delay has caused quite a traffic jam outside!” Students protested, “Wait! Tell us the rest of the story.” Her mouth dropped. This was unprecedented – students begging to stay after the bell. Within 5 years, ‘Story Theater’ carved out a career for me as a motivational storyteller providing value-rich assembly programs, educational keynotes at Professional Day conferences and Teacher-In-Service programs on interactive storytelling techniques.
Part 2: Transition to Motivational Speaking
A non-healing sore on my tongue was eventually diagnosed as stage IV oral cancer. Tragically ironic for a storyteller! The radical surgery and treatment was devastating but my outcome was extraordinary.
A couple of years later, the ADA (American Dental Association) launched an awareness campaign with the message, ‘There is a painless way to know if this is serious.’ The voicemail I left on their 800 line was succinct, “You need to know my story and I want to help you.” They called back.
In 2003, for the first time, I told my very personal story in a public way, with 9K dentists in the audience at the Annual ADA Conference. My call to action motivated doctors from across the country to request a presentation for their regional dental meetings. My speaking career took off. Patient stories matter.
Part 3: A Calling to Patient Advocacy
As I contemplated my own extraordinary recovery, silence was not an option. I couldn’t stand by and allow what happened to me, happen to others. Dental offices seemed to lack the material to educate patients about oral cancer. Committed to raising awareness, Six-Step Screening was born. More than a personal choice, I feel an obligation to be a part of the revolution, awakening healthcare providers to the urgency of detecting oral cancer in the early stages and educating the general public.
Part 4: Using Storytelling to Build Business
After a keynote presentation at a dental conference, a Henry Schein sales manager confessed, ‘If my team could tell a story like you do, we would be golden.’
I was all in, “Let me give a workshop for your team on finding and crafting the story to build rapport with clients and inspire trust.” Three weeks later, a rookie to the team claimed it was her story that scored the sale of their highest ticket item. Since then, I’m hired to do what I love, what comes naturally to me: craft stories to have a meaningful impact and create a lasting impression.