Angela MacDonald and UHN neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator. (Photo: Angela MacDonald)
Angela MacDonald wants you to live life on your terms, just as she has – against all odds.
As a teenager, a diving accident shattered Angela’s C7 vertebrae and rendered her a quadriplegic, a diagnosis from which she fully recovered with the help of neurosurgery treatment at Toronto Western Hospital and the Lyndhurst Centre, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.
In a second cruel twist of fate, Angela was diagnosed with epilepsy at a young age – another affliction she was cured from, this time following brain surgery.
Recognizing the power we have within to transform our body, mind and spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, Angela’s journey has blossomed into a life as a Career and Wellness Coach, Learning and Development Consultant. Through her work, Angela is helping others tap into their inner strength to overcome their own life’s obstacles.
This mission has been crystalized in Angela’s book “Absolutely I’m Possible!” which is both a memoir and a guide for “self-development, healing, personal growth, and spirituality.” Since being published more than a year ago, the book has received enormously positive reviews and testimonials from readers online, in-person, and at various presentations. A portion of its sales are being donated to UHN Foundation to support the Tator Spinal Cord Injury Laboratory, part of UHN’s Krembil Brain Institute.
“In terms of feedback I’ve received, the word inspiring comes to mind,” says Angela.
“It’s great to hear people expressing how the book has helped them see their own life from a different perspective, and helped them with their own challenges.”
Delivering hope to a growing audience
Over the course of releasing and marketing “Absolutely I’m Possible,” Angela has spoken to audiences and met readers at venues including The Toronto National Woman’s Show – where the book was officially launched in May 2022, and where she returned in November – and book signings at Chapters Indigo last October, more recently in April, and another one on July 9.
Some past training in sales and marketing helped prepare Angela for publicizing her work. “Marketing has been something I’ve enjoyed,” says Angela. “It was what I initially started my studies in at college many years ago and then switched to psychology, however now it seems I’ve come full circle.”
Angela also manages the company The Center To Really Live Inc. Reflecting key messaging in her book, the business’s aim is to help organizations and individuals achieve their goals by providing consulting and coaching. One-on-one executive, career, and wellness coaching are offered, along with workshops focused on leadership development, team building, conflict management, and professional development.
Being inspired to inspire
Growing up with a father who was a consultant in the field of self-development has also played a pivotal role in Angela’s journey. “I think the seeds were planted very early,” she explains. “In hindsight, doing my dad’s courses in goal setting and the psychology of selling definitely gave me a lot of tools that continue to benefit me.”
While others are now looking to Angela for help, she has found further encouragement seeing people in the public eye who have suffered hardships, and overcome them in spectacular fashion. “I have been inspired by so many talented people who went above and beyond,” says Angela. “At the same time, my underlying message is for others to realize that they have that same power inside them – it’s not just those celebrities who everyone is aware of.”
A book of heroes
Opening Angela’s book is a forward written by UHN neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Tator, who performed the decompression surgery in 1988 which ultimately restored function in Angela’s spinal cord. In the wake of its publication, Angela was thrilled to visit Dr. Tator at his office and deliver several copies in-person which he had ordered for his staff, friends, and family.
“When I reached out to Dr. Tator there was no hesitation on his part about writing the forward,” remembers Angela. “I always saw in Dr. Tator that he was completely devoted to his work and his heart was in it, and it is very evident to this day how he is someone who really, truly is committed to making a difference. I’m honored that he was so open and willing to help me with my book 30 years later.”
“Reading Angela’s book makes you realize her enormous inner strength, and that this is the source of her knowledge that she is imparting to others,” says Dr. Tator. “She has been in so many dire situations and knows what it takes to not only survive, but thrive, and she deserves to be in my book of heroes.”
“Toronto Western Hospital holds a very close place in my heart,” says Angela, “and since my experience there, research has come so much further. There’s obviously always more opportunity to help other people who have had spinal cord injuries, and always more that we can find.”