Dr. Samone Zarabi, a stage four cancer survivor turned health and wellness coach, has dedicated her life to empowering others to thrive rather than just survive. After spending years trapped in a cycle of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty, she embarked on a transformative journey to redefine success and reclaim her voice. As the founder of Enorasis Coaching Services, Samone now helps others facing similar challenges to live their authentic dreams through a unique blueprint that fuses scientifically-proven techniques, ancient wisdom, and her own inventive solutions. Above all, she is committed to showing up for her clients and making a meaningful difference in their lives.
Dr. Samone Zarabi, Life & Wellness Coach for Cancer Survivors
Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.
I'm Dr. Samone Zarabi, and I'd love to share a bit about my life's journey with you. I've lived all over the world—three continents, four countries, and nine cities—so I guess you could say I'm a true global citizen. When I was 17, I fell in love with Greece, its rich history and beautiful sunshine. I learned Greek in just 40 days and got accepted into medical school. I felt like I could conquer anything.
But life threw me a curveball. A few months into my rotation in Anatomy, I found out I had Stage 4 blood cancer. I was the first in my family, and I had to act fast as my doctors put an expiration date on me. I went through months of intense chemo, a bone marrow transplant, and radiation. By December 2000, I was finally cured and slowly started rebuilding my life.
After medical school, I joined a team of doctors in Tanzania to help underserved communities. It was an eye-opening experience that showed me the importance of leadership, planning, and policymaking. That's when I decided to study at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs in New York City. And guess what? I got in! I was one of the 7% who got in that year.
Another amazing surprise came when I, a cancer survivor who was told I could never have kids, became pregnant not once but twice, without any medical assistance. Today, I'm living happily on Long Island, NY, with my love, our two healthy boys, our dog Lucky, and our cat, Armani.
Your business, Dr. Samone Zarabi Wellness Coaching for Cancer Survivors, focuses on helping cancer survivors transcend post-cancer fears and anxiety. How did it start? Can you tell us a little bit about it? How did you go from a medical doctor to coaching?
The real turning point in my life came when, after achieving the seemingly unachievable in the field of medicine, I fell sick again. This time, it was mysterious. Just a few months into my residency in anatomical pathology, I experienced breathlessness, hazy vision, mouth, and nose sores, and ended up in the emergency department with excessive nosebleeds and an inflamed sinus that was oddly not infectious. After some investigative work with my husband, who is a rheumatologist/immunologist, and environmental doctors, we discovered that I had become sick and poisoned by the carcinogens at my workplace, specifically a substance called formalin, which is a solution of formaldehyde in water.
Formalin is commonly used in medical and scientific settings as a fixative and preservative, but you can also find it in personal care items such as cosmetics, nail polishes and shampoos. But as you might know it is also a known carcinogen. Interestingly, our bodies produce small amounts of formaldehyde naturally as a byproduct of normal metabolic processes. However, prolonged exposure to high levels of formaldehyde, as in my case, can lead to serious health problems. This experience brought me to an emotional low, leaving me deeply saddened and overwhelmed.
My job advised me to go into therapy, and I complied. However, I soon realized two crucial insights:
The pressure and chest tightness I felt weren't signs of depression but rather symptoms of constricted lungs due to the formalin exposure that had permanently damaged them. My lungs, as a non-smoker, were now as if I had smoked even before I was born.
I didn't need to be reminded of the difficulties I had faced in my life. I was well aware of them, and my therapist simply nodding in agreement and offering me tissues didn't provide any relief. Instead, I needed to move beyond this stuckness, people-pleasing, being a puppet, and not fighting for my rights. I also didn't need to rely on medication.
I was determined to find answers to what had happened to me and my life, and how I had ended up voiceless and miserable, I sought solutions and, in the end, managed to transform my own life. Once I understood my situation, I was ready to get trained in the techniques that had liberated me, and so I did, and this is how it all started. That being said, I had always been the person my family and friends turned to when they had personal issues to resolve. And I always knew that I wanted to do more than just being a physician. To me, that was not enough.
But now, I had my own insight as a cancer survivor, as someone getting hit and falling down low and rising up again and again, and I knew I could help people. I knew what had happened, and I understood how many cancer survivors might inadvertently become stuck in life because every decision they make after being cured has a hidden fear factor, eventually leaving them lost and unsure of how they got there. That's why I founded my coaching business in July 2021. Now, I help cancer survivors reclaim their lives with renewed energy, vitality, and meaning, guiding them to transcend post-cancer fears, reignite passions, and build unwavering confidence.
How do you help your clients achieve their goals and overcome challenges, and what role do you play in their healing process?
As a coach, my approach is to empower my clients, predominantly cancer survivors, but also individuals facing significant life transitions, such as loss or divorce, to overcome their challenges and achieve their goals. I believe it's essential for a coach to have personal life experience in the field they are practicing. Unlike a physician who doesn't need to have experienced cancer to be a great oncologist or heart attack to be a great cardiologist, my life experiences help me connect and empathize with my clients on a deeper level, and they genuinely appreciate that. I take a deep dive into understanding all potential causes of my client's current situation, including psychological, medical (without providing medical advice, given that I am not acting as a medical doctor), and environmental factors, and understanding their internal conflicts. These individuals often grapple with feelings of exhaustion, confusion, fear, and restriction in their lives and seek guidance towards inner peace, direction, confidence, energy, and vitality.
I support them through a uniquely designed program tailored to their individual needs and circumstances. By working closely with clients primarily via virtual sessions, I provide accessibility and convenience for people worldwide. My role in their healing journey is to offer unwavering accountability and encouragement, making sure they understand the necessary steps for overcoming obstacles and moving forward.
My coaching approach is results-driven, as I emphasize addressing the root causes of clients' struggles rather than simply treating surface-level symptoms. I am passionate about empowering individuals and equipping them with the skills needed for self-sufficiency—much like the metaphor of teaching someone to fish, rather than merely giving them one.
Looking to the future, what are your goals for your business, and how do you plan to continue providing exceptional care and support to your clients?
The future is indeed promising for coaches, particularly those in the wellness coaching field. As a medical doctor, I often felt constrained by the current healthcare system and its approach to delivering care.
Coaching, on the other hand, offers a different and more personalized approach. It empowers people to make genuine changes in their lives, embrace preventive measures, and live healthily.
I see coaching as something that goes hand-in-hand with traditional medicine. As doctors, we get that our patients have the power to live healthy, fulfilling lives, but sometimes they end up sabotaging themselves. The thing is, doctors aren't really trained in helping patients with self-care, nutrition, mindset and empowerment, and they just don't have the time for it. That's where health and wellness coaches come in! coaches can help bridge this gap and work together with the patient and their doctor. It's a win-win for everyone involved, and it makes the whole healthcare experience more holistic, effective and efficient.
It very well fits in the traditional model of health care delivery. However, it is unfortunate that not many people know about the benefits of coaching and how life-changing it can be.
One of my goals is to make coaching more affordable and accessible to everyone. I envision a future where all insurance companies cover sessions with coaches, making it easier for people to choose this option. Additionally, I'd like to see all hospitals with oncology departments offering mental, physical, and nutrition coaching as an integral part of their care.
Currently, people think, and it is not true, that coaching is for executives, CEOs, and star athletes. However, I want to bring health and wellness coaching into the mainstream, making it as common as visiting a doctor. This is also why I offer many free options for people who want to understand what coaching is and how it can help them.
Imagine a world where companies and businesses not only require annual check-ups but also offer monthly insurance-covered coaching sessions. By focusing on prevention, personalized care, and integrating coaching into oncology departments, we can revolutionize the healthcare landscape and help individuals lead healthier, more fulfilling, and productive lives.
Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.
Looking back, the pivotal moment in my life that brought me to where I am today was when I discovered the cause of my severe reaction to formalin. We discovered that people from certain ethnic backgrounds, including myself, may be more susceptible to the effects of formalin. The reason is that I have a slow-metabolizing enzyme for formalin, which means that it lingers longer on the surfaces of my mouth, nose, and lungs, causing more damage on the surface as well as in my blood. Interestingly, my cancer diagnosis also occurred a few months after my exposure to formalin in 1999 during my anatomy rotation in medical school.
This newfound knowledge profoundly shaped my understanding of how genes, environments, and various exposures—including the food and drinks we consume, the furniture we purchase, and even the creams and shampoos we use—can fundamentally lead to diseases and shape our lives, taking us to places we never imagined. This experience awakened a desire within me to learn more about these connections, share this information with others, and empower people to take charge of their exposure to potentially harmful substances, as well as beliefs and self-restraint. All of us are so complex, intriguing, and fascinating that we should not opt for one-size-fits-all approaches and really find our own ways. Coaching as a tool is a very powerful and empowering tool.
What are some of the spin-off benefits of your coaching that you've seen with your clients?
The spin-off benefits of my coaching have led to some heartwarming and inspiring moments with my clients. One client once told me during a session, "Samone, I feel truly happy, and I can't even explain why!"
When working with people who have faced significant challenges in their lives, like this particular client, it's incredibly rewarding to help them uncover their happiness and inner strength. My approach goes beyond just encouraging them to find a silver lining; I genuinely guide them on a transformative journey to rediscover their passion for life and embrace their newfound joy wholeheartedly.