Be optimistic! A simple prayer of thanks every morning starts the day with Gratitude.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Camerone Parker.
Supermodel and actress, motivational speaker and philanthropist, Camerone Parker has emerged as the leading powerful celebrity voice in patient advocacy for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and treatment. Today, she delights audiences worldwide as a highly in-demand speaker, sharing her unbelievable story of being diagnosed with MS in 1998 and hiding the disease in a highly competitive world of international fashion so she could earn money to pay for treatment. But, all that glitters isn’t gold, the model shares her story of betrayal and deception behind the scenes by the person she cared for the most.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/5761628590ae7c1c801eeed5b7a71a19
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory?
My career has been storied throughout. I have been featured in over 400 magazines around the world. As a former face of Olay, I have walked the runways for top designers such as Vera Wang, Giorgio Armani and Badgley Mischka, just to name a few! I have been featured in several iconic billboard campaigns, including Ralph Lauren POLO, and have been a featured guest on “Good Morning America,” “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Today Show,” “The View,” and more.
On October 2nd, 2019, the fashion world was stunned as news broke announcing that I had just survived a catastrophic heart attack requiring life-saving surgery. Only a mere 6 days prior, I dazzled at Paris Fashion Week as I attended the Dior SS20 show.
I live a very public life, however new details about my private life and my marriage now became embarrassing shame. I took on a role of fiercely guarding the painful monumental secrets of my husband, Dr Robert McCulloch. He was spiraling in addiction. While fighting for my life in the hospital, horrifying truths kept emerging about the one closest to me during surgical recovery, uncovering that it was my addicted husband now posing the greatest risk of all to my life.
My current journey is chalk-full of trepidation, strength, and determination. Today I live life in a manner best suited for my health, with no apologies and an endearing, raw spirit wrapped in a heaping dose joyous humor.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I had two very unexpected fun highlights happen within 10 days of each other. I attended the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards and the 2020 CDGA Awards. I made both PEOPLE Magazine and Entertainment Weekly Best Dressed lists at each event! I put on a ball gown and a smile for the red carpet. That proved to be the perfect escape for me, for at least a few hours!
What do you think makes your story stand out?
RESILIENCE = In silence I RISE.
As someone who has been viewed of having it all including the perfect marriage, I am taking everyone inside all that glitters and showing the frayed, unbelievable raw seams of the cover up I have been mired in. The stage light now exposes a documented journey of Betrayed Spouse Trauma, sexual deception, and its horrific aftermath. This is not about codependency. Think of PTSD except there is no Post. The BST survivor is violated and is currently facing her betrayer head on. Betrayed Spouse Trauma is something rarely spoken about, and if it is, the trauma survivor instantly becomes mocked and victim shamed. My screams for help were silenced by his rage. Sexual betrayal has changed how I feel about myself and how I live. I might seem okay for a bit on the outside. However, the unseen wounds of trauma have now ravaged my heart, stopping it from beating FOUR different times. My addict husband went inpatient for specialized help. I FORGAVE HIM. My Faith and resilience guided me to giving him the gift of forgiveness. Sadly, he ultimately abandoned me and my broken heart. “I don’t love you enough to deal with you” were his last words as he triumphantly returned to his addiction where he lives today. No accountability. No responsibility. No Resilience.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It would be my parents, Elise and Bill Chambers. Many people do not know that I grew up showing horses, and not like one or two events. I competed for the All-Around Championship. I did not start out being the best in the world, heavens no! It took years of riding, training, discipline, and good old fashioned hard work. Some weekends I would win everything. Sometimes I got the gate. Everything comes together with determination, optimism, and RESILIENCE. Winning my first National title at 14 was no easy feat. It was my parents that kept me grounded and taught me straight up about teamwork. There is no “ME,” only “WE”. We win together!
We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
RESILIENCE for me never blurs the lines of right versus wrong. The coping/healing cycle of my recovery shows resilience in action! I think it is why I’ve struggled so deeply this past year. Resilience embodies my ability to forgive. In my traumatized state, my brain felt truly hijacked. I was constantly being told by the addict “Progress NOT Perfection” What?! As a resilient woman this statement absolutely challenged me! Progress is impossible without change. An addict who cannot change his mind cannot change anything.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
One person? Come ON! Rome was not built in a day or by ONE Roman! As I defined earlier, RESILIENCE = In silence I RISE. I am fiercely supported by my posse that are each a strong, unique thread in my life. Once woven together, this protective, gorgeous tapestry surrounds me with warm everlasting strength: Pat Bondurant, Kathy Bihr, Michelle Anthony, Donna Rossi, Sue Smart and my manager, Robert Rossi. It is because of them I RISE.
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Clearly my response through the years has not changed at all!
“You won’t win a National Championship at 14. It’s never been done” Me: WATCH ME
“You’ll have maybe a few years as a model” Me: WATCH ME
“At 5’8” you’ll never walk at Fashion Week here or abroad” Me: WATCH ME
“You have MS — you can’t walk a 100ft runway” Me: WATCH ME.
“You’ll never forgive me” Me: WATCH ME.
“No one will believe you if you tell” Me: WATCH ME
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
As mentioned above, I am recovering from an unfathomable series of deadly traumatic events. On October 2nd, 2019 I suffered the first of my four heart attacks. A Widowmaker requiring heart surgery. That day, without warning, my life changed forever. My husband Robert, the one person who promised his love, protection, and fidelity to me was, and is now, the greatest and most diabolical risk to my health and life. Not only did I survive a catastrophic cardiac event, my husband’s 42+ year sex and porn addiction was now fully exposed. He is a freight train loaded with dynamite and out of control.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?
As a child, my parents fostered healthy coping skills for my brother and I. I am talking about nurturing the ability to cope with ups and downs of school, friendships, and life. My parents were not perfect and never claimed to be. I learned firsthand that I deal with things differently than my brother. And guess what? We BOTH are resilient balanced adults today. By fostering love, understanding and boundaries — I have a unique, grounded perspective, not entitlement to guide me.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
It is a very fine balance of these five values and they’re not always equal on any given day:
Be optimistic! A simple prayer of thanks every morning starts the day with Gratitude.
Remain flexible…keep an open mind. (A closed mind is the most expensive thing one could own).
Develop active coping skills. (This truly occurs over time!)
Maintain a healthy supportive, trusted network. This is so crucial.
Embrace a personal moral compass that includes balanced boundaries.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
That is a wonderful compliment, thank you! I have always stated that the best medicine for me is to give. I am gearing up to launch a book. It is co-authored by Sue Smart who is a published biographer and celebrated UK journalist. Partnered with impactful content in media outlets such as this, the movement will lead us whilst living throughout unprecedented times. A global pandemic has hobbled both physical and mental health capabilities. If ONE person is reading this and is in a crisis screaming like I was, I want them to know I HEAR YOU. YOU MATTER. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. My global goal is to recognize that Betrayed Spouse Trauma has many terrified unaccounted-for victims. We are SURVIVORS. Time is measured in minutes; LIFE is measured in moments. A Movement IS a MOMENT!
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Dr Sanjay Gupta. While in the hospital recovering from my Widowmaker and surgery, I downloaded and read his book: CHEATING DEATH: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that are saving lives against all odds. Clearly, he needs to include my journey in his second printing! Another Dr Gupta book favorite is Perceiving Purpose. It has become quite tattered as I re-read a chapter or two almost every week. I am profoundly grateful for his wisdom and insight. He is shining a light for me on my path, my runway, to new life.