Sabine Becker: A woman who perseveres until success happens

Sabine Becker is an inspirational speaker, coach, and Thalidomide survivor. Valley News/Courtesy photo

In an interview with the Valley News, inspirational speaker, mother, grandmother, and author Sabine Becker recollected the fond memories of her childhood. She spoke of learning how to swim and playing with other children, roller skating and skiing, stating, “Just like every other kid I jumped off the three-meter diving board… it was a long time later that it was clear, I was kind of different.” Due to the rampant drug administration of Thalidomide, a drug given to pregnant women to ease the effects of morning sickness, Sabine was born with partial development of both arms. “I have a very unusual disability and it was very difficult to get accepted by society,” said Sabine. “I was born in post-war Germany, and then, there was not much expected from a person with a disability.”

Sabine’s parents injected their wisdom, tenacity, courage, and bravery into her as a young girl. Coming from an educated background, Sabine’s parents recognized that in order to survive and live a life comparable to other people Sabine must become independent. Describing herself as “very fortunate,” Sabine spoke of her experiences being treated like everyone else. “My parents made physical and occupational therapy available to me, and I learned to use my feet as my hands. Sabine also calls people to consider their legacy when going through adversity asking the question “How do you want to be remembered by your children, grandchildren, and friends? I want to be remembered as a strong woman who did not give up, and who pushed to the end.”

“I learnt how to dress myself and take care of myself.. I really am grateful to my parents for having that foresight which was very unusual for that era in Germany.” Sabine explained that her parents did not really distinguish between her and her brother who was not born with a disability. “We both had to do housework, like vacuuming, and doing the dishes.. Part of this has helped me to be the woman I am today, to be the independent woman that pushes, and I learned that as a young girl, my mother was very instrumental in that.” The push to be independent inspired her acronym P.U.S.H., which stands for Persevere Until Success Happens.

Sabine recognized that irrespective of the times, living with a disability is difficult. However today there is much more societal inclusivity and provision made for disabled people that Sabine did not have growing up. “My parents had to fight for me to attend a regular school, and then I continued to college because it was not a matter of if I would attend college, but when and where I would enroll.” Cognizant of her heart to help others, Sabine studied Social Work at the undergraduate level before studying for her Psychology master’s degree. Sabine explained that not only did she want to help others, but by studying Psychology she could better understand why she was the way she was. “There was a time in my life when I really did feel different, especially during my teenage years wondering who is going to like me…like every teenager. I also observed some young people giving up and became fascinated with the question of why some people persevere and others do not, this pushed me into psychology,” said Sabine.

The joys of marriage and motherhood came for Sabine, but adversity also came alongside it. Sabine spoke of the challenges that came with dressing and changing the diapers of her newborn son. She reiterated “What you do with your hands, I do with my feet and that is how I took care of my baby.” But after the death of her husband, Sabine found herself in yet another situation where she needed to P.U.S.H. Being a single disabled parent had its trying times but Sabine describes that eventually, “Life evens out” and she was able to find a higher-paying job to support her and her family.

Sabine has pushed through life’s challenges but there was a particular time in her life when she needed to push harder than ever to succeed. On May 17, 2012, while driving through the mountains of New Mexico with a friend, Sabine suffered a stroke. She describes her vision suddenly becoming blurry and the road spiraling out of control. “It seemed like I was looking through a kaleidoscope, but I kept driving and blacked out.” Sabine continued stating that, “I knew I should have died, because if you lose control of your car at 55/ 65 miles an hour near the Rio Grande River the likelihood of dying is pretty serious. The stroke I had was very, very severe but maybe due to God or destiny, it just wasn’t my time yet. I was saved by a true miracle.” Sabine did not receive treatment until 2 hours and 45 minutes after her stroke leaving her entire left side paralyzed. Despite that, Sabine spoke of being given a second chance, propelling her to write her book “The Rebel’s Guide The Power of P.U.S.H” to share all the lessons she has learned along the way.

“My disability is not the only thing that has taught me how to triumph over adversity, I had to overcome adversity when I learned how to walk and speak again after my stroke… it took me 360 days of pushing myself to get here today.” Sabine recalled the doctors telling her that she will always have to depend on someone else for speech assistance and help with daily activities. “The doctors did not know that they were talking about someone who is armed with P.U.S.H. I was born to survive and born to thrive.”

In many ways, Sabine’s book was born out of the trials of her rehabilitation but includes life lessons she has gathered throughout her life. Sabine mentioned that she wanted to write her book at age 21 and is glad she wrote it later in life because of the experiences she has had. During her rehabilitation Sabine met a man who was committed to running or walking a 26.2 mile marathon. “I thought to myself, you’re nuts! But later I started thinking, why not? Why not take this as motivation for each step I take.”

5 years later, coinciding with the anniversary of Sabine’s stroke, she finished the Los Angeles Marathon, and in December 2020 started writing her book. “It really was a labor of love. I wanted to give back to people as much as I possibly could, all the lessons of adversity I have learned can be passed on to others.”

Sabine’s mission is to equip people with hope. Her message to those going through adversity “is every difficult situation starts with hope, and this hope pushes you to action, the action of perseverance.”

To learn more about Sabine Becker’s book, The Rebel’s Guide The Power of P.U.S.H. please visit Amazon at

Sabine is also available for speaking engagements. To learn more please visit her website at

Jessica Ussher