Reddy Rocco

“May you live all the days of your life.”
- Jonathan Swift

I’m Chief Resident, doing my residency when I get the tragic news. Padma, my beloved younger sister, has taken her own life at a young age of 27. My world collapses in an instant. I loved my sister with all my heart. And part of my overwhelming pain is feeling that I failed to be able to help her. It shakes my faith in conventional medicine and I want to drop out of residency.

We grew up in an impoverished village in India, and moved to America when I was six. Padma was a perfect child, yet at 17 she was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. My father, a highly esteemed doctor, got the best specialists available to help her, no doubt. Yet it wasn’t enough to keep her from taking her own life.

Padma seemed to improve, and with the support of our family, she was able to finish college, graduate, and prepare to embark on adult life. Suddenly, on September 11, 2001, there was a brutal attack on the World Trade Center; she was both triggered and traumatized to the core. She lost her faith in humanity. Six days later, she took her own life.

I am thrown into wondering what could have saved my sister’s life? And then, next, I feel drawn into a deep undeniable calling to learn how to help people heal in more than just conventional ways. This is a terrifying inner-call. It would mean going against the ways of thinking taught to Doctors. Against the thousands of hours of medical training I had already received. It would mean opening myself up to learning how to help people on a deeper dimension than conventional medicine prescribes.
It is thoughts of Padma that save me. I realize dropping out of residency is not what she would have wanted me to do, nor was it a positive action. So with her in my heart, I choose to return and finish my residency and make good come out of my devastating loss.
After completing my residency, I get accepted into a rare and distinguished Women’s Health Fellowship. I then steep myself in regenerative medicine, anti-aging medicine, functional medicine, preventative medicine, even a study of emotional and spiritual wellness. It’s a lifelong journey to be able to help my patients from a full understanding that includes and is not limited to my training in medical sciences. And it sets my soul on fire!

Padma, in Sanskrit means “lotus flower”.

The lotus grows only in murky water, hidden from both light and sight.  However, it rises and reaches for the sun.  When it blooms, it emerges from the darkness with unparalleled beauty and complexity.  It floats on the still somber water with fearlessness and fortitude, demonstrating the power and tenacity of life.  When its purpose is fulfilled, it retreats into the depths of its birth place and fades.  But its imprint on the world is enduring.

I believe Padma was a true lotus, and as part of her purpose, she helped awaken me to mine. My purpose is to both fix and heal my patients, addressing the “cells” and the “soul.” I keep a photo of Padma in my office, always reminding me of her, and what I’m on Earth to do.

Today, I don’t just look at my patient’s labs or their complaints. I look deeper. I look for the root cause, the deepest Why? I look at what they are eating, what they may have been exposed to, or what they have endured. I help them address their health in a preventative way, and in a functional way so they can be healthier and happier.


Gowri Reddy Rocco, M.D., is double board-certified in Family Medicine and in Regenerative, Anti-Aging and Functional Medicine. Known by her patients as The Wellness Warrior, she’s been practicing medicine for more than 20 years and is the Founder and President of Optimum Wellness & Longevity in Corona, California. Dr. Gowri Rocco has a successful practice alongside her husband, Dr. Robert Rocco, and is the proud mother of three amazing children.