I was fortunate to be a scholarship recipient to attend the Cancer and Careers National Conference in New York City on July 22nd, 2018.
I became aware of CAC during my own diagnosis in 2017. I was able to utilize some of their free resources and information to help me navigate my cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship as it pertains to the workplace.
I had seen the positive potential and impact that Cancer and Careers provides personally... but there was a moment during the national conference that really highlighted the need for this organization for so many others.
Before Takeaways, a Story...
I attended a valuable session that was led by Julie Jansen. During it, she invited everyone to introduce themselves to someone sitting next to you.
I had the pleasure of meeting "Joe" at this time.
Joe was a man likely in his mid to late forties. I had noticed that he was emphatically nodding and showing agreement with gestures during the first half of Julie's talk. Julie is someone who has a terrific sense of humor, and Joe was laughing and slapping his knee at her jokes on every slide.
Introducing myself to Joe, I noticed he had a really friendly demeanor. He was interested in several points I brought up when I introduced myself and questioned me further about them. When he introduced himself, he told me where he was from, some of his interests, and where he lived. He also mentioned that he had been looking for work for a pretty long time.
He said he wanted to work - so badly - but wasn't successful in getting an interview anywhere.
Joe was using an electrolarynx to communicate with me.
Electrolarynx - courtesy of labextrade.com
For those unaware, an electrolarynx is a device that people use if they've lost function in their voicebox. It's about the size of a small electronic shaver and is placed by the mandible when speaking. This allows the individual's speech to be amplified.
The output of an electrolarynx is a bit different than typical speech sounds. It can sound a bit "electronic" and can be hard to understand.
Thinking about that interaction with Joe really hit home the need of an organization like Cancer and Careers.
Before getting to my takeaways, I feel the need to pause to let people know about this organization.
About Cancer and Careers
Cancer and Careers provides free resources around anything concerning cancer and the workplace. From things you absolutely think about: federal and state laws when it comes to navigating time off... to things you don't, such as online reputation management and how those going through treatment or even those in a survivorship phase are perceived online.
It allows people like Joe to be able to potentially remove roadblocks to secure a job. From having his resume reviewed from a career coach to interview tips.
It doesn't end at the cancer patient level though. There are resources available for those working in the healthcare industry as well as plenty of resources for those working in HR to be better equipped if an employee receives a cancer diagnosis.
You can learn more about Cancer and Careers at their website: https://www.cancerandcareers.org.
Now, the following are three key takeaways that I got out of attending the conference... and are likely reasons you'll want to hear about so you can attend the conference in 2021!
Be your own advocate
During "The Doctor's Perspective" morning session, an ongoing theme was for patients to be their own health advocates.
Come prepared with a list of questions.
And don't be satisfied with an answer until you are fully satisfied.
This is something I communicate regularly to folks who ask questions on the two reddit cancer subreddits I moderate... but it was really empowering to hear from doctors who communicated this need.
Taking it a step further, this can apply to not just health... but to your everyday. Be your own advocate... in the workplace. At home. With friends. Wherever.
It goes hand-in-hand with a mentality that I've been trying to practice in my life which is to approach every situation in my life with integrity... and to hold those accountable around you to do so as well.
Value of removing stress
Julie Larson, LCSW was the perfect speaker for the "Managing Long-Term Stress" session. She has an engaging personality that helped this fairly serious topic be communicated in a calming, understandable way.
What I brought home from New York from this session was how valuable it is to eliminate stressors in your life.
In our everyday life today, there are so many instances where stress can get you. It's silly for some of these reasons to do so.
Take stock of what causes stress in your life. And eliminate what you can.
Partner for good
The night before the conference, we had a scholars dinner at Rossini's. I was fortunate to be able to sit at a table with other scholarship recipients as well as with Rebecca Nellis, the executive director of Cancer and Careers.
The table conversation was lively and entertaining. Sharing stories, talking about family and uncovering the need to order specific items from the menu when words like "homemade" are used were topics of interest.
We also learned about how Cancer and Careers had a partnership with QVC - Beauty with Benefits - http://www.qvc.com/content/beauty/cew-beauty-with-benefits.html.
This made a couple people from the table really excited. They were the occasional QVC shopper... but this got them checking their phones and getting excited at the idea of shopping at QVC while benefitting Cancer and Careers.
And I'll admit - I even visited the QVC website for the first time ever after hearing the partnership. And there's some good stuff on there!
I mention this because partnerships almost always equate to positivity. Partner with people / companies / brands you trust and love.
Attend the 2021 National Conference on June 25, 2021
Thanks for reading! What should you do next?
- Want to connect with others? Our GRYT Health platform is a safe place for real conversations where you can connect with others who are going through what you are. Bonus! This is where you get to text with me, Vivibot, a mental health chatbot that gives a daily dose (~5 minutes) of guidance through positive psychology exercises proven to improve a human's anxiety after a month of use 💬
- View upcoming online programs and support group events. Our events page shows dates for online programs we have on the calendar made specifically from input by people like you! We <3 our community and listen to bring programs to life that they're asking for 💞
- Read cancer patient stories. Read powerful stories and experiences from our community members who have found their voice. Advocacy starts at finding and using your voice 📢