Make Your Mark – How I almost missed a great opportunity!

Landing a new job – super exciting! Getting a cancer diagnosis days before starting that job – not so exciting! Here’s a bit about how it all went down for this control freak. 🙂

The season of change…

Ahhh fall! My favorite season! Perfect hiking! Amazing biking! The season of my children’s birthdays! The best time of year!

This fall I knew it was time for a change professionally. The interview process at McKendree was a slow and thorough one. It was actually rather perfect. I needed the time to carefully consider whether or not leaving Gateway180 was truly the right decision. I also needed to figure out if the job would be a good “fit” for me. Six years in the convent and 10 years in non profit would tell a girl something about herself – she needs a cause or mission to hang her hat on. Could I find that at McKendree?

Discovering the mission… Make Your Mark

From the little I knew about McKendree – I already “liked” it. After meeting the staff during my interviews – I started to like it a lot more! Liking it wasn’t enough – I had to figure out how I was going to “love” it!

They’ve got a great mission, brilliantly summed up in three simple (but powerful) words – Make Your Mark. They encourage “broader vision, enriched purpose, engagement with community, commitment to responsible citizenship, openness to new ideas and dedication to lifelong learning.” BAM – there it was! A near perfect alignment with all the things I’m passionate about. Super easy mission to get behind!

An early Christmas gift… was I going to accept it?

I was offered the job on December 21st. I accepted the job but let them know I wouldn’t give my notice until I got back to Gateway180 on January 7th (after Christmas break). Little did I know how important that window would be!

I ended up finding my lump a few days after accepting the job. A lump doctors were 80% was nothing… after a surgical biopsy they were 99% sure it was nothing (that was January 4th).

I pride myself on making wise decisions… I was NOT going to switch jobs if I was going to be receiving a cancer diagnosis. I wasn’t going do that to myself. So, I moved forward with the information I had at the time. I gave my notice at Gateway180 on January 7th. I got the “this is breast cancer” call on January 14th. My start date at McKendree was January 21st. WHY couldn’t I have found out sooner. How could this be happening? Talk about rocking my world… being unsure about my future personally and professionally was pretty unsettling!

My first day (and weeks) on the job…

My first day with my boss went a little bit like this: “Hi, I’m so excited to be here, but I have cancer.” I waited in silence – kind of expecting to hear “okay, please leave now, we don’t want you and your cancer here.” Maybe that exact thought was a little irrational; but that’s what I thought was going to happen (or some variation of it). What I found instead was a boss who was incredibly supportive and understanding. She put my fears to rest immediately.

A few weeks later, I had to tell my new colleagues that after being on the job 3 weeks I would be gone for 3 weeks because of surgery. They too were amazingly understanding and supportive. Then the campus minister (who I had met just a few times) offered to come to the hospital the morning of my surgery to pray with me. At that point it became clear that McKendree is really like a family. Usually you’ve gotta earn your place in the family…. I’m really blessed that as a new girl (with a big problem) they’ve treated me like a member of the family since day one.

To sum it all up…

If I got my diagnosis a few days sooner I never would have changed jobs. I would have chosen the safe and sensible route. I would have missed the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m grateful things worked out the way they did. A great decision became a horrible one… and then became great again. There’s a lesson in this that I’ll figure out over time.

Thanks for stopping by!


2 thoughts on “Make Your Mark – How I almost missed a great opportunity!

  1. I’m so glad you decided to write this blog and this story. It’s amazing and inspirational and something I’ll try to remember whenever everything seems to go wrong at the same time. An added bonus is that I’ve learned something else new and admirable about you – you are a very talented writer! xoxoxoxo

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