This is Anne.
If you know her, the title of this blog is not a surprise to you. If you do not know her, by the time you’re finished reading this, you’ll wish you did.
Anne is perhaps the strongest woman I’ve ever met but she wasn’t like that the day I met her. I’m sure her strength was there the entire time lying in wait under the surface but it had not yet been called forth to serve front and center. So, when things went awry, and they really went awry, Anne blossomed into something totally unexpected. Anne became the living, breathing, and walking embodiment of grace under fire.
I swear there were times I fully expected her neck to explode into a fluffy lion’s mane as a roar tumbled from her mouth. She turned the kind of woman that changes the world. Anne turned into the woman she is today and that woman is my hero. I think she deserves a cape and official billing right up there next to Wonder Woman and Superman. But, what she really wants is not a cape or the ability to fly (but she probably wouldn’t turn those down either). What she really wants, is a job.
You see, Anne’s story is nothing if not compelling. She’s faced some of the most daunting obstacles imaginable. She’s fought for her own life and then took up a battle to fight for the lives of other women like herself. When she had to leave a job she loved to move to another state, she thought that finding a new job would be easy given her experience and education. But it turns out that to even be considered for the kinds of jobs she wants, she has to get past the dreaded “computer programs” that evaluate resumes for the best fit. Turns out, these computer programs are her kryptonite and so since she doesn’t have the contacts she needs to get the jobs that are a perfect fit for her, I’ve decided to take a rather unconventional approach.
I’m so convinced that everyone that reads Anne’s story will realize what an amazing person she is, that I’m writing this blog with the hope that someone in the right place will see it and realize that their company needs an Amazing Anne. Your job is simple though. You just need to read Anne’s story and if you agree with me that it’s compelling, just share it. Share it via email, facebook, twitter, homing pigeon, smoke signal. Heck, you could even fax it back to the 1990′s or print it out and drop it in the snail mail. I don’t care how you help me get her story out, but you have to help me get her in front of the right people. She’s living in a new town and she doesn’t have the network built up yet that she needs to do this on her own. She’s getting discouraged. Since she’s at the mercy of a computer program that can’t see her strength, dedication, determination, and appreciate what she is, I need you to help me bypass that to get to a human. You do know some humans, don’t you? She needs a job. She wants a job. More than that, she’s looking for a place to need and want her. She’s looking for purpose.
I met Anne in graduate school at Georgia State University in a negotiations class. She immediately accused me of being terrible at math and kicked me out of a group for the day. I’d been so used to being leader, having someone challenge me was baffling. But, she was right…this time. We didn’t immediately become bosom buddies or even rivals, we just continued to co-exist for a time.
And then there was a life-altering moment. Plenty of us have these moments, and some of us have our lives altered again and again. These moments are the threshold moments. They take something away – an innocence or a comfort and they give you something in return. At first it feels like an unfair trade. Like you traded comfort and security for fear and uncertainty. But what it’s really giving you, you come later to realize is opportunity. Opportunity to grow, to love yourself, to see beauty in a different way, and to embrace life. And, more than one opportunity to have complete mental breakdowns in the middle of a Starbucks over the fact that your non fat soy skinny no whip latte burned your lip because you’re already so damn stressed out over this fear growing inside you that you cannot handle one. more. thing. and dammit if a barrista isn’t the person to send you flying right over the edge. And in fairness, I never saw these barrista-infused breakdowns in Anne. I saw them in me though. All I saw in Anne was a peace and stability that made me honestly wonder if they’d cut into her and find her organs shrouded in titanium. You see, my life-altering moment and Anne’s life-altering moment happened at the same time. We were both diagnosed with cancer, I with thyroid cancer and Anne with ovarian cancer…within weeks of each other.
We both left school at the same time, we both underwent surgery at the same time, we both spent time healing and concentrating on just getting out of bed in the morning at the same time, we both let our families help us at the same time and we both returned to school and work at the same time. Only…we didn’t know it. yet. But, when I showed up at school the next semester and she was sitting behind me, I immediately felt a bond to her that I’d never noticed before, something stronger than the shared insanity of surviving a full time job with graduate school at night. There was something else. I made a mental note to catch her after class and talk to her. Something was different.
The professor asked us each to stand up and share one fact or story or tidbit as we introduced ourselves in that class that makes us memorable or defines us or that we think is important. Anne stood up and said, “This is my first semester back after undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer.” And my jaw hit the floor. When I stood up, I turned and looked straight at Anne and said, “This is my first semester back after undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer,” and with that sentence, my forever friendship with Anne was cemented for life. Someone that worked full time in a high stress job and went to school at night and spent weekends doing homework and pushing herself as hard as she could mentally and physically for this master’s degree and someone that understood what I had just been through and was still going through and could relate to my fears and my fragility and my healing. Not just a friend but the kind of friend that gets it…all of it. That day, Anne and I had our first real conversation about our lives. That day was the opportunity presented by my life-altering moment realized. The thing is that Anne had another life-altering moment coming.
Anne’s friendship through the rest of graduate school was an inspiration and a comfort. Sure I graduated and got the piece of paper that I still haven’t framed but had I not found Anne, graduate school would have just been some extra knowledge. Because of her, it ended up being one of the most positive experiences in my life.
But…things were about to go terribly wrong…again.
Anne decided to see a new doctor. This new doctor explained the close link between ovarian cancer and the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations that can predispose someone to ovarian cancer and other cancers like breast cancer. Anne was tested for the mutation and she tested positive. As a precaution, they sent her for a mammogram even though she was still “too young” for annual mammograms. Anne had stage 1 breast cancer and because of a genetic test, she caught it 10 years before she would have ever had a mammogram. Just a couple years after undergoing surgery for ovarian cancer and feeling as though she had “dodged a bullet” by catching it early enough to avoid chemotherapy, she was on the phone explaining to me that she had breast cancer.
When Anne has a big challenge ahead of her, whether it be medical or otherwise, she has an approach that I admire. She plans. She explained the steps that were about to happen and the expected results and consequences and potential eventualities in such an organized and clear way that she comforted me instead of the other way around. She was so matter-of-fact that I remember thinking that she was far too organized for cancer. How dare these cells multiply unchecked inside her body, can’t they see that it’s not in the plan. I wasn’t worried about her survival, because after all of the group projects in graduate school, I knew that Anne has a way of getting everyone to buy into the plan. If cancer wasn’t in the plan, she’d eliminate it and move on. That’s how she rolls.
While Anne went through surgery and chemo, we learned a lot like: She’ll nibble animal crackers even if she’s nauseated. Pork is not good food for chemo patients. Pancakes can be eaten any time of day. Clean hair is a luxury, not a necessity. Just because one of you sleeps through the movie doesn’t mean it can’t count as hanging out. Sitting in silence is okay. April’s knowledge of pain medications is rivaled only by the pharmacist. Side effects are not for those with weak plumbing. Discussing poop does get less awkward. But most importantly, we learned how to get through it. Sometimes in silence and sometimes laughing and usually not eating because of the puke but no matter what, everyone in her life at that time helped hold her up when she felt weak and we all got her through it.
Anne made this video to share her story:
After chemo and surgery and months of healing and going a little stir crazy because Anne is not a sit around and do nothing kind of person, she was invited to go speak about genetic testing for cancer and how it had most probably saved her life. And with her hair growing in and her smile still impish she said to me quietly at a restaurant bar, “I interviewed for a job with the company that does this genetic testing. I think I’m going to make a career change.” And so after years of working in the financial sector, she relayed to me with excitement how excited she was to take a job that has such an important purpose. In her new position, she met with physicians offices to answer questions and help them implement a genetic screening protocol for patients at high risk of a BRCA 1 or 2 related cancer. And this was a huge leap from the financial sector she’d been working in and so she struggled at first but she had a plan and this was in it so it was going to happen. I remember phone call after phone call where she expressed frustration at physicians who didn’t want to offer the testing because other physicians in the area weren’t offering it so it wasn’t necessary in order to attract or retain patients. Doctors weren’t sure they could “make money” off of these tests. They weren’t sure the struggle to get insurance approvals for patients was worth the headache. She was furious that where you live could determine the level of screening available to you. She fought and pushed and persuaded and she made headway. And she may have even saved some lives along the way. Anne had a job she loved and believed in and she was happy and healthy. And even though she now lived on the other side of the state, we stayed close, talking frequently.
She was instrumental in my own testing for the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations and Lynch Syndrome. My family history meant that I was a prime candidate for the testing. My mother and father couldn’t get tested for the genes because their insurance does not cover any sort of genetic testing, but mine did. And Anne made sure I had all the information I needed. Anne even personally met with MY doctor. And I found out while I was in Europe attending the 2012 summer Olympics that I was negative for the BRCA mutations and lynch syndrome. *cue sigh of relief*
And then….Anne had to leave her job. It was for a really good reason though.
Believe me, it wasn’t an easy decision and there were tears. But Anne’s boyfriend, who she’d only been dating a few months prior to her diagnosis of breast cancer (and who dated her through surgeries and chemo and puke and no hair) proposed to her. She accepted and agreed to move away from this job that gave her so much direction and purpose to invest in her personal life and be with the man she loves. It was a no-brainer of a decision but that doesn’t mean it was easy to leave. She loved that job but she loved the man more. She hadn’t been with the company long enough to be considered for a move so she had to leave the company and hope that a job in her new location might be available. But there wasn’t a job for her. So, Anne…freshly married and with her titanium core, struck out to find a job.
I don’t have to tell you how difficult of a job market there is out there. I don’t have to tell you that a career change just a few years ago leaves some questions for anyone reading her resume. Financial sector to a title that appears to be in health care sales but was really a position of educating and coordinating and supporting physicians. Those computer programs we discussed…they’re baffled by Anne. But if she could just land the interview, she’d land the job. Perhaps the most resounding recommendation I can offer is this: Everyone in grad school always wanted Anne on their team projects. You all know that group projects are the bane of just about any academic program. But Anne’s determination and organization coupled with her ability to follow through and produce results no matter how difficult or tedious the job was made her stand out to everyone that has ever had the pleasure of working with her.
So, every time we talk and she recounts her latest job hunt stories, I see the disappointment growing. I just know that the only reason she doesn’t yet have a job is because being completely new to the area, she doesn’t have the network she needs to get into the door. She’s not what the computer programs are looking for but she’s everything the employers are looking for. They just have to speak with her.
Anne’s dream job would be some sort of patient advocate or education position. She’s got a gift of dealing with people that would make her ideal for corporate training or coaching positions. She still attends conferences to discuss her story and encourage genetic testing for cancer because she’s both relate-able and eloquent. She’d be willing to go back into the financial sector but she’d be more excited about a job that combined her experience in the financial sector with somehow helping cancer patients. Some of the career options we’ve kicked around include non-profits, possibly tied to research grants and proposals. She’d love to work for an organization like the American Cancer Society. Anne just moved to the Orlando, Florida area and if you can share this with anyone that could help her get a foot in the door somewhere, she’ll take it from there. It’s hard to see someone that fought so hard against cancer feel so beat up by a job hunt.
Help me find Anne a job. Share this post, tweet it, email it to your friends or colleagues that do hiring. Anne is amazing, and somebody out there needs her. Help them find her.
You can contact Anne via LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/pub/anne-weber/9/b51/b14, email her at annedietz at yahoo.com or you can leave a comment below.