I ‘ve never been that good at job interviews. I take them seriously and prepare for them intensively, but I’ve never been that good at selling myself and my abilities. Salary negotiation? Forget it. No wonder I eventually started working for myself.
But when I got cancer, I hoped at some point I’d have the opportunity to share my experience in some way that could be useful to other sick people. I just couldn’t figure out how. I hope that my blog may serve that purpose, but its impact will be limited by its circulation. I still haven’t found a subtle way to say: “Read my blog. It’s all about me!”
But a few weeks back, I called Jessica Dollard, the Patient Centred Experience Advisor for the Calgary Cancer Project. Jessica wasn’t expecting my call but she greeted me warmly and suggested we meet. That’s after I stumbled through my extensive and lengthy experience in being sick. I realize now that I was trying to sell myself by pleading and grovelling.
Jessica gave me some questions to consider in anticipation of this meeting. Because I love homework, I didn’t just look the questions over; I wrote out extensive answers. And so yesterday, when we met, I got an A+ for my homework. So far so good.
Jessica seemed so glad to meet me, my homework aside, even though she knew very little about me. She felt I might have something to offer her project both because of my personal experiences within the health care system and my expertise as a psychologist. She treated me as if I were doing HER a favour. Does she not realize that this work might slow my brain from atrophying? Who really benefits here?
I didn’t even have to negotiate a salary, since there won’t be any. But I’ll have my hospital parking paid for–quite a gift given the monumental cost–and there will be snacks at meetings. I love snacks. Jessica is even willing to accommodate my low-sodium diet at meetings, which is especially gracious, since usually I just cart my own food.
I guess, since I haven’t signed a contract, Jessica could fire me at any time, but hopefully she won’t. And I trust my health won’t interfere with my participation. The new Cancer Centre is expected to open in summer 2020 and I plan to be around for the ribbon cutting.
As a psychologist, I am so lucky that I can make a difference in people’s lives. But when I got leukemia and had to limit my work, I worried I’d lost much of that potential. Maybe through this volunteer position, I’ll be able to help in a new way. I can live–for a long time–with that.
P.S. Jessica is still looking for input from cancer survivors and their caregivers. If you live in the Calgary area and would like to contribute, call her at (403) 521-3227. And don’t be nervous; she’s the nicest interviewer ever.