An Unexpected Interview
Walking into Home Goods with a friend in search of pumpkin candles, I said: “I wish God would just find me the perfect job where it doesn’t matter if I go deaf.”
Knowing that my wish probably wouldn’t come true, I said a quick prayer to myself and continued with our shopping.
A few days later, my husband and I were sitting in the exam room waiting to see my new neuro-oncologist. Through a string of referrals that started with my ENT in Texas, we finally found a local doctor to manage my treatment.
The PA was the first one to come in the room. During her neurological exam, she made sweet small talk, which included: our recent wedding, moving to Florida, and my lack of employment.
Shortly after the PA left the room, she came back, but this time with my neuro-oncologist. He introduced himself and discussed my treatment options with us. Once the risks of treatment were explained and our long list of questions answered, the doctor abruptly switched subjects.
“So, I hear you’re a social worker.”
Somewhat caught off guard, I responded with “yes” and gave a short explanation of the timing of my diagnosis and my current unemployment.
“We just had a social work position approved for our clinic. I think you should apply if you’re interested.”
My jaw dropped. How could he possibly want me to work for him? As much as I wanted to tell him of course, I will ABSOLUTELY apply for the job!
I couldn’t help, but ask: “What if I go deaf?”
He casually responded, “Oh don’t worry, we’ll just adjust the job to make it work for you.”
I was shocked. This doctor hardly knew me. And the part of me that he did know was the part that I thought would make it almost impossible for me to find a job.
Before that day, I was struggling with my self-worth. I kept seeing myself as a risk to hire and assumed that no one would be able to look past my condition. Fresh out of graduate school, I was inexperienced. I would need to take time off frequently for my treatments and…I could go deaf at any moment. There weren’t many benefits to hiring me. At least I didn’t think so at the time.
A few weeks later, the job was mine.
No, it wasn’t a counseling job like I had initially planned, but it was a job. A job where I didn’t have to hide my condition and made my commute to treatment a mere 2-minutes long (depending on how slow the elevator was running).
At this point, I felt like God was just showing off. Not only did He answer my prayer, He moved mountains.
Shortly after starting the job, I met one of the therapists at the cancer center. After a couple of quick conversations, she offered to become my supervisor so that I could start pursuing my counseling license. Again, I was shocked.
Not only did I have a job, which was a miracle in itself, but I was also being handed the opportunity to follow my career dream; something that I had spent the last few months trying to forget.
How was it possible that God was putting so many people in my path that were willing to take a chance on me?
Not only were they giving me a chance, but they were pursuing me because of my condition.
Through my work with patients this last year, I finally started to see in myself what others had already believed. Yes, my condition presented certain challenges to the job, but it also enabled me to empathize with patients on a level that only comes from being an actual patient. Granted patients weren’t aware of my condition, but it allowed me to listen to their fears and frustrations with true understanding.
It taught me that my condition had made me a better social worker.
The connections I made with people, both patients and employees, made my job more than just a job. It gave me a chance to catch my breath while I adjusted to my new life. It helped me to learn how I can use my condition to help others. And it provided me with my Florida family.
I am forever grateful for the individuals who made this last year happen. And I can only hope that one-day, I will have the opportunity to pay it forward and take a chance on someone like myself.
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