Friday, June 8, 2012

It's been ages

It's been ages since I've felt compelled to write something for the blog. The last two semesters of college have been particularly hard for me. I feel a little ridiculous for thinking so given everything that I've been through over the last 5.5 years. After coming off of systemic steroids for GvHD of the liver and lungs last year, I wanted to hit the ground running. I had planned on it and was on my way when the car accident happened.

I've been in physical therapy since December. The near constant pain made concentrating in class difficult. Dealing with the other driver's insurance company has been anything but a pleasure. Having a herniated disc in my neck is more upsetting than chemo for me.

Traction and physical therapy are helping. I take muscle relaxers when the pain in my neck and shoulders becomes unbearable. That's about all I can say about it.

At some point in February it dawned on me that this would be my last semester at LSU. I started freaking out about finding a job. I didn't know how to explain the 4 year long gap on my resume that spanned cancer, treatment, and recovery. Cancer doesn't come with a manual.

I'm a member of the Construction Student Association, but I haven't been able to really participate. At first, because of the GvHD and mega doses of steroids, and then the wreck happened and most of my free time was given over to physical therapy and pain management. A perk of being a member of CSA is that you get notified when companies are looking to fill positions. I applied for nearly everything. I got no responses.

I went to interviewing workshops and a Q&A panel with construction company recruiters. I went to a construction interviewing day social. It was painful because I felt like I was wearing a flashing neon capital C on my back. I didn't know how to broach the subject with complete strangers who also happened to be the individuals who could grant me interviews.

Lucky for me, someone did it for me. Steve was introduced to me through his student intern, who also happened to be the sitting president of CSA the semester that I was diagnosed. Steve followed the blog during my treatment. He learned that I was back in school and reached out to me. He's been one of my biggest cheerleaders this semester and is the reason that I was able to overcome the fear that potential employers would pass on me because of the last 5 years.

Steve reached out to his peers in the industry and helped steer me through the dreaded CID social. Had it not been for him, I'd still be stammering over explanations of my cancer hiatus in interviews.

It's hard for me to explain, but after you've been sidelined for so long by cancer, your confidence takes a serious beating. Other survivors understand immediately, because they've lived through it too. I know that I can navigate a medical emergency like nobody's business and in a crisis, I'm the person you want to be standing next to. It's the every day stuff that can occasionally shake my confidence. I'm getting better and I know it's only a matter of time before I find myself laughing this off, too.

I went on a string of interviews. Had it not been for Steve and some of my professors, I doubt that I would have had as many opportunities. A lot of people quietly reached out on my behalf. I am thankful beyond words.

I received an offer with a really great company a few weeks ago. My first day is Monday, and the fact that I'm able to write that after absolutely everything puts me over the moon with joy.


LacubriousOne said...

WOOOOHOOOOO! That is awesome, Ann!!! Congrats! You deserve it, NEVER forget you've worked for it!

Susan said...

Ann, congratulations! When I stopped writing my blog, I also stopped reading other blogs.I've thought of you often and am sorry for losing touch.