I'm on Day 3 of the new job at the Children's Tumor Foundation. I am officially the NF Endurance Logistics and Marketing Manager. What does that mean? The Children's Tumor Foundation has an endurance team, so people run races across the US and raise money for us in the process. I help to create the marketing materials for the team, and also help organize race weekends, race contracts, expo spaces, pasta dinners, and many other things. I knew I needed a job that required me to be on my feet less and this job gives me the opportunity to do something I love, while being less physically demanding. At the pace I was going, my leg was finally telling me....enough already....take a break. 3 big surgeries in 17months. That was a sign to slow down.
I loved working at the American Cancer Society and I met some of the most amazing people during my 5 years there. I grew up over those 5 years. This job changed my life.
When I first started working at the American Cancer Society, I was living at home with Mom and Dad, never had a real job before, was just coming off 2 years of treatments/surgeries for bone cancer, and really didn't have a social network (both online or offline) of people in my life, except Mom, Dad and Ben! Throughout those 2 years of treatments and the 2 years after treatment when I spent my time getting back to a "normal life", I really lost a connection with the rest of the world. Getting healthy was my top priority, and it was easier to be around those people that just really got it, and those people that made it effortless to just be how I needed to be. When I finished treatment, I really felt like I was at a point where I had to start my life all over again. All of my friends had been to college, had college experiences, met their lifelong friends at school, and had moved onto full time careers and relationships. I wasn't quite there.
So along comes this job at the American Cancer Society, in the heart of downtown Chicago. I knew that I wanted to work at the American Cancer Society, no matter what. I had been applying there for 5 months and finally accepted an income development representative job at their Chicago office in 2007. I started making the commute, 2 hours door to door each way, into the city. I thought I could handle the commute longer than I did. 3 months later, I decided it would be easier to move to the city. I balked at signing the first lease to my own apartment. It was such a big step. But once I signed that lease, everything started to fall into place. I moved downtown, I started meeting people, and I got comfortable and more involved with my job.
I have 4 ridiculously awesome people in my life, and I met them all through my work at the American Cancer Society.
1. Andrew "My Mandrew" Crabtree. I met Andy while hosting an information session at Fleet Feet Sports. Andy claimed I was "disheveled" and rushing in from the rain to get everything setup for the info session. This was not the case. As usual, I had arrived an hour early for the info session and was setup in plenty of time before his arrival. He remembers his version, I remember mine. Andy joined the team and then showed up to our mid-season party, then showed up to my committee information meeting (where he was the only one that attended), attended our first committee meeting, and then proceeded to ask me over for dinner that next weekend. The rest is history.
2. Kristin McQueen. My first dose of Kristin McQueen was more or less considering her a celebrity of sorts. I had heard her name thrown around the office a lot, and she seemed to be on every piece of collateral that we had for our program, yet I really didn't meet her right away. It was at the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 1/2 Marathon in 2010 where we first hit it off. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off on event day, but I tried to make as much "Kristin time" at the event as possible. Kristin is now one of my best friends. Not a day goes by that we don't share text messages, and my life is better because she is a part of it. Stop reading here Mom. I also completed my first 3 mile swim in Lake Michigan with Kristin. It was a day I will never forget. Kristin and I are both cancer survivors, and based on that alone, we have a connection that not many others can have together. Let's keep kicking cancer to the curb.
3. Sarah Coulam. Or should I call you "boss"? Sarah was the "me" of New York in DetermiNation world. Sarah ran the NYC DetermiNation program while I ran the program in Chicago. She is now my boss and the Director of the Children's Tumor Foundation NF Endurance Team. I am grateful to Sarah for giving me the opportunity to join her at CTF, and to give me the opportunity to use my brain and not my legs in the working world! I first met Sarah at our American Cancer Society Chicago office. She had on a black dress, black heels, and was walking around our office with a presence. I thought...wow.....who is that?! Even though Sarah and I do not see each other that often, we are best friends. We seem to have a similar passion for the endurance world together and just click when it comes to working together. She is always one to check-up on my leg, talk to me about the Bachelor, or she listens to me complain about not being able to workout. The first 2 cards to arrive in the mail post surgery are always from Sarah and Kristin.
4. Emily "Hammy" Hamilton. I met Emily Hamilton while working at the American Cancer Society office. In her first week of work there, she had to attend the Daffodil Days breakfast that I was organizing, and while in the car driving to the breakfast, I decided that one of us needed a nickname since we were both named Emily. I came up with the nickname Hammy, and for some reason, it stuck immediately. We just clicked at work, and the office was so much better because she was there. She shared with me that she was pregnant before she even knew she was pregnant, and we had fun hiding her baby bump at work before she was ready to tell everyone. She even sat on my couch just 12 hours before giving birth! We have similar opinions and outlooks on just about everything. I swear we are practically the same person, separated at birth. Even though neither of us work at ACS anymore, I know we will be lifelong friends.
See. ACS changed my life. This job put me in a position to meet so many different people, who were not only passionate about cancer, but also passionate about health and fitness. This organization attracts so many unique and compassionate individuals, and put everyone in a room together, and you can never walk way uninspired. I went from living at home, without a core group of friends, to moving downtown, meeting so many amazing people, meeting Andy, moving in with Andy, learning a lot about the non-profit endurance event world, and now transitioning into a new role at the Children's Tumor Foundation. A lot can happen in 5 years and I will be forever grateful when looking back at my time with ACS.