On Apr. 17, 2013 I was interviewed for my position at Fight Colorectal Cancer and four years later – almost to the date – is my last day as Advocacy Manager.
It’s been an incredible ride at Fight CRC. I’ve been incredibly impacted by the people I work with, both staff and advocates.
My time at Fight CRC has been rewarding in so many ways, professionally and personally. I joined the staff three days after graduating college. The professional experience I’ve gained is invaluable and the amount I’ve learned about public policy, advocacy and colorectal cancer is immeasurable.
We’ve accomplished so much over the past four years: One Million Strong events coast to coast, NASDAQ bell ringing ceremonies, presidential proclamations for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Blue Star States campaigns, the August Recess Challenge, doubling attendance at Call-on Congress, celebrity supporters, establishing a Congressional Advisory Committee, thousands of advocates taking action online, increases in research funding and support for removing barriers to screening – the list goes on and on.
I can’t wait to see where the future takes this organization and the CRC community as a whole!
The personal impact of working at Fight CRC has meant the most.
Working with advocates on a daily basis has created this passion in me to help people find meaning and purpose out of an unfortunate situation, like colorectal cancer. I’ve always desired to help people, but seeing the empowerment that happens when advocates take their personal tragedy and use that story to change policy, has changed me.
Getting to know advocates on such a personal level through constant interactions online and in person has been a privilege, and, at times, a curse. I was naïve to not realize the way the loss of advocates would impact me. In my four years, we’ve lost many advocates, including three members of the Grassroots Action Committee (GAC), or the “super advocates” I work so closely with. With each loss I grieved, but I was also recharged to keep fighting in their honor and in honor of all those we’ve lost.
In the same way, I’m energized and inspired daily by advocates who are currently fighting and have been for weeks, months, and years – those who’ve attended every single Call-on Congress, participate in every action alert and host fundraisers without ever burning out or losing sight of what they’re after. Because our fight is their personal fight, defeating colorectal cancer is their life’s purpose, and you can’t help but join them.
Advocates have taught me life lessons only certain people can teach you.
During my first year, our GAC Chair Belle Piazza called me one afternoon and made me delegate each task on my to-do list to GAC members. She knew I was overwhelmed and trying to do everything myself, even though I had a group of volunteers willing and ready to help. Anyone who knows me knows that letting go of the control was borderline painful for me to do – but I did it. And thanks to Belle, I learned that the world doesn’t stop turning with me not in total control! This has affected me as much in my personal life as it has at work. She taught me that it’s ok – and sometimes better – to ask for help instead of trying to do everything myself.
Rose Hausmann taught me another life lesson that’ll stick with me forever. Rose instantly loved everyone she met. She was truly the most free-spirited, positive, nonjudgmental person I’ve ever met. Before spending time with Rose, I was guarded in my interactions with acquaintances, mostly as a defense mechanism. If you don’t let people in, you can’t get hurt. But seeing how freely Rose loved – and how those she loved instantly felt included and connected – made me want to be like her. I’ll never be Rose, no one ever will, but I try to carry that piece of her with me.
So here I am, four years later. Four years older, four years wiser, and four years closer to figuring out who I am.
In the time since I signed my job contract, I graduated college, moved into my first one-bedroom apartment, got engaged, helped my mom battle cancer, got married and lived in four states.
So much has happened in such a short amount of time, and the one constant has been my family at Fight CRC. Through each life event, I changed, and grew, into the person I am now. Everyone in the CRC community has played a role in that development, and for that I’m grateful.
My Final Lesson
It’s hard to put yourself first, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. That is how I decided it was time for me to start a new chapter in my career and in my life.
My husband and I are settled in NC for a few years, which is an eternity in military time. Now that we’re not moving every six months and deployments are on the horizon, I need to get connected with our community here and build a support system. Working out of a virtual office has been such a blessing and the support I’ve received from our team through all the moves and life events has been incredible. But the one thing working from home doesn’t provide is someone to give you a hug on the tough days and someone to high five on the good ones.
I’m grateful to work for an organization that supports me and this change. I’ll always be connected with Fight CRC and all of our advocates. Whether online or in person at Call-on Congress, I’ll see you around.
Thank you for teaching me, leading me and loving me.