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Madam Vice President

I’m typically a fairly humble person when it comes to career promotions however I feel like I want to shout this news from the rooftop – ya girl just became Vice President of Client Success at the marketing agency I work at. Believe it or not, I actually started as an intern almost 11 years ago, so it’s fitting to quote Drake: “started from the bottom now I’m here!”

You’re probably wondering why I’m talking about a work promotion on a cancer blog, but I assure you it’s appropriate.

Before cancer, I was a workaholic. I devoted all my energy into constantly bettering myself as both an employee and a leader at Defero. My job was more than a job - it always had been. I love what I do and working my way into a leadership role in my mid-twenties was an accomplishment I was very proud of.

Enter: a life altering cancer diagnosis.

When I was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, I found myself smacked in the face with an identity crisis. Suddenly, I felt unrecognizable at work. It was a feeling that was significantly more prominent in my own head, but I really struggled accepting my new job: cancer patient. My sole focus was no longer dictated by what I wanted to do, and I was forced to prioritize something I never anticipated - how to survive. (I even wrote a blog post about it).

Somehow or another, I managed to work throughout the entirety of my diagnosis and treatment. I took vacation days for immunotherapy infusions, scans and doctors appointments. I often took work meetings from the comfort of my bathroom floor, while working through an episode of the barfs.

Now let’s talk about my company for a minute. The unwavering support I received from not only my colleagues, but also the company owners (whom are also some of my biggest supporters) was far beyond what I could have ever imagined. Not only was I able to maintain my leadership role (despite taking a backseat to all things not cancer), they even went as far as to ensure that we always have an health insurance plan that is in-network for Mayo Clinic.

Post-cancer treatment, I regained a lot of my regular work duties but things were different. Not bad, just different. I had re-prioritized what was important to me, and my career was no longer at the top of my list. I was very much in a status-quo type state. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t try, I was just still trying to figure out how to fit cancer back into an appropriate piece of my life and regain focus on the other pieces that I put on hold.

We recently had some restructuring at the agency and I saw a window of opportunity for me to step into a new role. A role that pre-cancer me would have been over the moon about filling. And yet, I was hesitant. Not because I didn’t think I could do the job but because I was questioning if a cancer survivor was capable of holding such a demanding role. While significantly less intrusive to my day-to-day life, I still have routine scans, doctor appointments and some cancer PTSD. To be brutally honest, there’s still a chance I’ll encounter a recurrence. Was it really possible to be both a metastatic cancer survivor and a VP at the agency?

Apparently it is!! While a promotion like this is enough of a reason to celebrate, the fact that I’m here after a cluster of a personal life is something worth celebrating even more. With this news, I feel like I’m getting a piece of “me” back and I can’t even begin to tell you how good that feels. I’m incredibly grateful for Defero to continue to invest in me and even more grateful given the past few years I’ve had.

So, cheers to being able to celebrate something other than being cancer-free!


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