Have you studied beyond school? If so, how did you balance study, personal and CF responsibilities?
I studied for 2 years after school (Computer Programming) but wasn’t mature enough to deal with the study. After 12 years of schooling I guess I wanted to earn some money. When I turned 30 I thought I’d better get my life in order and completed a Bach Social Science with a Distinction average. I was the class nerd having coffee with lecturers. As a mature age student, I found I engaged with study a lot more and really wanted to learn.As far as balancing my CF life with study life, I always made sure that I took the necessary medications with me to Uni. There was a little advance planning involved which was easier as I got older. I informed my lecturers at the beginning of each term about my CF and that I might need to go to hospital. It was never an issue with them.
Do you work and if so, how many hours per week?
Currently I am only working in a part-time capacity in an online based Project Management role, however, prior to my double lung transplant I worked long hours. As a manager at a Not for Profit, I managed a team of ten people on a multi million dollar project but luckily the team all knew their jobs well. If I needed to have a tune-up, I wasn’t concerned about them as someone was able to step up.The most hours I ever worked in one week was about 80 hours (NEVER again!). This was when I was Operations Manager in a family owned business.
When did you tell your employers about your CF?
In the family business to obviously wasn’t an issue, however in the Not for Profit role I held off until the probation period had expired. I wanted to be judged on the work and results I could bring to the organisation, not what condition I had.I was lucky in that the whole organisation was extremely supportive and to this day I count some of my colleagues there as my close friends.
How did you and your employee address the need for time off for treatment?
When I was working full time, I would time my tune ups with annual leave or if necessary use sick days. It wasn’t until I became really ill and needed to take leave without pay that I reconsidered my position. Because my employers were so good to me, I didn’t want to let them down so I resigned my position.
Have you got any tips for the young CFs looking for a job?
Like people, there are good and bad employers. Some are understanding yet others don’t care at all. My advise would be to choose carefully who you work for and know your rights. I’m lucky that I had good experiences but I have heard horror stories as well.If you work for a larger organisation you could most probably be assured they follow proper HR guidelines whereas some smaller organisations may not. Of course this is not always the rule.
My number one piece of advice would be to look after yourself first.
If you've had a transplant - what is one thing you wish you were told before transplant that could help you nowadays?
I asked many questions before my transplant and sought advice from friends and medical staff. I didn’t want any surprises. I know people that took the ’head in the sand’ approach and perhaps their transplant wasn’t what they expected.You owe it to yourself, your family and donor to educate yourself as much as possible.
Remember, transplant is not a cure.
What would the older you like to tell the younger you?
Use more sunscreen. Be good to your family and friends and rest when you need to. Don’t say ’Yes’ to make other people happy at the expense of your own health. Don’t sweat the small stuff. In the end everything works out one way or the other.
What are few things you would love to be able to do in the future (i.e. climb Mt. Everest, meet Ellen, learn to juggle)?
I used to love sport when I was healthier so a lot of my future plans involve exercise. I aim to complete my first triathlon in May ’17 and then there are other fitness goals I have planned as well. Generally, I want to enjoy life for as long as I can.I want to try and perfect the work/life balance. No one ever looked back in life and wished they worked more.