Guest blog by: Reid D’Amico
Living with CF is hard. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to pivot with many of CF’s new challenges. This has largely been an iterative process of successes and failures with plenty of feedback, patience, and assistance from friends and family. However, I’d like to focus on a few elements of CF that I believe have augmented my professionalism. These are elements that have taken time to develop, and are still being developed, but I believe that CF has provided a solid foundation for this professional growth.
1. I’ve learned how to balance many things in my head at one time. In CF, we have our routines, settings, time points, and medications that we need to take on a daily basis. This routine is often shifted in times of exacerbation when often more medications or therapies are added to an already heavy number of treatments. The ability of people with CF to balance so many medical schedules is partially attributed to why we do so well post-transplant—difficult medical routines are part of our identity. However, this same skill has made its way down to my career as an engineer and scientists. I’m able to run several experiments at once, balance formulae in my head, and remember protocols quickly. This has resulted in some expedited successes in my career, and I truly equate many of these skills to having CF. Years of CF medical schedules have primed me to successfully multitask and adjust to complicated problems.
2. CF has made me a better leader. I’ve learned how to balance being kind and patient with myself and also when to push myself. There are times when one approach is appropriate over another, and learning how to find that balance in yourself is the first step towards translating that into a successful managerial role. I’m also more understanding of people’s challenges. CF has many challenges that are invisible and often go unsaid. Learning to work with others through challenges, both professionally and personally, has been a great attribute in my leadership development.
3. CF helps me articulate complicated, unrefined thoughts. Whether its explaining symptoms to a physician, working with a pharmacy or working with my insurance company, I’ve learned how to articulate complicated thoughts in order to convey points or obtain medications I need. CF forces you to do your research on treatments and insurance coverage. This ability to quickly learn and discuss has been an incredibly valuable tool, and I believe CF has once again helped me take these skills into other areas of my life and career.
Overall, CF is a tiresome burden, but it has led to some great people and professional skills. Recognizing these advantages can only help us in a career. As more and more people with CF enter the workforce, it may be beneficial to recognize our strengths from the start.