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An Open Letter to the Chronically Ill Professional

Dear Chronically Ill Professional,

You are enough.

It’s easy to look around and compare yourself to your peers. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion because you were sitting in doctors’ appointments instead of working overtime. Perhaps you aren’t living that “hustle” lifestyle because you need to slow down and rest.

That doesn’t make you less than your peers.

You are not a failure for going from employer to employer to find one that will accommodate your needs. Or even better, an employer that will look past your health and see your potential. Unfortunately, employers like that are hard to find. It’s OK to take that risk and become an entrepreneur. When my health was declining, I still held great value in being a professional. I did anything I could to hold on to what my life would be like if I didn’t have cystic fibrosis. I had a supportive and accommodating employer. But even then, it was no longer feasible for me to work outside my home regularly. I was in and out of the hospital with almost weekly long-distance doctors’ appointments. My health was unpredictable.

I began doing freelance work and making money in a less traditional way. The flexible schedule and control over how much work I did were incredibly beneficial to both my mental and physical health. It alleviated a lot of pressure I had put on myself to keep up with my peers. It also gave me time to rest and stay on top of my rigid treatment schedule.

Here’s the thing: You have something special called perseverance. You have made it this far. Living each day takes work and has its challenges. Nothing can foster a more rock-solid work ethic than that. Use that gift to your advantage.

Finally, your worth is not in how much money you make or whether you have a job. No one should be valued any less based on whether they can work or not. It took me a long time to value myself outside of being a professional. I still occasionally struggle with this. This letter is just as much for me as it is for others reading it. I am enough. You are enough. We are enough.

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