Last week, we introduced you to one of our members of the team, Carolanne. To continue to get to know the team, today we’d like to share a little more about our Public Relations Director, Marie Jefferson-Clune!
What is your current role with G-PACT?
Director of Public Relations
-What brought you to G-PACT?
I have been following the facebook page since my diagnosis in 2014, but Samantha Smith recruited me for this position and I was excited to join the leadership team
-How long have you been with G-PACT?
2-3 months or so
-If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three things, what would they be and why?
Other than my two cats and husband? I would take Gaviscon (for real, it is that important in my life), my phone with music downloaded as I usually listen to music all day every day, and a kayak for entertainment.
-Who has inspired you most in your life and why?
My mother has inspired me the most in life and continues to inspire me daily. She has always had health conditions and she is the first person who taught me how to advocate for myself in doctor’s offices and hospitals. She learned this skill when she was her dying mother’s caretaker, a situation she handled with grace and love when she was just 24 years old. She has recently lost 60lbs in an attempt to be healthier for herself, her kids, and her future grandkids. She is one of the most selfless people I know.
-What’s been your biggest hurdle since your diagnosis?
My biggest hurdle since my diagnosis has no doubt been juggling my career and my illness. I work full time at software company based out of Manhattan and often work long days, plus a commute back home to where I live in New Jersey. I do my best to let my work be the focus and try to avoid anyone at work ever finding out about my illness, even if I was just in the ER the night before a work day or I spend an hour in the office bathroom during a flare up. As open as I am with it in my personal life, these are the things that make you miss promotions and opportunities, which is very sad. My goal is to reach a leadership role in my field and be the change I want to see within corporate America. In the meantime, the juggling continues, but I truly believe I am blessed beyond belief to be able to do this, even if I pass out asleep as soon as I get home most nights. There was a time a few years ago when I was bedridden and was told I would be on disability for the rest of my life.
-What’s one piece of advice you’d share with someone newly diagnosed?
I would tell them to try their best to NOT take everything the doctor’s say at face value. I have been diagnosed with some scary things and the doctor’s can be the worst people to talk to during that time. You need to collect all the information you possibly can from them, but make sure to get second and third and fourth opinions. Listen to your gut. Doctors usually don’t know a whole lot about chronic illness and can give uneducated, misleading information that causes us to feel like our life is over. Your life is not over when you get this diagnosis, it is simply going to change. Also, consider bringing someone you trust to doctor’s appointments to take notes and be a second set of eyes/ears.