Throughout the month you’ve learned a little more about our team members! This week, we introduce you to Colleen Beener, our Operations Director!
What is your current role with G-PACT?
I am the Operations Director/Treasurer
What brought you to G-PACT?
In August 2001, my GI doc wrote “gastroparesis” on office notes and showed me to the door. No explanation after 3 years of me begging him to find out what was wrong with me. I ran home and googled it, only to find very, very little information. But I did find a Yahoo support group and joined it. I was member #230. It was the only online support group at the time. G-PACT was born 9 days later.
-How long have you been with G-PACT?
I started as a moderator of the Yahoo group in 2002 and then joined G-PACT as a volunteer in 2004. I began as a general volunteer but I used my human resources experience to organize and streamline the volunteer hiring process and took over as Volunteer Coordinator. I assumed my current position in 2012.
-If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take three things, what would they be and why?
I only need one thing, although it has many parts. My family – husband, kids, grandkids and my cat. They are my reasons to keep fighting.
-Who has inspired you most in your life and why?
In 65 years, I have had a lot of people inspire me in different ways. But the most important was Mrs. Yeoman, my guidance counselor from grades 7-12. My home life was not very good and she saw something in me that made her take an interest. She made me believe in myself and my abilities.
-What’s been your biggest hurdle since your diagnosis?
Not being able to work. So much of my self-worth was tied up in the work I did. Plus, I LOVED my job. But I eventually realized that new things were opening up as a result of my illness. Some of my most cherished experiences happened only because I was no longer able to work.
-What’s one piece of advice you’d share with someone newly diagnosed?
Accept that there is no cure and treatments are limited. Treating symptoms at this point is the best we can usually get and not accepting that will make it more difficult for you to adjust. But, do not give up and do not give in. Find a doctor who will work with you and for you to get you to the best health possible. Keep looking until you find that doctor. Be prepared to fight for the care you deserve!