With Immense Gratitude, I Say ‘L’hitraot’ to My Readers
“L’hitraot” is a word I learned while living in Israel. It is a gentle way to say goodbye, essentially meaning “see you later.”
I am transitioning to a new job at a nonprofit organization, and this will be my last column here at Hemophilia News Today. It has been an honor to share the story of my hemophilia journey with you throughout these past couple of years.
For many years, I have wanted to work full time with the bleeding disorders community. But I lacked knowledge and experience, and although I would apply for jobs, my résumé always seemed to be glossed over. One day, though, I was finally blessed with the perfect fit.
The lesson I learned during this process is that sometimes in life, we knock on doors that won’t open, which is frustrating, discouraging, and depressing. But the key is to keep knocking.
I needed to educate myself
Four years ago, I attended a TEACH Immersion advocacy program sponsored by the Hemophilia Federation of America. This program brought people together from across the U.S., and trained us to be advocates for the bleeding disorders community.
We were taught to tell our stories in compelling ways and to craft “asks” for our elected officials regarding critical legislation. As a group, we went to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to meet with representatives and implement our new skills.
TEACH Immersion provided me with the training and the inspiration to advocate for critical healthcare needs. More importantly, it helped me understand that I have an advocacy voice, and all voices are valuable and should be heard.
In the fall of 2018, I attended the First National Conference for Women with Hemophilia, which was sponsored by the Hemophilia Foundation of Michigan and was a life-changing event for me.
Standing in a room with over 100 women with hemophilia was emotionally overwhelming. I spent the first evening talking to many of them, listening to their stories. They told me about having their health concerns dismissed by others and their inability to access treatment. Some nearly died. Listening to their stories made me finally understand that I was not alone.
If 100 women were in that room that night, then thousands more with bleeding disorders weren’t there, I thought. I needed to reach them.
The experience inspired me to dedicate more of my time to hemophilia education and advocacy. I set a goal that weekend: By the time my youngest daughter, who was at the time a freshman in high school, graduated, I wanted to work full time for the bleeding disorders community.
I decided to knock again
In spring 2019, I applied for two positions in the bleeding disorders community. I didn’t get them, because I still lacked the proper qualifications. But soon after, I saw an advertisement for a columnist position at Hemophilia News Today.
I had blogged before, so I applied and was fortunate to be asked to write this column, “The Forgotten Factor.” What a gift to be able to share my thoughts about women with hemophilia. I gained valuable experience and improved my advocacy through the written word.
Later that year and into the next, I applied for more jobs and was interviewed. But I still wasn’t the right fit for them. While this was hard, I understood that a fit has to be good for both an employer and the employee. I wanted to be where I could make a valuable contribution. Thankfully, I already had a good job in an unrelated field, so it was OK to wait.
I continued to volunteer, spoke at conferences, served on committees, and participated in legislative days. It was fun learning from other community members. The volunteer work was energizing and satisfying, because we all have the capacity to have an impact.
Volunteering also brought me new friendships. Fellow blood brothers and sisters are like family. We understand one another, and our bonds are deep. Hemophilia levels the playing field — we all have diverse backgrounds and different religious and political views. Some of us are poor, while others do well financially. We are unified in the struggles of life with a bleeding disorder.
Volunteering gave me invaluable experience
I recently applied for another job, and this time was different — my experience lined up with the employer’s needs. Finally, I wasn’t a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I had applied to more than a dozen positions over the years, and that was just fine. In between them, I learned, grew, and continued to serve. Exploring opportunities is important.
It is OK to be rejected for a job, even several times. It may not be a reflection of you or your skills. And it doesn’t mean you should give up on your dreams.
Perseverance taught me that one day, the right door will open. Maybe it’s not the door we had envisioned for ourselves, but the universe knows nevertheless. If we continue knocking and growing, the door meant for us will be percolating until the right moment.
Today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude, not just for the beautiful door that has opened, but also for the ones that didn’t, so that I could walk through the right one, right now, eight months before my daughter graduates from high school.
Thank you, readers, for your input and support over these past couple of years. You feed my soul, and I will miss writing for you.
With abundant gratitude, Shellye
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.