When diagnosed with cancer at age 27, Kairol Rosenthal was very much rooted in her no-holds-barred career as a modern dance choreographer. Once she began coping with her illness, however, Kairol found that a dance career was no longer practical. Interestingly, while she focused on her health, she was able to develop many of the skills essential to making a career change.
to an HR paperwork snag, Kairol had no health insurance when she was diagnosed.
She gained coverage using the skills of
an effective publicist: 40 hours a week, she made relentless callbacks to my
list of contacts, stealthily navigated the chain of command, and compelled
administrators to relate to her personal story. Kairol also received
top-notch oncology care using the skills of a good investigative reporter. She taught herself complicated medical jargon,
researched databases and medical journals, and grilled her doctors for deep
details during the tight time-frame of five-minute appointments.
Says Kairol: “Traveling the US interviewing Gen X and Gen Y cancer patients, I heard repeatedly that after cancer treatment, survivors shifted to new careers that made a difference in the world or were about following passions and creative expression. The adversity of my illness was not a compass towards passion and meaning, but an opportunity to discover marketable and transferable skills that led to me becoming an investigative, non-fiction writer, and getting my first book published, Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s. I love choreography and will make more dances on the side, but now I am focused on my busy and energizing career as a writer.”
On a related point, via Twitter I recently met an interesting woman named Rosalind Joffe who focuses on managing your career while coping with chronic illness. If you’re unfortunately in this boat, I highly recommend you check out Rosalind’s website for information, support, and resources.