A person stands halfway out the door, contemplating whether she'll continue to leave the house for work.

Can I Keep Working? When It's Time To Take A Step Back

I’m a very motivated individual. I always ran for every board, committee, or leadership position I could. I starting working young. I had always wanted a career in real estate, even as a child. Not kidding, I would design floor plans and attend open houses on Sundays by the time I was 8 years old. It was something I knew I wanted.

Insurance concerns

After graduating with my Bachelor's degree, I started looking into real estate classes. However, as a real estate agent, I wouldn’t be offered health benefits, even though I’d lose my father’s health insurance plan. My cystic fibrosis would make it impossible for me to not be covered by a decent insurance plan.

Ultimately, I decided it wasn’t the right time to step into that career. I worked two part-time jobs (20-25 hours a week at each). This provided me with income and I was able to stay on my father’s insurance. It’s wasn’t ideal or what I wanted, but I was safe. I knew my medical needs would be met and I’d have access to the treatments I needed.

My career

Eventually, I met Andrew, and in 2015 we got married. After switching to his insurance I realized I could work full-time! Finally. I was 30 years old and had waited for over a decade for this moment. I jumped into real estate and loved everything: open houses, negotiations, contracts, and mostly: helping people.

It has been an amazing 4 years. I’ve learned more than I can ever imagine and accomplished more than I dreamed. I earned the title of Women’s Council of Realtors “Realtor of the Year” in 2017 and Keller William’s “Servant Leader in 2018.” So why - after success in a dream job - would I step down?

Stepping down from employment

Simple: my health and family. It’s hard to come to a decision to step away from work or even step down in work. I’m still doing a very small amount of part-time (at-home) work in the real estate industry. I struggled with this decision for almost 6 months and made many pro/con lists. Giving up something you love doing is hard. Feelings of “not helping or providing enough” came into my mind.

I try to stay focused on the bigger picture, which includes my health and kids. We foster children and my current foster child needs a lot of one-on-one care only a stay at home parent could provide. With work, meds, kids, home, errands I felt pulled in a million different directions and never fully excelling at any of them.

Evaluating what was best for my family and I, helped me to see what I needed to do. We budgeted, look through financials, time, work schedules, CF appointments, and our kid’s needs. In the end, it had to be done.

Reflecting on my decision

Now I look back over these past two months, I can’t imagine how I survived before. I’m up early to do meds and get my kiddo to school. I run errands, do more meds, clean, and my child arrives home around 11:30 (1/2-day Pre-K student). I don’t get a lot accomplished due to his special needs and that is perfectly alright. I have loved spending time with our kid(s), doing crafts, coloring, and helping them learn and grow. It is rewarding, even if I do feel some pressure from society to be in the workforce.

It can be hard when people ask what I do for a living or when someone thinks I’m still in real estate full-time. I just tell myself if I miss real estate in the future, it’s a career I can always jump back into. I’d better wait a few years and see how this new change turns out. So far, it’s been a positive and exciting experience, even if there have been struggles.

Can you relate to having employment concerns?

If you are struggling with health and work, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. I know a lot people may not have the option to stay-at-home, but there are other options out there (disability, different jobs, etc.). Find a loved one to talked to and find a solution that works for you. I’m thankful I did and I’m thankful for all the support my family has shown! I’m just going to enjoy every minute I can with our kids.

Have you or a loved one decided to step down from work due to CF? We would love to hear your story.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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