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Volunteer Advocate
cf insights cf insights

Work Balance

Living with Cystic Fibrosis can feel like a job in and of itself. Try balancing school or work (or both!) on top of that and you’ve got a lot on your plate. Setting boundaries for yourself and other so that you can stay healthy and happy is key, even if it can be awkward or anxiety inducing. So we asked our community for tips on how to negotiate work balance with teachers and employers. Here is what they had to say:

  • “Always be up-front and honest about what may come up in your future ie. may need to take more than average sick time during cold and flu season etc. That way, they can hopefully plan accordingly and help you keep up with work or school work without sacrificing your health.”
    – Kim Wood
  • “With work I’m so fortunate in that the manager of the store I work for, his wife’s best friend has CF. So, when I’m not feeling well or I’m having a hard time it’s completely understood. Getting co-workers to understand was a little harder. But I have always been open to talking about my CF and I think that has really helped the people I work with understand that sometimes I need a sick day just to sleep or I can’t move quickly because it sends me into a coughing fit.”
    – Mackenzie Norris
  • “I always knew my limits and did my best to work within them. When I was employable I was very straight up with potential employers, because I knew that if I couldn’t work then I didn’t want to lie about the reason. My former employers were typically respectful of my needs and appreciated my honesty. CF has unfortunately made my ability to have gainful and promotional employment quite limited.”
    – Timothy Vallillee
  • “Honesty. The reality is that we have to care of ourselves. This takes time. Also, no matter how well we care for ourselves, there will be times when a break and/or hospitalization is necessary. Be upfront about these realities. Discrimination on the part of an employer is not an option. Don’t allow work to be the demise of your health. Pay attention to your body and its limits and advocate for yourself the way you would, for your most dear friend.”
    – Erin Sullivan
  • “Know your rights and the tools available to you as a student or employee. Most campuses have a Disability Services centre – use this! It is extremely helpful. Be aware of your employer’s policies on sick leave and acquaint yourself with the Human Resources department. Also, check employment laws in your country and province.”
    – Abby McFee
  • “Being straightforward about CF from the beginning of my employment has allowed my employer and I to find a balance between what they need from me and what I am capable of.”
    – Terra Stephenson
  • “I have struggled for years on this. I never used to tell anyone I had CF until I had no choice, whether it was because I was being admitted and would be missing weeks of class, or being admitted and needing time off of work. My best advice is to prove yourself, make your supervisor realize how useful and dedicated you are. As you build a good relationship with your superiors it becomes easier to talk about a touchy subject like CF. Don’t use CF as a weapon, just be fair and warn them. I would say, I do not expect any admissions or issues in the near future, but my reality is that they may happen and I need you to be okay with it, and if you aren’t then we will have to work something out. A lot of bosses realize that it’s better to have a great employee 3 days a week at 100% than a rundown, exhausted employee 5 days a week that can only give 50%. It’s all about attitudes and building relationships make yourself known and make it undeniable that you are a necessity to the success of your employer.”
    – Meaghan MacRury

Have insights you would also like to share? To be quoted in our blog please contact Terra at tgillespie@cysticfibrosis.ca