Thursday, January 22, 2009

Meg Crofton inspires hope for those working and coping with a chronic illness

My job drives me crazy at times, I feel ill-suited for some aspects of it, and my body is taking a beating with it, but it has its perks. I get to meet and work with some amazing people.

Today I got to go to a private speaking engagement with a group called Women of the Boardroom. This quarterly breakfast featured Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World Resort, as its speaker. She was truly phenomenal.

One of her nieces has been staying with her for the past month as she pursues a job shadowing opportunity in nursing. As part of the program, she had to keep a daily journal, and in an effort to bond with the girl, Meg began keeping a journal as well. Beyond simply recording her daily thoughts, she reflected back on the past 30 years of her life to cull significant moments and life lessons.

The one that struck the strongest chord in me was one of her final stories, "Remember to bring joy into your life." In this, she revealed that when she was 30 she was diagnosed with what she would only refer to as a condition. She took medication to control it, and for years, it worked okay, but not well enough for her to feel truly healthy. Until the time came when her white blood cell count dropped dangerously low, and it was determined she would have to permanently discontinue the medication. Her condition flared back into life.

Meg decided to cope by balancing her life. She became realistic about her limitations and stopped traveling in her role as Vice-President of Disney Company's Human Resources Department, a role in which she was responsible for 90,000 cast member across the globe. She began exploring Western medicine, out of what she called "desperation." She spent several months taking more time for herself, more time with friends, more time to rest, drinking medicinal teas, getting acupuncture, and basically exploring the new life she was trying to build. And it worked. She found a way to cope with her life without her medication.

I have never, ever heard a leader speak about having a chronic illness before. The past few months of working full-time have left me utterly dejected at times when my body feels at its worst, screaming in pain, refusing to cooperate and take me where I feel I need to go. Part of me felt like crying as I heard her tell this story, but an even bigger part of me was overjoyed.

Granted, everyone is different. I do not know what her condition was or any of the other circumstances of her life that have a great bearing on how she handles being chronically ill. But to hear her speak publicly about this was inspirational.

Thank you, Meg.

I wish so badly that I had recorded her speech.

1 comment:

  1. I would have loved to hear her speak. I've dealt with chronic sometimes blinding pain for the last 20 years. People just don't "get it"!!!!