I was working as a medical translator when COVID started. It was really difficult because I like helping people. I like solving problems. Although I was able to give them the information they needed in a way they could understand it, I was sometimes giving the patients information that was troubling. I felt powerless because all I could do was tell the patients exactly what the doctors were telling me. I’m a very sensitive person and it really broke my heart some of the things I had to translate. I was solving the language barrier problem, sure, but at the same time it almost felt like I was creating a new problem for the person by delivering the news of a health problem or a poor prognosis. And that new problem was one that I had no way of solving. That was hard for me.

Then, one day, I received my own troubling news when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. In order to get the surgeries and follow-up treatments, I had to be out of work for an extended period of time. I was so scared, because I have three kids who are 12, 8, and 7. It’s hard being a working mom even when you’re healthy. But the challenges of raising children during a health crisis were…a lot. There were so many unknowns during that time, not only about my health, but about my job. I only got paid if I was at work on calls, but I couldn’t be at work on calls if I wanted to get the treatment that would save my life. I needed my job to live, but working and not taking care of myself could kill me. I had no choice, I had to quit.

Pammela and her 3 children.

It was a difficult year for me, but I came out of my two surgeries healthy, and the last biopsy my doctors did in October was all clear. Now I'm just going to my regular checkups. I like to share this—even though it is very personal—because I am a helper by nature. And maybe telling my story reminds someone that they are due for their checkup. Doing my checkups regularly made a huge difference for my outcome. We caught it early. You miss a checkup, you run the risk of missing those signs that something is not okay.

So the hard decision of quitting that job was the right decision. It also led me to my current role as a customer support specialist with SpotOn. This feels like a step in the right direction, not just a job, but a career where I am empowered to solve problems and trusted to mentor new team members.

I've been at SpotOn for a little bit more than a year, and I really love my job. A huge part of what I do—both as a customer support specialist and mentor—depends on being a good listener. Giving a client the space to tell me what they need, that’s so important. Empathy is so powerful. Even before I begin problem-solving an issue, I can hear the difference in a customer’s voice when they know that I’m listening, I’ve heard them, I understand them, and I am going to help them. That I have their back.

We all make human mistakes. How we own them and grow from them is up to each of us.

Listening with patience and kindness is key. This is essential for developing trust with customers and also the colleagues I mentor. I always tell the people I am training, it doesn't matter if you do it wrong, just raise your hand and say, “Hey, I messed up, help me, what do I do here?” We are all human. We all make human mistakes. How we own them and grow from them is up to each of us. I always tell them, “Don't be afraid to do something wrong. Because if you do something wrong, that's the way you're going to learn to do it right.”

Of course, this is also what I tell my children! Going through my experience with cancer, having to quit my job, feeling that sense of fear that I wouldn’t be able to provide for my children, that was a really tough experience for me. But I learned from it—I didn’t want to be at a job that didn’t value me (or my life, really). I didn’t want to be in a position where people needed help and I couldn’t be the one to provide it to them. I’m grateful for what I learned, that the negative experience opened a new path for me to SpotOn. I’m grateful for how I grew, and am continuing to grow. That my children are watching me thrive.

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