One Woman’s Mission: Help Others with Chronic Pain to Modify their Careers

When pain got in the way of her work, this lupus patient changed direction and found new hope.

Simone Glassom-Pick of Auckland, New Zealand, knows just how traumatic it can be to switch career gears due to illness or injury, especially in your 40s. She suffers from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) and, over a period of years, difficulties with her vision and pain in her joints forced her to change jobs often.  Each time she took on a new opportunity, new challenges would arise that kept her from giving it her all.

Today, however, Simone, at age 45, has found her calling. She is the founder and director of GR82BU, a service that provides career direction and coaching to improve one’s self-confidence. But her “dream job” was a long time coming.

Accepting Life’s Game-Changers

Shortly after her 18th birthday, Simone, who was born and raised in South Africa, was diagnosed with lupus and was bedridden for three months. She had wanted to pursue a career in veterinary science, but had to change direction after the onset of her illness. “Veterinary school was too far away, and I needed to be home with family support,” she says. “I pushed through with regular flare-ups and hospital stays.”

She was able to earn a bachelor’s degree in science in just three years, followed by an Honors degree and master’s in physiology from Wits Medical School, in South Africa.  Lupus can wax and wane, Simone points out, and she would have good periods followed by difficult ones. She lived at home for continued support while she was in school, but life was still rough. “I literally scraped through,” Simone recalls. “During my master’s studies, I was bedridden for about two months. My pain was managed with medication, and sometimes I just had to keep going irrespective.”

After successfully graduating, Simone found a job teaching biology at a private college in Johannesburg and met her husband-to-be online.  In 2004, she and her soon-to-be husband relocated to Auckland, New Zealand. They married, and their son, Daniel, who was born prematurely at 33 weeks is now a healthy fifth grader.

During her son’s childhood, Simone worked a variety of jobs, including as a bookkeeper and teacher. While she enjoyed her various positions, she found that it was getting harder to hold down a job. “Driving and walking became harder, as one of my medications had caused retinal toxicity that affected my eyesight,” she says. “Certain things became more difficult.”

Simone decided she wanted to reach out and help others in similar situations. She bought a territory of the international brand, Successful Resumes, and began working with clients on their CVs and cover letters. “I purchased interview coaching intellectual property to provide a more comprehensive service, and rebranded my company,” she recalls.

Finding a New Direction

Editor's Note: Read more in our new Smart Patient's Guide to Managing Pain in the Workplace

It felt rewarding when she had the opportunity to inspire people and to help build their self-confidence, and Simone decided to try to earn a living doing it. “I began to provide career support, drawing on my own life experience and personal growth journey,” she says. “I completed a coaching course, and I rebranded as G82BU.”

As someone who has lived for years with a chronic illness, Simone was determined to help those with medical challenges to find a career path that would allow them to thrive.  “I want people to love themselves enough to share their wonderful qualities with the world and not be defined by their medical challenges,” she says.

Through GR82BU, she is able to provide face-to-face coaching through programs like Skype. is She offers training on how to write an effective cover letter or resume and provides comprehensive interview training that includes custom mock interviews.

Move Forward While Still Meeting Your Needs

Simone shares the following tips for individuals who may be considering a career change to accommodate chronic pain or illness:

Realize there is no “perfect job”: However, certain work situations may be less stressful. Look for jobs that may offer flexible hours, and roles focused on completion of work rather than time clocked.

Be upfront about your needs: If you need a three-day workweek or the ability to work from home, bring this up early in the application process.

Pace yourself: Jobs that allow you to work at your own pace often are best. “This helps if you have to continuously ask to take leave to see doctors,” Simone says. “Or if you wake up in the morning feeling unwell, you can change your appointments around a little to suit how you feel.”

Build your self-confidence: “Self-confidence is knowing what is right for you in terms of choices and decisions,” Simone says. “It means working on and overcoming one small challenge at a time.”

Practice resilience: “In the past 15 months, I’ve had three surgeries,” says Simone. “It’s important to roll with the punches, be flexible, and learn to adjust as life progresses.”

Be aware of your attitude: It’s tough to be proactive or positive with a “poor me” mindset.

Consider meditation and yoga: These are excellent for maintaining a good mindset.

Don’t be hard on yourself: If you have to reschedule or say “no” to something, go ahead. Remind yourself that everyone has challenges of different kinds. Don’t define yourself by your challenges!

For more tips, view Simone’s website at https://gr82bu.co.nz/.

 

Read another inspiring patient story.

Updated on: 02/28/18
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How to Manage Pain in the Workplace
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