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No More FEAR (False Emotions Appearing Real)

Lisa F. CritesI finally was out of bed long enough to begin writing my story. I cried as my recollection of everything was much larger in memory than when I was actually going through the trauma. The psychological pain of the entire process seemed more severe, the surgeries more painful, and the infections more nauseating.  Though in contrast, my friends and family seemed more thoughtful, and my significant other more caring. 

I’m not sure if I was overly dramatic in writing the story to prepare for my inventor speaking engagement, or if I was under dramatic in trying to get through it at the time. I’ve heard many say God puts a cloud over our subconscious to better deal with traumas of life. Maybe that’s what had happened because the memory of my events seemed far worse than my feelings toward them at the time.

It took me several weeks to capitalize on the past two years of my life. But I did it!!! It was so entirely cathartic, both writing about it along with actually presenting on it. My experience at the event was phenomenal. The members of the ZONTA Club were class acts. They hosted a beautiful event with more than 350 guests who were incredibly gracious toward me. I will always remember that experience and the wonderful individuals I met that weekend. More importantly, I am blessed and grateful I was asked to speak at the event in the first place. This initial engagement has led to many speaking engagement opportunities for breast cancer inspirational presentations as well as entrepreneurial research discussions. 

Lisa - Defiance    Speaking Engagement hosted by the ZONTA Club of Defiance, OH

Immediately after returning from Ohio for the keynote Breast Cancer luncheon, Ivanhoe Broadcast News, a television production company in Orlando producing national broadcast features produced a segment on me titled ‘Smart Woman’ – A Female Inventors Feature which aired in more than 80 television markets across the country. How cool was this? I grew up in a household where women weren’t supposed to be smart, only the men. Irony is amazingly sweet!!!

Ivanhoe TV image

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nkrOdxwGCI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUyCfEguFG8MeeNc30lYNo2w

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites
Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor
Corporate Healthcare Consultant
Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

False Emotions Appearing Real (FEAR)

Lisa F. CritesWith the recent agreement that Walmart was adding The SHOWER SHIRT™ to its product line, I was a happy individual. I felt somewhat invincible. Yes, I still had a myriad of crap to overcome between Medicare coverage, attaining a patent and paying off debt related to the company. However, there was something about having Walmart pick up my product which made it seem all worthwhile.

To add more excitement to the mix, the ZONTA Club of Defiance, Ohio, requested I be its keynote speaker for an upcoming breast cancer fundraiser. The group worked with ProMedica Health System on various initiatives to raise money for women who could not afford mammograms. A great cause and right up my alley. I had spoken at many events over the years as a journalist, but never as an inventor, which was even more exciting. Furthermore, they were going to pay me.  Pay me to speak?  Wow!!!!  

I had a few months to prepare for my new ‘inventor status’ speaking engagement. Though before I could get started, I had to become hermitically inclined to my bed for a month contemplating how to find the courage to discuss the last two years of my life. I was in touch with telling everyone else’s story as a journalist and subsequent media strategist, but felt I had no idea how to relay the experiences I had just lived through. Carrying out a two-minute television interview about The SHOWER SHIRT™ product was familiar and simple. Though preparing to speak for nearly an hour to a group of several hundred strangers was painstakingly frightening.

A simple question, why did I fear speaking to a few hundred people about my experience with breast cancer and The SHOWER SHIRT™?  Daily, I would bargain with myself to get out of bed and start writing my story, and every day I would put it off.  I was absolutely overwhelmed and paralyzed with FEAR.  

All extremely confusing, there was no reason for FEAR. I knew my story better than anyone. I knew every detail related to my breast surgery and subsequent infections, hyperbaric treatments and my no love loss relationship with Dr. Z. More importantly, I should have been able to talk about my day in and day out relationship with The SHOWER SHIRT™ and what it took to bring this ‘child’ to market.  

My feelings of FEAR defied logic, but then what is logic? I had robotically gone through the motions of emotions while being focused on becoming healthy and creating a product. Unfortunately, I still had not decoded the entire psychological trauma I had gone through and was essentially stunted.  Furthermore, these stunted emotions had created a sense of FEAR which was absolutely out of character for me. I have traditionally feared nothing (except heights & sharks).  I had to find a way to overcome this unfamiliar emotion which nevertheless, appeared Real.   

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites
Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor
Corporate Healthcare Consultant
Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

KUDOS to Walmart

Lisa F. CritesAs General Douglas MacArthur said, “The world is in a constant conspiracy against the brave. It’s the age-old struggle: the roar of the crowd on one side, and the voice of your conscience on the other.”

Not sure exactly why I love this quote except the world is in fact roaring, but so is my voice – so the world and my voice are always in constant competition to out-roar each other.

With the Essentially Women conference behind me, I was smiling all the way home from Phoenix. We made many SHOWER SHIRT ™ sales during the conference and several came in after we returned home. More importantly, I felt good about the many mastectomy boutique business owners who were excited about my product.

Our media relations and publicity efforts were still going strong, with a recent broadcast television interview with the St. Louis FOX television news station.

FOX News St. Louis: THE SHOWER SHIRT Fight for Breast Cancer Patients                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBeHV0whJg0

We had positive momentum, but I was continually looking for some type of drama to put a damper on that momentum. Nevertheless, we were packing and shipping SHOWER SHIRT™ orders on a daily basis. I also was working as a media consultant for a local pediatrics group, and engaged as a new business development liaison for an Oregon hospital system. Before long I also was doing public relations for a healthcare technology company in the Research Triangle in the Carolina’s, and FLORIDA TODAY, our local Gannett Newspaper asked me to teach broadcast media training for their staff. My plate was full, but everyday which came and went seemed to continue to validate the blessing of my recent job lay-off.

I was also pleased the American Cancer Society (ACS) was selling The SHOWER SHIRT™ through their Tender Loving Care (TLC) retail division. However, in contrast to the enclosed television broadcast piece, within a few months they contacted us to say their lawyers ordered them to stop carrying the product due to potential liability concerns. I quickly explained we had been on the market for months, had more than $2-million in product liability insurance and had no complaints whatsoever. The TLC buyer said they had no choice but to listen to their attorneys and drop the product from their post-mastectomy garment line.

This decision was sad and frustrating. TLC was selling a decent number of units with great reviews from their customers. Secondly, being involved with ACS was huge for our company. With that said, we do live in a litigious society. Everyone has to continually cover their asses to survive. Thus, easy to understand why attorneys are one of the most despised species in this country; with one exception, my significant other Phil, also an attorney. 🙂

IMG_5242

Dave (Phil) & I at a Cancer Benefit

However, within two weeks of TLC dumping the product, and exactly one-year after going on the US market (October 2011),  Walmart.com’s Medical Device Division chose to add The SHOWER SHIRT™ to their product line. Forget the American Cancer Society and TLC; YEA for Walmart!

Walmart Offers The SHOWER SHIRT™ For Surgery Patients:
http://www.biomedical-market-news.com/news/2011/08/Shower-Shirt-Co.-Announces-Retail-Distribution-With-Walmart-Medical-Device-Division-For-Mastectomy-&-Dialysis-Patients.html

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites
Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor
Corporate Healthcare Consultant
Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

All Is Relative

Lisa F. Crites

A close friend, Susan Jenks, often states, “All is relative.” Whether in relation to age, education, finances, career success, political and/or religious beliefs, it seems I hear her make that statement every other week. Susan and I have been friends for more than 15 years. We disagree often (especially on politics) but I absolutely love and admire the heck out of her. She’s a national medical writer who has a zillion years more experience than I could ever have in the health and medical journalism field. In comparison, I spent many years in the newsroom as a television news reporter focusing on the health/medical beat, and can speak to thousands of people both on and off camera and not miss a beat. Alternatively, Susan can rip off an in-depth medical piece in minutes, where it would take me days, but is extremely uncomfortable speaking in front of large groups and on-camera. I guess one would say comparing our experiences and background, “all is relative.”

jenks

Susan Jenks & I

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, many of my friends, including Susan, continually stated, “You are doing so well with this diagnosis.” I would often respond, “This is not the worst thing that has ever happened in my life. Breast cancer is nothing compared to burying my mom after her car accident.” So in comparison, all is in fact relative.

With my recent lay-off, I was bitter since I had planned my work around my boss’s request. However, I quickly realized this, too, was — all relative. I now had major amounts of time to travel to promote The SHOWER SHIRT™ product. In addition, within three weeks of leaving my job (or rather, my job leaving me), I had three consulting contracts which were paying more money working 20 hours per week, than working 50 hours a week in my previous full-time job. Of course, I no longer had corporate healthcare benefits (a problem when you’ve had breast cancer), but I had a major amount of unexpected freedom; again, all being relative.

 Tim Crowley - Lisa

Tim Crowley & I at The SHOWER SHIRT™ Booth – Phoenix 2011

It was April 2011 and for months, I had ramped up for my first national conference to introduce The SHOWER SHIRT™ to the masses. My colleague, Tim Crowley, had ties to multiple medical device distributors and contracted with our company for a short time for market surveying. I had joined Essentially Women, one of the largest group purchasing organizations for the breast cancer related industry, and planned to participate in their annual conference and trade show in Phoenix. The SHOWER SHIRT™ had been featured in one of their pre-conference publications as a new product introduction. It was absolutely amazing when guest after guest visited The SHOWER SHIRT™ booth and said, “I came here just to see this new product for breast cancer patients.” I thought, if these women who own mastectomy boutiques across the US are already sold on the product, then how hard will it be to sell to a breast cancer patient who actually needs the product?

These first four months of 2011 were turning out to be a huge learning experience for me. I had a job; lost a job. Within three weeks I had three new jobs. Within another month I had mastectomy boutique business owners traveling to Phoenix just to see my invention which had two years of my blood, sweat and tears mixed into every garment fiber.

I was realizing the loss of my job was actually a blessing in disguise. The experience was teaching me lessons about life which would have been nearly impossible had I remained a television news reporter in Orlando, or a corporate media strategist in Brevard County, FL. This was the first time in my life where my self-centeredness (an inherent trait of my fathers) had taken a back seat. No longer was it about me; it was really about making a difference in people’s lives. I had said all along I wanted to keep women out of the shower with trash bags post breast amputation, but this was the first time I actually felt like I just might be making a difference.

The moral of my story is this: Traumatic events such as cancer diagnosis, death, surgical infections and even job losses don’t always turn out to be a negative in relation to the global experiences of ones life. In contrast, I sincerely believe everything is essentially “relative.” One just has to find the emotional strength to ultimately find the ‘relativity.’

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites                                                                                                                                           Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor                                                                                                     Corporate Healthcare Consultant                                                                                                  Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

The Unexpected Lay-Off

Lisa F. Crites

 

 

As I’ve said on many occasions, one should not get to comfortable in any situation (or job) for too long. Christmas 2010 and the New Year rolled around quickly and all seemed to be going well. Additionally, SHOWER SHIRT™ television, print articles and inventor features continued to evolve. Our media relations and publicity strategies were in full swing spreading the word about the newest mastectomy garment on the market.

SCL-Cover-ThumbSpace Coast Living Magazine Cover

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, when the president of my company stated twice that he wanted me to “stay in my position and not resign,” he only meant “stay in my position,” until he was able to find my replacement. Within two months of him requesting I not resign, and two months after forfeiting a nice severance package, he called me into his office and said my position was now “redundant” and it was my last day.

I was absolutely caught off guard. Furthermore, he had my computer turned off before I could walk back to my office. I assume he wanted to protect himself from any documentation I might have kept relating to the conversations regarding my attempts to resign a few months earlier.

Luckily, I had all documentation needed to prove he requested I not resign from my position and subsequently forfeit my severance package. Though he communicated to our corporate offices he never asked me to stay with the organization, I had proof otherwise. I won’t go into great detail, but I had to solicit the help of attorneys, and all I am authorized to say is my claim for the severance package he talked me into forfeiting was “settled amicably,” but I would add, quite amicably, in the end!!

My significant other, Phil, helped me move out of my office that afternoon, and by the time I was home that evening, he had already popped a bottle of champagne celebrating my being laid off. By the way, I had worked for the last six years with Phil’s company’s litigious competitor, so he was happy he could no longer be accused of sleeping with the enemy.DSC02656

Christmas 2010 Skiing Photo in Utah

 

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites                                                                                                                                           Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor                                                                                                     Corporate Healthcare Consultant                                                                                                  Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

Two Resignations & Still Employed

Lisa F. CritesI went from being scared to death of being laid off since our company had been purchased, to believing I needed to resign from my job as media strategist at Wuesthoff Health System. Luckily, with the high profile sale of Wuesthoff, and my somewhat high profile job with the media, I began receiving calls from various organizations asking if I would be interested in working for them in a related ‘media strategy’ type role.

Who proactively leaves a job these days, especially in the fall of 2010? The economy was at an all-time low, with real estate still in disarray. A huge concern, as stated in my last Blog, was I had three mortgages. However, in thinking it all through, if I resigned now, I would have a three month severance package and could take that time to promote The SHOWER SHIRT product, and then start a new job after the first of the year, so I decided to resign.  My resignation went like this in a conversation with Steve Patoni, Wuesthoff Health System President.

Lisa:  “Mr. Patoni, I’ve decided to turn in my resignation. With the expected staff reductions with Health Management Associates, I’ve decided to resign my position as media strategist with the organization. I’m giving you my two week notice. I will contact human resources to let them know I will  take my severance package.”

Steve Patoni, Wuesthoff President:  “Lisa, you can’t resign. You are very good at what you do. I want you to stay in your existing position. Yes, we do have upcoming changes and reductions, but I want to keep you exactly where you are. You do not need to be concerned about being laid off.”

Lisa:  “Mr. Patoni, as you know, I’ve recently gone through breast cancer and subsequently brought The SHOWER SHIRT™ mastectomy garment to market. I need to focus on the promotional aspect of the product and take time off for my own personal well being.”

Steve Patoni:  “Again, you are very good at what you do. I need you to stay in your position. Please do not resign today.”

Who can leave a job after a conversation like that? I immediately phoned my significant other, Phil, and said, “Well that conversation did not go the way I expected it too. I guess I’m still employed.”

Within a few weeks, I had gone to Mr. Patoni again and requested a resignation. Essentially, the same conversation happened. At this time, Mr. Patoni asked what I wanted to stay put. I requested doing more new business development along with my existing media role, and he said fine. Basically he reiterated he would do whatever it took as long as I agreed to stay with the organization.

At this point, how could I resign from an organization where my new boss has asked me to stay twice? I felt I had no choice but to tell human resources I would forgo my severance package and stay employed with the organization.

It was December 2010, I was finally coming out of the surreal fog caused by the multiple stressors over the past year and a half.  The breast cancer surgery drama was over, The SHOWER SHIRT was on the market and Christmas was just around the corner.  Luckily, I not only still had a job, The SHOWER SHIRT was gaining awareness and I had another media hit scheduled to appear in the national magazine “New You for Women.”

IMG_3037

http://www.theshowershirt.com/images/New-You-Shower-In-Stride.pdf

With 2010 ending on such a positive note, and 2011 just around the corner, I felt it was going to be a great start to a great year!

Stay Tuned,

Lisa F. Crites                                                                                                                                           Shower Shirt Principal/Inventor                                                                                                     Corporate Healthcare Consultant                                                                                                  Health/Medical Broadcast Journalist

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