This month’s Thriving Campus feature is Sue Lebrun, Return to Work Advisor in Human Resources. Thriving Campus features, testimonials, contributions and personal experiences linked to health and wellbeing from UBC staff.
How do you Thrive at work?
About two years ago, I was diagnosed with several serious and life-threatening medical conditions. I am lucky enough to be living in Vancouver where there are world-class doctors, and was referred to some amazing specialists who provided me the necessary treatment to bring these conditions under control. I was, and still am, extremely fortunate to be working in Human Resources at UBC where not only do they talk the talk but walk the walk when it comes to workplace wellbeing and providing an environment where staff can thrive.
My manager and my amazing team supported me throughout my journey back to wellbeing, including implementing accommodations that allowed me to continue to work full-time while at the same time providing the assistance I needed for some physical limitations I was experiencing as a result of my illnesses. I also developed a “healthy lifestyle” support system with several colleagues who started walking with me a couple of times a week so I could engage in the physical activity I needed to do as part of my wellbeing journey. My whole team also provided me with the encouragement and support I needed to start making healthier lifestyle choices. As a result of this support, I have lost over 100 lbs in the last 13 months, have beaten chronic heart failure, and my other chronic medical conditions are well-controlled. I feel better now than I have in the last eight years and I am happy to say I am thriving at work.
How do you Thrive at home?
When I was diagnosed, harsh reality set in and I realized I needed to find a way to make some significant lifestyle changes around diet and exercise as well as making tough decisions about the life I was living at the time. Fortunately, I am blessed with a circle of caring and loving family and friends who have supported me with my journey to wellbeing. With their love, encouragement and support, I was able to move past a very unhealthy personal relationship and start implementing healthy food choices and increased physical activity.
My friends take me on hikes on the weekends, my dog makes it easier to exercise regularly during the week as she loves and needs to walk, and my son helps with the physical things I am unable to do. In addition, my sisters and nieces who live in Ontario and I have started a weekly internet group called The Show – The Sisterhood of Wellness. The group focuses on looking at the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of wellbeing and engaging in activities that fulfill those needs – regular physical activity, making healthier food choices, loving ourselves for who we are, supporting one another, forgiving ourselves when we mess up, and reminding ourselves that the journey to wellness is one step at a time and a slow and steady journey towards a lifelong implementation of healthier choices rather than “dieting” and “exercise”. As a result of my hard work and the support I was provided and continue to receive, I am a very healthy, happy and thriving woman leading a full life.
Susan Lebrun was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, in a very close and loving family. She was married and had a child at the age of 20, became a single parent at the age of 27, and was on social assistance and lived in subsidized housing for a number of years. Through some amazing opportunities, she was able to begin post-secondary education at the age of 30 and after completing her Early Childhood Education program at Cambrian College in Sudbury, moved onto the Social Work program at Laurentian University in Sudbury and graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 1999 while working and raising a child on her own. She was employed in both the non-profit and private sector for 10 years working in vocational rehabilitation. She moved to Vancouver in 2004 and continued working in the disability management industry up to 2012, when she joined UBC as a Return to Work Advisor in Workplace Health Services.