Inspiration: Finding a silver lining

July 6, 2011

Ed. note: This post is a part of our continuing blog series featuring our colleagues, their lives both inside and outside of work. Here, we hear from our very own Jill Levine, an Enterprise Account Executive for LinkedIn. Jill’s inspirational personal story touched us deeply, and we wanted to share it with you.

I’ve always been a huge fan of LinkedIn. As a recruiter for 15 years, I became an active user, spending most of my time on the site sourcing the best candidates for corporate clients.

So I was beyond thrilled to be recruited to join LinkedIn as an account executive in the New York Sales team earlier this year. In March, I started training at LinkedIn’s Mountain View headquarters. That’s when my ailments struck - I had terrible back aches, stomach pain and a persistent cough. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but I was determined to get through the training so I loaded up on ibuprofen to get through the week.

After returning to New York and undergoing extensive testing, I received some devastating news: I had stage 4 Lymphoma. I was shocked. It turned out I had a huge tumor near my kidney that was pushing on my back, stomach and lungs.

I went on disability just three weeks after joining LinkedIn, and I stayed in touch with my colleagues through my personal blog at CarePages. In one of my recent blogs, I recounted a dream I had about my guardian angel, an old blue Volkswagen bug with a headlight that winked and a front bumper that smiled at me. Now, whenever I feel like I may be in trouble, I get some peace when I envision that winking car on my shoulder.

On June 16th, I celebrated my 39th birthday and went into the New York office for a short visit. The moment I stepped in the door, I was greeted with hundreds of blue, winking VW bug cut-outs and hand prints with personal messages from my colleagues—many of whom I’d never met. The cut-outs were everywhere- on the walls and on each employee’s desk, including my own. I was told that the blue VW bug sitting on each person’s desk was a daily reminder that if I was strong enough to beat cancer, they themselves could do anything. I was absolutely blown away by their thoughtfulness and creativity, and it really renewed my commitment to get strong and go back to work with these amazing people who have called, emailed, even accompanied me to chemotherapy treatments.

I’m currently halfway through my chemo treatment. I feel great, and even though I have a long way to go, I know that with determination and hard work I can beat this thing (since that is my specialty!).

LinkedIn has played such a huge role in helping me to not only cope with this disease, but also giving me something to look forward to. I think about my colleagues every day — their support has motivated me to fight, get well and return to work. LinkedIn is so much more than just a website; we are an employer with some of the most caring, compassionate people I’ve ever met.

I feel truly privileged to be part of the LinkedIn family.