This is my why
We all have good reasons for why we do the work we do. Strategic account territory manager Claire Shaw shares a very personal account of her ‘why’.

I recently returned from Romania, where I volunteered for a shelter, rescuing dogs condemned to death in the public shelters. It’s heartbreaking to see animals in such appalling conditions.

Having three Romanian rescue dogs myself, helping animals where I can is part of ‘my why’. But in truth, my story runs far deeper.

From a young age, my parents believed it was important for me to learn about caring for animals, as well as to learn about loss. Rabbits, cats, dogs, fish, horses and hamsters – I loved and lost them all. When I left for college, I sold my last pony and it was two decades before I would ride again.

I married my husband in 2010 and upon returning home from our honeymoon I discovered I was pregnant with a little girl. The perfect start to our married life.

I began to lose her on the 8th of February 2011 when I went into premature labour. Every day until she was born we listened to her strong heart beat and prayed she could hold on. My beautiful little girl arrived on the 12th of February 2011.

At just under 23 weeks, it was not long enough for her lungs to develop. So tiny, like a doll. Perfect. But too little to survive. We spent just 32 minutes together as a family before she slipped away.

Me and my husband were devastated by her loss. I don’t remember much of 2011. I simply did not want to wake up each day. I desperately wanted another child and suffered two miscarriages that same year. By December I had given up. There was no joy, no point.

In January 2012, a routine appointment with the doctor brought another blow. I had breast cancer, and was to undergo a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radio therapy. At this stage, we didn’t know if the cancer had spread, but it was at this point that I had a revelation.

For the first time since losing my daughter, I realised I had too much to live for. I began riding lessons once again. I knew it would be a huge benefit and would keep my mind active, and it was there I fell in love with Millie, a chestnut mare.

Millie saved me. After the treatment ended and I was left with the realisation I could never have children, she gave me a reason to keep going. She was and still is a big part of ‘my why’.

Work was another matter. After going through so much and fighting so hard to come out the other side, my everyday felt unimportant. I had no urge or enthusiasm for my once exciting, fast-paced, fulfilling life in telecommunications.

I needed to be a part of something better, something I truly believed in. I wanted to be passionate about what I did each day, not to simply tolerate it. So, with a background in sales and a passion for animal health and welfare, I began to research career opportunities.

The animal health industry seemed the perfect fit. More than that, Elanco was the perfect fit. I was so impressed with the values and culture that I was determined to become part of the Elanco family.

And Elanco did not disappoint – In my first week I was blown away by the welcoming, professional, focused and talented people I met, who were all so enthusiastic about ensuring my introduction and was a success.

I work with awesome people who truly care about each other and are all passionate about animal health and doing the best we can.

I now have three rescue cats, three rescue dogs, 10 hens, a cockerel named Kevin and three horses. My job, combined with my love for animals outside of work, helps me feel I do something worthwhile every single day.

I have just returned from my second trip to Romania – spending my week and global day of service at the shelter, this time with my husband.

I have known how it feels not to want to wake up in the morning. Now I have the best reason to get out of bed every day.

This is #MyWhy.

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