My name is Summer Suleiman and I’m 25 years old. I recently decided to leave my job at CNN in Atlanta, to move back home with my parents’ (my oh-so-loving, uber-conservative parents) in New Orleans, to focus on improving my health. This is my story.
CNN was my life-long dream. It was a constant voice in our home. My parents immigrated to the United States over 35 years ago, and CNN was their connection to the world they left behind. I was enamored with the journalists who were immersed in the cultures of far-flung places, and who shared the world’s stories with us. I wanted to write those stories too, one day. You can imagine my excitement when I graduated from college in 2009 and landed my first job with CNN. It was the beginning of a dream for me. I envisioned my entire life and career there. But last January, that all changed when I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Familial Mediterranean Fever.
I left amazing leaders, a great team, and an interesting job that gave me an exciting look at the world at large. It was a very difficult decision for me. Being in the middle of news and often, history as it happens, is thrilling. But with that comes high stress, long hours and a grueling 24-hour work cycle. It was not the ideal job for me as I was learning how to live with a chronic illness. I had to make a decision to put my health, before my ambitions.
So, I decided to take time away to get healthy, do things I love, and eat…a lot. After all, I was born and raised in New Orleans, a city famous for its’ food. And more so, every person that walks into my parents’ house, falls in love with my mom’s cooking. My hope is to live a healthy, productive life despite my illness. One of my colleagues at CNN suggested that I write about my experience along the way. Thank you for reading my story, and sharing the journey with me.