Career and Cancer

Here resides the question. Can one work with cancer? Should they work? And should someone with a terminal illness pursue a career? There is no all encompassing answer but for me the answer is a resounding yes to all of the above.

My first trip around the cancer sun, I was working for Olive Garden. Home of the never ending pasta bowl and all you can eat soup and salad. We remember all of you $1 tippers by the way. During that time I had no insurance and paid my bills working my tail off making sure the Principato wine was pushed along side the appetizer sampler. My father would visit weekly to give me my shots and get a complimentary few glasses of wine. I wore a scarf over my bald head and puked in the bathroom. My co workers were amazing and my managers understanding.

The second trip with cancer was with BMO. This time I had insurance. I also had an incredible boss who never let me throw a pity party nor did TS ever treat me any different. In fact he pushed me harder. I hit my goals, drove my team hard and worked with some of the strongest women I know. I wore a wig this time and in one heated exchange may have thrown it at my boss. I worked through the disease and celebrated my all clear with them.

This third time around I was diagnosed I was still with BMO. TS was one of a handful that I told at first. My strong and stubborn ass of a boss collapsed. My heart broke for him. He saw me fight and then lose. Something I never wanted him to see. But we pulled each other up and I worked through that day. When I let my friends know one asked if I would quit my job and go on disability. This never entered my mind. I’m still breathing therefore I must work!

And now here I am today. I’m the head of retail for a local community proud bank, Paper City Savings Association. I remember telling the head of HR my diagnosis. Worried this would ruin my chances, she simply said…ok?? Like I was the weird one. Apparently hiring dead women walking isn’t a strange thing. Needless to say I am blessed. Another incredible company (and boss) that holds their people close. (PS…you should bank with us!)

E and Chris stopped by for a visit today and E drew the below pic. I’m the big scary looking one. He said he drew me without hair because I will be going through chemo. I think I like it. There’s no doubt that treatment will start to get challenging. But if I face it like the drawing, with fight and weird crazy eyes, I know that I don’t need to stop moving my career forward. Cancer and careers can co exist. This isn’t a disability. This is a letter of recommendation.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Terri says:

    LOL, oh that boy! This must be the crazy mama. Boy I sure love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vrye says:

    Love you too!


  3. There are days I wonder if I should still be working, today being one of them. I wouldn’t have the energy I have now if I worked, nor would I be able to manage working, medical stuff, and other parts of life all on my own. Disability and forced retirement was the best choice out of crappy choices. I think the choice to work or not work is based on so many factors. It sounds like your boss is banking on you, as she should.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Vrye says:

    I agree. Everyone has a limit. I know I will reach mine eventually. Until then I will continue to be a pain for my boss and his employees!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a very personal decision. I worked for 6 months after diagnosis. I always figured that I could pursue disability down the line if I needed to, but leaving a career that I had put almost 20 years into? It took a while for that engine to slow down enough for my brain to realize that this isn’t going to go away. Even then it took someone putting a cog in the machine for me to pull that trigger. I left work for a surgery. The surgery not only didn’t happen, but the surgeon who cancelled broke the news as if I was at that moment at death’s door. We went home and told the kids that Mommy was going to die it was that somber. Turns out, I wasn’t actually at death’s door, just not as well off as we had thought. But emotionally, I was done. I just knew at that time that I couldn’t go back to work. It’s a decision that I haven’t regretted once. I have time to snuggle with my kids every morning and night and I am there to greet them every day when they get home from school. Tomorrow I am taking my kid out to breakfast for his birthday, because it’s the last birthday of his that I am likely to be here for. Finally? Now that I’ve hit the “clinical trials or bust” phase of my illness, I need all of the extra time I can to research and inquire about different trials and travel for testing and treatment if I have to. But I get it. I had lunch with some old co-workers today, and it’s impossible to believe that I’ve been out of work for almost a year now. I miss talking shop and that part of my identity.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Vrye says:

    It is very personal. I’ve been very blessed with the time I’ve been allotted. Sending you prayers during this next stage. ♥️♥️ and Happy birthday to your son!

    Liked by 1 person

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