Tuesday, January 29, 2013

TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS

We had the diagnosis and the treatment plan.  This was now life “during” cancer.  So much for life “before cancer”.  We had to merge this new reality into our everyday lives which, for the moment, was going to change drastically.

Gore Bay - Summer 2006
I had to start with my work.  Do I just call them up and say, “Sorry but I won’t be in for few months.  I kinda have cancer.”  I had to find a way to tell them.  It’s funny how your job can be so all-consuming and you spend hours there every day and then come home and maybe do more work or check your emails or your blackberry or just think about work and all that has yet to be done and your deadlines and meetings and then all of a sudden – none of that matters. 

It seemed that work had just disappeared from the priorities in my life and completely dropped off the table.  Once I’d received this latest information on the treatment plan I realized that I had to advise my office what was going on.  I really wasn’t too sure how to do this.  How do you just announce something like this and then leave the place you’ve been for the past seven years?  To my knowledge there had never been anyone at my workplace that had left because of cancer.  How could that be when the statistics are so high for people getting cancer?  Was I the first one?  Maybe I was.  That kind of felt like a big responsibility to me to be able to get through this and come back as some kind of role model for others.  Could I be that person for my colleagues?  I hoped that I could someday help someone else based on the experiences that I was going to be having.

Me & My Sweet Godson - Summer 2006
When I went in to work that last part of August 2006, my boss came in to see me.  She wanted to know if I was okay because she’d received a message that I had some health issues.  She had no idea what those health issues were.  I was thankful that my boss was a woman.  I would not have been as comfortable telling a male boss about the whole breast cancer thing.  No offense to the guys but I just felt more comfortable with a female coworker.  So, I did that thing that I was getting good at.  I took a few deep breaths, swallowed back the lump in my throat, and made some decisions.  I asked if we could talk in her office.  Then we sat down and I just blurted it out.  I mean I had gone over this in my mind a million times as to how I would say it and what I would do but then I just said it.  I felt bad after because I think my boss was a bit taken aback by my announcement.  However she was so amazing with everything.  She wanted to know what she could do.  The only thing that I asked for was that she tell the CEO and the rest of our department and all the staff.  I didn’t really want to do that but I wanted everyone to know why I had disappeared.  I didn’t want any office gossip that I had checked into rehab or something.  I wanted the truth out there. 

I can’t remember all that clearly but I think I came back to work for another day or so to finish some things up before leaving for an indefinite period of time.  I was very lucky that we had a good health plan at work.  That was a great relief and of course reduced the stress somewhat.

When the message got out to all the staff that I would be leaving and the reason why, I received an onslaught of emails and phone calls almost immediately.  On the last day I had a line-up outside my door of colleagues and friends that wanted to come and see me.  Some of them spoke a lot and others simply said that they didn’t know what to say.  I completely understood but I was just touched by how many people genuinely cared.  Either that or they were just scared because if it happened to me it could happen to anyone right?  Even them.

The enormity of how many people could be affected directly and indirectly by my diagnosis was starting to hit me.  I needed to say goodbye to my co-workers but I knew I’d be back.  I just didn’t know when.  I needed to pack up some of my personal things and tie up a few loose ends and then slip out quietly.

On to the next part of my life.

Taking Care of Business - Bachman & Turner


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