I realized there is nothing normal about this new life post cancer. It’s not easy and never will be easy. I had to accept that parts of my life will never be the same. It sounds so dramatic to say, but it’s true. The past six months have been a revelation to me. Why? I had to learn who I am in the aftermath of war and all the destruction it caused.
Last year was almost unbearable because I officially hit rock bottom in all areas of my life. My confidence was zero. My cognitive thinking was terribly impaired from all the chemo, radiation and surgeries. My system could not tolerate Tamoxifen, Evista, Lupron injections or Arimidex. My mind, body and soul were so out of whack, that I could no longer keep functioning.
It was a huge blow to my ego and self-esteem when I resigned from what I thought was my dream job in media last August. I was so utterly fatigued from working full-time through my entire treatment, except for six weeks after my breast cancer surgeries and one week after my hysterectomy/oophorectomy, that I could no longer continue mentally functioning at the fast pace that I had always thrived off and loved.
I had already been dealing with chemo brain, but I could feel when my cognitive thinking went down the drain. It was after my third month on Arimidex. I immediately notified my supervisors that I wasn’t feeling right and the issue with my new medication. They told me, “You need to keep your work and your health separate.” I was and still am stunned they would say that to me. It was already a toxic environment. It was stressful dealing with HR to negotiate a deal to resign with pay and health insurance because what those two supervisors said was illegal. I knew my rights. It still hurt and was deeply discouraging because I was the one suffering.
It was at that point that I felt like cancer truly ruined my life. I just needed time to just stop so I could rest. I deserved that but had to keep going. I was temping off and on with no steady income. The financial stress and pressure did get to a breaking point. My faith, church, three besties (Brandy, Carla & Suzanne) and my psychiatrist brought me back from the edge.
So, on New Year’s Day, I took a hard look at my life and everything I have been through up to that moment. I saw a pattern of how I kept going off the path trying to force a way into things that were not right for me. It was time to truly think in a different way and trust my instincts, which is God’s voice, nudging me in the right direction.
I’m a list person, so I took out my pen and notepad and wrote a list of the following:
- What do I LIKE to do?
- What do I NOT like to do?
- What makes me HAPPY?
- What NEW things would I like to try?
- What are MY special TALENTS?
That’s when I shifted my job search and worked with a recruiter who totally “got” me and believed in me. I know I am fantastic with people and would do great in sales. I’m done doubting myself. I looked at my list and knew I needed to use my natural gifts. This recruiter told me about an interior design consultant position. I never would’ve thought of that on my own. At first I was iffy, but then thought why not? I literally have nothing to lose.
The interview process was lengthy, including writing a plan of action, job shadowing and taking a design assessment. I confess it was exciting and stressful. More importantly, my mind felt sharp again. That boosted my confidence right then and there.
Now I will be entering a completely new industry. Yes, I am very anxious, but that is why I must write a plan of action for my health as I start this new volume of ME. I went to www.cancersandcareers.org and requested these books below. They are free and a great resource to help keep me balanced. They also have webinars and many other helpful suggestions and information.
So those of you struggling with your career while battling cancer and depression and anxiety and many other side effects, remember that cancer can never take away the essence of you. The thing to realize and accept is that you will have to reinvent yourself and modify certain areas in your life. Write that list I mentioned above. Rebuilding takes time, but YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!
Until next time,