Don’t you forget about me?

Let’s talk about work.

There is no doubt that, post-treatment, I’ve lacked the vim and drive I had before my diagnosis, and I suffer from fatigue after the most basic of tasks; catnaps are no longer a luxury, they are essential. I’ve got better as the months have gone by, and I’m pretty keen to get back to something resembling a ‘normal’ lifestyle, especially when it comes to taxing my brain in a working/creative environment.

During my search for work over the past few months, I’ve decided to be completely honest about my condition – and current remission – to both potential employees and agencies. After this, responses have been few and far between. I cannot prove that it is because of my situation (I would hope not), but I’m acutely aware that it’s likely to play at least some part and, being brutally honest, it would be a huge challenge to throw myself into the kind of environment I was in previously due to the demands involved. This won’t stop me trying though…

To this effect, I’ve decided that one avenue involves setting myself up in business, working in a field I still love and enjoy, namely design and project management. Its early days, and I won’t go into details of potential opportunities; however, it is wonderful to put my design head on and feel involved again. I’m really enjoying the process (this is called the honeymoon stage), but there are many things still to be resolved (the reality phase, e.g. will I ever get paid?), and there is no guarantee that this will get off the ground in the manner I would like. However, it has taken my thoughts away from what was a fairly stressful time in my life, and allows me to think more positively about stuff I can do in the future, hopefully with worthwhile results. Dealing with cancer can make you feel quite isolated and lonely, and interacting with people on a daily basis is making a huge difference.

One issue to confront is whether or not I mention my situation in a work environment. Depending on how its approached, colleagues could have many different reactions: those who know what I’ve been going through may react to the diagnosis and absences for future appointments with understanding and offers to help, but others may feel uncomfortable around me. Some people may be reminded of a loved one’s time with cancer (I’ve come across this a lot recently). Many people find cancer an unpleasant reminder of their own mortality and could react awkwardly out of some vague fear or uneasiness.

I would certainly be interested in feedback from those in similar situations: your experiences going back to work with a either a previous or new employer, or chasing self employment opportunities.

PS. Okay, so the title is another song reference. I just can’t help myself (whoops, another one).

PPS. 101 uses for a radiotherapy mask No.3 – let it attend work meetings on your behalf.

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8 thoughts on “Don’t you forget about me?

  1. Theo, Im lucky to have employment to go back to and this is a driver for me. Colleagues have been very supportive but many feel more comfortable with card/text/e mail than face to face interaction which mirrors your experience. Using your experience as a springboard to start a business is a great idea. If you mainstreamed your experience into the ethical hub of the business would this negate the hurdle of the ‘c’ word. Lace this with some dark humour and a percentage of income to a relevant charity and you could create a competitive edge whilst doing some good. You are right that most people have been vicariously touched by cancer. I have been fund raising for 20 yrs and people are always generous for this reason. If you are going to be up front about your illness then you deserve to use your honesty to your strategic advantage. That said I have no experience in business whatsoever! My brother is two years into his own law firm if you want to speak to somebody who has recently started up. Ive got many friends with their own businesses. Micro businesses seem to be the thing at the moment. At start point overheads as near to zero as possible using a virtual platform. I have a friend who runs a really successful international logistics business from a glorified garden shed which resembles a blue peter manufactured bond villains lair. If you looked at his web site you would think he controlled the thunderbird fleet! Interestingly his genuine charity work features on the site. You may consider this all to be bollocks! I would just really like to see you coming out of this experience succeeding in business. It would give me a buzz so I can imagine how it would make you feel. Good luck.

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    • That’ll be Keith Forsey. Simple Minds didn’t like the song: didn’t stop it turning them into a Global mega band, full of bluster. Shame, as I really liked the original band

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  2. Hi Sweetie
    Okay song titles it is …….. basically to say stay strong and don’t give up, I can hear you singing along already:o)
    “Don’t give up”
    “Let it be”
    “Survivor”
    “Hall of Fame”
    “The show must go on”
    “You are loved (Don’t give up)”
    “Keep holding on”
    “Eye of the Tiger”

    Big Sis x

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