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.