Thursday, April 05, 2007

No really, don't give up the day job


Once recovered from the shock of diagnosis and the prosaic realisation that 'I'm not going to die, I'm just going to have a really shitty year' my thoughts turned to practical matters.

To be diagnosed with breast cancer whilst in gainful employment is one thing. But I'd handed in my notice over six weeks ago and was due to be leaving my job in three weeks time. My boss was teetering on the edge of offering my job to someone else, someone who he was reportedly really happy to have found.

So legally speaking, he was under no obligation to give me back my job as I'd already handed in notice. On a practical level, he would only be human to pause and question question how fantastic I would be at my job whilst undergoing chemo and bald as a coot.

I can just imagine new business meetings with potential prospects. "Hello, I'm from this ad agency and am here to tell you about how great we are. Oh yes, my slaphead... did I mention my cancer?"

From an emotional or psychological point of view, I have found myself keen to cling to normality. If having this and needing it treated means changing all our plans, then at least I can continue life as I know it now. Obviously I am making relevant changes - taking it easy more often, eating more healthily, drinking less etc... But as far as work and routine is concerned the thought of choosing to, or being forced to enter a job search situation, having to declare my new found tumour to potential employers, having to deal with this disease in a new work environment where I don't know anyone... It doesn't bear thinking about.

So today, I dragged my still woozy body into the office for a few hours. A trial run before next week where I hope to get back to full time. And a face to face chat with my boss about what I want, and what he wants, out of the new reality.

I thought in my paranoid state that he may pull the rug out from under my feet (paranoia is now my natural state... I was paranoid about the lump I found and I was proved right on that one, so now everything is worst-case scenario as far as my fantasising is concerned) and threaten to not accept me withdrawing my notice.

But I forgot that he's not only my boss. He's a good guy (most of the time) and someone I've known as a colleague and a friend for years now. Cumulatively I have spent seven years at this company and it's been more than a decade since my first day here back in 1997.

So he talked of treating it as if I'd never handed in my notice. Of supporting me. Of restructuring workloads to give me more help and take some of the client facing stuff away from me (this will help deal with the baldness issue, if and when that arises). Of course, he's reassured by the fact that Uganda is out of the picture for us, if not forever, then at least for a year or two at the minimum. As I said, he's only human. He doesn't want to nurse me through chemo and then lose me the moment I'm through treatment. Which is fair enough.

I'm just relieved that in a week of uncertainties and changes, one thing at least will remain constant and we can start planning the other things around this. And it is great to be reminded that I work for a lovely company, run by some really good people.

Plus this means I can start nagging our FD for my expenses again. Nearly £4k. That should clear the credit card and overdraft. And maybe pay for a little week in the sun to chill out, sometime soon.

I think both me and the boy deserve it.

But I might have to change the title of this blog. Again.

Started it as a work themed thing, relaunched it as a 'running away to Uganda' thing, and now it's going to be a self-indulgent breast cancer blog.

I've become a cliche by mistake!!!

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