Armed with all the information from the oncologist, I headed to work to fill them in. I still hadn’t told colleagues at work, because I wanted people to see me well before they found out. I had decided that I wanted to keep things as normal as possible and for me, that meant working through treatment for cancer.
I had worked for the company for many years and had months of sick leave, so for now, I just said that I needed some personal time, which was true. But I was well known, so my absence would not go unnoticed and people would be curious, as it wasn’t like me to just disappear!
Settling With The News
To be honest, I needed time for this news to settle in. I wasn’t up to answering a ton of questions and above all, I just couldn’t bear to see “that look” in everyone’s eyes. Other people’s fear was more overwhelming than my own. What was the buzz at work I wondered?
The Office Buzz
It turned out that the rumour mill had been working overtime – had I resigned? Was I moving departments? What was it? What was going on? What was the big secret? They would soon find out what the “big secret” was and that I wouldn’t be disappearing completely just yet, as I decided that I would be working through treatment for cancer.
As I hadn’t been into the office for a week or so and knew that I wouldn’t be back for another couple of weeks, I had to grab some personal things. I had a team of over 100 people at the time and I also needed to make sure they were doing okay. Some of them were personal friends and had worked with me for years. They knew me well enough to know that something was wrong and they were concerned.
Breaking The News
I had told a couple of them already, but they knew not to tell anything else until later. Quite a few people came to say hello. One girl, Natalie, who had worked with me for a number of years, came in when everyone had gone home. She knew something was wrong and asked me directly. I answered her honestly, again the familiar look of shock followed by the tears rolling down her face. It was a familiar sight to me now, but I assured her that everything would be okay and I would be fine – although at this point I wasn’t quite sure myself.
The decision to be working through treatment for cancer is a personal one. For me, really, if I left work, then what would I do when my treatment was finished and what would I do when I wasn’t sick? Also I was a very active person and not one to be sitting around the house all day watching TV.
What Does “Normal” Mean Now?
Working for me was “normal” and I wasn’t ready to step away from the world just yet. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew it was possible. Anyway, that was the decision for now. I could always change my mind as my treatment progressed if I needed to. I knew that it was good for my piece of mind to be working while I went through treatment for cancer.
I was also fortunate that work was very supportive of my decision and did everything they could. I also had great support in my team. Michelle was a godsend and stepped in when I wasn’t there. We had worked together for years and I trusted Michelle to do what she needed to while I was off. Only time would tell how I dealt with letting someone else take control for a while.
Prioritising What Counts
But for now, my health was my highest priority and needed to stay as my highest priority for a long time to come.