An area I haven’t touched on so far in my blog is that of work.
Many of us work and do so in an almost ‘automated / robotic’ fashion, whereby we never take the time to look at our work / life balance and how much of our time is dedicated to a job, a manager, a company.
It was during my second treatment cycle that I both had and took the time to think about my work and how little I’d heard from the people I spent 5 out the 7 days of the week with since getting diagnosed.
To give a bit of background….
The arrangement I had with my work, was that I would work as much as I physically could during my illness and in return they would pay me for the days I was sick. Luckily, a lot of my job involved work that could be done on my computer and phone so I was able to work remotely when well enough.
Due to the amount of chemotherapy I was having in a relatively short period of time, the physical effects and impact on my immune system meant I was unable to travel and work in the office.
It was mid march, some 6 weeks since I had last been in the office and other than a visit and contact with a colleague / friend at work and some contact with my team members, I was amazed at how little (zero) contact I had from my superiors. People I’d worked with for nearly 7 years, people I looked up to.
The lower my self esteem got during the journey, the more I wanted to hear from people to give me a ‘boost’ and almost some comfort knowing people cared for me. (of course I knew and was lucky to have so much care from my wife, parents, sister etc) but to hear from my work colleagues (those you spend so much of your life with) would have been nice.
In fact, the only time I did hear from them was when I sent my ‘work’ report in to let them know how much I’d worked or when I reached out to them.
It was funny. One day, after returning home from my second cycle of treatment, the door bell rang. Robin was upstairs working and my mum was at home with me helping out. I went to the door and there was a big bouquet of flowers covering a persons face. I opened the door, was given the flowers and came in the house with a smile on my face.
My mum said ” wow, who are they from?” I don’t know I said. Inside I was really thought my work had eventually found an empathetic side and decided to send me a “thinking of you” gift.
Opening the small white envelope attached to the flowers and pulling out a card that read “Keep your chin up matey. Hope you’re getting better. Love from Chris, Jill and Jade. Keep smiling “xx
The flowers were from some long time family friends. I was wrong, work hadn’t thought of me. Putting that aside, I was so pleased to receive the message of encouragement and beautiful flowers. Thank you Chris, Jill and Jade!
I guess my point in this blog is just how wrong a company can get things. I hadn’t packed up my laptop and stopped working. I wanted to still be part of work as much as I could. But the complete lack of empathy and emotional support I received was none existent. I can only write about my own experience but I really hope the companies out there that we all work for have a much better understanding of what an employee facing cancer may need. I was of course grateful they paid my sick days. But a card, a phone call or a hospital visit would have gone so far in helping me emotionally.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was perhaps this lack of ‘human’ communication from work that would lead me to make a decision I was never expecting to.
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