Living Life to the Full

Last time I blogged it was January and I hoped to return to work very soon afterwards. The process took a lot longer than expected as I was offered a different job within the same team and it was very difficult to decide what to do. I'm frightened the new list of duties won't be feasible when I have to go through more chemotherapy and I might have to give up earlier than I would had I retained my old duties.

I'm now on my fourth week back at work and have been told I have to sign away my old job or look elsewhere in the organisation. I've enjoyed the new tasks so far but they are quite a challenge as I'm out of the office most days having meetings. Thank goodness I didn't lose my hair. It somehow makes the thought of meeting new people a bit daunting. My old job seemed so much more familiar and comfortable.

I could go down a formal grievance process as what has happened contravenes The Equality Act 2010 but who wants to cause a fuss about work when life is going to be short and it's enough to deal with the cancer? You might tell me that I'm well enough to make a stand to represent all disabled people as work can be tough for them.

Going back to work and a full salary again does have its advantages. I'm on a staged return to work so took myself off for a long weekend skiing last week. I was shocked at how much the journey over the last year dented my confidence and it took a couple of days to believe in myself and know for sure that for the moment I'm perfectly well, strong and fit. Whooshing down impossibly steep slopes at great speed was a great stress-reliever and I forgot about my worries at work and indeed the cancer. For four wonderful days I was normal again!

I'd love to hear from you guys what I should do about my work-based dilemma .

Loads of love, Annie

8 Replies

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  • Hi Annie,

    How wonderful to hear about your skiing trip. I only skied once in Austria and had a private instructor, but after several days it came naturally and was the ultimate playing in the snow. You are obviously amazingly well - I can't imagine myself doing anything that physical again. But there again, I am still on chemo and fighting.

    As for work, I have to say my opinion would be to do what is easiest for yourself, certainly do not feel it is your duty to fight for cancer sufferers everywhere. You have more than enough on your plate! If the old job is the job you want you could fight for it while you are well enough - but often in these cases it goes to a tribunual and you go separate ways after anyway. If the new job is a nice challange, and will be less daunting if and when you need more treatment, then you could just stick with it and see how it goes as one of life's new experiences. I believe you have a backup plan to work with your husband if you need a plan C? I am still enjoying my 3X0.5 days from home, and think later this week I may be well enough to go into the office for the first time in 4 months!

    I relate to the hair comment. It is lovely to be able to go out (if not with the hair style I would choose) and not have to think 'head camoflauge' all the time.

    Sorry, I am very Marge Proops these days but good luck with whatever you decide.

    Love Lizzie

    X

  • Dear Lizzie It's so nice to hear from you. How is the chemotherapy going this time? Is it good news that yiu're feeling well enough to go into the office? I do hope so. Let me know how you are. You're always so wise and I'm grateful for your thoughts. Perhaps you have a new vocation.

    I'm enjoying going back into work and all the meetings. It's really weird leaving on time. The days pass very quickly. My colleagues are lovely and have been right through this illness. It feels good to have the day split up into home and work as I get so much more done.

    Walking the dog this morning I decided I needed more aerobic exercise and jogged some of the way. That's a first for me! I hope to continue and develop this a bit to keep as fit as I can and give myself a fighting chance.

    Hope to hear from you soon. Love Annie

  • Hi Annie,

    It was so lovely to see the post from you too. I had wondered how your return to work was going.

    I am not so wise, I just have a take on most things I am afraid! I have learnt so much on here and gained so much support from private messages from memebers as well as chat on the group.

    We were about to give up on this chemo (caelyx) a couple of weeks ago - my oncologist cancelled dose #3. The angels they are, the chemo nurses made him see me that day instead to give me plan C. I had my blood test as usual 2 days before, and lo and behold my CA125 had gone down by 250 points. First time it has gone that way in 6 months! Things are looking hopeful for at least some response this time, as I have been suffering from ascites since the beginning of the year, but now if it is there I am hardly concious of it, and back to my post op/pre bloating size in clothes.

    It does go to show how diverse this disease is though. You were diagnosed 1 month ahead of me last year, and have had a good response to treatment. Whereas the less said about mine the better....until NOW! I am very jealous of your skiing and jogging. I would love to have got active again, but I will very much settle for feeling better than I have done since Christmas!

    I hope you manage to get what you want going forward with your job and long may your good health continue.

    Love Lizzie

    X

  • I agree with Lizzie's comment about not taking on too much otherwise you could just stress yourself out even more. I can relate to your comments about losing confidence over the last year. I'm currently looking for work

  • Hi Annie!

    So glad you had such a good time skiing. It makes you feel so freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! ;-)

    I wondered if I would remember how to do it after my op and a three year lay-off, but it was great.

    I think if I were you I would seek a bit more advice before you give in to what are, after all dubious demands. Are you a member of a union? They would be the best people to advise. Also Macmillan have employment advisers at their local advice centres. Look on their site under "How we can help", under Local Information Centres. They may be able to advise you more. It's enough to have to cope with the aftermath of treatment without having hassle at work.

    All the very best

    Love Wendy xx

  • Dear Annie,

    So good to read your mail -except for the bit in which it seems your employers are taking advantage of your situation. I agree that it's hard to fight for what's right as you don't want the hassle and stress - or to fall out with people. However; I found to my cost that the disability discrimination act covers cancer sufferers for good reason. My employers; recognising that I had become a liability as I was statistically likely to be taking a great deal of time off work, negotiated a generous redundancy package with me; then reneged upon it. I was left in a position when my intention to leave had been published (by my employers) so my staff abandoned any loyalty to me, and I had to fight through solicitors at a time when I was least able to be assertive. I lost friends and contacts, confidence and a career.

    I am certain that this was a cynical decision by my employers - and that (disgusting though it is) the shock that we feel when subject to this devastating diagnosis, gives opportunity to more employers than we would like to imagine to do the wrong thing. Before this happened to me, I was sure that the committee that administered the agency that I ran and was employed by (and which I had started) would do the honourable thing. I was wrong. Just be aware that some employers prey upon our vulnerability - and we ARE vulnerable when dealing with our own cancer.

    Very best wishes, whatever you decide to do.

    Isadora.

  • Dear Isadora, Wendy, Lizzie and Scardycat

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write responses to my blog. All your comments were really helpful. I hadn't imagined it would be possible for all this to have happened. I joined a union quite recently on the advice of many friends/colleagues and they've been really supportive and helpful. Apparently mine is not an isolated case by any means.

    I'll seek advice from Macmillan and will think very carefully what to do. Isadora I'm shocked by your story. What a dreadful thing to happen. How on earth did you cope with such injustice on top of coming to terms with your diagnosis? It is deeply shocking to think people could live with themselves taking advantage of such a terrible situation. At least you know you have plenty of friends round you now - not just your own circle but your friends online too.

    I'll blog again. If this is happening to anyone else perhaps we could share knowledge and support one another.

    Loads of love to you all.

  • Hi Annie,

    Thanks for your kind words! It was mind-boggling - and I was stupid enough to trust that they would do the right thing partly because there were two clergymen (one senior); and because they were all people I considered to be friends. I was so wrong and although I accepted a settlement out of court, I still find it all hard to believe. A whole quarter century of my life was effectively trashed ( and not by cancer). However; I have been more than lucky in other friends, my husband, and my online friends too!

    thank you all!

    Isadora.

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