Be the Boss Over Cancer

For me, it was easy to be open about my cancer diagnosis with co-workers. The news spread like a brush fire around the office until my boss caught wind of it. Greg, my functional leader, was great. He set up a meeting with HR so that I knew what to do when it was time to go on medical leave for surgery. I was told not to worry about my job, and that I would be allowed all the time I needed to recover. At the time I was in a cubicle with no privacy, and if you have ever had a serious illness…You know that when a doctor calls, you take it!

I remember getting a call from my surgeon telling me that my chemotherapy regimens were not working and he had me scheduled for a mastectomy in two days. I wasn’t mentally prepared for that one. I fled into a neighboring empty office and sobbed until I was hiccupping. Springing a mastectomy on someone is NOT cool! Some lobbying was done on my behalf by some amazing women. After that, I was given an office for privacy and a couch was brought in for when my treatments left me fatigued. My workload was reduced so that I wouldn’t be under too much pressure. I was also given a company laptop so that when I was feeling extra horrible from treatments I could just go home to work. All of which made my life so much easier. It was an unexpected kindness that I have really appreciated. Peter, my VP creative executive (whom our whole division reports to) was constantly checking in on me. His wife had her own battle with cancer and her treatments were similar to mine. He had a special depth of understanding for what I was going through. I have learned that cancer touches a lot of lives.

Tracey works for Walt Disney Imagineering and is a 1-year angiosarcoma survivor.  This is the second of her four guest blogs for Cancer and Careers.


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