I had cancer field trips where I took people from work with me to chemo and radiation treatments. They’ve seen me be aligned for radiation and watched me be connected through my portacath to a chemo infusion. I spared no details and told them what everything felt like.
Constant exposure to my life with cancer allowed people to be comfortable around my illness. After a while people started cracking cancer jokes and asking if I play the cancer card to get out of speeding tickets. I was teased by one of my producers that she’d smuggle in a flask of tequila for me after surgery claiming to be my aunt. I got a visit but no tequila - maybe next time! I came home from surgery to a very beautiful flower arrangement and an email from my boss telling me that they all had drinks at the monthly creative meeting and everyone around the room said something nice about me.
For one person, coming with me to chemotherapy was especially rewarding. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer she was too scared to go with her treatments, and she has always felt guilty about it. For her, going to one of my chemotherapy treatments felt a little like redemption. When she told me this I went home and cried.
I feel like my attitude towards cancer puts people at ease; they feel they can ask questions without me falling apart on them. The workplace can be a source of great support…After all, coworkers are an integral part of life. You’re with them eight hours out of your day.
Tracey works for Walt Disney Imagineering and is a 1-year angiosarcoma survivor. This is the third of her four guest blogs for Cancer and Careers.