Be the Boss Over Cancer

 I am a teacher who loves her job and am about to see my oncologist to discuss and confirm my treatment. i am not yet convinced about chemo etc and wish to carry on working (3 days) as i have my 14month old baby the other 2 days at home. I have a head teacher who is supportive (so far) however i am very worried about how my parents will recieve the news ( i work in a private school) and also i have a parent who is having reconstructive surgery after battling cancer for the last 2 years. Her 4 year old son is in my class and has had a very difficult 2 years! i'm also not sure how i will respond to my treatment and whether parents, staff etc need to know. Only my head and close colleague have been told so far? It all seems very complicated and confusing as i don't feel ill and wonder why an earth i would enter into the world of chemo etc! 


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  • Kathy Flora

    Kathy Flora on Oct 11, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Good afternoon, Kate,

    I am sorry to learn of your diagnosis, and have a great deal of empathy for the questions and anxiety swirling around in your head right now.   It seems that diagnosis brings so  many uncertainties, and so many times when you have to just wait, for doctors, for information, for decisions, and for healing.

    If there is any one thing I can say that may make it easier in the long run, it is to stop, to center and to breathe through the uncertainty.   Just breathe, and don't make any hasty decisions or move too soon to tell anyone or to act on any one impulse.    Each person's cancer is unique. Your oncologist will fill you in on your options, then, armed with lots of good, solid information, you can make  decisions that are best for you and your personal circumstances.    Please give yourself the space and time to make these decisions, unfettered by any preconceived ideas of what treatments will be like, or even if you need to take a particular course of action.   Your tumor size, type, etc... will most likely give clearer answers than any speculation at this point can bring you.

    As for who do you tell and when do you tell; that again, is a very personal decision.   In my case, I had the desire to tell everyone I worked with, and did so, only to regret bringing so many people into my confidence.   On the one hand, I had many, many supportive women friends at work, who were there for me and helped me be strong through chemo and radiation.   On the other hand, my employer had ideas about what cancer would do to me, that were both unfounded and unfortunate.    Each person sees this type of news through their own prism of experience, so be prepared, if you do tell folks, for their reactions to be all over the board.   Decide how much you want to deal with their reactions... and act accordingly.   You can rightly keep as much of this diagnosis to yourself as you choose.  The only people in your work circle who have a right to know are those who may give you time off for treatment or accommodations if you need them.    All others, it is your choice.

    You are young, you are strong, and you have a passion for life and for your family and your work.  These traits are going to serve you well as you walk through the journey you are now on, though not one of your choosing.   This journey and how you choose to approach it, can bring out dimensions of your strength and personality that you never knew were there.   You can learn to more deeply know yourself, to even more readily accept the love of others, and to cherish even more the relationships that sustain you.   May you find peace in the maelstrom, and grace in the swirling uncertainty.    And, may you return to robust health very soon.

    Know that thousands of us have also walked this journey and are walking with you now. Remember that in trusting your spirit to lead you, you will know what is right for you and for those you love.   

    God Speed, my sister in survival!


    Career Coach,

  • Kate C.

    Kate C. on Oct 12, 2012

    thank you for your response I appreciate your words, they have made me cry! Still so unsure about treatment  seems somewhat a lottery! Seeing oncologist  this Monday. 

    Kate Clark

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