One of the things that you never really know what it is like until you are in it, is trying to juggle your 9 to 5 life with a breast cancer diagnosis.

When you get breast cancer you flip into a mode of appointments, appointments, and more appointments.  And unless you don’t have to work to sustain yourself, it means matching all those appointments with work.

Like many other breast cancer babes, I work.  I am a professional woman with real responsibilities.  I work in a man’s world, and that is a challenge in and of itself.

Learning the juggling  of getting the appointments in along with getting surgery and post surgery treatment scheduled is like having another full-time job.   Yet what choice do I have?  I have to pay my bills.

 I have really pushed the envelope of managed healthcare getting things scheduled in lumps to cause as little disruption as possible.  And at the end of some days, I still can’t escape the feeling of guilt that is completely wasted.  After all, I am one of those people with a work ethic.  I work hard, I don’t abuse the system.  And prior to this, I wasn’t someone who was either sick or took much time off.

But now I have to deal with that.  I have breast cancer, but I don’t feel sick, I don’t look sick, yet sometimes I feel like I have to look over my shoulder and worry when scheduling appointments that in essence will ensure I stay a healthy woman for years to come.  And why should I feel guilty? It’s not like I set out to have breast cancer.  It’s not like I am faking breast cancer.  Women who have children seem to be able to get time off to (a) have the babies and (b) deal with kid stuff.  Don’t deny it, it’s true. 

I used to work for a rather large corporation and women with kids did have preferential treatment, and by comparison even their corporate sponsored healthcare was a better value if you had kids.  When you were the one without kids you got last choice a lot of the time for holiday time off.  It was a penalty that was subtle in its unfairness and discrimination.  If you couldn’t have kids some of them looked at you like you were deficient.  We used to refer to it as spawn penalty.  It drove me batty, because I love kids, I just couldn’t have them, so why punish me? Why brand me with the scarlet “C” for childless?

So…. when women get sick in the workplace, as modern as society has become, do we really have a comfort level it will be all o.k.?  As of today I am not sure.  I just have a slightly uncomfortable feeling and I hope I am wrong.

I have to tell you I am really nervous about upcoming time out of the office.  I am worried.  What if something happens to my job?  After all I have heard and read about women who have gotten sick and come back to find the rug pulled out from under them.  Do men who get sick ever worry about these things?

Women have rights, so why do I feel we as women have to fight for them even when we say…get a breast cancer diagnosis?  Do they do this to men with say, prostate cancer?

But seriously?  All this juggling is nerve bending some days.  I am not trying to borrow trouble, but this is reality for many women: juggling, multi-tasking, worrying.

O.K. back to watching trash t.v.  Time to give the brain a rest – after all I am supposed to be reducing stress. But how the hell am I supposed to be the picture of zen 24/7 when there is so much to do and  so much to think about?  I want to be Wonder Woman but I think my golden lasso is at the dry cleaners today…

Sorry my peeps, it’s just been one of those days.

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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1 Response to juggling

  1. Michelle says:

    First of all, I had to chuckle at your use of the word “lumps” when talking about scheduling your appointments. I realize fully that this situation is nothing to chuckle about, but I know you get my often believed to be curmudgeonly humor.

    Secondly, and most importantly, we should not have fear of using our sick days when we have a legitimate illness — especially something as serious as cancer. If you were to come back to work post-surgery and find someone else in your place and you kicked to the curb, you know exactly what to do. We have to — HAVE TO — put our health first. Part of your staying stress free is not worrying about what could happen at the office.

    With that said, I get exactly how you feel. I don’t look sick. I walk fine (so far). My speech does not slur (yet). There are some days, however, that I am exhausted, drained and just unable to do anything. It’s not my choice – you know how ADHD I am. You think I want to lay in bed all day? No way! I have far too many things to do. Still, there are days that I just can’t make it to the office. I can’t explain it all the time, and that makes me feel guilty for even taking a day. I feel like people expect me to come back into work the following day looking like death warmed over. (In which case, I wear no makeup and pull my hair back in a pony tail. Hey, it makes me feel like I look more the part!)

    Take deep breaths. Think about this: At the end of our lives, will we look back and think, wow, I really did a great thing by working through my illness and making sure my bosses were happy. Nope. We will remember the wonderful moments spent with friends and families, the journeys – both physical and spiritual. I can guarantee, I won’t think about my ass sitting in an office chair, sending out press releases.

    Take care of you, friend.


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