Greetings faithful readers. As you all know a couple of months ago I decided my health was more important than a job in an industry that is incredibly stressful. I have never spoken about my job much, because face it, if you were not a compliance officer or worked in a compliance department it would probably bore the tears out of you. It’s not glamorous. There are no Hollywood-esque “Working Girl” moments with a Harrison Ford across the hall. In the end when compared to your life, it’s just a job, and as is the case with most women who have had breast cancer if they are honest with themselves, having breast cancer changes you. And those changes often include significant life changes.
After my diagnosis, surgery, and those seven delightful weeks of radiation I really began to think about what was important. And I also found I could no longer process the stress related to the job the way I used to. So I made a conscious decision to further change my life to ensure my life is long. I resigned my job. Not an easy decision. But I did it. And here I am almost two months later, and I know I made the right decision for me.
Once you have had breast cancer, or any kind of cancer, you find yourself looking at your own mortality. I was speaking to someone today who is a survivor and she said it made her realize when she was diagnosed that her life would have an eventual end point. Maybe to some of your ears that sounds awful or morbid, but it just is what it is.
So here I am trying to mind my own business and get on with my life, yet my old (work) life, doesn’t want to seem to leave me. I didn’t write about it before, but a couple of weeks after I resigned my job some of the regulators that were assigned to overseeing my branch of the financial services industry called me on my cell phone after I left my old company – when compliance officers leave, companies have to file about that – it is a material change to a company in the financial services industry. Therefore, in a sense, my decision to leave because of breast cancer became a public one of sorts. Good thing I decided from jump to be open about my breast cancer, right?
Anyway, I can’t say I didn’t expect the call, nor is it completely out of the realm of normal. It still irritated the crap out of me – one because my cell phone isn’t just out there with directory assistance, and secondly because government has this big brother aspect at times that I find incredibly intrusive and in a sense at times runs contrary to the freedoms our founding fathers bled for two hundred some odd years ago.
I told them yes, I really did have breast cancer, really was treated for breast cancer, and yes having breast cancer really did motivate me to look at my life and make changes. I thought that was the end of it.
Until today when a reporter called me on my cell phone. (Yes, my increasingly popular cell phone number.)
Now I know a lot of members of the media (mostly local and regional), but this is not someone with whom any of my contacts interact, nor is it someone I know or ever reached out to. It’s someone who I have read in the past, but that is about it.
This was a very pleasant voiced person, working on a story about my part of the financial services industry. They were calling to inquire into what it was like doing my job, why I left. And oh yes, I had kind of been backgrounded I think before the call was placed because they knew I was a blogger, etc. And remarked how I had never really talked about my job as a compliance officer, or my now former industry. Well wouldn’t that be like lawyers and doctors blogging about their patients/clients by name or something? Why would you do that?
So I went through the breast cancer of it all again.
Maybe leaving my job because of breast cancer took chutzpah, but you know what? I don’t want unmanageable stress levels. Stress kills. I want to live my life, my way. And I am not the first woman to do this.
At the end of the day, maybe it takes another survivor to understand the desire to change aspects of your life after a life altering disease that also disfigures your breasts, but I really wish more did understand. And respect it.
So I hope it’s all cleared up now, because I am tired of this. I want to live my life and enjoy it. I want to do something cool. If you are calling me to offer me a dream job like a gallery showing of my photographs or my own column in a magazine or newspaper, that’s wonderful. Otherwise, the reason I decided to change my life a couple of months ago isn’t going to change. I am a breast cancer survivor. I have had breast cancer. Once you utter either one of those sentences you are already different. It just is.
As an aside, April 28th is the 1st anniversary of my diagnosis.
Final note? According to snopes.com citrus fruits may potentially harbor anti-cancer properties. So maybe there is more truth than not to if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Over and out.