Cancer breaks the pace of your life. The diagnosis, accepting that you have a possibly terminal condition, going through the treatments- many things tag along when cancer happens.
This one disease takes over the steering from you and goes maniac on your life wagon.
You may have started a new job, or business, shifted to someplace different, just had kids, or just gotten married. None of those things matter to cancer.
It doesn’t allow you the time to plan a strategy or give you the leisure to find out a way to balance things. Even after you follow a treatment and the condition flies away, it leaves a mess of confusion in its wake.
Read about the Hurricane That a Cancer Diagnosis Brings along from Someone Who Has Been through It
It began when Scott noticed a bruise on his testicle and experienced groin pain. The doctor, after initial bloodwork, told Scott that his blood had HCG hormone, usually found in two cases- a pregnant woman or a possible cancerous body.
The biopsy confirmed a tumour and Scott was prepped for chemo, all this within a few days of his moving to Los Angeles.
As Scott puts it, he realised the intensity of the situation, and that he neither had unlimited money to cross everything off his bucket list nor enough time to do so. The chemotherapy counsellor informed Scott about the process, including the stress that work will cause during the already challenging sessions of chemo.
Scott has talked about this point of his life in various blogs. He has mentioned how the idea of working while dealing with cancer felt too much to handle. And yet, there was no escape. The livelihood had to be made. Both his wallet and his bosses hinted that taking a leave of absence wasn’t much of an option.
Many people face a similar dilemma as Allen Scott. While there is no generalised wrong or right for this situation, here are a few things you ought to understand about the deal.
You also don’t need to put up with every pseudo-well-meaning person who leaves you overwhelmed every time they show up.
Establish a few things before the treatment commences. Do you plan to keep working? What kind of support do you think you would require? What support system do you have at present?
Cancer has drastic effects on people. Being asked how you are doing and others offering to do things for you is likely to become a regular thing. The downside here is that many people will treat you delicately when all you’ll want is to be respected for the circumstances you are braving.
Let people know if they are doing something to bug you, unintentionally or otherwise. Cancer is stressful as is. There is no need for you to face other kinds of pressures.
If your chemo is about to start, you need to sort out your status. Will you continue working? Will you take short-term disability leave or the long-term one? How many paid leaves do you have stacked up? What can your company provide if you decide to not work during chemo?
Chemotherapy is a vague area. Every person experiences it differently. Examples can’t help you determine how your social and financial situation will fit your therapy.
If you are alarmed, understand that so is every other person who is facing a similar situation. Cancer is a traumatic point in one’s life. The stress of making monumentally significant decisions just adds to that stress, no doubt there. However, there is no escape from this scenario.
Explore counselling. Confide in your doctors. Lay down all your options in different manners and pick what suits you and discard what doesn’t. Take your time. Think through all possible scenarios. Then, make your mind regarding one.
Going from chemo sessions twice a week to regular work is not a smooth ride. The noise of well-wishers, doctors, patients, friends- it takes a toll on people. But, the pressure to resume work also starts building up, leaving you very few options.
Scott talks about his life after chemo. He stresses on taking a moment to deal with the after-chemo surge of emotions. And he is right in his advice to process the mental turmoil and commotion before real life can take over once again.
The first day back will most probably be overwhelming. The place, the people, the chores, even something as menial as writing or reading an e-mail to the light right above your head can cause you to feel out of place, and simply wrong. After the sea storm ride that cancer is, 'normal' seems like a strange concept.
You need to process cancer. Listen to your body. Take a step back. Ask the professionals what would be better for you- going back to work or spending a few days in therapy or taking a vacation. Talking to experts and then determining a course will save you from the agony of aimless bouncing.
After Allen Scott went back to work right after his chemo, only a few days went by without any significant side effects. Very soon, he had panic attacks. He was yelling at people. He missed days at work and was crying out of the blue.
Unable to point out what’s wrong with him, Allen decided to go to a therapist. His oncologist and a psychiatrist sat with him, and they determined that Allen needed extensive therapy.
Allen believes that he should have taken up psychiatric help right after his chemo stopped. Since he didn’t, he ended up giving the next one year to understanding his emotions, cancer, and breakdown.
It was only through the professional help that Allen realised the novelty and the fragility of his life post cancer. Working in an office, for example, was a trigger for him. It brought back the ugly times when he discovered his cancer and life went tumbling down the hill. Allen found a solution and started working from home to avoid these triggers from having an impact on him.
Discover Yourself Post Cancer
It is necessary for you to learn what the new normal is. You have to figure out how things will work now. There is no pause and play here. Post-cancer, things could associate with new meanings, and you might not be necessarily willing to accept the same.
It’s why you shouldn't rush. Don’t ignore the signs. Spot your triggers. If you need time to reflect and recover, take it. Maybe, you’ll make less than what you did before. Perhaps you won’t live in a fancy house as you did before. But you will be well, and you will have a balance and a sense of everything that’s happening.
Isn’t that better!
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