Another day trip to Sydney, this time to Bondi. It would be great if I was going to “Sculpture by the Sea”, but no. Yet another medical appointment. Today marks 4 years since my health started unravelling. Living with cancer is tough. You often hear it described as a “battle”, however many don’t like that term as it infers that if you lose the battle you weren’t fighting hard enough. Those that do survive, must’ve fought harder. In my case I don’t think the analogy works anyway because the last few years has been a pretty passive process for me. Things being done *to* me rather than *by* me. It’s often felt like I’m just curled up in a ball while cancer kicks me repeatedly. Occasionally it, or perhaps more accurately, the treatment side-effects, seem to get bored and leave me alone for a little bit and I can catch my breath. But when I do try to get up & do something, I get whacked from behind again and I’m back on the ground.
The question “Cancer and work: A compatible duo?” was posed by the headline of an SMH article. My current answer is “Just barely!”
I can certainly relate to a lot of the issues discussed in the article about the pros and cons of working following a life changing medical diagnosis. But it should be obvious that there is no clear cut answer to the question, and it will inevitably change over time for any given individual as a result of disease progression/regression, as well as the duration, impact, and side-effect of any treatments. Following my diagnosis, the presence of brain mets meant that working (and many other things!) was immediately off the cards due to patient safety concerns. Not that i could’ve worked anyway due to my emotional state and the torrent of further investigations and medical appointments that came my way. and the prognosis was so bad that i gave up any hope of a return to work. However, following my dramatic response to treatment, and a gradual improvement in my symptoms, the theoretical possibility of returning to work arose. I was still in two minds though, trying to weigh up the benefits of working mentioned by the author, but has he also points out, working was now less of a priority for me, and i didn’t know how long my improved health would last. In the end, i did make to gradual transition back into the work force, but even now i still feel the tension of that question, as being sick is still essentially a part-time job in and of itself for me, with all the ongoing medical appointments, scans and blood tests. There is also the new and unusual side-effects that crop up from time to time from the immunotherapy, as well as the side-effects from the drugs used the treat the side-effects! So while i am managing to combine cancer and work at the moment, it is a question i will need to keep asking myself from time to time.
This is another post from my old blog, which will give some background to where I am today.
Debbie: Can i ask you a question?
The Grim Reaper: What?!
Debbie: How can we all have died at the same time?
The Grim Reaper: The salmon mousse!
Male Host: Darling you didn’t use canned salmon, did you?
Female Host: I’m most dreadfully embarrassed!
Monty Python, The Meaning of Life
I thought it would be good to document how my diagnosis came about…it really was one of those “bolts from the blue”.