Well I have done a lot of thinking and talking to others about working post-cancer. People have given me lots of tips and trial and error is also a good approach too.
Overall, I have found the post-cancer treatment period (except for my holiday in France) to be as difficult as going through cancer treatment itself. It is bewildering going through a metamorphosis and then trying to integrate or fit myself back into normal life.
A new pace of life
It has been a challenge to work and live at a pace that I am not used to (the pace of a busy office in the CBD). I am only working part time but am finding myself really tired and it is only 13 January! I have had a lot of headaches, returning migraines and my hair has still been falling out. So something has to change.
It has been great seeing my old colleagues and kind of a returning home feeling. But I am not the person I was when I left my job and coming back, I see that it’s going to be hard to hold on to my new found health routines.
I saw my GP last week and she said that it would have been better for me to return to work for two days a week, instead of 3.5 days per week. I’m not sure where my head was when I made those arrangements.
I don’t want to wake up each morning still tired from working the day before. So I probably need to reduce my work hours a little and change things about.
She also sent me for a blood test about the thinning hair.
Playing around with the work schedule
Life is an experiment. If something works, stick with it and if something doesn’t work, change it and try something else. So I am trying a new schedule this week:
- Sleeping 8 hours regardless and getting up later.
- A bike ride, walk or yoga before getting to work around 9.30 and working through to 4.30. it is better than starting work at 8ish.
- Having Wednesdays off (to relax, recover, have acupuncture etc).
- Going to the sick bay/room at lunch time and having a sleep/rest if I need to.
Recovery from cancer and cancer treatments are my priority for 2013. Also, I want to keep myself healthy and stress-free to give myself the maximum chance of not getting cancer again.
However, that is harder than it sounds. It is tricky to integrate my well entrenched self-care routines with work routines. I also have other priorities too which sometimes conflict. I need a good income especially after being on sickness benefit for nearly 1.5 years.
I am feeling well enough to work and have projects which take me out of the house and spending time with people during the day. That is great in itself.
A counsellor once explained to me that you need to get the foundations right before building your house. For me, the foundations are that my body, mind and soul are healthy and happy, I have a good home, I am financially secure, and I have support and enjoyment. Having those foundations right is critical before loading other things on to your life.
6 Year Anniversary
January 8 was my six year anniversary of my first cancer diagnosis.
In the last six years, I have spent the majority of that time either going through cancer treatment or recovering from it. So now, I want to create a life that is super enjoyable to make up for all the crappy times (and to keep my cells healthy and happy). No more of ground hog day or doing things that feel like hard slog.
A new vision
My goal is not to return to the life I had before. I want to create a new life of balance and a life that I really love. It is taking a bit of time to establish the ‘new life’. It is hard enough returning back from ill to the old life, but I have set myself the task of changing my life at the same time.
I cannot control my future. I am cancer free at the moment but I am not in charge of whether a recurrence will happen or not. But what I am in charge of is how I live my life today, now that I am well enough to have a choice about it. It is up to me to make my new life vision happen.
I want to do a variety of things and I will write more about my life vision as I work it all out:
– Working part time in a role that I really enjoy
– Working on my website
– Having lots of breaks and holidays in the year – so I’m really rested
– A life not defined by work while acknowledging work is important
– Ensuring that I keep up with family and good friends
Portfolios and super-flexibility
I had another session with my career counsellor Sue Mortlock. I think the best idea for me is to do Portfolios…or as I call it, a bit of this and a bit of that. I would rather work for myself now (as a contractor) than work as a traditional employee. I like the idea of doing a variety of things, not being sedentary, keeping life interesting and having lots of flexibility around health needs including appointments (and when I’m unwell, being able to take time off when I need it).
What has helped me
- Working shorter days four x shorter days rather than three longer days
- Having whole days off during the week to rest and recover
- Getting 8 hours sleep, regardless of everything else
- Exercise every day
- Eating really well
- Seeking medical advice
- Acupuncture weekly
- Lots of support friends, family and counselling/coaching
- Don’t try to be superwoman. Being aware of how I feel and then making changes
What are your tips and experiences of going back to ‘normal’ life? What changes did you make and how did you make those changes?