Throughout my battle with cancer, I kept alive the hope that I would be able to work again. I felt like I had so much to contribute, that the thought of never working again was not something I was willing to accept. But the reality of my situation was daunting. With the abuse that my body has taken over the past 18 months, and its lingering effects, it was looking more and more like I would not ever work again.
Four months ago, I was not able to process information well. Information that I was able to handle easily pre-cancer, became like a foreign language to me. Often, when someone said something to me, it went way over my head and I had a hard time connecting the dots. This was like a death sentence to me. Prior to the cancer, I was able to multi-task and think faster than the average person. During chemotherapy treatments, I found that it would take me two days to process information and figure out what was said. Shayne and Sabrina supported me by capturing on their Blackberrys everything that my oncologist, Dr. Tiedemann, said and emailing it to me so that I could process the information at my own time. There is something very real about “chemo brain”. I started doing crossword puzzles and word searches every day to try and reverse the effects of what my brain was doing to me.
Slowly, very slowly, my brain has started functioning again. I noticed it first when I would read a paragraph in a book and did not need to re-read it again because I got it the first time! I noticed it again when I stopped asking repeated times how to do something, because I got it the first time. I could not wait to share this information with Dr. Tiedemann, and ask his permission to work again. Reluctantly, he agreed that I could work one or two days a week and try it out.
Almost immediately, I was contacted by my former client to work on a 3 month project that would enable me to work a couple of days a week. I was so excited. So nervous. So anxious. So ready. To mark the occasion, my husband Nagib dropped me to work on Day 1 of my work. I felt like a little kid being dropped to school on her first day. I almost wanted to check if there was an apple in my briefcase! Nagib had me stand at the front of the building and took a picture.
Remember the Seven Dwarfs who sang: “Heigh, Ho, Heigh Ho, its home from work we go”? Well, I now wake up on work days singing, “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho. It’s off to work I go”!
I am so happy to be working again! It’s an indescribable feeling. I feel whole and complete. My brain is back and so is my spirit! I am the same person, but a better version of myself. I’ve come to understand that it is impossible to go through what I have without changing the core of who I have become. I have become more loving and patient – – qualities that did not come naturally to me before. Every moment matters to me now. Every interaction is an opportunity to make a difference. Every day is a blessing to contribute meaningfully. I can’t control what the future will bring and whether there will be a cure for my cancer. But I can sure as heck live fully in the moment!