Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Feisty and fabulous? Really?


Last week I was mainly in Edinburgh and I was all the better for it. It’s meant I was in my own bed every night! I also spent more time in the office with the team and I managed to catch up with colleagues more widely in my network. All good. The other thing is I have found several excuses to visit the Christmas market…I told you I like cheese. I have also fitted in a zumba class and  walked to work several days this week. By yesterday I crashed but it had been good till then. I do need to shut of my overdo things button! Any suggestions welcome…
One highlight of the week was a session on happiness at work and how often the value and importance of that can be missed and neglected. The four key qualities described are trust, positive relationships, progress and meaning for happiness to thrive at work. Good learning and reminders and food for thought really. And working in a great organisation like Breakthrough offers such opportunities to see progress and gives our working lives real meaning too. It also made me reflect how important work colleagues and environments are. Often when people are ill and long-term sickness ensues, how much they can become isolated, in particular from work colleagues who were previously such a big part of their lives. It’s a kind of double whammy .
So do think of colleagues when these times hit and check with how you can help them not lose the contact they are keen to have….small gestures can lift a day. A diagnosis of breast cancer can be so isolating and scary and so often brings with it depression which in its turn isolates further. I read this week of the power of blogging to help with depression too. Perhaps its a safe place to put unwanted thoughts and stop them going around in your head. What is most important that the person is able to talk to someone about how they feel and to be taken seriously. I remember feeling quite guilty that I didn’t feel on cloud nine at the end of treatment. After all I had survived hadn’t I?
I notice that I am in an almost conflicted place with regard to my own recent experience too. There's a large part of me feels lucky that I have not needed extensive treatment or had to have lengthy times off work. I have retained all my hair, haven't gained or lost weight as a result of treatment, I had excellent care from a team who cared about me as a person and I haven't lost income. So lucky me! And I honestly do see that because I see so many around me in my work whose story is very different. I feel that difference acutely and it spurs me on in my role. Our vision in Breakthrough Breast Cancer is a future free from the fear of breast cancer. And I guess if everyone's experience was like mine it could feel like we are almost there.
But has it been free of fear and impact?...not really if I'm honest. As the end of the year approaches it's a time to look back and that has made me look at it all through fresh eyes. This all started again for me in early April following a holiday we had enjoyed with the family. We returned full of optimism and about to extend our house for a new phase in our lives. And by the end of that week much of the focus changed. What was to be a routine follow up became a fresh journey of biopsies, uncertainties, fears and sleepless nights. What I don't know is the impact too on my family-I can guess at some and you can too but it has had an impact that much I do know. On friends too who have supported me. And my colleagues who have had the full reality of living through this dropped on their unsuspecting laps. So a bit of me feels pretty angry with that if I am honest. This year was supposed to be quite different. A celebration of big birthdays and new horizons and instead it's been a bit of a marathon overall. And not just for me but for all those whose I am close to. So sorry guys I know it's not over yet as I plan the enforced "boob job" next year. I may be in a bit of an angry elf place just now but once it's all over the celebrations will be planned. Promise.
Reasons to be cheerful
I have had some lovely compliments paid to me this last week about how much I have achieved within my role in Breakthrough and that has been so affirming and reassuring too. I was even described as feisty and fabulous! We also had a lovely visit to our family and enjoyed precious time together. Including a cinema trip to see Arthur’s Christmas.....really feeling quite festive now. It was hard to come away as always though and wish we lived nearer. Christmas as ever reminds me of what is important to me….and as Bryony the Elf would say, there always time to put a bow on it!




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