Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cancer Will Not Take This From Me

Having special health needs like cancer complicates decisions like deciding whether or not to change jobs. Will the new job understand that you'll need extra time for medical appointments? Will they be able to accommodate dips in health and stamina? Will health coverage transfer seamlessly?

Recently, a great career opportunity dropped into my lap out of nowhere. The timing could have been better. I was unsure of whether or how quickly the sleeping remedies would work. I was having trouble lasting a full work day let alone a full work week and even when I was working I was certainly not at my full "operating capacity".

I could play it safe and stay where I was, with a good deal of history, support and understanding for my current condition but with no real opportunity for advancement or growth, or I could change jobs where much more would be expected of me but the opportunities for growth and advancement are very good.

It took a good deal of contemplation but I resolved that cancer will not take this away from me. I will not let this disease rob me of such an opportunity. So I decided to take a risk and accepted a new position as a lead developer at a small online auction company.

It's been almost 3 weeks since I started my new job and I'm loving it. In addition to being a good career move I've discovered a few positive aspects that I hadn't anticipated:
  • No one but my immediate boss knows I have cancer. I worried that people would not understand my condition and I wouldn't be cut any slack. However, it's turned out that not being cut any slack has caused me to expect more from myself. I think I was letting myself get a little lax by allowing those around me to set my expectations for me. Not having that excuse has improved my drive, my stamina and my motivation.
  • Since no one knows I have cancer, work is now a place where I can escape from awkward questions and interactions. People don't worry about what they say around me and vice versa. This is one time where not having any outward signs of leukemia definitely works to my advantage.
  • I feel more normal because people expect me to be normal. This is slightly contrary to my first point since I'm essentially still letting others set my expectations for me, this is just a positive spin on the same theme.
Some of this is due to the fact that my improved sleeping habits mean I'm no longer slightly drunk with fatigue, and some of the improvement is simply due to the change in scenery. All put together though, it's one more step away from being "the guy with cancer" and one step closer to just being "the guy" again.

And it's one thing that I did not let cancer take away from me.