I want to focus my upcoming #careeraftercancer seminar on the following 3 conversation points (and please read this post to the end for a special request...):
When I think of my “plot twist” of cancer and the different ways it impacted my family, my health, my brain and then way at the bottom of the list is how it impacted me professionally. For some of us though, that professional impact rates higher - I am lucky enough to have made my budget work despite getting laid off from my job the day after my last chemotherapy treatment.
It was in being laid off for the next school year that I finally realized that to this place, I was just a number. I was someone who could easily be replaced and if I were to have (God forbid) dropped dead, the same thing would have happened, obviously. However, seeing it done though I was still alive and kicking and so looking forward to kind of vindicating my name and being my kick ass self the following school year, I finally collapsed in upon myself - all of my bravado, my smiles, my energy that I pulled from goodness knows where to work full time during chemo was usurped, gone and I had to go sick to recover.
Having the time to rest and recover was paramount and I am lucky that I had insurance through my husband and that I could “afford” to be home (I put “afford” in quotes because it is tough and our budget does not have much room for anything) but I digress.
Chemotherapy and just you know, cancer, did a number on my professional abilities and it took until recently for me to even feel as though I could “present” on something. Ok, you guys, I am a presenter - it is kind of what I do and who I am - I began talking in front of strange large groups in college (speech and debate team captain, for the win) - well, actually, I began talking in the womb. My younger brother is only 23 months younger than me and he did not speak until he was about 4-5 years old at which point, we were taking him to specialists and such and when he finally began to talk, everyone wanted to know why it took him so long and he used to say, “I didn’t have to talk - my sister spoke FOR me.”
Well, anyway, after speaking in college, I then became an adjunct professor in 2003 which meant that I could get up and say anything in front of anyone. Just to complete the trifecta, I then became a small business owner where presenting my skills and talents and abilities became even MORE of a thing.
Now, I feel “readier” - like, I still am not 100% “with it” the way I used to be - I can feel that and I also know that I must be kinder to myself and assume that along with the new normal of thinking every fucking headache is cancer that I also must recognize that this is where I am. Even still, though, as “diminished” as I personally feel my capacity is, I can bring something to the table in the form of help to those who do not have the years of experience I do and are feeling lost and unsure of what to do with their careers.
It is a privilege to even think in terms of career though and I know it - many of our sisters and brothers who get cancer cannot spend time looking for the job for them or even risking taking time off of the jobs that they do have as there is no safety net for most people. However, I do think this type of webinar and training could be helpful for anyone - even those who do not have any choice in the matter because at the end of the day, not only do our bodies fail us but oftentimes our bosses, colleagues also fail us and we all need a Plan B.
Would you be interested in taking part in my pilot webinar? I plan on doing one on my own to see how it goes then doing one for others as a test to get feedback and to see if it is considered ”launch ready”. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the pilot / test one! Thank!
I feel sometimes like this blog is focused on the same topics over and over again - not in a bad way just in a way that I do think at times I can be repetitive. The topics I share on are so important and in a way helping other women who are also the 1 in 8 so I am committed to continue sharing.
I am someone who is tenacious and I do not give up easily, if at all. I have fought for many things in my life before I was told “you have cancer” so it was not really that big of a deal to focus and get things done in a way that was like “befitting” my fuck it all attitude.
You see, I am irreverent and funny and sometimes just weird but one thing I am not is overly emotional. I am kind of an ice princess and keep my feelings locked away deep down. Why do I do this? I do not know. It is just the way I am.
Maybe because I have seen some shit. Nothing as bad as maybe others have seen but still, I was an adult way before I was 18. I was, I think, born an adult. So I just forced my way through cancer the way I forced myself through some other life experiences. With my eyes open and cringing all the way while keeping it all close to my chest.
Then, I started sharing my story and a lot of things changed for me. I became more open to my emotions, more involved with my story and my authentic self. I am someone who always has tried to help others in ways big and small and now I find myself wanting to help people in even bigger ways.
One of my biggest flaws (and trust, I have a bunch) is that I want to do EVERYTHING at once. I want to rock out my ideas into full blown execution mode right away and as someone who spent 10+ years as a project manager planning and executing on multi million dollar projects and who is licensed in project management (seriously, there is such a thing - it is called the PMP - Project Management Professional and I have been one since 2004!) I should know better that things like this, initiatives, launch and promotion etc do not happen overnight. So why then am I all over myself to get these ideas and stuff out there like yesterday.
I know I can help people and I know how to do it and why I am doing it but I need to lay off myself on the insane timeline I have in my head. My focus is on rolling out content specifically for our cancer survivor (and thriver) community for building their careers after cancer. This is my big pitch to fulfilling a need that I do not think is quite met yet even with the various resources already in existence. Oh and I will be offering this training for FREE.
Here is why I think I should do this:
1- My experience is more specific in that I have been a career expert, having written books on being entrepreneurial in your job search, career readiness and having provided training, seminars and helping individual clients that the next step in their careers. I have another blog all about careers (check it out at thenextstep1234.com/blog). Oh and it is more specific also because I have been trying to get back into a career post cancer and it is all so recent.
2- I have the platform and technical know how to share my message beyond the written word - I mean, the books I have are all helpful but not really specific around our issues of having new bodies, new hair, new perspectives and needs post cancer. I know how to present and how to teach having been an educator since 2003 - I can break down lessons into easy pieces and launch training via the web using video that feels like one on one help.
3-I can also provide one on one help to really work through the issues of confidence, preparedness and career planning that are so unique to our needs.
That #3 is so important - those topics of confidence, preparedness and career planning are the subtopics of my first webinar - I have created the slides already!
Next, I need to record a test run to see if I really know what I want to say. DO not laugh but I had to re-read the books I wrote because I feel like I am so far removed from what I wrote (even though it was just early 2016 that I wrote and published the books- a lot has happened since then - mainly chemo).
So I am just plugging along and thinking and trying to be kind to myself and my new priorities - I want to be able to still have my “me” time - exercising, resting and recovering while also finding work and building out this outreach capability utilizing my skills and talents to help us all get our career after cancer game on point.
What do you think? For more info, check out my page on this initiative here -> Work Readiness for Cancer Survivors.
I keep writing this blog post and deleting it and then redoing it. There are things that I guess are better off left unsaid but sometimes in not saying the things, it eats away at you or at me - it eats away at me so I had to write it, feelings be damned.
As this year 2017 draws to a close, I have to believe that the comeback will be bigger than the setback. What do I mean by this? Have you ever met people who have been through the wringer? Like widowed with 3 young kids and needed to make it and turned around and got themselves through school ALONE and became a powerhouse attorney type of comeback?
I know some people who have done these types of things and I just want them all to write a book on how the hell they did it. As I sit here, post breast cancer plot twist having lost my job and trying to work on my own comeback, I want to have some guidance, some roadmap so to speak of how to do this.
I am standing and kicking butt and taking names, applying to jobs, managing my family life with a renewed focus on ME, my husband and my kids. I had been pulled in many different directions lately stemming from the needs of other family members and I had to stand up and say, “NO. Enough. It is now time to do what I need to do for me.”
In my life, I have been the caregiver for many, many people. I have been the person who keeps it all together. Who makes sure everyone feels welcome and well and, well, I am DONE. I am writing this more for me than anyone else so if you are confused already, sorry. This is a note to me to remember that I matter, that my health, well-being, sanity and time are all precious and important. That I am a good person who cannot get lost in being a people please-r. I have 2 children not 10.
I promise to keep putting me first - to stop trying to be the superwoman I have been acting like again. It is so hard to let go of bad habits. It is not my responsibility to care for everyone. I have to be focused on my small family, our home, our life and let the rest go.
This does not make me a bad person - it makes me ME.
My New Year’s Resolutions are unique this year - I did not make any last year except, “Survive” and this year, I want the same thing but with a bit more.
1- Survive - keep on keeping on in my training to be a survivor. Keep exercising, eating right, keeping myself positive and on track.
2- Letting go- know that I cannot hold on to the pain, the hurt or the betrayal but instead need to stay light, lighter than air to do what I need to do.
3- Work - find my next step, my perfect job/income generating plan to make my life work to be able to stop having so much free time but to balance it with my kids and family.
4-Health - See, survive is for me, health is for the other members of my family. Remove all sugar, get us all on a work out routine, stop my husband from smoking and other destructive habits (sugar, no exercise, etc).
What do you want to do for the upcoming year? What did you find were things you had to let go to survive? What do you know about your comeback? What is your comeback?
I want to help others who are faced with the plot twist of cancer and I want to help them the only way I know how - to get them back to work. Right now, I am focused on doing this for myself and it is an all consuming focus. I have finally redone my OWN resume - see it here --> how-to-take-the-next-step-after-cancer.html after spending decades helping others get resume ready through my old small business www.thenextstep1234.com. This resume makeover and help on how to interview are big parts of my "talents" that I was writing about a few weeks ago using-your-talents.html.
To do this, I need to figure out more about the specifics. I mean helping people get back to work is a huge positive especially after I have been learning more and more about people who have lost their jobs during or after diagnosis/treatment - you can read my unfiltered thoughts on that here --> www.whatnext.com/blog/posts/after-cancer-treatment-how-do-i-get-back-to-being-me,
Not having a job means you do not feel "whole" yet. It means you do not have the necessary distraction from thinking about cancer and death. Most importantly, it means you have financial issues to pay your bills or to have healthcare or to afford your medication. It is a big deal.
I also want to think about how I can use funds that I can perhaps raise to do something for others or for research in addition to this skill I have in my tool house. I am not yet sure how it will come together. It is a priority to me and it is why I upgraded my URL via Weebly from www.thetimebetweenis.weebly.com to www.thetimebetweenis.org and also got the ability to use more programming options for this blog, too. I am looking at different ways to pay homage and to help others.
On a related note regarding the fact that I am currently unemployed, I am still trying not to get triggered when I hear of someone dying from breast cancer. I am trying so damn hard; today I just spoke to a friend of the family whose 47 year old sister just died from breast cancer after an 8 year fight - you do the math, as I did - she was 39 at diagnosis; so was I. It is times like these that I get down and want to cry but I know that will not help and I know that although it does statistically maybe look worse for me that it could happen to anyone and it does happen to anyone - random deaths happen all the time, it is part of what keeps newspapers in business.
All of this pushes me to get busier, because if I stay focused on busy, I have less time to think. Thinking is never good. I was an over thinker in the past and it was never "good". It is especially not "good" now. So I am going to throw myself into a couple of projects to keep myself occupied and therefore out of trouble. They are:
So it is time for me to work on these things and get into gear. Of course, I will always blog - well as long as it continues to connect me to my community, to help me grieve, celebrate, unload and move my needle back to "full" when I am on "empty". It has led to amazing friendships and to different opportunities to share my story (check out my Press & Promotion Page --> www.thetimebetweenis.org/my-story-in-the-press.html.
As always, thanks for reading and especially for reaching out and/or sharing my story. I hope one day this story is just that a fiction that we remember having once existed that "cancer" is eradicated and no longer a mystery to those who die from it.
To my (new) friend's sister, I know you are no longer in pain and that you are at peace. Please help the other women and men who have been dealt the plot twist of breast cancer with your prayers and I will pray for you, too.
What I posted on Instagram about December 2017 vs 2016; follow me @thetimebetweenis or on Twitter @timebetweenis
I have always loved December. It is my birth month, after all, and the holidays and even getting only one gift as a kid instead of two since birthday was so close to Christmas was not enough to ruin it. I also met my husband in December and sometimes that is something I celebrate and sometimes.... welll.....just kidding - at the end of the day, as I wrote here on this blog, he is a good man and I am lucky to have met him in-sickness-and-in-health.html.
Now, of course, after my breast cancer plot twist, I have even more reason to be in love with December. My birthday is December 13th and on that day last year, my big 4-0 birthday, I was getting a pet scan, which I found out the next day was all clear (best birthday gift ever) and then three days later, I had my surgery.
After the operation, when I was snoozing off the anesthesia, my surgeon called my husband and told him, "All of the cancer is gone; I removed all of it." I guess now December 16th is the day of my re-birth. I will NEVER thank cancer but without it, I would not have become this improved version of me that I am today.
In the past, I worried about everything. I was not truly happy in my life no matter what. I would focus on the negatives and be so stressed and tired and not give a shit about taking care of me. I was the LAST person on the list for anything in my mind. I judged other people for taking care of themselves and for that, my silent judging, I am sorry. I held myself up to a standard that did not exist as I wrote about in my Open Letter to me an-open-letter-to-me.html.
I wrote about my PTSD and all of the medical tests I subjected myself to recently all-about-the-ptsd-post-breast-cancer.html and wanted to update that on December 1, I got my final report back for the endoscopy and everything that was biopsied was benign! I spent time worrying over those 3 weeks of waiting but nothing near to what I would have done before I walked the walk of a breast cancer patient. I did not let it take my joy, I did not let it take my sleep and I did not let it take my peace.
This month, I go and see my surgeon on the anniversary date of when my husband and I met. We went 16 years ago now on a Thursday night in December that feels like a lifetime ago. He was still on the job and working 12-24 hour shifts down at "ground zero" as we met the December after 9/11. We made it work, somehow, and next year is our 13th year of marriage. So on 12/21 when we are at Sloan for my mammogram, ultrasound of the remaining breast and my follow up with the surgeon on the mastectomy site I want to also celebrate us somehow...
Instead of worrying about these upcoming tests and visits, I am instead going to focus on the joy- the joy of being "cancer free" at least as far as I know :) and I want to keep it that way. Last year at this time, I was not cancer free and it really put everything in perspective.
I am still here, I am standing and this is what I do in the time between. I also decided as an early birthday gift to myself of upgrading my Weebly website to streamline the URL to just www.thetimebetweenis.org and also to add in the Search bar (really for me so I can find stuff easily...
Happy December to all of you - I wish you peace and happiness always and great health!
I wrote all about being told the day after my last chemotherapy treatment that I would not have a job for the next academic year... I am not alone in losing a job during or after cancer treatment and I hope by being open about what happened to me, it can help others going through it.
I wrote something that is pretty raw, something I tried to glaze over in my Open Letter Blog Post here an-open-letter-to-me.html but found there was more to say about the whole being in active treatment as a breast cancer patient and being told the day after my last chemotherapy that I did not have a job for the following academic year (teacher).
I shared more detail on how this made me feel and how I am shaking it off and moving on to bigger and better things. I have found through this plot twist that I am not the only person this has happened to; in fact many people have reached out to me about losing their jobs or having to leave their jobs due to the affects of cancer.
I hope to move forward on finding a way to help people manage this time in their lives, these blank spaces on their resumes. (And wow, I just realized I have TWO Taylor Swift song references in this post...can you tell I have a preteen daughter?).
If there are any other blogs or websites that would like to have me write something for them, please reach out at email@example.com or find out more at media-me-sharing-my-breast-cancer-plot-twist-and-pinktober.html and here what-it-means-to-say-you-beat-cancer-media-portrayal-of-cancer.html. Please make sure you also check out the article posted below and share away from the What's Next Blog. Thanks! This is what I do in the time between....
I am still focusing on this unknown - this new me that is trying to balance and figure out my own next step after being an "expert" at helping others do this it is new for me. To be using my own skills and talents on me is bizarre.
I saw this article from NPR and it resonated with me so much www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2014/04/30/308269057/cancer-plus-chemo-might-put-your-job-at-risk.
Chemotherapy was the biggest challenge for me. I had to stop being a "mom" - I was tired and gave all I had left to my job as a teacher. I could not be around my kids when they were sick and I was so tired and bald and just blah that it was tough to do anything beyond what I chose to do. I chose to pour whatever I had into my job and I alluded to my experiences in my open letter to myself an-open-letter-to-me.html and here, too when-god-closes-a-door-he-opens-a-window.html.
Now I am sitting here post treatment and this is the time - the time between - when you hope and pray you are cured but the God's honest truth is that we (all of us touched by this disease) just do not know. We can only plan for what is in front of us though - living with "what ifs" is just a stupid way to live.
So I stay focused and ready - I did my resume, I have my interview clothes ready and my answers to the questions are polished and ready to go. What questions you say? Well, common interview questions like these:
Potential Interview Question: "What have you been doing since your last position ended?"
Answer: "I have been focusing on finding a position that will allow me to use my strengths of communication, writing and project management - like the one at your place XX..."
Potential Interview Questions: "Why did you stop working at your last job?"
Answer: "I was laid off due to economic issues."
Legally, you know, I cannot be asked about my health during an interview - none of us who are getting back into the workforce can be asked but it is a part of our lives, a part of our career stories and sometimes we might inadvertently leave a clue or a hint as to why we now have this new perspective on life and our career. It came out during my first interview post cancer treatment last month. I am looking for something very specifically tailored to this "new me" this "post cancer" me.
My interview was with a person who knows me in real life and by default knew or heard about my illness but still I could not help but bring it up as a catalyst for change that I think I might need to include in my interviews because it provides a way to tie in the different pieces of me. From Executive to Educator to Entrepreneur to "ex" teacher - how do I make my story resonate for the right job so I can get hired and avoid being looked over because of my (past?) illness?
This is it, though, the new world is that many many people are diagnosed with cancer. We are still ready, willing and able to work. We get a raw deal (and I am never one to complain) but we give it our all during chemotherapy and guess what, that "all" is not good enough. It cannot be - by definition, chemotherapy breaks you down from inside out to kill cancer cells. I am still someone who can "take over the world" - my career path changed so drastically when I had kids I went from wanting to be CEO of a major company to wanting to be a teacher locally.
I got that local teaching job and it was the hardest job I have ever had in no small part because I was undergoing treatment for cancer during my first year as a full time grade school teacher. Also because of the amount of work all teachers have to do on a daily basis. I have this perspective of having done it and failed because I was undergoing cancer treatment but every other teacher I have either worked with or met are all super stressed and they are doing it without chemotherapy.
So for this new next step, I think I want to go back to Corporate. I think I am ready to be in a large organization and to have the ability to hit the ground slowly and then spread my wings and fly. I lost years in corporate by focusing on my family and my entrepreneurial pursuits - I definitely do not want to become a workaholic but not working leads to too much time for thinking and for most of us but particularly for people who have had been diagnosed with cancer, too much thinking is never a good thing. So here is to new beginnings and keeping busy!
I talk a lot about having taken many different paths in my life paths-of-life-how-plot-twists-are-really-new-paths.html and how it affected me am-i-me.html and I am considering the ways in which having experienced breast cancer and deciding to be so public about it can and will continue to affect my future.
As an unemployed person looking for my next step, I know that having been so public about this disease could make me someone who is considered a bad fit for an open job. That does not stop me, though. I will not stop sharing because I have so much to say and I know that the fact that I was a breast cancer patient is not something that really will ever be a "was" - it is and it will be something that no matter how small the risk becomes or how many years out I get will always affect ME in many ways.
Sharing on this blog has opened me up to so many people who are going through the disease and also has helped me educate those who are lucky enough to not have cancer understand what having this diagnosis means. Particularly during this month of pinktober where everything is pink and fuzzy and booby to be me, strong, tough and boobless, is an important part of why I am here writing and sharing every day this month and why I will continue to share in the future.
So that being said I am working on finding a job post cancer AND trying to share these lessons with those of you who are going through it, too. I think the most important thing is to have an awesome resume and to know how to answer interview questions. Your health information is top secret classified information and no one should be able to ask you detailed questions about your health or what if anything will happen in your future.
I am considering taking my entrepreneurial path (www.thenextstep1234.com) and turning it into a not for profit to help those who like me find their plot twist falling off a cliff with cancer. I am learning my own way now - as I go for interviews with my uber pixie cut and my fake boob attached to my bra and as I manage other side effects (but still smiling) plus the overwhelming piece of "what if?" I still have to rock it and hopefully will be posting more about lessons for those of you also in my shoes. Keeping busy and being a productive member of society are key for me to feel truly "back".
So this is what I do in the time between... Stay posted as I continue to balance being a mom, cancer (soon to be) survivor, unemployed, once entrepreneur ex teacher ex educator -- or just Lisa for short...
This is a longer video all about the different versions of me before my breast cancer plot twist and how I use social media to build my network, to share my story based off of the experiences I have had at running small businesses and building content as a professor, entrepreneur and more.
Also, a plea to #hireme - I am including my resume here :) you never know... This is what I do in the time between...
My Social Media "STATS"
My Resume -- #HIREME
In getting back to the business of living as I started talking about in my last blog post integrative-medicine-clinical-trials.html, the next step is to find a job. I alluded to my experiences at my last full time job in my open letter to myself an-open-letter-to-me.html and I truly do not believe in being the disgruntled former employee type - even on the internet. Suffice it to say, I was not meant to be where I was and all of the negative energy that could be expanded on that is better used as positive energy to heal and pick myself up off of the floor.
And now the question is -- what do I want to do? I am applying to jobs across the board right now. I am a weird person who has had multiple careers (some concurrently) - I have been an executive, educator and entrepreneur. I am not sure any of those fit right now.
I know I love to write and I am happy to share that I am working on my fictionalized story about a single mom with one breast trying to get lucky in life (oh and with this I signed up to be a part of the Visible Ink program at Memorial Sloan Kettering and was paired with an amazing mentor named Samantha). I love to read and obviously I live to write BUT I have never been able to crack fiction writing. Ever.
Becoming a best selling author is probably NOT going to happen so the question is where do I go from here? I have spent the last 9+ months focusing on survival and although I am trying to just live in the moment there are times where I wonder and worry what the future holds for me health-wise. It is not really something I can fully control so I want it to be something I do not have as much time to think about.
The summer was restful and restorative and for that, I am so thankful. Now, the fall is here, the kids are in school and though I am a little busy every day with fitness, blogging and looking for my next step (oh and cleaning the house, laundry and all that jazz) those things are not really enough for me to hang my hat on PLUS there are those pesky bills piling up and though I have spoken about my budget in the past (managing-life-stresses.html) we definitely cannot keep up on one income.
All of this has made me think about hearing my grandparents say, "When God closes a door, He opens a window." I am wondering what the window will be and if I will know when it is opened. I am looking and open for a new opportunity and I do know that sharing my health story can be a negative to finding that next step BUT it is a part of me and something I do not want to stop doing. In fact, I do not think I could stop doing it. I have mentioned in speaking to friends that it is like word vomit - something hits me and I want to share it and it just spills out into the blog post.
If you lost your job during your breast cancer plot twist, what did you wind up doing next? Have you changed careers and/or started new positions as a cancer (soon to be) survivor? I have the opportunity to walk into someplace and work without having the twice a month chemotherapy treatments that made me the walking dead. I have the chance to prove myself and show that i am more than just a diagnosis. I just wonder who will take the chance on me and if I am truly ready to take the chance on them? I have been burnt before and I will not make that change me - I am ready to be open for the opportunity to be more than just "cancer" Lisa.
This is what I think about in the time between....
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