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!
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