Chemotherapy week 5 - work vs cancer

Cancer changes lives.  It changes the life of a person when they are told they ahve a tumour inside them and it is incurable, but it also changes the lives of those people around them.  My mother was told nearly 3 months ago that she has an incurable disease and a 50% survival rate of 2-3 years.  Our lives changed, her and mine.  I realised that she has precious time and that I want to make sure I cherish all the time we have left together.  I want to make sure she cherishes every minute and that she never feels scared or alone, I have her to have laughter and joy.  I want no regrets and to waste no time.  To that end, while my Mother was lying in hospital for the 7th day in a row from Neutropenic Sepsis, I made the decision to reduce my working hours and to start working part time, devoting the rest of my time to caring for my mother whenever possible.

For my 'real' job, I actually work in IT, delivering website developments and supporting the website of one of the UK's largest charities.  I actually ahve a degree in English Literature and love to read so am incredibly proud of the career that I have built in IT given that I have no technical background.  I really enjoy the digital world, the fast paced moving environment and the 'geek speak'. Coincedentally, my Mother was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer three days before I started my new job which was a promotion.  I am also incredibly grateful for this job given that I was previously made redundant five months' ago so recognise the value that I place on having a job to motivate and give me confidence in myself.  But I love my Mother more.  I know in my heart that she is stronger for the support that I give her and the stability that I bring to her life as she continues to fight this cancer threatening to take over her body.  I choose to prioritise her recovery over a job and money and I do so with no regrets.

This decision was not easy to come by and I am an extremely proud person.  I will be honest, I love to succeed and don't like to show weakness or failure.  But thankfully I realised very soon (after only one small emotional breakdown in my bedroom!) that I needed to declutter my head space.  I need to take care of myself and that doesn't mean just eating well and getting enough sleep but making sure I am emotionally equipped to walk by my Mother's side, holding her hand and let her lean on me.

It was not easy breaking this news to my new boss of only 2.5 months but luckily he was very understanding.  I explained I was finding it very difficult to concentrate on the two things at once and the guilty feelings I would feel for tapping away on my laptop when I should have been concentrating on telling the nurses that my mother wanted some hot water to settle her stomach and make her take in more fluids.  It was even harder breaking this news to my Mother but as Mother's do best, she understood straight away and did not put any pressure on me at all.  It is even harder looking at the bank balance but I know in my heart that the extra time I get to spend with my Mother now is something money will never be able to buy.

So week 5 of chemotherapy sees us making some adjustments to our lifestyle to ensure my Mother has the best all rounded care that she needs to aid her recovery.  We learnt that treatment is in the form of chemotherapy, medication and blood transfusions but also emotional support, encouragement and confidence building to learn how to walk again and help her put her socks on as her ascites continues to restrict her mobility.  We learnt that money is not everything, the be all and end all and that when faced with a terminal illness, life gives you a chance to think about how you really wish to spend your time, what makes you happy and what brings you fulfillment.  In week 5, I learnt to live with no regrets.

I wold really encourage you all to also think about what's important to you, no matter what point you are in your life.  Are you doing something that truly makes you happy or doing something because you have no other offers or you're too scared to change?  We are all faced with morbidity at some point in our life, cancer is just the gift that tells you exactly when your time is up and a reminder that you should spend your time wisely.  How many of us get to know exactly how much time we have left on this earth and get to think about exactly how we want to spend that time?

Food for thought?  Please comment below if you've ever done something really brave and out of your comfort zone to give me courage as I take this new step in my life.



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