Cancer and Career... Creating a Balance
I was recently asked “how do you balance your cancer and career while being a mom”? I was flattered to be asked because the question assumed I had struck the balance and somehow might have my sh@$ together. This question really forced me to reflect. I believe many women (and men) struggle with finding the balance. I certainly do. I have learned a lot about myself while on this 6 year, stage 4, lung cancer crazy train. I didn’t want cancer to take my career I had work so hard to grow. I learned quickly that you can’t wait to find the balance.....you have to create it. It’s a daily tug-o-war and it can be exhausting.
Maintaining a sense of "normalcy"
There are days I wake up and have zero energy and just want to go back to bed. On the flip side, when I have too much time off, I go stir crazy and can’t wait to get back into the groove. The struggle is real. For me, I have a career and it means a lot to me to continue to maintain my sense of normalcy. I, like many others, are also the primary or sole source of income which adds to the pressure of maintaining the right balance as a mom, a wife, as a leader, as a cancer survivor.
I have found three things that have helped me create a better balance.
How routines help
First, I find that having a routine really helps strike a balance. Getting up at the same time every day (except weekends, those are off limits), go for a walk or some form of exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, shower and get dressed for the day. Keep in mind, this is even more of a challenge now that I have a home office. I really do love wearing yoga pants.
Second, I force myself to stay connected and visible. For example, I pick my daughter up from kindergarten almost everyday in between meetings. I block my work schedule to do fun things with her throughout the week. I also almost always Skype my meetings at work because the face time brings a greater sense of connectedness when you work remotely. I’m fortunate to work for an amazing company and equally amazing leaders who are well aware of my cancer journey and have fully supported me taking time off after my daughter was born, after my initial diagnosis, after treatments, surgeries and recoveries.
Going easy on myself
Last but not least, I try to go easy on myself. Some days, I feel like a failure while other days I feel like I hit my stride. It’s ok to have those days when you struggle to just maintain. The key is to move forward. Focus on what you can control not on what’s out of your control (like wanting to vomit or the big “D” hits during a video call with your boss). We will have days that make us forget we have cancer and other days when it slaps us in the face....over and over again. Listen to your body and take a break when you need it. Just remember to get back in the ring and keep on fighting to strike the balance.
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