October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I’m celebrating almost 15 years as a breast cancer survivor! I like to take this time to reflect and look back.
My father was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 63 and between myself and my siblings, we’ve all had some form of cancer diagnosed either before, or right at the start, of our 50’s. The BRCA gene is a very real thing and something you can be checked for if your family history shows a pattern.
The gene is connected to multiple types of cancer for men and women. I did not find my cancer because of this though, I found a lump myself, AFTER I had a clear mammogram six months prior. You have to listen to your body and stay on top of your health. By the time we did the surgery, which wasn’t long after I found the lump, I was already Stage 3C.
One of the amazing things I remember from that time was speaking to my boss and adjusting my job responsibilities to have one without deadlines. I was going to be developing a training program for the project managers in the department and I could work on it when I could.
This allowed me to continue to work on my own pace and take my mind off the disease. Being a cancer survivor is something I think about all the time and most recently when I had my fall, I didn’t realize how closely connected to the disease I still am.
I found the reason I formed blood clots after I fell is because they are similar to tumors and my body is predisposed to them. When I scratched my arm and lymphedema (swelling) came into play, it was also because of my former cancer.
Thank goodness for tele-health. I was able to call my doctor, send a picture of my arm and get a prescription all without having to step foot inside a doctor’s office. Technology is part of our world, whether it be related to our work or our health. We have to embrace it and keep going.
Recently, legislation passed in Pennsylvania that helped seniors and others with disabilities that needed someone to assist them with the technology side of tele-health get that needed help and still be HIPPA compliant and confidential. They were able to see doctors virtually and have family members or friends by their side so their wellness was not interrupted.
A friend of mine is dealing with colon cancer but he is still making sales from his hospital bed as he works to heal. His company knows how valuable he is and is giving him every opportunity to continue working if he feels up to it.
If you are an employer, make sure your team and employees know how valued they are and adjust and accommodate in all the places you can. Right now is the time to be as helpful as possible and connect in any way we can. Reach out, keep the human connection going, even over the screen
World Mental Health Day was last week and it’s another area I really want to touch on. People are consumed by the unknown. COVID-19, school, work, the election, money. We used to be able to plan weeks and months ahead. Now we plan day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour. This causes so much stress for people and we know stress causes disease.
Take time for yourself. Be healthy, but also be happy. Get outside and look at the stars. Take a walk. It’s a beautiful time on the East Coast to look at the changing leaves. I am planning an apple picking trip soon and I can’t wait.
We are never promised tomorrow, so take care of yourself and each other!