Posted 2/14/2020 2:17 PM (GMT -6)
I'm a teacher and have continued teaching since diagnosis in 2013.
I'm about to see another class of seniors graduate. In teaching, that is meaningful to me, beyond words.
I know that teaching during those first weeks after being diagnosed really helped uplift me.
A new school year had just started when I was diagnosed, and being with students each day kept my spirits uplifted, as treatments began.
My desk at school was covered with supportive notes, cards, and letters. My students rallied around me, as I underwent chemotherapy and later radiation.
A cancer diagnosis can bring stress, fatigue, and necessary time spent away from work that needs to be dedicated to treatments and medical appointments. It's a lot to juggle --- physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I think all of us have to find our own pathway, in finding that balance between juggling work and pursuing health treatments.
Many of us here, including me, were diagnosed in our 40s or 50s, and retirement wasn't even in view when we were diagnosed.
My work insurance is important to me, as it is for many members here. Medical expenses often far exceed our yearly salaries. Breakthrough medications carry hefty prices.
In all of this, medical insurance suddenly becomes of paramount importance!
I try very hard to walk each evening, as I feel it bolsters my energy. Weekends, I walk recreational trails at lakes in this area. I feel time outside relieves stress, renews energy, and helps keep my thinking sharper.
To conserve energy for a busy week at school, I get chores and errands done on weekends. I get groceries then, and get laundry done for the week ahead.
Each night before work, I also get everything organized for the next work day. This helps thing go much smoother at work the next day. I think it's essential to eliminate unnecessary stress, as much as possible.
I'm more selective when saying "yes" to social events these days on weekends.
Getting together with friends to watch the weekend game for a few hours, for example, is far less taxing than attending a weekend game and early morning tailgate party at the sports stadium.
These days, I focus on family events and gatherings with close friends. After a busy week at work, it is important to do some fun and relaxing things on the weekend.
If you have large scale home projects, break them up over time. If you exhaust yourself, by painting the garage all weekend, for example, then you won't have any "gas in your tank" to face Monday morning. The garage can be painted over a few weekends instead. Break tasks up into manageable chunks.
I take classes to keep my teaching license updated during the summer months now, rather than cramming them in on weekends during the school year like I used to do, years ago.
I like the phrase that reminds us to seek new ways to WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER. There's wisdom in that.
I think most employers would allow fellows in our situation to take occasional breaks during the work day, to rejuvenate.
At work, seek out and associate with co-workers who uplift and "polish you up, rather than grind you down."
When I got diagnosed, I decided I didn't need to each lunch anymore in the staff lounge --- where the "Debbie Downers" seem to thrive on sharing their petty gripes endlessly, to anyone who will listen. Needless to say, I don't miss lunch in the staff lounge.
Simple changes at work like this can alleviate negativity and improve your whole work day and outlook.
I think an occasional day off or three day weekend can be an important way to recharge. In some professions, working from home occasionally can also be an option.
I think setting a reasonable bedtime goes a long way, too. An extra half hour of sleep can work wonders sometimes.
When the weekend rolls around, don't set an alarm clock --- and catch a nap when you need one. Even batteries need to be recharged, and we are no different!
I find I still need the daily challenges that my work brings into my life. But, I also need time each evening to relax and unwind, as well.
Find what works for you, above all else, and keep forging ahead on your personal path.
Thought provoking topic, to be sure!
With my best,
Cyclone - Iowa State University