Angela’s Corner: Missing Work

2013-04-26_Seattle_9605-2_smallerI am a woman who wears many hats.  Before the time of my surgery I wore the mommy and wife hat, the after-school tutor hat, the Relay for Life Survivor chair and team captain hats.  Wearing five different hats was difficult enough, then the curve-ball was thrown and you add another hat to the rack:  breast cancer survivor.  What’s a girl supposed to do?

One of my fears during the diagnosis process had to do with my work.  Being a self-employed tutor is a very rewarding job.  I have the best relationship with my students and their parents, many of whom I now consider friends.  When I determined my course of treatment, I was afraid to tell my students and their parents.  How do you tell someone you’ll need at least one full month off, maybe two?  How could I be gone for so long and let the students down?  Many of those students have come to count on me every week.  Could I just abandon them?

Relief struck me when every one of those parents was accepting of my course of action.  They were very caring and concerned about me and how I was feeling.  I told the parents, and let them know that they could talk to their children about me and my diagnosis.  This way, each parent could inform their child as much or as little as they wanted to, or felt their child needed to know.  I would be willing to talk to the students at any time if I was needed.  Again, more relief set in as most of the students showed their support for me with hugs, cards, and even little trinkets.

With my business, I tutor out of three different communities, two of which are smaller farming communities less than an hour away.  I started teaching again within a month of my surgeries.  Quite simply put, because I was bored.  I needed something to do and started teaching, but only here in town.  Driving was a little challenging for me.  I needed to work my muscle strength up to where I would be able to drive for an hour and not be concerned of fatigue.  Tutoring on the day my husband took off from work allowed him to be my personal assistant.  He drove me to and from where I needed to be.  He carried all of my materials so I wouldn’t injury myself.  He was the best non-paid assistant I could ever have asked for.

One month after I started back to work on a very temporary basis (two-months post-surgery) I was almost back to full mobility, and was definitely back to working full-time.  No matter how rewarding teaching can be, it can also be exhausting.  In this case, after a month long break (plus some) I felt renewed and ready for those challenges all over again.  Not only did this one to two month break allow for time to heal my body from surgery, it also allowed me time to relax and gain a better grasp on my mental clarity.

I realize everyone is different in their healing process, as every surgery is different from the next.  Many women may take a shorter period of time off from work while others take longer.  Knowing your body and your limitations will help you make your decision in how much time is adequate enough for healing.  Pay attention to every ache and pain, listen to when they occur and after what activities.  Let your body be the driving force.

Learn more about Angela’s battle against breast cancer.
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