Now what?

I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer in November 2013, and went through the standard treatment year in 2014: surgery, more surgery, six months of chemotherapy, and 5 weeks of radiation treatment.

Like many cancer patients, I found this a sobering experience from which no complete return is possible. No matter what relief is felt by everyone around you that things are back to normal, this can’t be the case. Becoming a cancer patient is like becoming a parent. Whatever happens to your children, or your relationship with them, that clock doesn’t turn back.

In addition to writing generally about education technology and university work, this blog also reflects what it means to work with illness, and in my case specifically to return to work following treatment for illness. I have spoken to many people this year who have resumed work after accident, bereavement or misadventure and their stories are similar to mine: changed priorities, and an altered sense of public self.

This represents a challenge for many employers. What kinds of workers are we, when we come back? Can we be relied on to show up? Can we work a full day? Will we think the declared priorities of the organisational strategic plan are important? (In case you’re wondering, the answers are: yes, not always, and no.)

So while I’m thinking about this, thanks to the many friends and strangers who accompanied our family’s year of cancer treatment in 2014. In 2015 I’m well, working and quietly waiting, as we all do, for the other shoe to drop.

— Kate Bowles

One thought on “Now what?

  1. So important — this conversation. And so much below the institutional priority list that it doesn’t even make the cut.


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