Hi All I have a problem that I can't seem to solve. I went back to work on the 30th November and worked three days a week for 4 then 6 hours a day. I requested before I started back to have the three days between Christmas and New Year as leave without pay. My manager hesitated when I asked and said he would discuss it later. My first day at work he came to me and whilst discussing work told me he could not give me the three days off. I didn't want to argue so I just said ok but could he at least consider me taking the 29th as it was my daughters b'day and the first we would have had together in six years as she had been living in the UK returning only in Feb 2009. I had two more conversations with him requesting the three days or at least the 29th and each time he said he needed me at work. I tried going through the back to work coordinator to get her to speak with him but she could not persuade him to change his mind. I was very stressed and upset and eventually I even said to him that I was scared that this would be my last christmas with the family (not only because of my cancer but because my parents are both 88 and Mum has just gone into a nursing home with dementia) He still said no the business needs you here. I was devastated but felt I could not resort to begging - I worried about the situation each night and stressed a lot. I then found out after an email from senior management that all staff could leave the office at midday on New Years Eve. As I am rostered to start at 10am and have an hours drive to work and home again I went to my manager and said that I had been prepared to come in to work on the 29th and 31st but now with the early closing it seemed really crazy for me to come in for such a short time. Each time I talked to him I had to choke back tears because I felt so emotional having to explain my need to him and know that he just 'didn't get it' I really felt humiliated and so nervous about having to confront him so often about this. On the 28th my father was taken to hospital by ambulance due to a suspected TIA (mini stroke) but I went to work on the 29th as I was 'scared' my manager would think I had contrived a story to have the time off. I sat at work for one and a half hours, with nothing to do - he has not yet given me any work of my own, I only help the others. I was feeling full of anger, frustration, stress, fear and misery. I went to him and told him I had nothing to do and that my father was in the hospital having tests. He said 'well I can find you something to do but perhaps you should go and be with your father' but his attitude was very condescending. I left and in anger turned and said 'thanks so much for your support' - for the first time attempting sarcasm. I went to the car park and I was upset and very angry and finally for the first time was able to assert myself....I rang him and said 'I will not be in for the rest of the week (two days) and would see him on the 4th Jan. I told him that I was upset and stressed by all that had taken place regarding the three day leave I had wanted - he continued to say that he had needed me there and even at this stage would not admit perhaps he had been a little unreasonable. I gave up and said we would just have to agree to disagree about this. I hung up. I had felt that I had gone back to work too soon anyway (I went back three weeks after finishing radiation) and I now feel I don't want to go back at all. It is obvious to me that he just doesn't care or even want to understand and I am too emotional to be able to have to argue and beg and constantly have to explain why I get tired or stressed or sad. I still feel uncomfortable at work - as if I don't fit in or am not really needed. I get incredibly tired with the travelling and the six hours. I don't feel even slightly supported by the team I work with (except for one girl whose mother is currently having chemo) I don't think I should have to explain myself or apologise for not feeling 100% or that I should have to tell people I feel fine when asked 'how are you'. If they don't want to know they shouldn't ask the question. I would not tell them exactly how I feel as there is no point but why can't I at least say 'not too bad'. They want me to say I'm fine/great etc. I am feeling very emotional lately and don't feel I am in a position at the moment to make any permanent decisions about my future. I therefore don't want to resign but feel I need more time to recover physically and especially emotionally. I used to love my job and feel like a valued employee. I may be overreacting to things now but I feel so vulnerable and damaged. What do I do ....? How do I approach my manager and retain my dignity....? How do I know if my decisions are the right ones...? How do I stop the cancer thoughts invading my life...? How do I feel good about anything again.....? How do I fight the daily fear....? I have just read back on this and thought - who will care, this is just me having another whinge........but this has been worrying me for ages. I wish I could just relax and worry about nothing...I wish I had the strength to say 'this is about me and I am going to live the way I want to' (only I don't know anymore how I should live..) Everything has changed so much and the black hangs over my head so much of the time I don't know how to see the blue sky again. That shadow that is there for so many of us is so suffocating at times it is really scary.....I really would love to think that 2010 was going to be a great year....but can I say it to you all - I can't say it to anyone else .....but I am soooo scared that this will be my last year.........! My cancer was Triple Negative Breast Cancer and I know the stats aren't good - I can't have any other treatment and this type of cancer usually comes back quickly. How do I live with this fear.....this uncertainty ....this overwhelming sadness????? Thank you to you if you have taken the time to read this long blog. Kind regards, Willow
Regular Contributor
Oh Willow, My heart breaks for you. Is there any way that you can financially not go back to work for a while? I was very lucky in that my Head teacher and Principal were unbelievably supportive and in fact sent me home for 2 days once when I couldn't stop crying for no real reason. Recently my sadness has taken over more than it should and I have decided to seek professional help through my GP. My reality of recurrence is nowhere near as confronting as your own and I have trouble dealing with it on a regular basis.I think that it is something we all have. I recall Sailor writing in a post that we don't cope with it, we just manage it. And there are times, such as your own, when others are so unreasonable that the managing becomes so difficult. You are not whingeing - your requests were more than reasonable and your manager is just someone who still just doesn't get it.If there is anyone else at work with whom you can discuss the situation you may be able to find a solution. I hope so. Take lots of care of yourself. S
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Super Contributor
Hi Willow this brought tears to my eyes for you, me and everyone else on this site. The sad part for me is that people just dont understand and although its difficult to do so if we havent gone through an experience, some people cannot even step out of themselves to even imagine for a moment what it must be like. If all else fails direct your manager to this site and the replies that you will get. You will certainly get support from us because it could easily be us in your situation. I do so hope that if your manager doesnt come to the party and start being reasonable with you, that at least someone from the organisation can help you out. Thinking of you!! Julie xo
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I must say, it does sound like your manager is just using his position as a power play. Although I don't know him, I get the feeling through you that he relishes watching you in such a fragile situation. I had a major road accident a few years back and I know I certainly went back to work too soon, physically and psychologically, something that I regret even now. Especially given they made me redundant 4 months after returning. If I could do it over, I would have taken another 2-3 weeks to convalesce. I'm proud of you for standing up to your manager though and taking the time that you needed. Don't ever feel guilty or bad for doing what is right for you - without your health (mental or physical), you don't have anything. May I make a suggestion? A few years back, I had a nervous breakdown (along with depression). I started to see a very understanding psychiatrist who deemed me unable to work temporarily. This enabled me to claim a Centrelink benefit (Newstart I think) under an incapacitated capacity. Centrelink recognises that while you can't work, it is only temporary and will pay you while you recover. However, if my memory serves me correct, you can only receive this if your GP or psych fills in the correct paperwork. While it might not be much, it may give you some financial relief while you take the time to get on your feet so to speak. Otherwise, you can always go on stress leave (I do believe you need your GP to indicate that you are stressed due to your working conditions) and therefore your employer must pay you normally until you return. It can be a bit of a double edged sword though. Perhaps speak with your GP or your onc about what is going on, how it is affecting you and what your options are, then make a decision on what feels right for you. But whatever you do, don't put up with crap like that. You deserve so much more than that, especially right now. Take care of yourself. Jo xxx
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Willow, I really feel for you. Your questions are valid, your fears are understandable, your needs are more than reasonable. Where is the manual on "how to manage cancer"? Good for you for speaking up for yourself, be proud of yourself for the courage you showed. I have no solution to your problems/issues/questions. I do have empathy and understanding that these are all-consuming and overwhelming. I hope that you can FEEL our support and care for you. Right at this moment, YOU are the the most important person you need to consider. Do whatever you feel you need to do, focus on yourself, it is not being selfish, it is taking care of you. You know yourself better than anyone else can, trust your instinct, explore the options available to you and believe in yourself that you are the best person to make the decision on what is right for you. I sincerely hope that you will find some peace and clarity. Kind regards and lots of hugs, Jill.
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