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
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.