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Two Halves One Whole

In order of importance, this is my life in a snapshot: first, the people in my life, my family and my friends. Second, what I do in this life, my work and my advocacy.

While I’ve never given anything less than 100% at the office (even during treatment I took less time off for surgery and chemo than most women do for maternity leave). I’ve also never hid my devotion to the breast cancer community; even on my resume and Linked In profile my affiliations and charitable work are clearly listed…but I’m beginning to wonder … at what cost?

Not once has my advocacy interfered with my work. They are two equal parts of what makes me me but they rarely, if ever, comingle. Typically, my advocacy work is done either before or after work…or on the weekends. If I’ve ever had to do an interview or a take a phone call during business hours I make arrangements to either take care of that during my lunch hour or, if truly necessary, I take a personal day. It’s all on me and I’ve never once expected anyone to accommodate what I need to do that feeds my soul.

Recently I realized that my advocacy may be a crimp in the road to career advancement. I’ve been passed over on a long promised promotion…even though my work has continually been exemplary. I believe I may have also missed out on new job opportunities, because once my name is Googled, it’s all DOES THIS OUTFIT MAKE ME LOOK BALD? BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR! BADASS BLOGGER! So much for HIPPA privacy laws…I totally screwed the pooch on that one. BUT, as much as it makes me crazy that potential employers may be afraid of cancer-girl I cannot and will not hide her. She is me and I am her. We are two halves of the whole. It is part of what makes me ME!

When I was first diagnosed I needed a ‘reason’… an answer to the ‘why me’ that was running through my head every five minutes. But then I retrained myself to think, why not me? Who better to deal with this than me? I’m strong, I’m tough, and I’ve continually proven I can handle any obstacle that’s thrown at me. As I danced with allthecancerdemons I realized that by speaking out, being vocal, and being myself I could make this road a little smoother for other young women. I found my calling in a weird way. It was like taking a bullet but hey, if the wound was there I may as well dress it right? And believe me if I have a moment to wallow or decide to throw myself a pity party – I am the only attendee and it is always off the clock.

My second diagnosis reinforced my commitment to my sistah’s in pink. I know I’ve made connections and helped others through simple acts of honest humanity…and that is what comforts me the most when I begin to doubt my path in this life.

So I pose this question…Who wouldn’t want to promote or hire a survivor?

Wouldn’t a cancer survivor make an ideal employee? I believe they would. They are the ones who truly see the big picture. They are the ones that have no time to play the games or indulge in the office drama or get caught up in nonsense.

They will be the ones that are going to be grateful to show up every day. They will be the ones that will embrace the workload and manage their time efficiently and go the extra mile. They will also supervise others with kindness, respect and empathy. They understand the value of work life balance and they will always put their best foot forward. Every single survivor I know has enriched my life ten-fold. I cannot say the same about the general population.

Is it risky to hire an employee that has a history of cancer?

Ummm - NO! It is no more risky than hiring anyone else. Think about it…life as we know it can change on a dime. Hell mine did and if you’re reading this yours probably did too. Any human being could be hit by a car their second day on the job and need disability time off or rehabilitation. They could be injured in a home improvement accident that requires a lengthy surgery or hospital stay. They could have a very well covered addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling that may have to be dealt with sooner rather than later. So until robots or computers replace our workforce…the cancer survivor may just be your best bet.

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© 2012 Jennifer Pellechio Lukowiak

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