It has been an emotional week. One that I have no right to claim rights to or sympathy for…or anything. Yet I am affected beyond belief by the events occurring around me. A girl I work with, and really, this is a GIRL. 34 years old, 2 young daughters…has cancer. Brain cancer. Yup. Brain Cancer. 34. She came into work one day in February and her right hand was frozen. She showed me and lightening bolts went off in my head. Not good. She made an appt. with an orthopedic guy for that afternoon, and just in case, I gave her the name of the neurologist I had seen for some problems with carpal tunnel. that hand didn’t look like an orthopedic issue to me, but who am I? So she went to the doctor and he said “Nuh uh, not my area” and made her an appt. in a few days for the neurologist. Who took one look at her and scheduled an MRI for the following Friday. Because she couldn’t have it sooner because her daughter was having surgery….She didn’t make it to the MRI, she seized on Wednesday night and was rushed to the hospital. With her daughters watching. And her husband terrified.
Surgery the following week. Prognosis: cancer, but good vibes. So the last month has been full of appts. and decisions. She begins treatment next week. It will be a long 6 months.
Obviously this affects anyone who knows, and cares for her. But, my situation is even weirder. I was tagged to be her replacement while she is out. Acting Manager of the biggest program our organization hosts. Can you say “heavy load”? First day in the office I didn’t know whether to sit in her chair or in my old office. Then I was nervous about changing the calendar to April, it sat on February. The first time the phone rang, I got a little nauseous. Last summer I filled in for a girl on maternity leave. Her program was a mess, it was a ridiculous summer for of reacting, fixing, placating, and wondering how the hell she got, let alone kept, her job. But this program runs like butter. She went home from work one day, fully expecting to be back in the office the next morning and her whole world turned upside down that night. Yet, her program is set and running and organized. Kudos, kid.
She sent an office email the other day where she told me to not “tiptoe around the program. Don’t save it for me. Run it. Own it”. Oh my. Oh my. So I will do my best, run and improve a program that is in great shape already, but each and every day will be for her. period.
But, that’s not the end of the story. Having a friend and coworker diagnosed with cancer at 34 makes you think. Im 57, raised 3 kids, been married 35 years. But it is time for some changes. the presence of a reminder of mortality does that. I want to live within 30 minutes of water. My husband wants a big garage where he can work on cars. I want to be able to choose how to spend my days, not be dictated by the needs of my children and grandchildren. I want to be an active, involved part of my grandchildren’s lives. I want to dance. I want to drink mojitos and listen to music. I want to live.