The last few weeks have been very busy for me, particularly launching my new partnership with C4C Mobile and the interest that has created from both sponsors and people affected by cancer. From a personal perspective it has refreshed my ‘working’ life with different challenges, and has brought me back to many things that I missed most about my life before cancer. Life is still very difficult with the health issues I face, but I have at last learned to adapt and accept my limitations. No more life in the fast lane but at least I am back on the road! Communicating with more people, and dealing with media and marketing teams frequently, I am seeing the working environment through very different eyes now. I am just doing what I can to help people and have no career or pension scheme to nurture, so the only real pressure I have is what I create for myself. But I have always been the ultimate professional and will only do something if I feel I can do it to the best of my ability, and succeed.
Maybe it is because I am getting older, possibly it is because of my poor health, but I can see most areas of work as very unforgiving places. The Internet means that things move so quickly now and we are able to communicate at the touch of a button. If you can’t adapt quickly you will be left behind, and that is very difficult to do if you have a long term health condition. In some of my recent presentations the audience were particularly interested in work related issues of cancer. A majority were young and had never even considered the issues of finding employment after major illness, then I didn’t at that age either! But I see frequently now, the hurdles that people face as they get older regarding employment, and if you add health to the mix things can become very tricky.
Here in the UK we are being told that soon we won’t be able to retire until the age of 70. I can’t see how my children will be able to afford to retire even assuming that they stay healthy, with affordability of housing being a major issue. But it seems that we as a society do not fully understand the importance of work to us all. With the standard method of recruitment being from a cv initially, how does an older person with long term conditions even get past that process? The financial issue of course is very important, but so is the psycho/social impact on our lives. With more of us being affected by cancer we need to consider how we deal with employment issues. We cannot continue to cast people aside when they appear to be ‘past their best.’
This post was prompted by the below poem which I saw on Twitter this week, thanks to this website. It brought back so many conversations and communications that I have had with people about working with cancer. Yes it is very raw, but I was moved by it and it summed up so many situations I have seen. Of course there are also positive examples of good employers, but my feeling is that they are getting less.
I had cancer, yes cancer, had hardly any hair
I returned to work, but did you care?
You looked at me, a vulnerable pawn
With hospital appointments. It could not be born
I was a costly waste of corporate air
Lost profits, time. And ugly, no hair!
When I decided to raise my concerns with HR
You decided to destroy me, I would not get far
With raising the truth, that was out of order
Whistleblowing where you were the warder
You refused me leave, you refused me care
You refused to acknowledge me, I was not there,
You used a minor matter to attack my work
You failed me in year assessment! You made me look a jerk
Did the others help me. No they just looked on!
They could not believe you were the bullying one
As you smiled in their faces, and tossed your hair
You lured them like a black widow into her lair
Eventually I proved the rubbish you peddled
Did that make a difference? No I had just meddled
In the corporate club to which you had the card
You bullied me more, you tried very hard
Reorganisation came just in time
But not before you had played with my mind
And my body and made me so sick
Worried and frightened. You made me look thick
This competent, clever and sensitive person
Walked away and closed the curtain
I learned you were nothing, but misery and lies
No one liked you, they were scared of your eyes
I help others now and even set up a blog
I took what you did and turned it from smog
Into flowers and rainbows to pursue dreams and magic
While you remain in your lair bullying others and that’s tragic.
Thanks to Belle Marsh for this impactful piece.
Working with long term health conditions is now a big issue in society, and as always these are my thoughts and opinions, please feel free to share yours below.
I am an official support partner of the Grove Hotel in Bournemouth. The only hotel in the UK specifically for people affected by cancer and other life limiting conditions.