New opportunities/change of direction after treatment

Hi everyone, I was wondering if anyone has chosen a completely new path since finishing treatment - like a new career path, or moving to a new area?
My son’s treatment finished 9 months ago and we are gradually adjusting to our new normal. After more than 3 years of treatment, there is no ‘going back to normal’. I used to work, but stopped while he was having treatment and now I’m wondering what’s next. I think having or caring for someone with cancer changes our outlook and perspective and it would be nice to do something positive with that change. It would be interesting to hear stories of how others followed a new path.
Lisa

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Hi, Lisa, a good topic, yes, I worked for 5 years but my life was purely work-sleep-run a house and the job I had been so happy in and been so proud of was slowly taken away for me, I think my bosses were scared that they did not know what I really did, but it worked, and thought they might be left in the lurch. So I was made redundant a win-win situation. I had other health challenges appear so my husband and I decided to down size and move to a flat nearer town. The stress of the move brought on shingles 6 yrs ago and it re-occurs if I overdo it emotionally or physically ever since. The good news is we moved from the best house in the world to the best flat in the world. I think the plus side of having my CLL is that it did make me take stock of my life and to decide what is really important to me, I am far less materialistic now and I realise the best things in life are free like, family, friends, music, nature, I have improved my diet, although I am in favour of a treat occasionally and I have joined a gym and I am of an age I don’t now care what people think of me and I take pilates and Zumba classes. I realise I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up, I am 69yrs old. Because of my fatigue I know I am a very lucky girl but I don’t do evenings and I am a lady that lunches and I have the odd nap. I do realise you are at a different time of life, career wise and financially, but I wish I had had an opportunity to take stock earlier in life to explore opportunities and adventures for myself and for us as a family.

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Hi Lisa and Erica. When I kept relapsing eleven years ago, and also suffered hearing loss through chemo, I realised that even though the GP practice I worked at had been terrific, keeping my job open until I could go back,it was unfair and now unrealistic as I would not be able to answer phones and type up referral letters from dictaphone. On my Bloodwise blog I wrote about how rudderless I felt, especially as my last baby had gone off to University. It took me until two years after treatment finished when my daughter told me I was going to be a granny, that galvanised me. The following year when my gorgeous grandson was born the 3 of us (me, daughter and 10wk old in a sling) took part in Beefy’s walk…my first connection with LLR/Bloodwise. From then on my involvement grew like Topsy, particularly after meeting Andy and Cath Gilman at a legacy event.
I guess I could say Bloodwise has opened a lot of doors, and given me new purpose. I surprise myself when I think of all the things I have done in the last 7 years (and my husband hasn’t complained when we have had a trip to London). I have also been able to help look after the two older grandchildren before they started school, as my daughter works freelance, and so we have a very close relationship. I have also lived to see my middle child married and with two daughters of his own (At the age of 9 his ambition was that he wanted to be married with 2 children and 2 dogs…now married, 2 children and 2 cats!!!) and my youngest has bought his first apartment.
The only blot, which is stupid really, but I am feeling upset as 3 friends are retiring this year (I am that age group) and having big celebrations. I cried buckets when I had to retire as I had changed career (teaching to GP practice) only 2 years before I was taken ill, and I loved the job. My self-esteem had been restored and I was a valued member of the team.
Have you thought of taking a course, retraining for a new career? I don’t know whether your finances are such that you need to find paid work, otherwise volunteering at school, getting more involved (or starting) a parents group. Time to find that new Lisa!

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Hi Lisa,

I don’t really have any advice to give, but I am definitely in that same place. I work in a corporate environment, I’ve been at the same company for 20 years (most of my working life) and they looked after me very well through ALL treatment. I’m now in a position where I feel like I’ve woken up to what’s important in life and I’m not sure the job is fulfilling enough, I would love to use my time to give back, but I don’t have any idea what. So, I’ll keep you updated if I come up with anything! I’d love to hear how you get on too xx

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Lisa,

I had recently changed career and was a GP Practice Manager a job I really loved. My plan was to retire when my husband reached sixty and I was 58. However the Myeloma and subsequent Renal failure caused me to take ill health retirement at 54 and my husband took early retirement to look after me.

As I was spending a lot of time at home I decided to do some home improvements which fortunately I could afford. As I became stronger I also did some Open University courses and graduated a few years ago. It was just for interest as I already had degrees and no plans to start working again. I do however work voluntarily for the local hospice in fundraising and I enjoy this because I have a specific role and it gives me a purpose in life.

I used to be a keen cyclist but found the back injuries made that more difficult but took up tai chi and later Zumba too. I try to keep relatively fit and walk a lot although not long distances.

Recently we have just moved house to a bungalow for long term planning and we have discarded lots of things as the house is much smaller. However it is modern, light and airy and I love it.

So although the path I have taken is not the one I planned as we had thought we would do lots of long haul holidays and probably cycling holidays too, I find I have adapted. We still go away but to Europe and have been to lots of interesting places. I keep busy with volunteering, meeting friends, learning Spanish, exercise classes etc. I realise I am fortunate as we got good occupational pensions and had paid off the mortgage. All I am saying is life may be different but it is equally fulfilling. Joan

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Hi Joan and @lisa and @Emslouise. I also worked for the same organisation for 20 yrs and in retrospect I think the company were scared I was going to keel over when diagnosed with CLL as I had never had a day off sick and was always the reliable one. I have been a very lucky girl and been on watch and wait since diagnosis, but I think I could not explain my condition to them, let alone my needs, so how could they understand. My fatigue was one of the things I was diagnosed with and obviously it has taken me many years to understand it and how to manage it so again how could I explain cause and effect to them. Anyway over the next 5 yrs my role was taken away from me and I was made redundant, a win-win situation. I have also done voluntary work since then, but we also downsized to a flat nearer our town and we moved from the best house in the world to the best flat in the world so I have also been very fortunate and not had to find paid work. Since diagnosis we have not gone out in the evenings (my husband does have some evening commitments), I am far less materialistic since diagnosis, music, books, nature, people watching etc are all free. I am a lady that lunches and I do meet up with very good friends. We occasionally go to matinees. Therefore our outgoings are fairly modest. I have decided I want to improve my health and fitness, I also have other medical challenges like osteoporosis. I walk a lot, we have a river nearby, and I have joined our local gym and let alone using the equipment I take classes like pilates and Zumba, who’d have thought it, but I don’t care what I look like now. All I would say is just take time to really consider what you really want to do and want out of life that you would enjoy doing, it is the ideal opportunity. I chose not to take any training opportunities as, since diagnosis, I do not deal with pressure and stress very well. It will be interesting to hear the experiences of others.

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Hi Lisa, I finished chemotherapy for HL in May, I’m back at work full time now as a Mental Health Act Administrator at a psychiatric hospital, I always have loved working in this environment but since treatment has finished I have such an urge to completely switch everything up, me and my partner have just bought a house and I am planning on applying to the police force once recruitment opens (fingers crossed). Change is good sometimes and definitely after having to experience first hand or not such a traumatic experience such as cancer it’s time to grab life by both hands !! :slight_smile:

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Dear Hannah, glad to hear you are now so focused on the future. Good luck with whatever you choose to do in your career and never stop believing in yourself.
Best wishes
Alfie

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Oh, Hannah, exciting times ahead for you, please let us know how you are making your new house your home and how the police force recruitment process goes. Go for it and yes, grab life by both hands.

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What a great topic, thank you @MrsGriff - it seems blood cancer diagnosis and/or treatment can be the catalyst for great change!

@Hannah97 - it sounds like a fantastic idea, I wish you lots and lots of luck for when recruitment opens!

@Emslouise Do you know yet what your new direction may be? The possiblities are endless, which can feel daunting I imagine.

@Joan Thank you for sharing your experience, it sounds like you have adapted to your situation, and are taking the change to try new things. Good luck with learning Spanish, I hope it will come in handy on your trips to Europe!

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Thanks all for your great replies, it’s been really interesting to hear your different experiences and also very inspiring. I really want to take my experience and the changes it has brought about and do something positive. I need to figure out what that is, but reading these has also helped me realise that when I do know, I just need to go for it!

@Erica I also took redundancy, which was the best thing at the time for me and Hugo. It’s a shame you lost out on doing a job which seemed to have given you great pride, but it sounds like it’s given you the opportunity to try new things and embrace the changes that cancer has forced on you - trying to look at it positively! I did smile at your comment on not knowing what you want to be when you grow up because I always say the same - I’m still waiting to be a grown up!!

@Pisces56 how lovely that Bloodwise has given you such a great purpose - you are doing them proud! It’s really helped me too and I’m keen to get more involved. While it must have been hard leaving a job you loved (very similar to Erica and for so many others I imagine), it again has given you opportunities of spending time with family that might not have been there. It’s hard to imagine where we all might have been if cancer hadn’t come into our lives. I am definitely on the hunt for that new Lisa!!

@Emslouise I think there must be a lot of people feeling as we do. I have been chatting to a couple of school mum friends and they are feeling similarly now all their children are at school, so I guess it’s common for many people, even those who haven’t had to deal with cancer. I too definitely feel like Hugo’s ALL has changed me and my outlook. I really want to do something positive, but it’s hard to figure out what. I hope we both come up with something. I will look out for any updates from you and will keep you updated too. Good luck!

Thanks for replying @Joan. You are absolutely right, life may be different, but it can be equally fulfilling. It sounds like you and your husband have done a great job of adapting to the changes your illness has brought about. You seem to have a really positive attitude. We are hoping to do a house extension in the next few months so I suspect that will keep me busy! I suppose I have been hoping something will fall into my lap, but I think I need to take action to make it happen - just need to figure out what that action is!

Oh wow @Hannah97 that’s a big change. I sounds wrong viewing cancer as positive in any way, but I really think it makes you take stock of things and think about what you really want from life. I love that you are going with your urge to do something so different. How amazing and rewarding it will be. Wishing you lots of luck with your application. Please let us know how you get on.

Thanks @DawnBloodwise lots of positive changes going on. It’s been a really interesting read.

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