People are sometimes surprised when I tell them I still work – I try to do as ‘full-time’ hours as I can. Obviously within the restraints of my condition. I may be largely well and able to function but it takes a lot of medical and psychological intervention to do that. There are two hospitals, a hospice and a clinic for fat hands. I also have responsibilities that come with my position as a trustee of a major charity.
8 years ago today I joined a PR agency, Lansons. I have been lucky enough to have had a wonderful career with them in those years. Hard work, sweat, tears occasionally but fun, rewarding and its become a place of real home to me.
When I was first diagnosed in 2009, it was a huge shock. I could barely function and took the whole 9 months it took to get through surgery, chemo and radiotherapy off work completely. During that time, Lansons kept in touch with cards, presents and general good vibes and when I was ready to go back in January 2010 they welcomed me back with open arms. I was even promoted four months later. In June that year, we were back to square one with the cancer returning and by September it was worse with the lung secondaries. Shit got really serious then and one of the key things that has got me through, and continues to get me through the tough times, is work.
My agency was set up by two people who had a vision of doing things differently, of running a successful business with a heart and independence. 23 years later, that’s still what we are. When I got secondaries, it was suggested to me that my role would naturally now have to change. I couldn’t be charged out to clients any more (that makes me sound like a hooker, you know what I mean though) and I also couldn’t be put under any undue stress. I was offered a completely new role doing Lansons’ own marketing, PR and how we are seen to the industry and new business potentials. It’s a role that doesn’t depend on me being there all the time, I can email from any hospital waiting room and they are 100% behind my trustee work. Clare Parsons, my chairman, encouraged me to go for it, and thanks to a coaching session from her beforehand, I got it. I have seen the side to Lansons that makes me just get so much what they are about and I am able to target that goodwill in my job. I’m involved in some really interesting work at a senior level with the board and the exec team above them, and I’m treated like a normal person, not ‘that girl with cancer’ (head tilt). I still have deadlines, plans to make and implement, guidance to offer, negotiations to make, decisions to come to. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t work, not just financially, but mentally. I think I’d just be sat at home being reminded on a daily basis that I’m a 32 year old woman who is not working because she has cancer. I’m aware that not everyone is as lucky as me, both in their overall health and also because they don’t have a Lansons. I know how fortunate I am and its something I’ve never taken for granted. In the absence of my family, who are scattered all over, they are my family. They all know what’s going on, many of them read this blog (hello) and they have seen me at my worst. They’ve lived through the bad scan results, the brain tumours and every time I have felt and heard them with me. When we got engaged I’ve never seen so many people brandishing champagne at my desk, it was lovely. Who can honestly say that about their colleagues? At least half the Godmothers are people I do or have worked with.
So on my 8th anniversary, here’s to you Lansons. For the laughs, the loves, the everythings x