“How has work been treating you since you were diagnosed?”

I don’t often post about my job publicly, but today is a different story. For those of you who don’t know, I am a graphic designer at a school and office furniture manufacturer based out of Germany. Our US footprint is fairly small (for now) with showrooms in LA, Chicago, NYC and Charlotte, but in Germany, our manufacturing plant makes up the majority of a small town. Our North American branch is fairly separate from Germany as far as daily marketing operations go (as in we do marketing. Germany does not. At all.), but all of our furniture is ordered from and manufactured there.

Anyway, many people have asked me how work has been since my diagnosis because they know I’ve been working full-time throughout my treatment. So, today I’d like to take a moment to humble-brag about this place that I’d like to call my home away from home for the next 30 years.

Working for a “small” company has its benefits. Our marketing family is very close, and therefore very understanding. I take days off when I need them because we have unlimited sick days (to an extent) here, and that has been a blessing and a half. And while I harbor a certain amount of guilt about doing that, my coworkers have been nothing but supportive from Day 1.

Yesterday, I had my yearly review and I’m going to be honest, I was a tad nervous. I missed a decent amount of work last year for doctor appointments, surgeries, and just plain exhaustion (emotional and physical) and I knew I hadn’t been playing quite up to par for a few months now—at least according to me—and I was nervous about how it would go in my review. Part of me wondered if they’d noticed and another part of me wondered if they would say anything about it at all. Yes, I had cancer, but I still want to grow as an employee, so I needed them to be honest with me about my performance. But when I addressed this at the meeting, every one of them (we tried a new group review format this year) immediately came to my defense. They all started talking at once and it was hard to make out exactly what was being said, but one stuck out when he said my spirit and attitude have been great and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I was a little surprised to hear that since I know I’ve gotten frustrated a couple of times with coworkers over the past few months and let it show, so I appreciated him saying that.

But the best reaction of all was my female boss (our CFO), who was also in the room. She’s from New England so she’s got that wonderful accent, and she’s also very blunt. She pulls absolutely no punches and will always tell you what she thinks whether you want to hear it or not. This is a quality I greatly admire in her, and she is one of my favorite people. Her reaction to all of this commentary was a simple, straight-faced, “Well, she’s a WOMAN! Why are you surprised?!”

Y’all, I DIED!!

Now, I don’t necessarily consider myself a feminist—at least not an angry one—so I hate to say it’s true. But it’s true. Sorry men. I’m not saying you couldn’t survive what I’ve been through, but you most likely wouldn’t do it as gracefully as I—or any other woman who has been through living hell and smiled her way through it—have. ; ) But if you think you can prove me wrong, let’s talk.

Anyway, my overthinking turned out to be just that, and I left that meeting feeling good and excited about my role in our company this year and the creative outlets these roles will give me. For the first time in a long time, I am happy. Happy with my job, happy with my friends, my dog, my flat stomach (had to throw that out there because I’m still obsessed with the results), and happy with life in general.

I am still working through some body issues—I mean, aren’t we all—but that is another post for another day. It doesn’t affect my general, overall happiness with just being alive because I won’t let it.

Bring it on, 2019. I’m ready.

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