Breast Cancer and Balance
Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Writers need to use their full names. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.
By Ann Bradley
As a full-time worker for the past 25 years and the mother of three children ranging in age from 5 to 16 (plus two teenage stepchildren), I have struggled to "balance" my life for years. Now, at this busy holiday time, I am struggling to balance work, family, and breast cancer.
Some decisions are easy. My husband and I sat down with the kids and redistributed household duties to get me through treatment. I accepted an invitation from a friend for Thanksgiving dinner, instead of draining myself with a domestic marathon. Christmas will be a tree, presents, and time with my family. There is even a certain glee, I confess, in deleting the numerous e-mails about holiday events at work and school. In years past, seeing them made me feel stressed and inadequate, since it was all I could do to have a jolly time at home. Now, it's delete, delete, delete!
Inside, though, I am dubious that I'll get the recovery time I need. I made it through surgery and the beginning of breast reconstruction easily, so my family continues to make demands on me, large and small, and I continue to respond. After all, that is what a mother, and a wife, does. The point of all my treatment is to be able to continue to be here for my loved ones, right?
On the other hand, I need time alone more than ever before. It's difficult to get. I have fantasies of staying in bed with the laptop, or lounging on the couch with a movie without interruption. But so far I haven't been "sick" enough to do either-- or smart enough to just take a break. There is always a printer cartridge to change or homework to oversee or a small child wanting to know how to spell something or presents that need buying.
Work has been the easiest part, by far. My nonprofit organization is like a family, full of the most decent, caring human beings ever assembled under one roof. I have continued to do my full-time job, dashing out for doctor's appointments, and I bought a laptop so I can work from home when my energy is really low.
The lesson, it seems, is that there is never any end to the balance struggle. The gift we all need the most, a guarantee of a full recovery with no recurrence of the cancer, is the one thing eluding us all. Only one thing is sure: Christmas 2007 will be one for us all to remember.
Ann Bradley lives with her family in Bethesda, Md.
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