(15-12-15) Letter To My Colleagues

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dear colleagues:

It has taken me a long time to muster the courage to discuss my situation with others. For those of you who love me and those of you who can’t stand me [smile here], you all likely agree that I am a bit of an overachiever who prefers to do everything on her own, and I’m also protective over my personal business. Because of this, you can probably imagine my procrastination when it came to admitting to others what happened to me: I got diagnosed with cancer. In October, I found out after a round of mammogram/ultrasound/biopsy/and sentinel node injection testing that I had Stage 3C Invasive Breast Cancer. For those of you are not familiar with the details of this type of cancer,   I am one step away from the most serious, most fatal kind. In ADJC PBIS terms, I’m basically the Adobe youth who is upper-Tier 2 and getting discussed regularly by the “powers that be” regarding whether (s)he should move up to Tier 3. My cancer is going to require the most aggressive treatment plan. On November 17, I had a double mastectomy and 21 lymph nodes removed. Initially, that was all I was willing to do, but a number of people staged TV-like intervention sessions and convinced me to at least try some Western medicine to fight this; I eventually remembered that I am too young and valuable to die, so I changed my mind. Going forward I have a 4-month chemotherapy regimen, 2 naturopathic treatments, another surgery, 5-7 weeks of radiation, potentially an additional surgery, and then hormone therapy. My goal is to be working at ADJC during certain periods of this time, which requires two things: (1) I am medically cleared for light duty, and (2) Dona Markley and HR approve one of the proposed substitute job(s) for me.   I might be back for a little while sometime in January. Do you think Dona will approve a cotton candy pink wig for me to wear on the facility, in honor of breast cancer? I’m thinking “official uniform policy change” for that one.

I always hated watching the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Golden Globes mostly because the “thank you” speeches always seemed so obligatory and cliché. I think I get the motive behind them a little better now because I *do* want to throw a shout out to several of you specifically. I have seen or heard that some of you are going out of your way to help me during the scariest, most emotional time of my entire life.

  • Carissa, Kate, Amy, Clayton, Christie, Craig, and Braxton – Thank you for managing to perfectly balance giving me enough space with sending me intermittent texts or phone calls. Each time I read a text or heard a story from you, it put me in a more positive space because it reminded me that people were thinking about and supporting me.
  • Christie and Carissa – Thank you both for figuring out how to get me out of the house and do something normal for a couple of hours. I now have a favorite Glendale coffee shop, thanks to Carissa … and Christie, I got the experience to know you more as a person (not just a coworker) on our movie-and-dinner night.
  • Sergeant P, Amy, Katie, Braxton, and Hart – Thank you for all stepping up and taking a lead to organize my donated time, which will help me keep my insurance coverage. Ms. Hart, I heard you were even talking about making a spreadsheet; it’s gonna be color-coordinated, right? [smile here]
  • Langbehn, Earl, Christie, Amy, Kate, Katie, and Ms. Hart – Thank you for approaching Sergeant P to specifically discuss donating me time, once it expired.
  • Adam and Michelle – Thank you for communicating with Carissa to provide further options and possibilities so that I don’t lose my job with this facility during this difficult time.
  • Kate – Thank you for providing me with contact information for another cancer survivor, in the event that I may, at some point, need some guidance or support from someone who went through this herself .   Thank you also for facilitating a thank-you card handwritten by the students; that made me cry! (Just kidding. I’m a robot. Robots don’t cry.)
  • Amy, Kate, Karen, and Masura – Thank you for subbing for me that last week of the block. This “thank you” also mandates an “I’m sorry” to Karen and Masura for having to endure that 2nd period group.
  • Clayton – Thank you for using your superior logic skills back on July 23, 2015 to convince me to pay for that supplemental cancer insurance. If you think about it, you were one of the four people who may have contributed to saving my life when it comes to this cancer.

I’m sure there are a number of you who have also gone out of your way to do something, but I just don’t know about it. If your name wasn’t specifically listed, please don’t take it personally and know that I *do* appreciate you and your assistance, even if I don’t know exactly who you are.

 

Sincerely,

Instructor Ausburn

Author: breastcancerat35

I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Invasive Breast Cancer in October/November, 2015. This blog is my way to process my experience and allow my loved ones to have ongoing updates about my journey.

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