Working during Treatment: Coping Mechanism, No-Choice or Evil day Postponement

Hello fam, I hope your mental health is intact with all the hate and hoopla around the world, we have made it to the last month of the first quarter of 2021! I have a lot to be thankful for. I am also sad. I am sad because the average human heart can be wicked. I am sad because some folks feel threatened by other people’s existence. I am sad because we otherize each other. I don’t understand how some folks have room for hate. Phew…..

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Hate will take us nowhere

Something happened a month ago that made me want to share this topic. On Saturday Feb 27, I was unnecessarily edgy. I began to stress eat (again…), I was off, I was irritable. My main sous Chef was going on vacation. I guess I was sad….and stressed. She is super dependable. Thank God for dependable associates. Then my bones began to hurt and I could not focus on anything. I had an appointment with my psychiatrist and I began to recount my symptoms. I told her some dates that were coming up: port surgery, first chemo. She said something that really struck me.

“Toyin, you have been working since you had cancer, you have not had time to grief. You thought you had it all buried, but the weeds are growing and haunting….give yourself room to process it, then let it go”. That struck a cord. It was as if light shined and darkness was exposed.

My case was interesting. I had just sunk tens of thousands to start TamBo’s Kitchen. We were 4 years old March 4th! Breast cancer was the last thing I wanted to hear. I went for my treatment and I worked from time to time. It was my happy place; my distraction. When Chadwick Bozeman died, I sobbed like a baby. I don’t know him like that but to think that he gave us ALL of himself in his craft while undergoing aggressive treatment was mind-blowing. At the same time, I was mad at Hollywood. He did not trust any of the Disney Executives enough to tell them he was sick. I am not saying he should ask for favors. Maybe he could have been referred to a better Cancer Treatment Center. T’Challa was gone too soon. He worked through the pain. RBG is another classic case. This bastion of women’s rights fought pancreatic cancer while dissenting in the highest courts of the land. She worked till the end!!!

Should cancer patients work during treatment? Is some form of work okay? To be honest there is no straight answer. There is no right nor wrong. I spoke to some survivors; their answers varied. For some, they needed the insurance to get treated. They had to work. There was no choice in the matter. There is ample research that shows cancer treatment is a sure way to bankruptcy. If you have some form of insurance to help mitigate the costs, you will do ANYTHING to keep that insurance, at the detriment of your health. Bitter truth, but it is what it is. I remember a time when my husband had to switch insurance and the switching caused my lupron shot not to be paid. The bill did not look funny at all.

Erm…I did not have that money sitting in my savings account

My oncologist, (including my sister in love who is an oncologist), encouraged me to work. It was considered good distraction. Cancer treatment and cancer in general have an interesting way of messing up one’s mental health. It is easy to slide into a dark, twisty place. Your mind will race at the speed of light wondering why, how and what. Work is a form of normalcy.

As much I agree that work can be a good form of distraction, at what point do you come to terms with the diagnosis and allow your body, soul and spirit to grief? The body keeps score of every traumatic experience. If I work, when do I leave room for physical, spiritual, and mental healing? I would really love some honest feedback around this.

What is your opinion? How can cancer patients balance work and treatment? What if a part time job means loss of insurance?

Thank you for your deedback.