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Any professional career issues by sharing personal blog publicly?

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1146
Joined: Dec 2012

What is the general experience of those who have shared publicly their personal blog or journal? 

From a professional career or business standpoint, does the fact many are aware of your situation hinder current or future business?

I run my own business but want to hear if others have had issues arise due to your cancer status, even if you are back at 100%. I'm just a bit fearful some partners and clients may elect to not do business with someone who has a chronic illness that might affect one's performance.

don

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3601
Joined: Mar 2012

...been sitting here thinking "what would I do if I owned my own business?".  My personal feeling would be to keep it under wraps....but that's me.  I wouldn't have a problem going to a business...or using someone's skills if I knew they were in treatment for something....I just don't think I'd want "them" out there to know about ME!!  I don't have much faith in the general public.

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1098
Joined: Jan 2013

Hi Don,

My situation is unique. I have two business personas. I work in the CD/DVD manufacturing industry. I also work as a solo musician. Both positions bring me in contact with thousands of people, most of which are in music business. I'm personal friends with some pretty amazing players. For me it's a total joy to do what I do. 

There are several aspects to consider. Should you tell certain clients? All your clients? What are the ramifications of doing so? Is your business the type where you could disappear for several months during treatment and pick up the pieces when you came back nary missing a beat? I had to consider these questions and others in my decision to go public with my cancer.

For me personally, it was best to come out and seek the support of my fan and customer base. I'm too much of a visable presence in the community as a musician and business person and it would come out eventually anyway. Also, in order for this to happen, I need to seek funding outside of work or the government in order to pay my living expenses while undergoing treatment away from home. I'm definitely not a man of means and while I hold my own, I don't have enough savings to last the time it's going to take to get well.

There's a fundraiser and silent auction scheduled for February 24th at a local business/restaurant where I'm well known. I also have a giveforward.com page where people can donate to the cause. The company I work for is small (15 people) and my boss is fantastic. He's given me free reign concerning the sales and marketing. The result has been an average of 20% increase in sales every year since I started there in 2009. While I don't expect him to pay me while I'm out, he will continue to pay my group medical insurance. We worked out these details in lieu of a raise and I'm good with that knowing what the costs are. 

The response to going public, through my email list and through Facebook has been overwhelmingly positive. The response from my customer base has been exceptional. It's my intention to be back to work and also to be playing music publicly by the Summer. I fully understand it remains to be seen as we each respond differently to treatment. As it is at this moment, I've lost strength and movement in my left arm and hand and I can't feel my tongue. The numbness in my face and jaw is extensive as well. This doesn't bode well for enunciation during a singing performance nor does it for playing guitar. While it "should" return to normal within a few to 6 months, there's no guarantees despite my team's efforts. The surgery was delicate and quite extensive due to the tumor growth. Indeed, I'm facing my worst fears and unfortunately morbidity is high with H&N cancers. The emotional support that has been shown is humbling In this fight, you need as many fighting behind you as you do on the front lines and going public did that for me. To worry about the negative impact is a moot point if you don't survive so it made total sense to do so. 

Certainly I can't tell you what the reaction will be with your customer base and you have some very vital and pertinant questions to ask yourself and answer honestly before making a decision. But as I've already found out, you'll find out who your real friends are when you have cancer and it will surprise you I guarantee it!

"T"

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1146
Joined: Dec 2012

I'm leaning toward communicating to all except a few current clients. The tradeoffs bias an open communication approach as I strongly feel if anyone becomes more aware because of my situation and asks their dentist to take a good look around or gets someone who has a lump in their neck to go see a doctor then it is all worth it. 

Frantly, the only downside is there could be some client attrition but for any I lose I would not be suprised to pick up more who have empathy for cancer suvivors and know that life goes on and ppl are often fully capable in the professional workplace.  

don

http://beatdown.cognacom.com

 

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

Consider your experiences that you have had since being Dx and going through Tx with reactions from family and friends.... How have they reacted, accepted, stepped up, shy away...

I'm sure the business world will be similar, people are people...

If you are OK with that, or the possibility that you'll lose some business, but maybe gain some, then go with your best decision.

Myself, I'm not worried about it, it's me, it's who I am...accept it or move on... But my lively hood isn't at stake either.

JG

 

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1098
Joined: Jan 2013

Don,

That's an interesting analogy really. Before I was diagnosed and I was dealing with the "possibility" I had cancer, I was hush hush. Marcia obviously knew and a few friends as well as my boss but I just kept a lid on it. Even after I was officially diagnosed I kept quiet for a while. I don't really know why... my own head trash about cancer perhaps. I'm so fiercely independent and the prospect of being helpless with thing out of my control is just so against my inner drive and nature. Even now, a week out of surgery, I'm driving poor Marcia crazy! She wants so bad to do for me and I want so bad to do for myself. I have to temper that a bit. Cream of Wheat, as ridiculously easy as it is to make, makes her happy to do for me. My knee jerk reaction is "Sheesh... it's not rocket science. I can do that myself ok?" 

The most significant aspect of my psyche that has seen a change is my ability to let it go (it's funny though, from a spiritual aspect I don't have a problem placing this in His hands). When the prospect of opening up and letting everyone know about the cancer was brought up to me, my initial reaction was "No Way!" I don't want all the attention, pity, etc... But my singing partner (I have a duo as well as play solo), urged me to. It's her partner that recently went through this. She said that when he opened up, the support far outweighed any negativity. Sure, the whole "You'll find out who your friends are" came into focus a bit more but it's been a good move. To try and retain control of something totally out of my control is an exercise in frutility. She's planning the benefit. I've had very little to do with it other than promotional aspects. She's made all the arrangements thus far and you know what? I kinda like the fact that she's grabbed the reigns (she did threaten to choke me with her grubby little hands if I didn't back off ~lol~). It's enabled me to focus on getting better. 

Like it or not, cancer has a negative stigma attached to it (in my opinion even if it is head trash) and as much as we don't want to be a part of it, there are others that don't want anything to do with it either. The on-line community where Marcia and I met has it's own community page on Facebook. I know most of those folks and have met many of them personally. I asked pernission to post the benefit info and they wholeheartedly agreed. I did so several hours ago and the outpouring of support has been humbling. 

I guess the point of this late night oxy enhanced ramble is... those that love you will be there for you and those that are fair weather friends will find calmer waters. That's true in business and in your personal life. Better to find out now rather than later. Knowing who you can depend on is going to come in handy as we navigate these waters. 

"T"

 

rachel12yrsuv's picture
rachel12yrsuv
Posts: 429
Joined: Feb 2013

Donfoo,
Although at present I am unable to work and I am waiting on decison from disability, when I first got sick I was Working for a wholesale flooring distributor as an assistant manager/inside sales rep. My treatment left me unable to work, and job had no disability. Not only did they pay my insurance the whole time, the owner had his best friend from Ct. Call me to offer any advice I needed, they held my job for the 9 months I was out. When I came back it was apparent I had been through something so I was up front with my contractors, and to be honest I think they became more loyal and very protective of me, and followed me place to place for the years that follow. So I say share your story to the extent you are willing so that they don't feel you didn't trust them enough to tell.

Rachel
P.S. God Bless, stay well!

rachel12yrsuv's picture
rachel12yrsuv
Posts: 429
Joined: Feb 2013

Donfoo,
Although at present I am unable to work and I am waiting on decison from disability, when I first got sick I was Working for a wholesale flooring distributor as an assistant manager/inside sales rep. My treatment left me unable to work, and job had no disability. Not only did they pay my insurance the whole time, the owner had his best friend from Ct. Call me to offer any advice I needed, they held my job for the 9 months I was out. When I came back it was apparent I had been through something so I was up front with my contractors, and to be honest I think they became more loyal and very protective of me, and followed me place to place for the years that follow. So I say share your story to the extent you are willing so that they don't feel you didn't trust them enough to tell.

Rachel
P.S. God Bless, stay well!

Laralyn's picture
Laralyn
Posts: 431
Joined: Apr 2012

I went through the same questions. When I was diagnosed, I emailed my boss (president of the company where I worked at the time) to let him know. I asked him not to tell anyone until I figured out how I wanted to handle it. Over the next day, I decided I wanted to talk about it--not just to people at work, but publicly. I decided to blog about going through the process because I wanted to help other people if I could. As I went through treatments, I tweeted and posted to Facebook about it along with the blogs. I talked openly about the cancer being HPV positive and opened my first blog with something like: "Does that mean it came from oral sex? Maybe--no one is sure. But seriously, WHO CARES?"

After treatments, I ended up wanting to find a new job, and I wondered if I had made the wrong decision to be public about going through cancer treatments. You do think things like, "Will they not want to hire me because they think I'm going to die?" or "Do they think I will be sick all the time?" It was especially tricky since I work in a young line of work and also a male-oriented line of work, where I'm frequently the only woman and the only person over 40.

I went through the whole "do I talk about it" process again, and decided that I would openly talk about it while interviewing if it was relevant to the conversation. It frequently WAS relevant, because going through the diagnosis and treatment profoundly changed me and the way I looked at my life and my work (which for me are kind of the same thing). 

The bottom line for me was that I didn't want to work anyplace that wasn't comfortable with cancer and treatments as an important part of my past. I ended up somewhere with great people, in the fresh start I really wanted. 

Only you can decide what's right for you. IMO, don't worry about what other people will say and do. It's your body, your future, your mind and yes, your cancer. If you're comfortable talking about it--or even joking about it--then talk about it. If you're not, then don't. I think other people pick up on tone and context and that influences how they think about something so if your attitude is "Yep, this is something that happened to me in the past," their attitude will largely follow suit.

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1146
Joined: Dec 2012

Thank you all for your insights and personal experiences on the subject. I am 90% there to go ahead and be open about it to all including current clients except maybe for the one I just sent a proposal out to yesterday. LOL

I am of the mind as was stated paraphrasing "it is who I am" and just like telling a small circle of "friends", you find out soon enough who really are your FRIEND. Same with professional relationships I thinks, those who understand and accept are better business partners; those who do not are best departed earlier than later when dealing with potential event that effect work production and qualtiy later.

Will ponder a bit more but nearly there; for me, it is a big step. As you know I work in the web world and active in the Drupal community so everyone is going to know sooner or later but in that regard I feel the love more than the pain in being open and telling.

don

http://beatdown.cognacom.com (personal journal)

 

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 2809
Joined: May 2012

Don,

 

It is just like Skiffin said; they will reject, accept or ignore you.  People in general do not know what to do or say; cancer is just about the “top scary” item on life’s list of most frightening things.

 

Right in the middle of week 5 of treatments I was asked to respond to a review of a flood elevation study I had written a year earlier.  What normally would take 2 days took me 1 ½ weeks to do.  Normally, I get in the zone when writing a report, but taking Lorazpam daily precluded my “getting in the zone”.  Tuned out I said the correct things because the same guy has called me back for additional work and he was worried when he heard about the cancer (I was worried).

 

Today I found myself confronted with a momentary dilemma on whether to reveal to someone why I could not talk.  I was inspecting some work in a very noisy environment and I had to raise my voice (sorry T) just to be heard (and I had my water bottle).  I got out only a couple of words and every thing stopped, no voice.  The guy I was talking to kept saying “what I can’t hear you” and I had nothing.  After the noise calmed down I told him I had radiation treatments and it was some times difficult to talk.  He was very apologetic and we continued a conversation at a reasonable volume.  It was a learning moment for me, I don’t seem to be able to raise my voice like before (expect the unexpected).

 

Finally, the boss I have now I worked previously with for 12 years.  He knows about the cancer (and sought me out) and lets me work from home and lets me get more field time as it comes up.  I am still working at getting an efficient home office running.

 

Good luck on telling,

 

Matt

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

Even after four years (though I have never had a loud clear demanding voice)... I have trouble if I need to talk loud... Throat dries out and goes to nothing or a lot of coughing even with water...

JG

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 2809
Joined: May 2012

JG,

That is exactly what happened, exactly.

matt

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1098
Joined: Jan 2013

That's my biggest challenge/fear. I speak on the phone for a living and sing in my music performances. Dry mouth wouldn't bode well. Many times during a performance I'll go non-stop for 20+ minutes segueing from one song to the next. Most of my performances have me playing around 50 songs during the course of my set, Also, rads can damage the muscles that control the vocal chords. There's quite a few factors and side effects that may alter my future.

My friend, who went through this 2 years ago (18 months NED) has his voice back. No loss of control or quality and I have the same team at JH that he had so that's a good thing. 

"T"

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

Each of us are..., you never know until the time comes..

Perhaps all of that past exercise of the chords and voice will be enough to carry you through for many years in the future..., you just never know.

But, if not, you are alive, and I'm sure you'll adapt and survive comfortably.

One thing you have going for you that shouldn't change, will be the ability to still produce music.

Priorities...

JG

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1146
Joined: Dec 2012

Hi T,

You know the mantra having been here long enough so you are just going to have to ride it out, trying as best you can to resist predicting any specific outcome. You and I are in the stage that the only sure thing is things change on a nearly daily basis, and sometimes the changes can seem to come from outer space, like that meteor that just hit Russia --- out of the bule, literally.  

The other thing is JH may be a great place but what your friend experienced really has no direct bearing on your outcomes. I know you know that as we all know that any two ppl having the same exact diagnosis and same treatment plan can have vastly different experiences, reactions, and outcomes. You just to listen to your own drummer each day and get with the beat. 

Glad to see you posting more lately,

Don

http://beatdown.cognacom.com (personal journal)

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1146
Joined: Dec 2012

Are you all describing a common theme of having reduced voice capabilities, even conversational and dialog vocal interactions? The "front office" part of my business requires me to speak well and be heard well in order to pitch, explain and sell product and service. I also need to communicate with my team but much of that can be done via emails and IM, not nearly as critical to have to speak well.

Unfortunately, the facet of my business where I personally add the most value and leadershop is the role that needs to do the talking. What is the general consensus of survivors who have passed through here as it relates to frequency and extent of dimished speaking abilities?

 

don

http://beatdown.cognacom.com (personal journal)

 

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

On a daily basis, normal conversations... I have no problems at all.

If I have to stress my voice, speak loud for prolonged conversations, my throat will tend to dry out more causing me to cough or lose it for a few minutes. If I take a swig of water it comes back OK, as long as I don't continue stressing it.

It is never long term or completely lost, I'll just cough..

For the most part under normal conditions I have nearly all of my saliva back, the only normal time I dry out is at night when sleeping.

But like mentioned, if I over use it in volume, I have problems fairly quickly. Also, if in the car and I have air blowing in my face, same thing... I'll dry out and it'll cause me to cough.

JG

hawk711's picture
hawk711
Posts: 525
Joined: Jan 2010

Two things for you. 1.  So many people have, had, or know someone that is a survivor of cancer.  It is not as unknown as it used to be. Also, general population has no clue how freakin tough the H&N treatment is.  They just understand it ain't a good thing but then they get on with their life.  Don't be fearful on others knowing, they don't dwell on it, especially if you are performing and show courage and confidence.

 2.  My voice became lower, much lowest than it was.  I now get compliments from strangers who ask if i am an announcer on tv or radio.  I tell them no, I had cancer, And they look at me funny.  It's a a real ice breaker for sure.  I can't sing high notes any more, but I do a great Barry White imitation!  As long as you're not a auctioneer, you will be just fine, a little dry, but fine.

all the best,

steve

staceya's picture
staceya
Posts: 700
Joined: Jan 2010

unless I am coughing, then I sound like Barry White with tuberculosis.

To soothe the cough, I drink a ton of cofee, which has the end result of soundling like Barry White on speed.

Greg53's picture
Greg53
Posts: 830
Joined: Apr 2010

Stacey,

 

Call me!!   A female Barry White!!  (drink  a lot of coffee, please)

 

867-5309

 

Greg

Ingrid K's picture
Ingrid K
Posts: 810
Joined: Mar 2011

Hey Greg......

that's wasn't a Barry White tune was it ?

/s/ "Jenny" 

LOL

 

staceya's picture
staceya
Posts: 700
Joined: Jan 2010

I would have liked to hear Barry White's version of the Jenny song!

Maybe it could star Betty White.

CivilMatt's picture
CivilMatt
Posts: 2809
Joined: May 2012

Don,

 

I am still in my rookie year and my voice for the most part is normal.  The incidence with losing my voice was just as Skiffin described and after a few sips of water and a moments rest my voice was back.  Raising and lowering the volume of my voice is (currently) a sticking point for me,  When I try to raise it slightly it may start out loud.  It is similar to an old dusty tuner and the volume knob seems to cut out and then blast on.  Mind you this is only when trying to talk loudly.

 

T the one area that (virtually 100% )H&N members share is the taste no taste, the voice is a different story.

 

Matt

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1098
Joined: Jan 2013

Knowing that each of us is different and react in our own way to the treatment is actually a hope I'm grabbing onto with both hands concerning my voice. It's true, my ability to create and play will remain. The voice, I know is a crap shoot BUT... had I stayed local and followed the treatment plan prescribed, I most certainly would come out on the short end of the stick based on the dosage and area prescribed radiation. In fact, the Radiation Oncologist at JH looked at the prescribed field and dosage. He then showed the other doctors and speech pathologist and they told me that in most likelyhood, that plan of treatment would leave permanent negative ramifications. Their goal is to do as little damage as possible. When I went for surgery, I gave a copy of my CD to Dr Richmon and I asked him about that. He said that their goal is to get the cancer and keep me singing. 

We'll see... I know there are no guarantees. I can only hope, and I hear you guys loud and clear (that can change too), but losing my singing voice would be devastating :( 

"T"
  

donfoo's picture
donfoo
Posts: 1146
Joined: Dec 2012

After pondering this for some time now and getting enough feedback from here and afar, in my gut now, I feel sure the decision to communicate openly is the best course. Envisioning far more benefits than negatives is much clearer now and the negatives are in some ways, not negative at all, as a filtering exercise of sorts to see who comes through from those who's indifference is revealed. I think it will also help some folks who are lost for words and action if they hear things indirectly through the grapevine, not sure if they should say something, remain silent, or otherwise confused and possibly a bit conflicted as to how to broach the subject. By me communicating directly to all, it removes any hemming and hawing and discomfort for those caught in limbo -- they are then free to have a conversation with me or elect to distance themselves -- either way is fine with me as long as they find THEIR comfort zone. To some degree I have already experienced many of the typical responses --- it seems like it will be the same song, just with the volume turned up with an authorative twist. Off to build that email list now. thx again. don

 

Ingrid K's picture
Ingrid K
Posts: 810
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Don

I think you have the right idea.... get your story out there as an FYI and then just let the chips fall where they may.

I feel for all of you that had/have to face going back to work after treatment.  I don't know how any of you did it.

I was blessed that I had retired 2 years before diagnosis, so that was one challenge I didn't have to face.

 

phrannie51's picture
phrannie51
Posts: 3601
Joined: Mar 2012

I've been keeping up with this thread because I truly didn't know what I'd do....and now I'm viewing this particular piece of reality thru a different peephole.  Smile 

Oh...and I'm one who's voice didn't change a bit...tho I haven't had much opportunity to talk loud and I'm not a yeller on home front...LOL...so that part hasn't been tested.  Hubby does say I talk all the time...all this means is I don't know much about volume, and I'm good for the long duration....ha!

p

 

fishmanpa's picture
fishmanpa
Posts: 1098
Joined: Jan 2013

Not that I'm partial or anything but I think it's a wise decision ;) Things will work out the way they're supposed to. Keep fighting the good fight... I'm right behind you! 

BTW... I had posters done for my benefit/silent auction... they're a take off of Stanley Kubrick's "the Shining" movie poster. We're calling it "Mark T's Beat the Beast". I wonder if it would be against T&C to post an image of the posters and t-shirts?

"T"

Greg53's picture
Greg53
Posts: 830
Joined: Apr 2010

Don,

 

Here's a take on it from someone (almost) 3 years out from tx.   I did not do a blog, but had to think about how to handle my situation from a professional viewpoint as well and if I would come out to people from my work (co-workers, employees and clients).  From what you described we are  similar in regards to interaction with clients and other professionals.  My personality is to be very honest, so it didn't take me long to decide to be upfront with everyone including  people I work for (clients).  As I said I didn't do a blog but did send out an email blast every couple of weeks.  This included family and friends, and several of my good friends are clients.  So word got out quickly about my condition.   In a word - no repercussions business wise for me.  There was some avoidance by some people but that was similar with some of my friends also.   I think you made a good choice to share.

 

As for the voice - 3 years out.  I gave 90 minute presentation this week.  Had to have my bottle of water by my side but only took a sip every 20 minutes or so.  I think the quality of my voice is about the same.

 

"T" - my singing voice is awful now................. but then again it was always awful.  There is an infrequent member here (BrianKrash???? or something like that).  Like you musician and a singer and last time he was here - he was back to performing.  With your 'tude, I'd bet you will be also.

 

Positive thoughts to all!

Greg

 

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

Close...

BrianKrashPad

~JG

NJShore's picture
NJShore
Posts: 411
Joined: Nov 2012

Don,

i personally was thinking, I'll post, and tell him, I'd keep it quiet... But then I thought, what did we do? 

We are on caring bridge, everyone from my office, my boss, to everyone in Dan's school and his supervisor are reading a glimpse into our daily lives.. So glad to see you made the decision you did.

my dad used to say honesty is the best policy, and so far it's worked for us...

take a peak if you wish, I just don't talk as specific there as I might here... Always try to find a positive spin, yet Even that was a challenge at times...

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/dansmith1960

Kari

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8053
Joined: Sep 2009

Like Greg, we started (my wife originally) an email update list...

Friends, family, co-workers, etc...

Every week during treatment, then major events, scans, etc...after.

We would send a group email on my status...

Actually it was very theraputic... when I felt like crap, or was alone for the day, I would get emails checking on me, well wishing, etc...

It gave me a sense to fight, and to know I had people thinking of me...

JG

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