When Mom was diagnosed I was angry. So angry that her retirement had been ripped apart so cruelly. So angry that her life would be cut short and there was nothing we could do about it. Angry that my job doing something I loved, was so unrewarding and in such a toxic environment that I didn’t tell anyone that my beloved mother was dying.
I struggled on for six months, juggling work and hospital appointments, crisis after chemotherapy crisis, as well as keeping house, being a friend and holding the family together. I know now that this is what families with cancer are dealing with on a daily basis, but at the time, I felt as though I was completely on my own. And in part, this prompted me to start the blog and write about my raw emotions as Mom suffered, and died from lung cancer.
When we knew that Mom’s time was almost up, I gave notice and asked to be released early from my contract. It was a very difficult decision for me. I had worked so hard achieving my PhD, and had completed two pieces of work to be published in scientific journals. Despite being assured that my work would be supported in the future, I was devastated when it became clear that there was to be no future for me in science.
My last day of work was bitter-sweet as I said my goodbyes, knowing that I was not leaving to go on to bigger and better things, but rather to nurse my dying mother at home for the last weeks of her life. I have no regrets about my decision. It was the right thing to do. And I have rebuilt a career in writing, talking about end-of-life care options, promoting science, working hard to build a portfolio. I can honestly say that I have found my niche, and I love what I’m doing.
So it was a bit of a shock when I bumped into a senior colleague at the gym on Tuesday night. I haven’t seen her 18 months, and for a split second I wasn’t going to greet her. But I did say hello and she was surprised to see me. Of course, she asked what I’m doing now. As if she didn’t know that she was in part responsible for closing the doors of mainstream research to me. I found myself talking down what I do, as if my value is less now because I’m no longer in academic science. And that really upset me.
I have resolved now to complete the writing of the manuscripts for the research I carried out, but instead of publishing in a scientific journal I will publish on my blog, in a way that everyone will be able to understand the context and contribution of the science to our lives. I hope that this will bring closure to that part of my life, and more opportunities in other areas.