Yesterday, I was told a blog is good for business. I was like, “what the heck is a blog?” Why would anyone want to read my “diary”? But, I love the idea of getting feedback. I’m a stay at home mom who is re-entering the workforce. I’m lucky enough to pursue a passion of mine: patient advocacy!! I worked in the health care field for several years as a radiation therapist — working exclusively in oncology. I chose radiation oncology because I’m a childhood cancer survivor. I told myself, “How perfect. Childhood cancer survivor returns favor to the universe by helping cancer patients.” Quickly, I realized health care wasn’t what I thought it was. One of the first radiation therapists I shadowed was counting down the days to her retirement. I mean literally counting down!! When I met her, she was at Day 892!! The therapists didn’t talk much with their patients. They rolled their eyes and talked behind their patients’ backs. Most of the physicians were even worse. They would come in an hour late and make their patients wait. They manipulated billing. They were used car salesmen — not the Gods I envisioned. In radiation therapy school, I felt trapped. Why did I do this? I can’t quit — I have a family and school loans. The majority of radiation therapists I trained with and later worked with hated their jobs. They burned out quickly. They were miserable and so was I. My job looked great on paper — cancer survivor treats cancer patients. But, in reality it never matched up with my soul. I was told 10–15 minutes per patient, even when they needed more. I was told to lie to patients when the equipment wasn’t working. I was taught billing was the main priority — not patient care. Eventually, the disconnect between what I wanted to do and what I was doing was too much to bear. Plus, I often had to work late and had trouble getting to my child’s day care on time. I’m in awe of working mothers who can balance their career with momhood. Once, I had to stay late to treat a patient. There were blizzard conditions that day and none of my coworkers would stay late. My daycare charged $5 per minute for every minute you were late picking up your kid. Luckily, my day care didn’t charge me for being late that particular day due to the weather. But, my 4-year-old was in tears by the time I finally made it to day care after staying late to treat my patient and navigating through a snow storm. That day I decided, “no more. I can’t choose between a cancer patient and my child.” I had already had to do that too many times. Soooooo, I became a stay at home mom. It was the most rewarding and least respected job I ever had. I constantly felt like I had to make excuses for not working outside the home. Eventually, I learned to own it! I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If I learned one lesson from my experience with oncology, it was what matters at the end of your life? Does it matter how much money you made or that you were a CEO? Or does it matter that you went to every hockey and volleyball game and you’re surrounded by those you loved and those that love you?!!
But, here we are — -my youngest is about to start driving. I’m ready to get back out there in the work force. But, this time I’m going to do it right. I get to be 110% for the patient. I get to advocate for them in a way I always wanted to. Our health care system is in crisis! And, I have the opportunity to do something about it!!