I lied there with a fever, bundled in blankets and hiding from the world.  Twenty miles away my best friend stormed from office to office and meeting to meeting to nail down our company’s 2013 budget.

She picked up the most crucial pieces of my job when I went out on disability.  And I’m so thankful she did.  We work on the same wavelength, and I know my philosophy on those things that mattered so much to me is being carried forward.

My job was so rewarding; sure there was some corporate BS, but I could navigate it.  I even prided myself on that sometimes.  Of course it’s easy to look back through rose-colored lenses at the better days when everything fell into place.  Truthfully, though, the job was stressful.  I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  I thrive on pressure and perform my best when people are really counting on me.  I did, anyway.

It’s been more than nine months since I worked.  In most ways, time has passed quickly –  measured in scans, hospital visits, and chemo infusions.

But sometimes it really bothers me that I can’t mean more to other people.  That I no longer have anyone relying on me to succeed.  There is a certain intrinsic satisfaction of a job well done.  And like many, I also thrive on recognition from others.

I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand when I tell them “being sick is a full-time job.”  I’m not sure I would have believed it.  It’s certainly the least rewarding job I’ve ever had…

Almost daily I must remind myself that I shouldn’t feel guilty if I need to sleep.  I struggle to balance what I want to do with what my body will allow me to do.  I feel like I must be the only person in the world who feels the way I do, although logically I know that is untrue.

In this shitty job, there are no milestones I can set, no goals I can work towards.

No, being terminally ill isn’t a full-time job.  It’s enslavement to a horribly-flawed body with taunting reminders of the life you had, the person you were.

5 responses to “Full-Time

  • Connie

    Jessica, you should know that your blog updates have had a profound effect on many of us who follow you and your travels through a difficult time. You may have left your corporate job for now, but you are, perhaps unknowingly, following a greater calling by teaching many about the importance of authenticity, patience, endurance and determination. Your impact is very powerful.

  • Lisa

    Dear Jessica,

    The fact that you feel the way you do and are still able to write this blog is amazing to me. I also have mucinous bac but was diagnosed stage 1a and had surgery last July. The stress and anxiety of having cancer, especially during recovery and anywhere close to scan time, makes it very difficult for me to think clearly let alone write an emotional and inspiring blog like you that helps so many other people who are dealing with cancer shows me what a strong person you must be. I would like to thank you and let you know that I really appreciate how honest your blog is and let you know how much I appreciate it. I am so sorry you are going through this right now.


  • Sjoukje

    Sweet Jessica, you do mean a lot to people, your blog means a lot to people. Reading your blog can help others in similar situations or who might have family who are. So, it matters, YOU matter!

    big hugs

  • readytotell

    Jessica, to me you do have a have a job now. Every morning when I check my email I search for an email message from you and your blog. When I don ‘t hear from you for days, I worry and wonder how you are and what you are up to with your bunny, your boyfriend, your treatments, your Mom, the animals, and your views of life as it presents itself to you now. I am not sure what your previous career was but today, you are a writer. An author who is able to lure in strangers with your words and your story. This is more than a blog. This is a book. If you are up to it, pursue getting this story published. As a memoir.

    We are all terminal. No one knows when their life will end. You have a horrific disease that somehow landed in your lungs. Lord knows why. It is so upsetting to me as you are so young. And there are so many like me who have lost someone they love too soon to cancer. In my sister Wendy’s case it too was lung cancer. She lived in denial. Would not speak about it. She did not even know the names of the chemo she was being given or if she did. She would not say. I would have loved to have found a blog she was writing during her time with illness. I wanted to share her story. To be with her thoughts To listen. Even from a distance. The very little she would say was so limited. She was afraid. She was even a bit superstitious I think. Like talking about it would somehow acknowledge it too much and give it a space to grow. She left a 7 year old daughter who would love to find a blog written by her Mother one day. I am sure if that. You are a gifted story teller. You have touched me. Perhaps this blog/book can touch many. I am soothed by your words and saddened all at the same time. I want to know more about you and your life. How did you get into the career you have not been part of for months. I too work in stress daily. I can relate to being able to do my best work under pressure. Keep writing. And when the day comes you can no longer write have it in place to get this book published. It will live on way beyond your years.

    PS I am relying on you to succeed! 🙂

    Linda Forem Vice-President/General Manager Radio One Richmond 2809 Emerywood Parkway Suite 300 Richmond, Virginia 23294 Office 804.501.0765 Mobile 804 869.4861 Fax. 804.521.8405

  • Andy


    As the others have stated, you may not realize the effect you are having, but it is powerful, and real. Much more so than the effects or impacts that many people ever achieve through a career of “work.”

    I work for a pharmaceutical company. Specifically, I work within the Oncology division. Our goals are to better understand cancer, to discover new possible medicines that are more effective or tolerable, and to work as quickly and safely as possible, despite many many hurdles, setbacks, and inevitable business challenges, to get them approved. For people just like you.

    For the many thousands out there like me in biotech and pharma, who work within Oncology but in disciplines as disparate as chemistry, manufacturing, clinical monitoring and marketing, this is my full time job. And sometimes, it is easy to get swept away by daily tasks, stresses, distractions, or the feeling that my contributions are insignificant.

    However, you should know that your profoundly honest, insightful, heart-wrenching, and inspiring entries are a source of motivation and reminder, which strip away those feelings. They keep me committed to what I am doing, and even more passionate about fighting for projects that I believe in. In terms of organizational dynamics (which I surmised to be your area of professional focus), you provide me with a perspective that may help me influence others or make better decisions as part of a team. Whether you intend for it to be this way, or not, trust me…you are doing this. So, just like many others, but perhaps for a different reason, I count on you, in a very, very big way. Thank you. My thoughts are with you as you continue to fight.

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