After the new PET/CT scan results were in, yet again, when they were compared to the last set of scans, they showed a significant change that wasn’t in my best interest. The tumor had continued to grow which forced me to evaluate the situation and make some serious decisions.
First, what do I need to do about getting a biopsy done so my medical team knows what the best approach is to treating the cancer. What are my options?
Second, I have been able to stay in my information technology career since the cancer was first diagnosed in 1995, and throughout all of the treatments I have had over the years. Is it time for me to retire?
Answering the First Question
Based on the information we had, my doctor determined it would be in my best interest to obtain another non-evasive test using a technology called Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The goal was to obtain more exacting information about the situation I was dealing with. So the test was ordered and I started down that familiar road again; get the test scheduled, wait to for the appointment to have the test run, then, wait again to see my doctor for the test results.
With the MRI results in my doctor’s hand it was time to evaluate the status of the disease and discuss what was required at this point in time. Together we discussed my options, established a plan, then I moved forward with the plan.
Along with that plan came a another decision I didn’t want to deal with. But I was forced to think about my career.
Answering the Second Question
I wasn’t ready at all to retire. However, I was forced to realize I had no other choice. There wasn’t any way I could do all of the testing and procedures for my medical situation and concentrate on my work. After carefully considering all of my options with Debbie we came to the conclusion that I needed to move forward to get me out of the workforce.
I notified my supervisor and he helped me start the process in our HR department. That day I was literally in tears because I didn’t want to do this, but I simply had no choice.
Thankfully, I had a lot of donated medical leave available so I could immediately quit working. That decision helped me maintain some sort of sanity during this storm in my life. There were simply too many balls to juggle, and they all seemed to continually stay in the air. I was overwhelmed and had to make the required changes to take care of myself.
And, I can’t deny it, if it was at all possible, I needed a pay check coming in for a while. It’s amazing how much a person is worth when they’re working and how little they’re worth the first day of their retirement.
Even with a good retirement plan in place all of the medical bills were exasperating. I was really concerned how they would affect my retirement years.
By using my medical leave I was able to collect a full paycheck while going through the diagnostic process and whatever treatment options I decided to do. Hopefully, things will go well and I will make it to my birthday so I don’t have to take a disability retirement and just retire. That goal seemed so far away but in reality it was only a few months down the road. The question that was in the front of my mind was would I make it that long.
The day I told my supervisor what I needed to do it was very difficult on me. I felt like I was giving up a major part of my life. I can tell you I dreaded the day I had to process out.
I did my best to focus on is the fact that I am a 17-year cancer survivor that has been blessed to work all of these years. Being able to achieve the milestone of retirement would be a real blessing!