How Avanade supported me on my journey from cancer diagnosis back to work
- Posted on February 2, 2023
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
The first challenge comes from the shock of hearing: “There is something …a tumor…” It’s a difficult moment for every cancer patient. The second and even greater challenge is how to tell your loved ones.
All I had to mention at Avanade was that I was seriously sick and wouldn’t be back shortly. Nevertheless, I was able to give a short handover to my project successor, but that was not expected. But for me that handover felt good because the project was nearly complete, and when I was sure it was in good hands to cross the finish line, I could more easily let it go.
After a while, I was able to talk a bit more about details to my trusted peers, and from the beginning, everyone was very supportive but also very discreet in terms of spreading my story. They were also thoughtful about how often they reached out to me, which was so helpful, because whether it’s business or personal, I didn’t want to be in conversation all the time. But I was always getting the validation I needed.
“Whatever it takes.”
“How long it may take.”
“Howsoever you may return.”
“There will always be a place for you.”
That last one came from a local executive, and he never rowed back from that. Instead, he spent time and consulted me in several social/legal considerations as I needed to care for me and my little family. The same thing happened with our local HR department. They were always approachable and spent time with me to show options, benefits and programs that might help in my current situation.
Time passed by, and I had to go through two surgeries and a radio therapy while also beginning a chemotherapy. But I never lost the connection to Avanade. I was invited to some social events and some group dinners and attended when my current constitution allowed.
The more people I met, the more I realized that all were very discreet and I had to explain it here and there once again. This also led to challenges: I remember on one call I attended, I was wearing a bandana under my headphones due to my partial hair loss. “Ah, do we have a pirate in our round?” someone asked. “No sorry, I was never a big fan of Marco Pantani, but this is for health reasons,” I replied.
What sounds a bit like unconscious bias wasn’t that critical to me. That person, another local executive, wasn’t aware because others had been so protective of my story. But that person came back to me with a thousand apologies and promised me any support he could give (and delivered on that promise a bit later). But here you can see unconscious bias is an important topic at Avanade – it helps us create a culture of empathy and awareness so we can take care of each other and make things right when mistakes happen.
During the chemotherapy in good weeks, I was still able to contribute to the public community. I even held two sessions at big conferences. And here I was also supported: By people joining me on the event but also by the opportunity to "test" my sessions in Avanade internal calls to an audience in advance. All was voluntary but it felt great, and despite the long-time off work, I never felt detached. There was a healthy number of chats and even in-person contacts to stay up to date but always the understanding that I could stay away when I needed. Whatever felt best to me was welcome.
“World Cancer Day” is this weekend, and a few days after, I will return to work after being officially off for nearly a year (unofficially I always felt part of the family and had my “hobby” whenever time and shape allowed). I cannot imagine a better place to return to. THANK YOU, Avanade family for having me however long it may last.
An Avanade employee & Microsoft MVP
Thank you for sharing your story. It is amazing to be supported by your organization in any circumstance. I wish you a full recovery.
Thank you for sharing, so great to have people willing to talk about these topics to help us all.
So great to have you back! I was always convinced that you will return soon. And you will keep rocking it. I know that.💪😊
Keep up the good work, you are on a good path! We will surviving the challenge together.
Thank you for sharing your story and journey with us and so glad you're able to come back into the Orange Family.
Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey. As someone who's also recently experienced the roller coaster that is a cancer diagnosis, I know it's a brave thing to share. Wishing you guys the best.
Thank you for sharing your story. What a powerful example of how what we do every day - engage with humans with messy human lives - makes a genuine human impact. Wishing you strength and grace as you return to Avanade.
Thank you for sharing your story - I wish you the very best in your journey
Thank you for sharing your story and I wish you all the best with your continued recovery.
So glad to have you back! All the best.