My name is Liselotte, I’ve worked for Google since 2009. I am a Vendor Operations Lead for ETO (External Telesales Operations ) in The Netherlands. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with breast cancer last summer, on my 29th birthday, July 27th 2012.

Last year I told you all about the rollercoaster I was going through and I shared some lessons that I learned (the hard way). At the time, I was still hoping to get back to work in a few months but all aspects of my life were unsure. It’s been a year since I was diagnosed now. And lots of things have happened.

Healthwise, I’m getting back on my feet. But recovery from cancer takes a long time. I only started work again last week. Even though I have been out of office this year, I did not keep quiet. I accepted it and turned it around to fulfill my biggest dream, I got a puppy named Yara. This year, I’d like to share a few experiences from the latest part of what I call my “Cancerella Story.” I will leave out the romantic parts, because I don’t want to bore you with too much text. But it’s true: Prince Charming came along last year, touched my bald shiny head and he instantly turned into a keeper.

Before I got sick I had a dream to raise a Golden Retriever puppy. I was single and totally Google minded. I even set my personal targets based on work. If I wanted a puppy, I needed a bigger house with a garden. To get a bigger house I needed a bigger paycheck, to get a bigger paycheck I needed to get promoted. To get promoted I needed to do X, Y, Z. etc. Guess what? Yes, I have had breast cancer, but I have my puppy too! If you really want something, don’t wait for the right circumstances. Make it happen.

Last year I thought my manager was very good. Now I think he is a superstar. If you haven’t been ill, you probably don’t understand the value of a good manager during illness. Throughout the year my manager stayed in touch, visited me at home and made me feel part of the team even though I wasn’t working. He even invited me to quarterly off-sites, to stay in sync with the company & my team. A great manager doesn’t only fire you up to achieve more when you are at your best, he also supports you when things get rough. The last thing I needed was pressure from managers — just breathing was stressful! I am back to work now, but only because I feel 100% supported by my manager and team. This experience will definately help me develop as a manager myself.

Linked to this, I’d like to share an observation. During my illness I met many other young girls with breast cancer. There seem to be two groups. I call them ‘Romantics’ and ‘Realists.’

Romantic patients like to speak in terms of “Fighting cancer” and “Surviving.” If you ask them how they are doing, they’ll make you believe that having cancer is peanuts. Going through chemo is not fun but it’s doable. They are like me, they create their own cancerella stories and believe it all ends well. On the other hand, you have realists, who do not relate to the pink, fuzzy and warm Pink Ribbon feeling. They do not want to be praised for their braveness. “You’re so strong” is a compliment to a romantic person, but an insult to a realist. Please keep this in mind when talking to a patient. Even though you mean well, you may hurt someone’s feelings.

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