I Took Extra Time Off From Work to Heal
Last updated: February 2023
Surgery was the best treatment option for my diagnosis of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, or DFSP, and I required two surgeries 6 weeks apart for the pathology report to deem me cancer-free. After the first surgery, I returned to work in a few days and regretted it because I was in so much pain and I was so weak walking the halls of the nursing home where I am a physician assistant. This prompted me to choose to take much more time off after my second DFSP surgery.
Time off after my DFSP surgery
Initially, I decided to take 4 weeks off after my DFSP surgery. However, at my follow-up appointment where my surgical oncologist removed my staples, I was still in significant pain. So, I advocated for myself and asked him to approve additional time off, for a total of 2 months.
It was the right decision
I am so thankful I made this decision, even though I was apprehensive about it. I am usually such a hard worker and a people-pleaser regarding my employment. I am the kind of employee who never uses sick leave, schedules PTO months in advance to avoid inconveniencing my superiors and shows up to work early, and leaves late.
I actually liked the time off
During my 2 months off after my DFSP surgery, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and I enjoyed the healing process while getting as much rest as possible. I had plenty of time to think, pray, read books that I had ordered from Amazon but never had the opportunity to open, and I even reorganized my pantry, my closet, and my daughters’ closet and dressers. I remember initially feeling so guilty about taking extra time off to heal, but then I had to remind myself that choosing myself is the most important act of self-love I can exhibit.
I had to adjust, but it was for the best
I have been employed consistently since I was 15 years old; I can only remember a few months of my life where I didn’t have to balance either work and school or 2 jobs and this was when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree and used the time to figure out what was next. This was the first time in 16 years where I had the opportunity to truly relax, and this included waking up without an alarm clock, taking short walks around my neighborhood once I was no longer in pain, sitting on my porch drinking coffee while reading a good novel, and binge-watching good tv shows that I’ve missed out on like Married at First Sight.
It changed my life
This two-month break was life-changing for me, and, aside from healing from my DFSP surgery, it allowed me the time to evaluate what is important and what can wait. It also gave me much-needed rest so that I was able to return to work at almost 100%, though, if we’re being honest, I’m still hovering around 85-90%. I also returned with a relaxed spirit and gratefulness that I’m still able to wake up every morning and do what I love for a living. Maybe my DFSP journey hasn’t been so bad!
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