Dianne's Battle Royale 5. So, whats for breakfast?
My initial intention for this blog entry was to focus exclusively on patience but then, a little over a week ago, my younger sister passed away unexpectedly. So, this blog may go in several directions.
My sister lived in Durban so we did not see each other often. However, in hindsight I am so happy that I decided to fly to Durban towards the end of last year. In part, I went to say goodbye to her because I am ill and was not sure if I would be able to make the trip again. I also wanted to give her pieces of jewellery I still had from our mom. However it seems that the universe had other ideas and now, a mere two and half months later, she is no longer here. In retrospect it seems I flew to Durban so she could say goodbye to me ☹. I have no words to express how sad I am that she is gone.
When we were together in November, my sister asked me what I had learned about being a cancer patient and about dealing with the uncertainty I was facing after the failed experimental treatment I had been on for some four months. Strangely an easy questions to answer. I have learned to be patient but not to be a patient! The patience I learned is not the patience required to mindlessly wait for some casual event or activity, but rather patience of the gut wrenching, stress inducing, forced variety. The patience needed to wait for results, wait for treatment plans, wait for surgery, wait to see the doctor, wait for information, and wait to see if you have been approved for yet another trial. Though, I must add I have a brilliant, caring oncologist.
So, I have really appreciated the “ wait and see time” no medication, no chemo no doctors, from December to end January while “patiently” waiting for the inevitable visit to the oncologist and the next scan in February.
January was a month when I visited friends and continued some gender research in Marbella. The weather was sunny and warm. As much as I love the Netherlands, after some two decades, I still struggle with the cold, dark, grey days of winter here in the north so was happy with my—all too short—respite in Spain.
I gave my first workshop of the year to the incoming women of the RSM MBA programs. What a great group of inspiring young women! As always, the discussion was rich and our day together left me with the feeling that our world can only improve if these women deliver to their fullest potential. Towards the end of the day I asked the group whether any of them had put themselves forward for election president of the MBA Student Club. One young woman came to me afterwards and admitted she had put herself forward for vice-president because she felt uncomfortable competing with a man. No! No! No! We both agreed that this was not the correct strategy for the future. Unconscious bias, in ourselves and in men, should never “win” by getting us to accept less when we are just as intelligent, just as good, and just as ambitious.
Two, three-day of training sessions for middle and senior level ING women, followed the MBA workshop. Another invigorating set of dialogues and debates as we discussed how much of our views on gender, capabilities, and understood norms are the result of an almost infinite history of social conditioning.
Finally, the last four weeks have seen a number of our network send in their gender stories to be included in a book we are beginning to write. Thanks to all of you who have shared some deeply personal stories with us. We are currently compiling a short-list and will be getting back to you as soon as possible. The stories—including those we may not be able to include in the book—have inspired me to believe even more in the project!
So, what of the “gut wrenching waiting”? It continues and, at times, it really hurts and seems unfair. However, I remain uplifted and profoundly grateful for work and interactions that inspire me. Time spent waiting for the news of my next treatment can be interminable, but time spent in the sun doing research, and time spent engaging with fantastic powerful women passes all too quickly!
After two months of patiently waiting, I was told last week that the time has come for me to return to chemotherapy. Treatment begins on Friday.
Again, thank you all for your lovely comments, emails, notes, and well-wishes. As many of you know, I have halved my working hours. This is not something I want to do. But, patience is teaching me that I have to take each day as it comes. Many days will continue to be beautiful but some will be a little more difficult. So, my wonderful friends, if I have to cancel on you at the last minute please forgive me. I will continue to cherish both the brief and the extended wonderful times we share day-by-day.
As always, I am grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people who continue to walk this path with me—My family, my friends, my colleagues, and the all the delightful people I meet in class and on social media. Thank you.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast,” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
So, what’s for breakfast everyone? :-)