What do you do?

What do you do? Such a simple question, and yet one that is crazy difficult to answer at the moment.

The truthful answer, is that I consider exercise and writing (this blog and my other blogs) as my full time job. What I do at the moment is write, exercise, and try to gather strength for surgery.

When you are in the cancer community, the question isn’t asked that often. When it is, there is an understanding that right now I’m “in treatment” … so what I do is treatment. But when I’m with a new group of people at church or another social event, the question is an immensely difficult one to answer, and rather awkward. Do I say that I’m in treatment for cancer (usually yes, that is how I answer the question)?

I was doing a PhD, but I’m not doing that right now. I’m on leave. I was a part-time professor. Although I still use that occasionally, it is somewhat dishonest – I’m part of the part-time professors union. You are a member for 2 years after you teach a class. But I’m not teaching right now, and likely won’t be teaching at uOttawa in the near future. I am, however, doing some research at uOttawa as a part-time professor.

I’m also a consultant. I produce eBooks for the iBooks Store. When I’m not in active treatment, I’d like to do more of this … as I like helping people self publish.

The question wasn’t always that easy to answer before cancer, but I could say “I’m working on a PhD”, or I’m a freelance eBook Producer (in the US the term freelance is used, in Canada it is more common to use the term consultant) – both of which were conversation starters. The cancer answer is often more of a conversation killer …

For now, what I do is exercise and write … one step at a time …

  • Becky


  • And that seems like much more than most would be doing in the same position – but your question reminded me of how much I would dread the same question during the time that I stayed at home to look after my young children. ‘I’m a mother’ never seemed to be the answer that satisfied people,

  • Maybe we need an answer guide based on some sort of social algorithm:-) Agree not to mention cancer unless you want the conversation to end, Having heart problems seems marginal but at least an acceptable vocation. I try and read from people what they might value as an activity I can be involved in, and any of my volunteering things are fine.

    It’s really difficult to describe the vacuum that cancer puts you into. For me it’s a constant planning wrecker. I’m not helpless or without plans but am committed to following what the treatment regime requires to be done. This is unfortunately something I am not welcomed to participate in so in truth I’m not really a cancer patient, just an object and not a doing.

    This is an odd and rich-with-learning place that’s hard to be an admitted resident in. Maybe like being a Mom it’s too personal?

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