The “Do What You Love” Problem

One of my favorite blogs, non-cancer-related, is Ask a Manager, all about job searching, hiring, and the workplace. She has written in the past about her disagreement with “do what you love” advice – when people say that you should follow your passion in life and do what makes you happy. She believes it is classist, in that only people with privilege can do what they truly want to do without having to make money to eat or have shelter. 

I read another article about this today in the NYTimes, here

Every time I read these things, I think to myself, “This is not true if you’ve had cancer.” You could interchange any life-threatening experience with “cancer” in that sentence, I suppose.

Cancer makes you think differently about life and its meaning… at least it has for me. I am curious to know what others think:

Has having cancer/another life-threatening experience made you more focused on doing what you love as your life’s work? 


Have shoes, pack, hair… will travel.

I haven’t updated in quite a while, but it’s for good reason. I’ve been planning a big life change and I’m finally ready to announce it here! Yes – I have quit my job (last day in the office will be this coming Friday the 25th), and will be embarking on a two-month adventure through Ecuador and Peru.

I am endlessly excited and endlessly terrified all at the same time. So many people ask me why I’m doing this, and it’s sometimes hard to articulate. So often throughout the past year, I’ve thought to myself, “there’s got to be more to life than the routine of working 9 to 5, cooking dinner, watching Thursday night sitcoms, and going to bed, just to do it all over again.”

While my life was by no means bad, I still just felt like there was more out there. Like I could get closer to finding my passions, I just needed an out-of-the-box experience. I needed to get out and see things, spend some contemplative time with myself, and be challenged, empowered, and humbled by the universe. I could blame it on cancer, but I can’t say that this wouldn’t have happened anyway. Cancer just made it seem more urgent.

So… solo travel to South America emerged as a viable plan. I was a Spanish minor in college and I love the region’s literature and culture, plus it’s a haven for backpackers, and Ecuador is one of the cheapest countries in that part of the world.

I’m off on February 4th. First I’ll enroll in a Spanish school in Quito to get back my language skills, and then I’m off to adventure. First to the beach with my boyfriend for a week, then back to Quito to see him off and make my way down through the varied Ecuadorian landscape and into Peru, where my main goal is to get to Macchu Picchu, however that might happen. I’m not planning to blog regularly, because I would rather be living in the moment, but hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures and updates here, just so I have some documented memories!

Hiking shoes
These shoes are made for walking
photo 3
Hey, hair past my ears!
photo 2
My pack. Think I can fit my mattress in there?


The Tuesday Night Blues

Tonight is just one of those nights when I am frustrated by everything. Work has been stressful and and unfulfilling. There was a massive leak in our bedroom ceiling and they’ve cut a gaping hole in it and we’ve been sleeping on the mattress on the floor in the tiny second bedroom. Our apartment is messy. None of our pictures are hung up. I’ve been suffering from recurring and nasty UTI’s for the past month and a half and I don’t know why. My right breast, same area where the tumor was, has been aching on and off and it’s probably just my muscles getting used to the implants but it scares the s&%^ out of me. One of our male neighbors… can’t tell if it’s up or down… is singing Katy Perry at a volume and tone that’s inappropriate even for Katy Perry in the shower.

And then to top it all off I got a “FINAL NOTICE” bill from GWU for a charge that I don’t understand from my MRI back in FEBRUARY 2011 (which, mind you, my parents already dished out more than $1,000 for). Not only that, but I’m in the midst of writing an appeal to insurance for another $1,000 charge for the surgery I had at the end of April, which they won’t cover because, as the Explanation of Benefits explained, “a response to our request for information from the provider has not been received.” All fine and good – except why am I being penalized for the billing office’s incompetence?

I went to a “Living Well with Cancer” retreat this weekend at Smith Center here in DC and they were all about stress reduction because stress allegedly feeds cancer.

I think that’s a bit counter-intuitive because:

Cancer is stressful. Life after cancer is stressful. Dealing with insurance companies and medical billing departments is stressful. Heck, life even without cancer in the picture is stressful. 

I’m going to go attempt to do some yoga and breathe.

Breathe. And imagine you live in a serene bubble on Kapalua Bay Beach in Maui.