Isolated at work

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    I’ve been doing well at work. I’ve got big compliments from a client I work with.

    I’ve been feeling fatigued due to radiation treatment. I have not let it affect my deliverables. A couple of days I have left office early but caught up with work later in the day. I mentioned at work that I am getting aggressive treatment, and to another coworker that I am coping with cancer.

    We have had a big launch at work. I wanted to share about my treatment because I thought this way the team would plan for a Plan B. Instead I have been excluded from even small tasks. Week 1 I sat in the “war room” and did my own thing. Week 2 was very painful. I did not have a single thing to contribute to the discussions. I explained I might be more productive at my desk and excused myself from the war room. Today they had a celebration. I went in, got some banana cake and said I needed to head back to my desk since otherwise I would be tempted to have the wine. I am sure they think I’m sulking, which is probably what i am doing. I was a trooper week 1, but to continuously be excluded was much too hurtful.

    There is zero explanation. Its not what you do but how you do it. It wouldn’t have taken much to let me know why I’m being isolated from the launch work. Worse, they keep saying, Oh you need to work on this long term stuff. The long term stuff is shit.

    I feel very disrespected. But due to immigration reasons I need to stay put here. Also it would look bad on my resume to have such a short stint.

    I came to this team with so much energy. I have been proactive. I really loved this team but now I loathe to be here. I don’t know what to do. I don’t seem to be getting a break. I wish I had the courage to take my life but I’m just so chicken.




    Dear astra:

    I will be able to read your original post (and anything you may add to it- please do, anything that you’d like to add) when I return to the computer in about 13 hours from now. I hope other members reply to you before I return.



    Hi Astra,

    Sorry to hear you are feeling so bad about this experience – especially when you are already dealing with a lot with your on-going cancer treatments.

    What sort of Plan B were you expecting from the team when you shared about your health situation?  I’ve been in several ‘warroom’ situations – they are a very different way of working and can be difficult at first. I would be surprised if they purposely excluded you but in those fast-moving war-room situations, it tends to naturally reward people who work best as part of a team, who can jump in, think on their feet and talk/express themselves impactfully. It can leave people who are not naturally that way inclined to feel excluded and not needed.  I suspect these are different skills to the ones you use where you have performed so well to date – it sounds like you prefer to work on your own?  Neither is good or bad, just like everything else, some skills are better suited for the tasks in hand and some companies and teams are better than others at being smart enough to use all the different skills available.  If it helps, at heart I’m an introvert but I learnt how to deal with these situations and with practice be just as influential in them, in my own way.  They’re an opportunity to expand your skill-set, learn different approaches.

    I understand you feel like you’ve been delegated to the non-important tasks, though I actually disagree the long-term stuff is shit – it’s fundamental to the strategy of where the company is going but agree it doesn’t get the back-slapping celebrations.  Do the task as well as you can but talk to your boss in the meantime about how you could get involved again and how you could get better prepared to be able to contribute more next time.

    You have a lot on your plate just to get yourself better, it must be a tough time and I hope you have some supportive friends and family around you.  Work is just part of the bigger picture. Take care.


    Dear astra:

    I see your first priority at this time being, clearly: staying alive and healing from cancer. Please keep yourself as calm as possible, attend all your radiation and other medical appointments, plan your life with the principle of one-day-at-a-time. Keep your daily routine as it has been. And do post here anytime you want to express your thoughts and feelings. I will read and reply to you every time you choose to post.

    Regarding you having told your co workers that you suffer from cancer and attend an aggressive treatment, radiation: when most people hear such news, they feel uncomfortable, wishing they didn’t hear it at all (at least, not when the person telling the news is not a family member or close friend), almost fearing they will “catch” the disease.

    Every person is aware that she/ he may become sick with cancer anytime, and hearing that you suffer from it, reminds them of this scary reality and they experience this scary thought: it can happen to me, and to anyone in my life who I care for deeply.

    Next point: you didn’t share how your co workers in the “war room” excluded you. You shared that you “did not have a single thing to contribute to the discussion” and that you excused yourself from there so to  work at your desk- how did they exclude you and weren’t you the one choosing to work at your desk (rather than “being isolated”) by your co workers?

    You shared that you chose to leave the banana cake celebration- did your co worker behave differently toward you during the celebration?

    Another point: once you shared what you shared with your co worker, understandably, you expected some empathy, some emotional support. If you got none of that, if people behaved as if you didn’t tell them anything important- that in itself hurts. The thought may be something like: I told them that I may die and they act like nothing happened, life and death is happening for me, and everyone around me acts like my life doesn’t matter!

    Is that kind of thought running through you?

    I hope to read more from you soon.


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