How cancer affects my career

quit

On Tuesday, I handed in my resignation.

My notice period is 3 months, so I’ll be working until October.

It was surprisingly easy for me to quit. Especially when I realized there was no big risk for me to do it.

Even if I regretted it, I could re-apply and get back the same job – except I would ask for more money. None of this waiting around forever for [maybe] a teeny raise, which is what I was doing.

Or, I could go freelance and charge 3x my current hourly rate. This is more what I’m going for, but I’m waiting for the dust to settle before negotiating it.

There is also a chance that I won’t quit, even though I’ve already quit.

Because while I didn’t anticipate this at all, my 3 bosses are pretty distraught that I’m going through hard times, and they want to support me + don’t want me to quit.

They’re going to counter me with options to stay, that we’ll discuss next week when they’re back in the office.

It’s very nice, but it’s actually causing me some distress. Like gahhhh, I’ve already made my decision! Now I have to go back and think about it again?!?!?!!!

I was totally taking solace in the finality of it all. *sigh*

Even though I’ve made some quick decisions, it doesn’t mean it was easy to go through it. It’s been absolutely exhausting and emotionally trying.

I don’t actually want to think about career-stuff right now. That’s why I quit!

My top priority is Mr. G and our life together. I need space to do that.

We know that cancer is telling us to make massive changes in our lives. We can give ourselves a big pat on the back that we’ve gone from vegan to raw vegan, but our big sore spot is not nutrition – it’s stress and our long commutes.

So I told my bosses that I require a lot of flexibility, and that I quit because I didn’t think I could get that in my job. I said I’m moving 100km away, and that since we are trying alternative therapies, we may need to travel for it. I also said that at this moment, we don’t have the answers yet. No details. Just big general themes that we’re working on, and the details will come later.

What it looks like to fight cancer naturally

Cruciferous_Vegetables

Our lives now revolve around FOOD.

We are constantly eating and buying fresh, organic produce.

For starters, we raided the organic sections of Lidl, Aldi, and Edeka. They don’t have everything we need though, so we’ve started travelling to organic supermarkets (denns, pro biomarkt, Biohaus). By far, our favourite is going to the organic farms and buying directly from them. If you’re in Germany, use Bioland to search for organic farms near you. The food is usually cheaper and so deliciously fresh!

Every cancer patient who is going the natural/alternative route needs to have a cancer diet. Mr. G’s cancer diet is a raw vegan diet with a focus on cruciferous and allium vegetables.

This is how his daily food totals look:

  • 8 cups of freshly juiced carrots/beets/ginger
  • 4 cups of fruit smoothies
  • 8-10 cloves of raw garlic
  • 50-100 mL of aloe vera juice
  • 2 humongous salads (red & green cabbage, baby spinach, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, leek, bell peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, sunflower seeds)
  • fruits and veggies as snacks
  • liberal use of cancer fighting spices: turmeric, oregano, cayenne

We track everything on CRON-O-Meter – to keep a food record but also to make sure we’re eating enough calories. So far we’ve been under in the calorie department. We’re working on it as we aim for the recommended 2500 kcal for men and 2000 kcal for women. We are killing it in the micronutrient department though. 🙂

I’m also on the same diet so I can support Mr. G. We’re in this together!

And we feel great.

trampoline

We bought this used for 15 EUR!

Everyday we rebound (aka jump on a trampoline) to help our lymphatic system, and we go for hour long walks and take some time to think in the park. On weekends we go for a run if the weather is nice.

It’s a very positive and empowering way to fight cancer.

I’m not worried about Mr. G physically. If he had chosen conventional treatments, I’d be worried sick.

What I am worried about is how he is feeling. He’s the type to keep his feelings to himself, and I’m concerned about how he’s taking it all. Whether he is stressed, scared, upset, frustrated, etc… He is all of these but what we are doing gives him strength, he says. I cuddle him a lot for extra measure.

The root of the problem is that Mr. G’s immune system is too weak, which is why the cancer cells have built up (tumour). Cancer cells are normal, but a strong immune system will kill/detox it. Since we are interested in curing him rather than managing his symptoms, we’re overdosing on nutrition to support the body in healing itself.

Cancer Tutor is a fantastic resource, and Chris Beat Cancer gives his first hand experience of curing Stage 3 colon cancer, plus interviews of other natural survivors.

Mr. G and I feel so fortunate to have all these resources at our fingertips.

We will also speak with a Heilpratiker (naturopath) soon to see what alternative treatments he recommends, and whether we need to tweak Mr. G’s cancer diet. We’ve spoken with a few Heilpratiker already but didn’t click with them or their treatment plans. But we have high hopes for this upcoming one.

This second cancer diagnosis threw us for a loop. I seriously was never planning to blog about cancer. But we’re on such a positive path that it feels good to share. Maybe this can help someone out there. I know it’s helping me.

Should I quit my job?

lucky

As I mentioned in my cancer and finances post, the last time we were faced with a cancer diagnosis, I practically quit my job by reducing my hours to 1-2 days per week. I needed to be there for Mr. German, plus I was too upset to work more than that.

This was doable because my old company was a small ~25 person company. They knew that either they let me work reduced hours, or I’d quit.

Now, I work for a large international company with a HR department. My employer does not do reduced hours. It’s pretty much I work my hours or they find someone else who can.

So, it’s time to quit!

I think.

I still need to meditate on this, but it seems to be the best way for us to bring simplicity to our lives.

Mr. German and I work far away from each other, and we both have long commutes in opposite directions. In the near past, we have had lots of stress and arguments about where to live. If I quit, we are no longer bound to this town and will move within walking/biking distance of Mr. German’s office. Thus, optimizing our lives (as Mr. Money Mustache would say).

Of course, it seems maybe counter intuitive for the non-sick one of us to quit. At first I also assumed it would be better if Mr. G quits so that he can focus on getting well. But, depending on how things go, Mr. G may end up going on sick leave. There’s no sick leave if there’s no job!

Sick leave may be inevitable, and the security of a steady stream of income during a time where we need income is very helpful. We can be frugal and wind down our expenses, but we cannot afford to skimp on organic food or alternative treatments which cost $$$.

Mr. G also makes almost twice as much as I do. So giving his income up to live on mine may not be so smart. He also works less than me and has more flexibility (!), but is not able to freelance.

My job on the other hand, is not so flexible but there is a strong precedent of going freelance.

By quitting my job, I mean quitting on very good terms and then negotiating a freelancer’s contract. I would need my current employer to convert to my big client. This should be doable.

I’m scared though, and need some encouraging words!

It’s a bit of a delicate situation, as I’ve only been working at my company for a year. I’ve tried to bring more flexibility into my job by asking for more home-office days (denied), and that raise that I asked for is currently being pushed.

Going freelance now could be offsetting to my bosses. Especially because I haven’t really ‘put in my time’ yet. From my company’s perspective, I’m still *new* and not very experienced.

I do have some good things going for me to negotiate a freelancing contract though, but it all boils down to handling it correctly and not coming across as screwing them over while using Mr. German as an excuse.

I very much like my job, so actually spent the day crying about it (today is my work-from-home day, so it’s fine). I needed to release the stress and clear my head. It took a lot for me to get here, and to give it up seems almost criminal. I’m also not the homemaker type – I like to have [paid] work.

Things are happening so fast here, I don’t even know if I’m thinking straight.

But I do know that I’ve been meaning to freelance in a few years, so why not now? Yeah it’s a bit early, but I have a good and valid reason to go freelance, that no one should take offense over.

Worst case scenario is that I go freelance and lose my company as my client, and then won’t get re-hired as a regular employee. I think this is very unlikely.

No – worst case scenario is that Mr. German gets sicker, or that I get sick from exhaustion of having to balance it all. That is much worse, and more likely if things continue this way.

Cancer is a big wake up call that something needs to change ASAP. It’s not about something happening *to* you. It’s about taking control and seeing what you can do to make it better. These steps are not always easy, but such is life.

How cancer affects our finances

lifebasket

I used to think that the *theme* of my 30’s was to retire early. That I would be strong, and smart, and work a decade to make that all happen. But now I know that early retirement is only a sub-theme. The real theme to my 30’s is to live a healthful, anti-cancer life. Which includes early retirement.

Neither Mr. German or I had any first or second hand experience with cancer. It was always that awful disease that happened to someone else, far removed from us. While our hearts went out to people, it didn’t hit us until it hit us. In my case, it happened to hit my rock – the love of my life; my best friend.

2 years ago, Mr. German was diagnosed with a cancer that had spread. He had emergency surgery and chemotherapy. Everything was fine afterward. He recovered and we made some big changes to our lives.

  • We got married
  • We moved in together
  • Mr. German turned vegan

Since this is a personal finance blog, I want to give a snapshot of how cancer has affected our finances.

At the time, we were living 70km apart and only seeing each other on weekends. We had our own apartments and expenses. When Mr. German went on sick leave, he started getting ~60% of his income paid through his insurance, which thankfully covered all of his expenses.

My income dropped 80%. I practically stopped working so that I could take care of Mr. German. Luckily, I worked for a small company that was very understanding, and they gave me the flexibility I needed. Working on 20% of my income was not enough to cover my expenses, so I happily dug into my savings. (yay to having savings!)

Now, fast forward 2 years. I changed jobs to be closer to Mr. German, and we moved in together 6 months after getting married. Our expenses more than halved, because it’s so much cheaper to live together than to live apart. My income also rose (due to the job change), and Mr. German’s income fell (strict doctor’s orders to not travel for work = no travel stipends). We fell into a nice groove of saving 65% of our take home pays.

In total, insurance covered all of Mr. German’s treatments, but we were not able to save money during that period (about a year). That’s more than great for us. Money was the last thing we were thinking about anyway.

We’re not done yet. Mr. German has been going for regular monitoring and in his last ultrasound, it was discovered that he has another tumour that has blood vessels going to it. It’s an early discovery, and the prognosis is good.

This time, Mr. German wants to do things differently. While it’s still early stages, he has made the decision to forgo surgery and other conventional treatments for now.

Insurance will cover all conventional treatments, but will only cover up to 500 EUR of alternative treatments per year (depending on what it is). We’re still investigating what’s out there, so don’t know what the costs will be. But we do know they will be out-of-pocket.

Last time we didn’t make any changes to Mr. German’s diet, because his oncologist’s advice was to eat the same way. But with all this hard evidence linking cancer to diet, Mr. German switched to a vegan diet about a year ago, and is now on an organic, raw vegan diet with an emphasis on the strongest cancer fighting foods.

Previously we ate only the easy-to-find organic produce from the regular supermarket. They only stock organic potatoes, apples, bananas, and carrots – which is a good start but not enough for us. Now everything has to be organic, and we’re going out of our way to find it (organic supermarkets, organic farms). While we haven’t totalled it up yet, it looks like our grocery bill will exceed our rent!

If you’ve read this far, thank you! In the next while I will be MIA. I devote my time to helping Mr. German and researching cancer. We’re also looking for a good Heilpraktiker/in or Artzt/in that specializes in alternative cancer therapies. We live in the Ddorf region. If you happen to know someone, please contact me.

Much love, Jessica

Using the good weather to speak German

deutsch

The weather here in central Europe is hotttt. It’s 30+ degrees Celsius (no air conditioning), and I feel like I’m in a tropical country!

I love it. :mrgreen:

This feeling of *love* is something I’m totally reveling in, because it’s not often that I love it here in Germany.

I try my best to, but I find that I am happier when I acknowledge to myself that I just don’t like it here all that much.

The solution is to learn German.  Speaking German is essential to living happily in Germany. But living happily in Germany is essential to being able to learn German!

My expat friends who love it here have picked up the language so well. Whereas me and my expat friends who don’t like it here are still struggling to *want to* have a conversation in German.

I’ve been living in Germany for almost 5 years now, so I can speak some German. But I don’t like to. 😕 If I mentally prepare for a situation beforehand, like going to the bank or the doctor or talking to a realtor, I can have okay-conversations. But don’t socialize with me in German, or call me on the phone with German, because I can’t do it unless I’m drunk.

And I don’t like to drink, so…!

Anyway, the point of this blog is to get me to harness this positive-energy from the good weather, to get myself to speak more German.

My goal is to speak German everyday. Even if it’s for 15 minutes.

This means speaking to not just my husband, but also my friends and coworkers. Who are all very willing, I just always put a stop to it. 😕