Posted by: Teri Simon | 2012/03/18

A Taste of Working…

employmentWell, my friends, it’s been quite a week for the Flying Elephant.  On the stressful side, I had to have a second MRI to help determine if the tumors found in my silly brain during last Sunday’s MRI were old or were new.  (They’re old, thank goodness.)  However, that, combined with another little issue in my screening process for the new clinical drug trial I’m trying to get on, resulted in a delay of my actually getting on the trial.  I’m not quite sure at this point if it’s a “start all over” or a “just a couple more days” kind of proposition, but rest assured that the fabulous Leora Horn is all over this, and has stayed in contact with me about my choices and options.  It still sucks, but what’cha gonna do?  If my acceptance into the study is going to be delayed more than like a month, I’m going to have to look at my chemotherapy options, which are not all that thrilling to me.  Chemo is no fun.  But I’ve got all the right ducks in the right rows for now (read:  I went to Weird-Shit-O-Meter Therapy last week, and also to acupuncture, in addition to my weekly massage), and I’m carefully reviewing my choices.  I’ll keep you posted on what it all turns out to look like!

On the not-so-stressful side, I got a chance to volunteer at Gilda’s Club Nashville last Friday.  I sat at the front desk and answered the phones for 3 1/2 hours.  It was…..wonderful!!!!!!  Reminded me of when I used to work at a real job, doing real things to help in the real world.  Reminded me that I miss working, too, and that far too often, we take so very much for granted.  I mean, I did my share of griping when I was working, regardless of how much I enjoyed whatever work I did.  There was always someone, some situation, or something to complain about, and I did my fair share.  But what I realized on Friday was that there is far more to embrace and appreciate about employment than we often realize.  It isn’t the paycheck (which, depending upon your situation, is awesome or awful, or somewhere in between), but rather, it is the purpose.  An employed person feels a sense of belonging, which, yes, in bad situations feels more like indentured servitude, but is, I think, something we all need in this life–a place to belong.  Employment offers camaraderie.  I watched the fine folks at Gilda’s Club chatting and joking, relating and responding.  They had connection that only comes from knowing the same kind of stuff, of working in the same environment, of dealing with similar things on a professional level.  God, I miss that!  I miss everything from feeling like I am helping to bitching and moaning about people who used to drive me absolutely freakin’ crazy!  It’s that sense of purpose that I miss so very much, that walking in the door in the morning, and saying hello to people I really liked, starting a day full of whatever the day was full of (and yes, sometimes it was dung), griping, and problem-solving, and the thrill of getting something done well.  And chatting with those people I really liked about people I really didn’t like, and getting agreement about that.  And yes, getting a paycheck, even if the amount was something to complain about, but still, getting a paycheck!  But mostly, it’s that feeling of purpose, of belonging, of being somehow important in whatever cog in the wheel I was when I worked, that I’m missing now.

There’s a movie from a while back that I really like, called Dave.  It’s a silly little movie, about how a guy named Dave, who runs a temp agency,  ends up in the White House under very convoluted circumstances, and then actually tries to make a difference.  I especially like this clip, well, the beginning of it, which I think explains what I’m trying to explain, maybe with a bit more grace.  In this, an election year, when so very many people are looking for jobs, wouldn’t it be nice if candidates stopped throwing around aggravating barbs at their opponents, and acted, instead, as if the election were their job interview?  Wouldn’t it be nice to hear politicians talk about people of this country as people who need purpose, who deserve purpose, who are worthy of purpose, and therefore, worthy of employment?  Wouldn’t it be productive to find out about candidates who cared not only about GNP’s and PAC’s, but about human beings and self-worth, and education and intelligence and all the stuff that make human beings good and wonderful and purposeful?  And for someone like me, a Flying Elephant in the Land of Lung Junk, wouldn’t it be nice to have more days to feel like something I was doing made a difference, made an impact, had a purpose?

It’s amazing to me how important one morning of volunteering became for me.  The phones were not ringing off the hook at Gilda’s Club Nashville last Friday morning, but when they did ring, I was there, and I answered with joy and with a smile and with a sense of purpose.  I needed that, Gilda’s Club, so thank you.  I suspect I will need it again.  There need not be a paycheck attached.  Just a purpose.

I wish you all a purposeful week,

Teri, The Flying Elephant



  1. thanks, ronnie. i’m hangin’ in there, and loving every opportunity to volunteer!!! work is good! 🙂

  2. Yes I think a lot of folks are too busy griping to understand what a wonderful thing work can be. You captured it brilliantly as always. I am thinking of you with much love and affection.

  3. Maria- So sorry you’ve landed in the Land of Lung Junk. I hope you have long-term success with Tarceva, and as smooth sailing as possible! I will keep you and your precious son in my prayers!

    Charlene-Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers. They are the wind beneath my flying elephant wings!

    Much love,

  4. Teri, I don’t know how it has taken me this long to discover your blog. But, discover it I have and now it will not be ignored.
    I have the same diagnosis, mine was delivered to my stunned self on September 15, 2010. Stage IV lung cancer with mets to bone and brain. I also think we are about the same age, but I am a late bloomer and have a seven-year-old boy 🙂 I have been on Tarceva (erlotnib) and have had radiation therapy and a full hysterectomy to remove cancer which had spread to an ovary. I have not yet hit Tarceva resistance, and hope to hang in there for a few more years.
    It is very nice to meet you. I have subscribed to your blog. Best wishes on getting on that trial!

  5. You always make so much sense. This writing is so insightful. We love you so much and keep you in our daily prayers. I was thinking about how wonderful your children have grown because you are such a good mamma. You hang in there and may this journey become full of miracles and get easier for you. You are truly an inspiration in many, many areas of life!

  6. you’re so sweet, dana, thank you! we need to go to lunch again soon!

  7. Teri the recipient’s on the other end of the phone were so fortunate to get a person like you answering. I could feel your smile just reading this. Great job? You go girl. I wish you a week full of no chaos and things falling in place as they should. Love ya. Let me know if you need anything.


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