There is a life after cancer. Different life. It can never be the same again. It has to become better. The dreaded phone call came when I was at work.
At that point in my life I worked for an architectural firm. I worked long hours, spending two hours in a car every day. I was stuck in the same office corner from 9 to 6. I felt trapped. I had just turned 50 and I had a dream to have my own architectural practice one day. I would never have had the guts to quit my job. I never thought I was good enough to do it on my own.
I worked for various architects since I moved to Australia from Russia in the early 90s. With my husband and a seven-year-old, we started our life in Melbourne from scratch. I always felt that I needed to work harder to give my kid a future. Then there was a wakeup call.
My very own company’s first project was through the fog of chemo and it turned out to be a lovely house built in St Kilda. Then came another few projects, when I still had no hair and was weak from radiotherapy. Those jobs kept me sane and gave me a purpose. By the time I finished my treatments I did not have to return to work – I realised that I generated full-time employment for myself.
For four years now I have been living the dream, working from my home office. I start my computer in my PJs in the morning with a cup of coffee. I have my favourite projects, with a lot of them built around Melbourne in these few years after cancer. I go to the gym, do yoga and have lunch with my friends whenever I like I am my own boss.
We drove through Arizona in a red Mustang convertible and I experienced the Grand Canyon, which I always wanted to see, and spent a magical week in New York.
There still lives a fear deep inside me but I have learned to live with it, like many people before me. If my story will help only one person, it was worth writing.