“Bright light city gonna set my soul/Gonna set my soul on fire.” – Elvis Presley, “Viva Las Vegas”
I’ll let you in on a little secret. OK, it’s not really a secret. I really, honest-to-goodness love living in Las Vegas. I find most people either love or hate living here; there doesn’t seem to be much of an in-between. I’m one of those people who love it, shamelessly. I used to love traveling to and from here because everyone always seemed amazed when I would say I live here. People just assume everyone’s a visitor, which is really funny since the Las Vegas valley is home to over two million people.
One of the reasons I love living here definitely has to do with my job at one of the largest hospitality operators in the world. I don’t really want to say where, but let’s just say it does NOT start with an M or end with a GM. (That’s not sarcasm, guys. It really doesn’t.) I’ve been with the company for almost four years now, and I’ve had a lot of fun. Who am I to complain? I get to market people’s vacation experiences. I work with some of the best entertainers and most amazing restaurants in the world. How could that not be fun?
Which is why I was so devastated when my doctors told me I’d need to take up to six months off to have my surgery and to recover. I didn’t realize until I couldn’t work just how much of my identity I had wrapped up into my career. I don’t know why I was surprised. I’ve worked HARD to get to where I am. I completed two degrees while raising kids, and while I was in grad school, I added working full-time on top of it all. I didn’t do all of that to stop working. Being a cancer patient didn’t play into my career path.
I have read horror stories about people who are diagnosed with cancer and lose everything. They lose their jobs and wind up homeless, on welfare, or worst of all, dead because they couldn’t afford treatment.
That has not been my experience.
My company went above and beyond for me. I knew I worked for a good company before I got sick, but I had no idea how well they’d take care of me when the rug was pulled out from underneath me.
Need six months of medical leave? Done. Need life-saving surgery that costs over $250,000? No problem. By the way, we already pay for a disability policy for you, so you’ll still receive a good portion of your salary while you’re out, at no cost to you.
My house looked like a florist at one point. I had bouquets and plants being delivered almost every day from multiple teams, vendors and even clients. Not that I didn’t appreciate it. I DID. I had so many people I have worked with over the years reach out to see how I was doing and to offer their help. It made me feel good to know how many people were thinking of me.
My coworkers even took care of my kids. Every year, the company hosts a Back to School Fair for the children of employees. The kids get to play games, win prizes, and have fun, and every child receives a free backpack full of school supplies to start off the school year on the right foot. Again, there’s no cost involved for employees. My kids love going every year, and I made an offhand comment to one of my friends at work about how my kids were going to miss going to the fair this year since I was still out on medical leave when it happened. So what did my old team do? They “adopted” my kids for the day and brought them to the fair.
Our senior leaders often talk about our caring culture and our commitment to our employees, but I truly saw it in action this year. Our extremely reasonably priced insurance with excellent benefits allowed me to get some of the best healthcare in the world, and I didn’t go bankrupt in the process. I didn’t have to worry about my job while I was out on leave. I didn’t have to worry about going back to work right after my surgery or while I was beginning treatment. My company said, “Don’t worry. Just get better.”
They didn’t do it for fame or glory, or for me to write a nice blog post about it.
They did it because it was the right thing to do.
Which is why it truly felt like a homecoming when I was finally released to go back to work last week. It has been a really emotionally and mentally challenging few months for me (understatement of the century). I was starting to wonder if I’d ever be anything but a Cancer Patient again. Going back to work has given me purpose again. It’s let me start thinking about other things besides watching mindless reality TV (I still love you, Real Housewives, and I’m not ashamed). The summer months kept me somewhat preoccupied because the girls were home with me, but when they went back to school at the end of August, I felt like, “What do I do now?!” Going back to work has allowed me to feel HUMAN again. NORMAL. Not sick.
I maybe teared up a little when I approached Las Vegas Boulevard for the first time. But I’ve otherwise kept it together. Probably because I’ve had everyone from senior management to our janitorial team hug me and say how happy they am to see me back at work. It’s easy to have your spirits buoyed when everyone is so genuinely excited to see you and you know they’re in your corner.
I would be remiss not to mention how supportive my husband’s employer has been as well. They also went above and beyond to support us through all of this, despite my husband just taking the job with them in January. Where would we be without our employers? I have no idea, and I don’t even want to entertain the thought.
Of course, I am eternally grateful for our family and friends who have been relentless in their support as well. But you guys kind of have to like me. Haha! Kidding! Your thoughtfulness and abundantly kind deeds have not gone unnoticed one bit.
To borrow a gambling phrase, when the chips are down, you learn really quickly who’s in your corner. I’m lucky to have some giants in mine.
Opinions shared here and throughout my blog are solely my own and are not the views of or endorsed by my employer.