More rumblings about job discrimination…..

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I am sorry to keep banging on about discrimination in the job market however, extensive global research which is easily available to read on the internet confirms I have been served a double whammy in the `least likely to be offered a job` stakes since a) I am a woman and b) I am nearly sixty three. Age discrimination in the workplace seems to set in big time once an individual has reached the age of forty so when you hit your sixties, the chances of obtaining an interview are really very slim.

I have been away from the workplace since February having treatment for cancer. Now I have been given the all clear (thank you God) I am raring to go back to work. It is very evident from the comments of some of my family and friends that they think I am bonkers but there you are, I have some valuable skills and a wealth of knowledge that I wish to use to support people who are less fortunate than I and I hope to continue working until the fat lady sings. Since my diagnosis, I have filled out eleven job applications, each one taking up lots of hours and two to three days of my time.

The law states that it is discriminatory to exclude someone from an interview on account of their age. Most applications have a monitoring form which prospective employers assure prospective employees, is detached from paperwork so that no-one is aware of your age. This is a daft way to go about the business of fairness however because most employers also ask for an extensive work resume going back through time to the individuals first job. In my case this spans nearly forty five years and many different roles so it doesn`t take a mathematical genius to work it out.

It is ironic that all of the jobs I have applied for are within the caring sector and all of them focus on people who are marginalised, disadvantaged or treated unfairly in some way. The Equality Act 2010 defines cancer as a disability and for this reason alone I should reasonably expect to be afforded a guaranteed interview. Current legislation does not address this point however, it is simply good practice.The Act further states that my prospective employers should not ask questions about my health. Instead what occurs is that application forms ask you to explain any breaks in your work profile. In my case it is nine months so what am I supposed to do? Lie? I have generally stated I was receiving treatment and I am now well because employment law states that I must not mislead my prospective employer. Talk about a Catch 22!

I did have an interview with one notable charity who rang me four days later to say the following;

“We were all so impressed with your interview, the service users really liked you too, you are eminently employable so……… we`ve given it to somebody else.”

Another charity offered me an interview the day that I received my diagnosis. I was in no fit state to attend so I cancelled. They were very kind and encouraged me to apply for any opportunities in the future. So I did, twice and received no further invites. It seemed such a waste of my time which is even more precious to me now than previously. Mostly though, I just don`t hear back from my applications.  The many millions of people all over the world who, like me are genuinely seeking fulfilling employment already understand how incredibly disheartening this can be. There are examples on the internet of people who have taken a case to court where they feel they have been discriminated against in the work application process, failing to achieve an interview. It is almost impossible to evidence this and it is not a path I want to tread.

My Employment Support Allowance finishes this week and now I am well, I must sign on for Job Seekers Allowance. I have to evidence that I am genuinely seeking employment because if I don`t, the allowance stops. I hope I can find work as a care worker or a support worker with the client group I love to work with, people with physical disabilities, mental health issues, learning disabilities or older adults. My point is that regardless of age, my gender and the fact that I have had cancer, I rather hoped that my accrued skills and experience would be recognised, valued and employed to their fullest extent. I also have a theory that because older people are far less likely to be offered interviews for work they can accomplish, we are forced to look for employment we know we are likely to have more success in obtaining i.e. work which pays far less money. You can call me cynical and I write this with massive respect for all of those people who are working incredibly hard for very little money.

On a lighter note to conclude; I am currently being spot purchased (which is a bit like a zero hours contract) to do some advocacy work, usually a few hours a week, via a wonderful advocacy charity who have been my employers in the past. Unlike the other charities I have recently applied to they remain incredibly supportive of me and my current circumstances, they are absolutely stunning in their policy to be positive about disadvantaged people. They evidence all the time, that they genuinely care and most importantly, they do not discriminate.

If you think I am bitter or deluding myself, I`m not. In the past I have generally walked into jobs, I have been head hunted on three occasions. I am saddened and disappointed.

So rock on. Rant over. I think I am going to open up a house of ill repute……..

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A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors — Voices from the Margins

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Carol A. Hand My heart is heavy with the news coming from Standing Rock, ND today. It’s led me to do something I rarely do. I’m posting a request for the help of all of those who follow this blog. For the sake of the health of our earth and future generations, I ask you […]

via A Request for Action to Support Standing Rock Water Protectors — Voices from the Margins

Chewing it over.

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The other day I was recalling the time when I worked as an advocate for parents with learning disabilities. I often accompanied families to court as almost all of them were heavily embroiled in child protection proceedings.  Over time I got to know many of the judges and some of them had a fearsome and quite deserved reputation.  Some of them were lovely characters and warm, one in particular liked the barristers and me to bring in home made cup cakes and sausage rolls to court and she would enjoy them in her private rooms.

One day I turned up and all the courts were full, they were spilling over actually so this particular hearing was held in some rooms at the back of the building. As is my habit, I was chewing on some Wrigleys that morning, you can sometimes sit about for hours waiting to be heard and my mouth gets so dry. I don`t know what made me think it was ok to keep my Wrigleys in my mouth when we were called in but that is what I did. I took a seat at the back of the court and looked at the judge. I had not met her before.  To put it politely, she was a very large lady and she had the most enormous bosom I have ever seen in my life. Her breasts were at least twice the size of her head and were swathed in her very capacious black silks.  As she moved about shuffling papers around, her enormous boobs hung and swung like big, soft pendulums, over the polished wood of her desk. So mesmerised was I by this fascinating site, when she asked me for my name I quite forgot where I was and answered her quite naturally with a smile.

It all happened so quickly, for a moment I was confused as to exactly what was unfolding. Raising her billowy arm and pointing at me with a great, long finger nail, her deep voice boomed out over the court room, “ARE YOU CHEWING GUM?”

I immediately turned into a quivering five year old and meekly replied in a tiny voice which is most unlike me, “Yes m`am.”

“WELL GET OUT OF MY COURT AND DON`T COME BACK UNTIL YOU HAVE DISPOSED OF IT!” She yelled at me.

Red faced I got up to make my way to the door when suddenly, all hell was let loose.  The court alarm started to ring out in an even more deafening fashion than the judge`s voice.  It all became a bit shambolic, barristers ran hither and thither, security people with worried expressions appeared as if from nowhere and other people in the room did not know what to do.  When it had quietened down and everyone was settled again and I had disposed of the offending gum, I was told that in raising her arm to oust me, one of the judge`s enormous mammaries had hit the court alarm button, situated on the top of her desk.

I don`t think I have laughed so much in ages. Discreetly. With no chewing gum!

 

 

 

 

Beating the Banana.

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I decided to put all my breast cancer blogs together in one book-ette. It will be available on Kindle in the next week or so. Isn`t the cover fantastic!  Thanks to my editor/publisher, Andrew Sparke for his encouragement and support.

 

A Tale of Two Titties.

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Apparently my boobalinkas have become the subject of speculation at my local hostelry.
A couple of weeks ago a neighbour at the top of our road, passed away and as is the custom in these parts, his missis had put some money behind the bar so that his buddies could toast his heavenly departure.
I didn`t go because I don`t really like pubs and I didn`t know my neighbour, however lots of others did, including two ladies who also know me. (I use the term ladies, loosely, apparently they were absolutely lagging which is an English euphemism for pissed as farts.)  For the sake of modesty let them remain anonymous.
A third neighbour was also present at the merry goodbye and took great delight in repeating the following conversation to me…….
Neighbour 1:  I see Hel has some new boobs.
Neighbour 2:  Yes but they`re not her own, I reckon she`s got summat shoved down her bra.
Neighbour 1: They look too good to be real, I agree.
Neighbour 3:  I can assure you they are real!
Neighbours 1 & 2 jointly:   Nooooooo!
Neighbour 3:  They most definitely are all her own, the doc` gave her an uplift and I know because I`ve seen them!  She has the titties of a thirty year old and her skin is beautiful.
Like me, this lovely lady has recently recovered from breast cancer and so we have swapped many a treatment tale.  She had a lumpectomy and recently she asked if she could see my new boobs. I obliged as to be honest, so many people have seen them over the past year I no longer care who gets a gander…..
She said that neighbours` 1 and 2`s faces were an absolute picture.
Wish I`d been there with my camera.

Taking Joyce to a wedding…..

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There was a family wedding recently and as my ex-husband was away that day I was tasked with taking my ex- mother-in-law Joyce, to the event.  Some of you will be familiar with Joyce from previous blogs.
I arrived at her house two hours early so that she would have plenty of time to get ready, she is after all nearly ninety.  It was lunch time so I asked if she would like something to eat since I knew that our sit down meal would not be until 5pm. Joyce refused a snack even though I said several times that she would be hungry and instead she sat and munched a few crisps with a rather miserable expression on her face.  She also complained that her back ached and wouldn`t take any pain killers. Hey ho.
I suggested that we take her wheelchair to the wedding since she is quite unsteady now and when she is walking and if you allow her to, she clasps your wrist with a vice like grip to balance herself.  This really hurts and threatens to topple you over.  She refused the wheelchair and agreed to take her walking stick.  Just as I was ready to leave, she said that she needed the loo and disappeared upstairs for ages and I thought, “we`re going to be late…..”
I was wearing a white jacket and a rather pleasing grey, blue and white jump suit so I looked very nice. Joyce handed me her stick, which incidentally she did not use at all the entire afternoon and grasped my wrist as I tried to lock her front door, which is a bit like locking up Fort Knox.  I happened to glance down at my jacket which is just as well because there was something brown and unpleasant looking smeared on the lapel.  It could only be one of two things, the second being bird pooh so I put Joyce in my car and sighing, I went back inside the house to rinse the lapel through. I knew we were almost certainly going to be late but I didn`t have an alternative.
My jacket dripping wet, I got into my car, Joyce said, “I`ve changed my mind, I want my wheelchair.”  I told her it was hard luck then since we didn`t have the time to lug it into the back of the car and off I drove, so she pulled a face.
Fortunately, when we arrived at the venue everyone was gathered at the bar prior to the main event.  Joyce said that she was hungry, no surprise there but we had to go and take our seats.
The wedding was very sweet and tender and the groom was quite emotional and the bride looked absolutely lovely, so did her maid of honour.  All the men were dressed in tail coats and co-ordinated colours and looked very handsome.  Afterwards we went outside for the photographs.
We had only been outside about two minutes when Joyce told me that she was cold and wanted to go back inside.  We trundled back to sit in the bar and she again said that she was hungry. Someone went to ask the barman if it would be possible to make her a sandwich, which he duly did.  Joyce took one bite and instantly said, “I don`t like this whatever it is (it was beef) it`s horrible, ask him for something else.”  I went back to the barman, who was definitely not a local and apologising for her rude manners I asked him if he would very much mind doing her something else.  I said that if he had any Paraquat in the kitchen, he was most welcome to use it as a sauce.
As I walked back to Joyce I heard the barman calling out to me in a thick, south American accent and a voice that was audible all over the venue,  “Paraquat?  Paraquat?  What is this Paraquat?”  By this time I had rushed back to him and stroking his arm I shushed him saying, “It`s just a joke, just my little joke, take no notice…..”

Yes – we have no banana!

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I had some wonderful news yesterday. I went to see my surgeon Mr. Basu for a check up.  I am totally in love with him anyway and even more so now because he told me that following my breast cancer surgery, all my biopsies are clear. There`s nothing in my breast tissue, no live cancer cells in the bits of banana still remaining after chemo, and nothing in my lymph nodes.
To say I am grateful is putting it very mildly. I am grateful beyond words.
So this is my last blog on my breast banana, as I have referred to it.  I have to have a small amount of radiotherapy Mr. B says, to err on the side of caution but that is NOTHING compared to chemotherapy.  I will be fine.
Thanks to the many, many people who have supported me on my journey, who have made me laugh, held me when I cried (Tony) bought me flowers and treats far too many to mention here. People who have prayed with me and for me in their prayer circles, the friends of mine who are atheist or pagan, or agnostic or of completely different faiths, thank you for your good wishes, positive vibes and many, many messages of support.
It carried me through and I will never forget it or any of you.
With all my love.
Perky Pitt.  🙂

Keep breathing as long as you can!

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If you have been following my posts then I hope you will be pleased to hear that last Thursday I went to have surgery for the removal of any remaining breast banana and a reduction in both breasts for the purpose of symmetry. I was very excited. The first procedure I went through was actually the day before, when I had an injection of isotope which preceded my scan. It didn`t hurt at all, it didn`t even sting, the nurse just made me radioactive. The next day I arrived at the hospital with my lovely daughter by my side, bright and breezy, ready for the operation.

The next part of the proceedings is called a wire insertion. A very thin piece of wire, a bit like fuse wire, was placed inside my breast under a local anaesthetic with the purpose of assisting the surgeon. It guides he or she in what shape they need to be making with their scalpel when they are taking bits of you away. Ultimately it leads them to the tiny, titanium implant which is at the heart of the banana and which I had inserted way back in February. It`s all about getting the incision right. The procedure was again carried out under a local anaesthetic and although it was mildly uncomfortable, it wasn`t anything to write home about. I was then taken to the operating theatre where one of my close friends works with the anaesthetist team. This made it a very jolly experience with lots of crass jokes, micky taking and general hilarity while they fiddled about with tubes and cannulas.

The last thing I remember before dropping off was one of the doctors telling me to think of my holidays and asking me where I was going and I said, “The Maldives,” which I am not and then I was out like a light.

When I woke up in the recovery room, I was being observed by a very lovely nurse from the Filippines. She asked me if I believed in God and clearly wanted to talk about her faith which I guess you know, is generally forbidden in a hospital context but as I am a firm believer, we talked for a while and then I said to her to stop now, because if a colleague hears, you will be in trouble. I`ve had this experience of nurses wanting to talk about God a couple of times while I have been having chemo, they were both nurses from abroad so perhaps it is more acceptable in other parts of the world. One of them was so nervous she even crossed herself and prayed before administering the dreaded stuff to me which was a little disconcerting at the time.  When the Filipino nurse left me she said, “I love you,” and I replied, “I love you too!”

I wasn`t to know that while I was under the anaesthetic there had been an event and as a result, I had been in theatre for 5 hours, it should have been about 2. I have absolutely no recollection of anything at all untoward happening but apparently I had an anaphylactic reaction to some blue dye that is used in breast surgery. Very quickly after injecting me with the dye, the team noticed I was having difficulty breathing and my blood pressure plummeted. AIthough I didn`t go into cardiac arrest, my breathing was stopping and had they not swiftly pumped some adrenalin into me I certainly would have. My poor daughter went straight into panic mode as doctors rushed hither and thither past where she was waiting, trying to stabilise my blood pressure.

Afterwards I was taken to a ward to sleep off all the excitement. I remember my daughter leaving me some sandwiches and a drink and a friend telling me not to try the sandwiches too soon, she was right!  My lips were claggy and I couldn`t chew or swallow properly as my mouth was so dehydrated. I fell asleep. At 3am I woke up and ate the sandwiches, they were delicious and then I decided to go and take a look at my greatly reduced in size, new boobs. I was wowed, I still am. I haven`t looked this good since I was a young woman. The internal stitches melt after 10 days. The external skin is superglued so there will be minimum scarring, not that I care….. if the banana has vacated the premises then I haven`t got a care in the world.

At about 8am the surgeon came to see how I was doing. He said he had left no margin in the affected breast and had removed about 180 grams of tissue, hoping that he will have removed any remaining banana. About 120 was removed from the other side and they are now of more or less equal size, I am so pleased. My daughter who is an ace chef immediately said, “mother that`s about 6 and a bit tablespoons from one side and four and a bit from the other,” so I feel like someone has had their pound of flesh.

Now my nipples no longer gaze at the floor and my boobs are about half the size they were, I have become affectionately known as Perky. The operation has made it very obvious that I have a belly which needs some serious downsizing, meanwhile, I am going to keep on strolling. I am in minimum discomfort, there is some bruising but the swelling is already going down and psychologically I feel wonderful, so if you woke up breathing this morning then congratulations, you have another chance!