In January 2020, Kathia G. started a new role as a customer service solution sales manager at ServiceNow. Having spent eight years grinding at a French startup, she relished the opportunity to be at a larger company with set processes and systems in place.
A mother of a 4-year-old and 10-year-old, Kathia had plenty on her plate and was “loving every minute" of it, she says. “ServiceNow found me, and that was perfect timing.” She was living her best life.
Timing wasn’t on her side for long, though. Seven months into her tenure at ServiceNow, Kathia found a lump in her breast that her doctor had missed. It turned out to be cancer.
The prognosis didn’t look good—it was stage 4. “The doctor basically gave me the news as a death sentence,” Kathia recalls. She and her husband felt numb. “The first thing you think about is your children. You’re thinking you’re not going to see them grow old. You’re not going to see them get graduated or married,” she says.
Within three days, she left work to focus on treatment. Per the advice of one of her nurses, Kathia found a new doctor who gave her hope. “She told me that it wasn't the end of the world, that I was not dead yet, that there were some fantastic treatments coming out every year, that pharmaceutical companies were making great progress...she gave me hope that I still had a few years.”
As it turns out, the kind of breast cancer Kathia has doesn’t respond to chemotherapy. Instead, she must take oral medication daily for the rest of her life. So far, she’s responding to it very well.
A psychologist friend of Kathia’s familiarized her with the term “lost paradise” to help her cope with her circumstances. “They explain to you that the life you had before is gone. It will never exist again. You're going to be a different person.”
To come to grips with that different person, Kathia did things to give her a fresh perspective. She drove 3,000 kilometers to southern France with no itinerary. She followed wherever her body wanted to take her day to day, staying at different accommodations each night, walking along the beach, and sightseeing.
After 33 days, Kathia returned home to her family. She filled her time refurbishing her house, visiting friends, and baking cookies and cakes with her children. She became a “yes mom,” as she calls it. “They're going to be spoiled rotten for the rest of their life, but I don't care really,” she says about her children, smiling. She knows each day is not guaranteed and every moment must be lived to its fullest.
Through it all, Kathia took comfort in the amazing support of her ServiceNow colleagues. Since the day of her diagnosis, “ServiceNow has always been there,” she says. “[My colleagues] sent me chocolates. They sent me flowers. I had a message every day, even from people I didn't work with directly. I've never been forgotten.”
Eventually, Kathia craved a feeling of purpose again. “You’re thinking, ‘My God, what am I doing now?’” she recalls. “Your whole life for the past year has been around cancer. Every conversation has been around cancer. You are not a person anymore. You are a cancer patient. And this is very tiring.” That's when she felt ready to return to work.
Today, her co-workers treat her like any other colleague—so much so that sometimes she forgets she’s sick. “I’m not defined by cancer,” she says. “They don’t see me like that, and this is what is making it so good for me,” she adds.
“ServiceNow is helping me live my best life by being supportive, allowing me to go back to work and be tired if I'm tired, and stay at home if I need to be home,” Kathia says. “I don't have to explain. I feel very lucky.”
Kathia has a scan every four months to make sure the cancer is still dormant. “The fact that I react well to the treatment means that I’ve got a second lifeline,” she says. Kathia continues to savor every moment—traveling the world with her family, eating her favorite foods and, of course, drinking champagne.
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