Kristin Thomas is a mother of four who went back to work in 2013 after being a SAHM with her young boys. She now works a part-time job with a flexible schedule. Read about how Kristin went from SAHM to WAHM in part one of her story, How One Mom Fits a Flexible Job into Her Busy Life.

Several months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It felt like I had just figured out how to juggle oranges—going back to work part-time, managing a community arts project in my town, and raising four boys—and someone threw a watermelon into the mix. My initial thought was, I don’t have time for this. I was angry and in denial, but refused to be a Debbie Downer. That attitude, and the support of family, friends, and co-workers, helped get me through a double mastectomy.

I turned 40 this year and celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. With four kids and an awesome husband, I’ve got too many fun years ahead to let this cancer thing get me down. I am fortunate that no chemo or radiation will be needed. Still, with several doctor’s appointments per week, my juggling act became a full-blown circus act.

With my final surgery at the beginning of March, this breast cancer business will have been a surreal six-month blip in my life. I am lucky to have caught it early.  But this experience also serves as a reality check. As we age, and our parents age, and our kids age, this is surely not the last challenge with health we will face as a family.

When I initially returned to a WAHM role in 2013, I wanted a flexible job, but I didn’t necessarily need one. I am smart, educated—and fun to work with!—and I recognized that the opportunity for me to earn a paycheck as well as volunteer and look after my family would not be possible without work flexibility.

But due to my cancer diagnosis, flexibility in my job went from a strong desire to a must have.  Like many others, I need to manage my health along with my career and my family.

For me, the importance of my role at FlexJobs also became more real after my diagnosis. Just as my own “want” became my “need” when I discovered I had cancer, I know that millions of people absolutely need flexibility to work. And my passion for the work that I do does not just represent my own two feet in the morning, or the twelve feet of my family, but those millions of people who want and need to live a better life. Join me in supporting 1 Million for Work Flexibility.

photo credit: Kristin Thomas

Readers, have you or has someone you know faced the daunting task of battling a diagnosis while working? What are your best tips for this juggling act?