I understand that my posts can be hard to read. They seem like one bummer after the other, and yeah that's an accurate description of my life for the last six months. But.. I'm pretty immune to my own suffering by now. It doesn't hit me at an emotional level anymore, and my mind is usually elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, I'm still home mostly and the surgical drain is annoyingly intact (this is abnormal but not dangerous, also carefully not pictured), but I have a lot of other things going on and I'll finally share those here. Bit of a pick me up from the last post.
As you can see from the photo, I decided to buzz my remaining hair. It's been slowly shedding for months but over the summer it wasn't noticeable or bothersome. It wasn't until around the surgery that the top started to drastically go and require covering at all times in public, perhaps stress related too. I didn't really expect this - my hair loss at the time of chemo ending wasn't bad, it just didn't stop. About a week ago the bald patches turned to fuzz patches and all started to grow in a bit. I decided to just pull the trigger and buzz it now. My eyebrows and lashes significantly thinned (make up helps), but not so much that I have that bald cancer look. What I'm trying to say here is that it took a while to get to this stage, but now that I'm here I LOVE IT. I can handle this haircut for the foreseeable future as the hair will at first grow back damaged so I might as well keep buzzing it for a while. It's strange how much 1/4" inch of hair matters. I couldn't emotionally handle being bald and to prevent it I literally froze my scalp during each chemo infusion. I endured ice crystals forming in my hair for over three hours so I wouldn't have to be bald. But a buzz cut? Sign me up. I might never go back, it's a zero maintenance cut. And I finally look as strong as I feel.
In the week following my mastectomy, two other major milestones were reached. The first being the company I co-founded with Yiru was formally filed and we officially have an LLC. It's a high-end matchmaking service focused on non-traditional relationships here in NYC. We aren't operating yet since I'm on disability for a reason, it's not quite time, but the planning phase is so enjoyable. I will be returning first to my regular corporate job, but I can do both as it's up to me and Yiru on our pace here. Besides co-founder, my role is CTO, so I'm working on designing our technical infrastructure. It's simple hardware-wise since we only have two of us, but privacy and data security are of the utmost importance. I bought our domain name and will run a private email/file server to control our communication and take it out of the hands of big tech companies. I'm setting up encryption and methods to de-identify data while keeping unique records. Giving me a corporate card to buy laptops and enterprise level software suites is like sending a kid to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. I've enjoyed every step of the way. Yiru, a skilled forensic accountant, gets the same excitement out of planning our tax strategy. We are a perfect team and her friendship has been life-changing for me.
Secondly, I was accepted into the Harvard Business Analytics Program, a 12 month post-MBA executive certification. It's a hybrid of online and a few on-campus immersion weekends at HBS. The online portion is live-taught by a mix of Harvard faculty from the business, engineering, and regular arts colleges. The Harvard learning model has a huge focus on class participation and "cold-calling" on students, so the live webcam method allows this to continue, which is what makes it categorically different than all the other online programs they have. It's not part of the extension school or HBS Online, this program is its own thing altogether. It also comes with the degree price-tag and most alumni benefits, along with a WeWork global access membership (please stay in business so I can use all these offices!). It was competitive to get into but nothing like their regular Harvard University degree programs. They accept about 60 people every 4 months, and I worked so hard on the application. I wrote probably 30k-40k words total before landing on the 500 word essay I sent them. Some of which I wrote in the chemo chair during those two treatments when I went alone in August. I then agonized over whom to ask for letters of recommendation (Paul and Tongia, thank you, I owe you one), and obsessed over every bit of formatting on my resume. This certification fits my career path flawlessly, even if I do head towards my side business and out of the healthcare analytics world in the long run. The courses are a combination of leadership, business strategy, and quantitative analysis. It will touch upon blockchain and machine learning, both of which I have some experience with but am no expert. I think it will be a perfect polish on top of my formal education (econ undergrad and MBA) and I've always wanted to experience the excellence of an institution like Harvard. It's so difficult to get in for a regular degree I never considered it. I did look at a lot of other similar certification programs, Columbia has one too, but none are as robust or impressive as this. It's the only one I applied to, and even the enrollment counselor was in my corner from the beginning. I'm not going to start the program until April 2020, which will give me time to heal and be back at work for a while. I also can take it slowly and start with only 1 class, and medical deferment is available whenever I need. Just like my partnership with Yiru, it's perfect for this stage of my life. I've had so much time on my hands sitting at home thinking about what the next path should be, what I want my life to look like. As I said in my last post, there is no going back to before. I don't want what’s next to remind me of cancer, so I made other plans.
Also I really hope people get the meme reference in the title otherwise I sound really full of myself.