“My coworkers stepped up to take care of me so I could take care of my mother and still provide for my family. Too many people have to make these incredibly difficult decisions, the curse of the sandwich generation. And honestly, those last 3-4 weeks, I was not really at work. I couldn’t focus and I made mistakes. Thankfully I had people to review my work and an amazing boss who understood, but what if I hadn’t.”
Nichole’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts in 2010. While it was a devastating blow, they were determined to fight the cancer and win. And for a few years, they did – but her health took a sharp decline in late 2015. As her only daughter, Nichole wanted to be there to help her step father with her care. He was overwhelmed and facing some health challenges of his own. But Nichole was unable to take paid time away from work. With two children of her own to support, she and her husband could not afford for her to take unpaid leave.
In January 2016, Nichole’s mother ended up hospitalized. In all the distress and confusion, she had mistakenly been taking her twice daily pill once a day and her once daily pill twice a day. Nichole is certain that if she’d been there, the mix-up would not have happened. She talked to her boss about dropping to part time for a while. A week before her mother died, she learned that some of her colleagues had worked with HR on a leave share arrangement, to donate their leave once her leave ran out. Three days later, her mother died.