A Personal Perspective

I planned, during July this year to repaint a large Bay Shaped window on my home in prep for the winter. Having set up the ladders and gantry I spent a couple of days sanding and filling ahead of the painting phase. When I began to apply the paint I kept finding myself getting really dizzy and had difficulty in focusing my vision, despite the stable platform to work from. I also felt unsafe…

These balance and related issues led me to the doctors and within 4 to 6 weeks the discovery of a ‘Vestibular Schwannoma’, also known as an Acoustic Neuroma. This is a brain tumor that affects the vestibular system in particular, causing hearing, balance, taste, and general proprioception skill deficits. If you want a great personal description see the below link from Adrienne Brodeur writing a blog about her experience, published in The New York Times; http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/17/literal-balance-life-balance/?_r=0

Once getting over the initial shock of a ‘brain tumor’ diagnosis, I was happy to quickly discover that my prognosis was good. These tumors are rarely malignant and often simply left to be, as growth is slow. Mine however was not small and I was experiencing challenging symptoms that progressed rapidly so intervention was going to be required and a treatment plan was progressed quickly. Friends and family were brilliant and rallied round to provide practical, emotional and spiritual support to our family in whatever ways we felt we needed.

Being reassured that my mortality was not at risk with this diagnosis, my anxiety transferred to logistical concerns about being able to function in my work. Airline travel, driving, public and commercial presenting are a key part of my role and my vestibular issues were making this almost impossible. I did not feel competent to be behind the wheel for any distance travel except for the most local of driving. Additionally I carry a number of regular and fixed responsibility areas that require me to review, manage and report weekly on a variety of metrics and data systems that we operate in the business.

In the Mandt System I quickly found that I had another stable and balanced platform to work from which was provided by the company and my colleagues, custom built to my needs, and adaptable as required. This has made what could otherwise have been an extremely stressing time, into something that is simply a manageable burden with the load shared between my friends, colleagues and family. We teach in the Mandt program that in the relationships we have with others we want to convey a sense to the individual that…… ‘In this place, and with these people, I feel safe’™.

I have and continue to experience this reality in the most concrete way over the last 2 to 3 months of my life, and believe me I know how fortunate and blessed I am in this. The four walls of my house have been supported to the exact and unique individual needs of me, Simon.

When we instruct trainers in The Mandt System, we often discuss the fact that you can ‘only give from what you have’ and how we cannot expect staff to treat individuals receiving services with ‘dignity and respect’ if they are not themselves receiving it from their own supervisors, managers or company. I learned the real value of this from my current experience and it has had a profoundly positive effect on how I feel about my colleagues and the company I work for. Sadly I am not sure this is the most common experience for employees. For me the philosophy of what we teach made real, will be a go forward part of my Mandt story.

I just had my ‘major’ treatment event last week which was something called a “Gamma Knife” procedure. And while my symptoms may initially increase, I have the great lift on being on the recovery plane and know that my tumor is dying now and things will progressively improve over coming weeks and months.

Being able to say ‘In this place, and with these people, I feel safe’™ has been proven, for me, to be a reality not just a tagline. Mandt Services adopters and certified instructors all have their own experiences and version of this truth as it exists for them. Thank you for letting me share mine.

Simon Kemp – SVP Business Development