The diagnosis came as a surprise, naturally. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. I count myself lucky that, at 47, I don’t have much family history with cancer. On the downside though, I also didn’t have examples to follow regarding how those close to me sought treatment and worked toward recovery. So, I quickly made a shortlist of academic medical centers I’d consider, and the first one I checked out online promised next day appointments. Sold. I was assigned a brilliant hematology oncologist and away we went. Three whirlwind weeks of procedures, tests and labs later, I received my first of six chemotherapy treatments. An amazing team of family, friends and coworkers rallied around my family and me with an outpouring of support which allowed me to focus exclusively on regaining my health.

After the month of exhaustive tests and beginning treatment (March 2017), I began to feel much more like myself and Array fully supported my request to work remotely as my energy level allowed. The marketing department absorbed all the work during my abrupt departure, so I found it challenging to reinsert myself into deadlines, etc. I needed to figure out how to be the best possible resource for the team, while still allowing myself the reality of checking out for several days at a time, every three weeks during treatment regimens.

Fortunately, I had the opportunity to attend Array’s in-house Lean Practitioner Training in November 2016. At the conclusion of the three-day training, a Lean project is assigned. Due within nine months of course completion, the project can focus on a professional or personal dilemma where a Plan-Do-Study-Adjust (PDSA) methodology is applied. The below A3 summarizes how Lean helped me balance cancer treatment and recovery while maintaining a presence with my colleagues – which was an important component to my personal recovery tactics.

I returned full-time to the office in August 2017 and have found that I can continually review my PDSA cycle to maintain effectiveness. While I am wrapped up in a deadline, taking a step back and reviewing the rest of my to-do list allows me to refocus, if even for an hour a day or an afternoon a week on an initiative that needs to be advanced. This break from the deadline is two-fold, I practice Lean thinking to level-load my work as well as maintain capacity and connection across all assignments.

Click the image below to read my full PDSA A3.

Lean Project Description A3