My Story

Iroh – Avatar The last Airbender

by Raechanah Syafei

It was in 2010 when I was diagnosed with cancer and for two years I underwent medical treatment.

In the middle of 2012 I had total hysterectomy.

I was devastated both physically and mentally throughout this time. For two years I struggled to keep my high performance level up at work and at the same time fighting against my cancer. I am a right-handed person and since I could not use my right hand anymore I learnt to write with my left hand.

After the surgery, I felt reborn and physically had a new shape as I lost 20 kg. I had new energy and passion for life. Just within four months I was back to my normal activities.

It was in November 2012, when I was in the office and suddenly my direct manager showed up in my office and handed me the redundancy letter due to organizational restructuring. He gave me just two weeks to sign off the letter.

It felt like I was hit by a truck; I called mom, I went home and shortly after, I found myself in the hospital again. I was under medical observation as my body was paralyzed and my speech function non-operational. It was clear that I was not going to be able to walk anymore. I came out of the hospital in a wheelchair and in the meantime the company continued with their redundancy plans. I had to drop out of my doctorate program and I was unemployed.

I was lost. How to continue my life?

I was born into a decent family, two brothers, two sisters. My father was a lecturer and my mom a housewife. We faced many challenges in life; sometimes we ate rice with only one piece of fried tofu. In order to survive we sometimes only had bulgur and rice rinse water as our milk.

I was a very active and energetic young girl, not too smart but I had huge curiosity for many things. In 7th grade I rode a motorcycle in the school corridor, I skipped classes for basketball competitions and managed to get myself suspended from Maths classes for six months. However, in the following three years I was either 1st or 2nd in my class and hence managed to enter one of the most prestigious high school in town.

As a teenager I choose hockey. Hockey made it possible for me to attend the state university with a scholarship. I managed to get a part time job and finally graduated with a degree in International Law, specializing in the area of Air and Space Law. In the past 20 years I became a professional and built my career in global companies such as Procter & Gamble, Philip Morris and General Electric. I lead both locally and regionally the human resources functions covering up to 11 countries from south Asia to Australia & New Zealand.

During my professional life I have experienced everything from joy to sorrow, from success to failure.

Now, in the last three years I am an advisor to the Board of Commissioners in an Indonesian diversified company with over 25,000 employees; I am a lecturer in one of the international business schools, am a motivational speaker, am a marathon winner and I also discovered a new talent in writing poems. I am still continuing my medical treatment to slow down the auto-immunity disease and to avoid the cancer relapse.

Life is about creating yourself again and again.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

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