A routine health check upended the life of Carmela Diamant, Nova's Corporate Payroll & Public Funding Reporting Manager. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is Carmela’s story of discovery, recovery, and personal growth.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have three children, 28-year-old twin boys and a 23-year-old daughter. I’m happily married and live in Holon. I have been a payroll manager and accountant for thirty years now. I started my career in an accounting firm, and one of my clients was a small company called Nova. A few years in, Nova decided to open an internal accounting and payroll department and offered me the job. That’s how I began my career at Nova, twenty-two years ago. During these years, I’ve been promoted several times, and have studied and expanded my knowledge and expertise.
What made you stay at Nova for so many years? What is Nova’s secret?
The people. Period.
Twenty-two years is a long time; so much has happened and changed in my personal and professional life. There have been ups and downs, but one thing that has never changed here at Nova is the good people that I get to work with. I simply enjoy working with my colleagues and managers. A surprising fact about my long tenure is that during this period I have only had three different managers. This is not typical of the tech industry, but at Nova we have many people that love working here and stay for long periods.
About two years ago you were diagnosed with breast cancer. That couldn’t have been easy.
That is correct. A few years ago, one of my teammates discovered she had melanoma, but it was too late for her and she passed away at the age of 38. I remember how much Nova supported her and her family, even after her passing.
This hurt me very much and as a result, I started having regular checkups and mammograms and everything was fine. At the age of 50, I decided to partake in a general checkup program, a benefit Nova offers for employees over the age of 50.
The day after the checkup, I was told they found something suspicious in the mammogram and that I should go in for an ultrasound check, after which I was ordered to have a biopsy.
This was just before a holiday and I had to wait a few days until I could have the test.
I admit these were very difficult and nerve-wracking days.
I didn’t know what to expect and what it meant to have cancer, so I read a lot of information on the internet which only made things scarier.
A few days after the biopsy I was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. I was also told that luckily, the tumor I had was of a less aggressive type and that chances of recovery were in my favor.
The treatment included surgery and radiation treatments. The doctor who treated me was so compassionate, and she was almost always available to answer my questions and relieve my fears.
This helped me deal with the situation.
This early discovery saved me. By sending me for early testing, Nova literally saved my life.
How was your recovery period?
Most of the time I was on sick leave. I returned to work gradually because I was very weak and tired most of the time. Nova’s wellbeing team and my friends and colleagues kept in touch all the time. I received baskets of gifts and goodies delivered to my home and Sharon, Nova’s CHRO kept calling me to make sure that all my needs were met.
What changes happened in your life during the healing process?
Despite my family’s support, I felt very lonely at that time. That led me to the discovery of the power of support groups for women going through the same thing. There were times when new friends, whom I had only just met, accompanied me to the treatments in the hospital and supported me. I discovered a new world of friendships, communities such as “GamAni Machlima” (lit. I am Also Recovering). It touched me deeply to discover how many good people had entered my world.
What did you discover about yourself during the recovery period?
Here’s something that surprised me: I became an athlete. I saw a post on Facebook inviting women who are recovering from breast cancer to join a running group. I don’t know why I went, but I did, and the rest is history.
I never liked running or jogging and it’s really something that isn’t easy for me, but I joined the group and now I run five to six kilometers and I’m happy and proud of it. I even became the captain of my town’s running group.
To my delight, more running groups have opened all over the country, thanks to one determined coach, other couches country-wide joined and chose to volunteer their time and many women who survived cancer joined this healthy community.
It has been proven in research, that exercise reduces the chances of cancer returning.
I also joined a rowing team, and I attend folk dancing with my husband twice a week.
It sounds as though this experience changed your life
Yes, this is correct, my recovery changed my life. Now that I’ve recovered, I’m the one who supports my new friends. A few days ago a friend of mine underwent another surgery. I organized a group of women, and together we sent her a fruit basket to sweeten her recovery.
What has changed in your worldview?
My outlook on life has changed. In the past, I was focused only on work and family and today I have learned to invest in myself and take some space for my interests and needs.
I encourage women to get tested by telling my story, and I am very happy when I hear of women that started getting regular checkups.
I also take a prominent role in connecting Nova to my running team, and their endeavors to raise awareness of the importance of the early discovery of breast cancer. Every year Nova employees join a run to raise awareness, and even Nova’s CEO runs as part of the project— that makes me very happy.
It especially moves me that Nova holds on-campus checkups for women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I too signed up for this test. It just shows how much Nova really cares about its employees.
Today I feel that I have great partners and friends, and I know now that I am not alone.