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  • Writer's pictureCynthia Chin-Lee

My retirement gift

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

After 39 years of working in banking and high tech as a publications manager and tech writer, I retired on Feb. 5, 2021.


My coworkers feted me on 4 separate Zoom retirement calls, one with my current group in software, one with my former group in hardware, one with my friends in the women’s leadership and LGBTQ+ employee group where I was global chair of allies, and the last one with folks from Japan, Taiwan, and China some of whom I had never met in person. My manager Cindy and a coworker Tracy sent me party favors, a huge chocolate cake, and another coworker Richard collected from friends to give me a generous gift certificate, too. My church First Presbyterian of Palo Alto and my neighbor Mimi both sent me congratulatory bouquets as well.

Chocolate cake that says enjoy your retirement
Enjoy your Retirement cake

For me, retirement would mean relaxing and reading, but also working on some pet projects like cleaning and organizing the house and researching a future article on the science of gender identity and sexual orientation.

My thoughtful daughter, Vanessa, even gave me an hour session with a retirement coach. Anya encouraged me to set up some structure to my new days and sent some links to measure my overall fitness. I tried one such survey and it said I had the biological age of a 37-year old! I guess that’s because I exercise 6 days a week, sleep well, keep in my target weight range, eat moderately healthy (no red meat) and never smoked or drank.

I also took a survey from the Blue Zones people. The term Blue Zones refers to communities where people live well into their 90s and 100s like Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; and Loma Linda, CA where an Adventist (mostly vegetarian community lives). Here’s the link if you want to give it a whirl:

The scary, but realistic assessment said that I would probably have a major health issue like cancer, heart disease, or stroke by the time I was 63 (in a year).

I laughed that off just as I would scoff at a fortune cookie or my horoscope. Without any worry, I planned my new retirement days something like this:

Monday: cleaning and organizing

Tuesday: writing

Wednesday: go to town day, shopping, errands

Thursday: writing

Friday: read and catch up with friends and family

I hoped this structure would keep me happy and organized as I didn’t want to become a bored retiree or lose track of the days. I didn’t want to be one of those people who say, “What day is today?”

Despite the restrictions of COVID-19, I kept up with my annual physical in February and got my annual mammogram in March. Though many women don’t have yearly mammograms, I’ve gone every year because I have a great aunt and an aunt, both on my mother’s side, who had breast cancer.

As you probably have figured out, the mammogram showed a suspicious shadow on my right breast so after a second mammogram and an ultrasound, the radiologist ordered a biopsy. The results took a few days, and the nurse navigator called me with the words no one wants to hear:

You have cancer.

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Jun 28, 2023

I've now read all of the past blogs of Cynthia Chin-Lee and her topics are relevant to what I personally experience with a type of cancer. I also have several family and friends who are currently in treatment for their types of cancer. It all makes me wonder why is cancer increasingly common? As I explore my own research, I am grateful that Cynthia is addressing this in such an open and honest and brave way. I'm learning so much from her blogs and I appreciate the information and the insight that she offers.

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