My name is Punita Khanna and I am Director of Community Relations for Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research. In this capacity, I build relationships that “Inform, Inspire, Involve” individuals on behalf of the Foundation. This personal touch results in increased donations, sponsorships, event attendance, potential board members, all focused on the goal of eradicating breast cancer.
I came to this position from a background in healthcare management, consulting and operations. After my breast cancer diagnosis, I obtained a Fundraising Certificate and shifted my professional responsibilities to support research. As a survivor, these deeper discussions with our supporters have brought more meaning to my life. It’s a privilege to work alongside Dr. Love and our team as we advance breast cancer research.
And this is her typical work day while quarantined:
Before 8:00 a.m. Do you immediately grab your phone when you wake up? Are you taking the dog out? Breakfast with the family? Do you get dressed right away?
Alexa wakes me up daily at 6:45am. I freshen up and quickly head out to our balcony, pull out the comforters, and settle myself in a chair and dial-in to my TM group. Meditating is a beautiful way to start my day. After the meditation, I spend a few minutes mentally outlining my day.
I quickly check emails and respond immediately to anything urgent. I then do some form of exercise: yoga, weights or a quick walk in the neighborhood. I find that some movement early in the morning sets me on a good pace for the day. I consider this my former “commute” time to the office.
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m Are you on the computer now or getting the kids set up with their school work? Dressed yet? Zoom meetings with colleagues?
My alone time on the balcony gives my husband his space to get ready. My teenage son is also up around this time. We are on our own breakfast and lunch schedules but on the calendar in the kitchen, I write suggestions for a variety of meal choices.
My major regret about working at home is that the dress code is casual. If I have Zoom meetings, I dress for work with makeup, lipstick and jewelry. I enjoy hearing the occasional, “Wow, you look nice” or “that’s a pretty dress” from my husband and son.
By now, the three of us are in our do-not-disturb mode, safely ensconced in our respective corners. Necessary communication is by text to respect each other’s work commitments.
10:00 a.m – 12:00 p.m. Are you still on schedule for the day? What systems are you using to stay organized? Is someone else in your house also working from home? How are you getting along? Dressed yet?
There are a dozen people working at the Foundation and we have staff or one-on-one meetings several times a week. My day varies between Zoom meetings, phone calls, working on projects, replying to emails, composing letters, participating in webinars, maintaining our database, etc.
Due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, we recently converted our annual in-person fundraising walk to our first Virtual Walk With Love. The event was very successful but required a completely new strategic plan which our team created in real-time through ongoing coordination between all of the departments.
What time is it even? Are you hungry or just bored? Why is 6th grade math so different now? Did your significant other really just say “let’s circle back” on that call? Are you dressed yet?
The three of us are pretty organized and stay on task. My son usually has 10-20 minute breaks between his classes so if possible, I’ll take a quick break at that time. I liken this to a water-cooler break at the office (I had to explain to him what that meant!).
Sometimes, we’ll prepare lunch together and now that the weather is warmer, we sit outside on the patio. One of the benefits of the pandemic is the amount of time we get to spend with each other, which I really enjoy. Thankfully, he is at an age where I don’t have to teach or entertain him.
Nap Time. What else is there to do? If you got dressed, do you get undressed for your nap?
My days are pretty busy. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, my Community Relations activities pivoted to adapt to the current environment. Our organization transitioned seamlessly to working remotely.
With everyone at home, my phone calls are routinely picked up and people have more time to talk. This has enabled me to share news about all the great work the Foundation is doing. In turn, supporters share how they were introduced to Dr. Love. Many first became aware of her after their own breast cancer diagnosis, when seeking out information they discovered her book. When others they knew were diagnosed, they tell them, this is the book, this is person, Dr. Susan Love, you need to read.
Now, it’s really time to work. Did you finish everything you needed to do?
I have about six places throughout the home where I sit depending on my work needs: suitable background for Zoom meetings, private space for talking on the phone, outside on the patio for replying to emails, reading, working on laptop. This movement is similar to meeting in other offices and conference rooms throughout the day.
I like the change of scenery and find that sitting in a variety of places gives me a different perspective of our home. My husband envisions some redecorating once normal life resumes.
Wine O’Clock. White or red? Guess you don’t have to get dressed…
I am grateful for the pause. The last few years have been nonstop after my cancer treatment and transitioning to working at the Foundation. My days are packed but rewarding.
My transition to evening activities may include a walk with friends in the neighborhood or catch up on the day’s news as I’m preparing dinner. After dinner, we read Shakespeare aloud or play a game: Monopoly, Scrabble, chess or cards. With the extra time, we enjoy this wonderful family pastime with our son.
And finally, I end my day, just like I started it: practicing self-care. Right before bed, I do a series of stretch exercises while watching reruns of The Carol Burnett Show. I’m surprised that I remember some segments of the show and the stars of yesteryear. It’s entertaining and I go to bed in a happy mood.
Thanks for sharing, Punita!
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