Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Dan R. on July 19, 2013
I was Diagnosed with:
Invasive Squamous Cell Carcinoma stage 4 on the right tonsil, 2 spots in my nasel cavity behind the nose.
Date of Diagnosis:
November 29, 2012
Employment Status:
4 months to contract end date, then unemployed.
Type and Description of Treatments:
8 weeks of targeted radiation therapy. Weekly chemotherapy for the duration. Cisplatin chemotherapy switched to Carboplatin after 4th treatment because of side effect issues continued remaining 4 treatments with Carboplatin. Tumor size and tissue damage prevented surgery.
How do you feel today?

Tired. I lost 53 pounds during treatment and subsequent throat infections. Lying down in bed or in the recliner is still painful, so I'm not sleeping well. I try to rest a few times during the day. Overall I' think I'm Ok, I'm just trying to figure out what my new normal is. I'm not accepting everything yet. I'm going to get better, it's just painfully slow.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I'm frustrated more easily and I get angry. That's generally when I go take a nap. I've worked hard all my life and it "hurts" that I can't now.

What is going well for you right now?

My wife and children have been my anchor and saving grace through this whole thing. I'm pushing so that I can be there for them. It's summer now and I don't have as many bills to pay so the stress has eased up for now.

What is not going well for you right now?

Dealing with insurance people is hard because I feel I'm being judged and I don't think they believe what I'm saying.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Getting through treatment. I have claustrophobia and wearing the mask during treatment and having to be clamped to the table for radiation was horrible. The first hour after getting out of bed. That was vomit time and it took a couple times of that happening before I realized I needed to wait until after that to take my meds. The ride to and from the Cancer Center.

When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?

I have tried to handle things myself. I can't help but feel like I would be burdensome to someone. I realize how hard this has been on the family and I won't add to that.

How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?

I'm still evaluating that one.

What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?

I don't have any. My contract has ended, and I have put other job offers on hold.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?

I have tried driving and I'm still a little iffy. I try not to go very far. My stamina wouldn't let me do much for long.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I get on the computer a lot just to prevent boredom. I look forward to getting out of the house and doing something productive again.

What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?

Patience. You've probably heard it already, but healing is a slow process.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Day by day. My salivary glands are shot so I have a water bottle constantly, my sinuses have been radiated too, so I carry a pocket full of tissues. Swallowing is still an ongoing challenge so my diet is soft foods with lots of gravy.

If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?

Get ready to suck it up and try not be to much of a pain in the ass.