Wendi S. on October 23, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage 2b, HER 2 pos, ER/PR pos breast cancer
Type and Description of Treatments:
I had a bilateral mastectomy with 9 negative lymph nodes removed in September of 2008 and began chemotherapy in October of 2008 (weekly doses of Carbo/Taxotere). I completed chemo in April of 2009, continued Herceptin every 3 weeks until October of 2009, and continue to take Tamoxifen daily.
How do you feel today?
I feel incredible- thankful for amazing amounts of energy and beautiful people in my life.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I have a new admiration for my own strength- I never would have thought that it was possible to make it through what I have been through in the past year, and yet I did, and I feel stronger and more phenomenal as a result. I wouldn't say that I don't take things for granted, because I do, but I don't allow the little things to shake me. I appreciate beauty more and I tell people that I love them any chance I get.
What is going well for you right now?
My relationship with my partner has grown in ways I never could have imagined.
What is not going well for you right now?
I work full time and I'm in my final year of a Master's program for Psychology. It's difficult to juggle everything while recognizing that I need time for me. I find incorporating exercise into my life increasingly difficult.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
Learning to love my new self- inside and out. It's a continual journey of self discovery, and it isn't easy. Every day offers a new challenge for growth and possibility, but it can be exhausting to have cancer on my mind as often as it is. I know that I have to live differently because of my diagnosis and my treatments, and that takes another type of energy.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I dance- wildly. I also journal and go to friends who can just listen without judgment or advice. Sometimes I just want to vent without someone telling me what they could do to make it better.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I have the same long term goal of being a therapist, but my life goal has changed a bit. I want to live with as little clutter- emotional and physical- as possible, and I want to surround myself with positive people.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work between 35 and 40 hours as an administrative assistant for a local hospice organization and I am in my final year practicum for a master's degree.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
I take breaks and go for walks more often than I did before.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
The support of my co-workers and supervisor, who remind me continually how much they appreciate me, and ask how they can help me.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Eat well, take your vitamins, exercise, and tell your co-workers what you need from them to help you through. If you can't talk to the people you work with, make plans to take care of yourself during the work day. Find somewhere to walk in nature, light a candle, or journal. 10 minutes of positive intention can work miracles.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Yes- I lost my hair and nails, gained 25 pounds, and had amazing heartburn through my chemo experience. I found staying active helped and eating as healthy as possible (protein shakes in the morning were hugely helpful!).
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
You're going to get through this in amazing ways- live in the moment and be loving and kind to yourself. You're beautiful and you will make this into the richest experience of your life.