Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Kristen N. on August 26, 2008
I was Diagnosed with:
Ductal Carcanoma-Breast Cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
June 27, 2008
Employment Status:
Full time
Type and Description of Treatments:
Double mastectomy
How do you feel today?

Hopeful, inspired to make my life count.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

Not a lot has changed and I've tried to keep it that way as much as possible. The things that have changed are my perspectives on my time with those I love, my personal well-being, and my work. I'm focusing on balance, moderation, and taking care of myself as a priority.

What is going well for you right now?

With the exception of a cancer diagnosis, I'm living my dream life.

What is not going well for you right now?

As a workaholic who loves her job, coming to terms with taking a large amount of time off to heal.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Not allowing 'cancer' to become who I am or how I am defined.

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

My husband, family, and a therapist.

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

When I was faced with my own mortality I started to ask myself "why am I putting off reaching that goal?" Or better yet, "why does that even matter?" I've accelerated many of my goals and set more aside. In living a life of no regrets, no matter what the duration, I have become much more purposeful.

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

I am still working full-time and will take 1 month off during my recovery.

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

I've tried to increase my communication. I seem to be less judgmental of others and more laid back.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

My work is a big part of how I define myself. It gives me a sense of contributing to something bigger than myself and that keeps me going on a daily basis.

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

You know exactly what you need. Listen to yourself and honor that voice. Look for the inspiration in your work. Take the time you need. Ask for help. Remember to reach out for support from those around you, they need something to do while you go through this. Tap into the myriad of amazing resources available in your community.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Lots of rest and laughter

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

I know that today as you listen to the doctor you can't hear a word she's saying. All you can think about is running as far away as possible. Your thoughts feel like they are crashing down on top of you and you feel like your world is coming to an end.

Will I dance at my daughter's wedding? Will my husband grow old without me? I knew I should have done more yoga! Good god, will I loss my hair? Worse yet, my breasts?

Take a deep breath. Trust me. Soon you will realize that life doesn't give you anything you can't handle. This cancer diagnosis will really change your life, but more importantly it will change you in a very profound way. As cliche as it sounds, no one can change the deck they are dealt. They can only change how they play it. So take my advice and play like your life depended on it.