Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Marie N. on February 23, 2010
I was Diagnosed with:
NHL Large B Cell
Date of Diagnosis:
June 12, 2009
Employment Status:
unemployed
Age:
56
Type and Description of Treatments:
Chemo-therapy: Rituximab,Doxorubicin hydrochloride,Vincristine,and Cyclophosphamide coctail - every 3 weeks for six treatments. This was infused via a port placed under skin near clavicle.
How do you feel today?

While I am getting stronger, neuropathy in my hands and feet continues to be bothersome. My hair is growing back (yeah!) everywhere. My nails are still baby fine and continue to shred and catch on everything.
I am now off hormone replacement therapy and experiencing most of the symptoms of menopause - a double whammy - I don't know if I'm coming or going, or just stuck in a funk.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I am still unemployed and not strong enough to look for work, maybe part time IF I can find work. That has changed for the worse. I am now thousands of dollars in debt. At this time I am fearful of many things in life. While I am blessed to be alive, I can't AFFORD to live. I am not alone is this, I know. I know what it is to face death - has this made me stronger? I don't know - time will tell. My confidence is low.

What is going well for you right now?

My hair is growing back. I am in bloom in that way. My friends that have been by my side once diagnosed are still here. The others have fallen by the wayside and though that was painful, it was real and helps me to sift and sort through what is real and present in my life.
My energy is coming back.

What is not going well for you right now?

Financially - I'm thousands of dollars in debt.
I have no job prospects.
Physically - neuropathy continues in my hands and feet preventing me from returning to the work I had once done, i.e. keyboarding as part of being a biller or claims rep/customer service rep.
Emotionally - since getting off estrogen (in late Dec. 2009) I am extremely emotional and cry easily. How much of that is hormones and how much is all the other stressors in my life as well as the toxins exiting my body?
Spiritually - I try to put my faith in a higher power and to take one day at a time - it is really hard.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Fatigue for one. Thinking about the real possibility of dying. Accessing financial resources, some of which I have found (thankfully). Also the non-support of those I could swear would have been there for me. An all too common story so I hear from others.

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

I contact 1 of 2 close friends; attend cancer support group weekly; or I isolate.

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

Yes. To be of service to others going through cancer and/or in remission. Though I do volunteer I need to support myself financially, thus would love a profession helping cancer survivors that pays.

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

I am unemployed. I will become homeless in the next 2 or 3 months if employment or perhaps Social Security Disability benefits become unavailable. I've been denied once already by SSDI. I don't qualify for regular medicaid as I don't have a specific cancer. It's pretty scary.

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

Same thing, looking for work again, thousands of dollars in debt.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

n/a

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

Please reach out to others, even if all you do is cry. Isolating (on occasion OK) is not the answer as you will get in your own way very quickly. Find a support group - it's not all about sadness and fear - there is laughter as well. Press your doctor if your questions are not being answered to your understanding. It IS your life. Watch movies, sit in the sun, sit and do nothing.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Hot baths, medication, having someone rub my back or feet, prayer, throw something (not at anyone though)!

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

Going through the chemotherapy is easy compared to getting on with the business of living. Reach out to others and let others help you.