Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Wendi S. on August 19, 2008
I was Diagnosed with:
Invasive Breast Cancer- Her 2 positive
Date of Diagnosis:
July 11, 2008
Employment Status:
Full time with graduate school in clinical Psychology
Type and Description of Treatments:
Currently awaiting surgery (double mastectomy) with chemotherapy to follow for 4-6 months.
How do you feel today?

I'm feeling great, and I have been since being diagnosed. It's amazing how alive getting a cancer diagnosis has made me feel, and how much incredible support I have in my life that I never knew existed. Although I do have some fear, I'm mainly feeling drawn toward re-inventing myself spiritually as this process changes me physically.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I've completely changed the way I eat (mostly raw foods- no sugar, dairy, meat, or caffeine) and I'm working harder to be connected to the world in a positive way. My partner of 15 years and I were able to be married while we were at Cape Cod, and we've made it a priority to keep a "healing journal" in which we write about our hopes, fears, desires, and dreams.

What is going well for you right now?

I feel amazing physically and I am absolutely blessed with my friends and family.

What is not going well for you right now?

My surgeon hasn't scheduled my surgery yet, because we're waiting for the results of the PET/CT and bone scans. I'm trying not to hold fear about the unknown, but it's impacting my ability to concentrate fully on the present. I'm also holding resentment about having to change my schedule due to the treatments- I work full time and go to graduate school 3/4 time. I don't have time for this! And I hate that I'm obsessed with having to lose my hair.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

The impact on my schedule- my partner and I have had to take time off from work to go to many appointments, and we can't afford to continue to do that. I'm also finding it impossible to focus on school, which is a program that I love and feel absolutely ready for.

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

Nature if I can, and if I can't, I find yoga and meditation to be a necessity. Even if I can only do 5 minutes of chair yoga, I always feel better. I also journal as much as I can, and find joy in writing haiku.

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

I know now that I can't continue to take as many classes in school and that I won't graduate as soon as I want. On the positive side, I feel more inspired than ever that integrating yoga and therapy is powerful medicine, and that I will be a better clinician because of this process with cancer.

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

I currently work full time- Monday through Thursday, 8a.m. -6 p.m. I love my job, and I'm fortunate to have amazing people around me.

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

I'm distracted and missing many hours due to appointments.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

My incredible co-workers help a lot, and my ability to work differing hours as my treatment changes.

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

At this point, I don't know that I have any advice. I'm still trying to figure it out myself. I'm not sure if I can continue to maintain my schedule, especially when I begin chemo.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I haven't had any side effects yet, as I haven't started treatement. This should be an interesting posting later in the Fall...

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

Breathe and know just how many people love you, including yourself. You don't have to hold it all together. People want to help you and to show you they love you, so let them do it and prove your capacity for grace.