Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Cyndi D. on August 17, 2007
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage I Breast Cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
April 21, 2006
Employment Status:
desperately seeking full time employment/working part time
Type and Description of Treatments:
5 months of dose dense chemo, 2months of Adriamyacin/Cytoxin administered every two weeks, 3 months of weekly doses of Taxol 8 weeks of radiation therapy
How do you feel today?

Physically, I feel fine. I always felt fine except during treatment. I mean, I had no symptoms from the cancer…worked out, ate right, took really good care of myself. I was the healthy one in my family. Ha. Emotionally, I have baggage…I vacillate between “Gee, I just feel so lucky to be alive” to “I know it’s just a matter of time until I get cancer again,” to “I’m never going to get out of this mess I’ve made of my life.”

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

It rocked my world. I have huge money problems (can’t find full time work, medical bills, legal bills, also went through divorce simultaneously) and wanting to be a recluse. I have lost the desire to date, meet new people…I am depressed for sure.

What is going well for you right now?

My kids are healthy and wonderful

What is not going well for you right now?

Pretty much everything else

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

I am completely alone. My parents are dead and my 4 siblings chose not to be involved with my illness in any way. After and during the divorce, I shut down socially and let many friendships slide. Now, I am vulnerable and have no net whatsoever.

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

Good question…books.

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

All I think about it getting out of debt. I was healthy before and took such good care of myself and it really didn’t matter.

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

What are your hours? I work part time for a book publisher. I have a masters in education and a BBA in business

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

So many times, I go into the interview process confident. Frequently, I go far…even into the 5th, 6th and 7th round only to not make the final cut. I suspect that human relations finds out about my illness and decides to pass on me. It’s extremely discouraging.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

My boss really tries to hook me up with employment leads, bless her.

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

Try everything. Even if something provides you with relief for a brief period, it’s something. Don’t overmedicate. I sometimes found the effects of the anti-nausea meds to be worse than the chemo itself. Take help from everyone who volunteers it. Getting dehydrated exacerbates everything!

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Gatorade, popsicles…I ended up just gutting out the chemo. By that I mean, I felt worse taking all the anti meds. I just felt really crappy the first day or two after chemo, then pretty normal. I preferred to keep the meds to a minimum.

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

Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a big is… but you can do it. It’s a long, sometimes lonely road but once you get through it, you will feel strength and hope again. Don’t look any farther ahead than you can stand to look. I had a friend that used to say to me, “A year from now, this will all be a bad dream.” Let me tell you when you are bald and sick as a dog, you certainly don’t want to hear “a year from now…” Think in terms of small increments and small successes. “I feel bad today..maybe tomorrow but then I have a solid week of feeling pretty good…woohoo!” Also, people will surprise you. I was continually moved by the kindness of strangers…complete strangers who did incredibly kind things for me. Sadly, my siblings could not deal at all and checked out. My kids were real troupers and gave me hope and joy every day.