Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Judith F. on May 23, 2010
I was Diagnosed with:
Papillary Cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
December 2, 2006
Employment Status:
Unemployed
Age:
43
Type and Description of Treatments:
Full throidectomy at Memorial Sloan Kettering NY 2007. Medicine daily and calcium. I take levothyroxine every morning and 1500 mg of calcium.
How do you feel today?

I feel so much better as it has been three years. I have follow up every 4 months. I get depressed as it has made me lose my last two great jobs. It's hard to keep starting over when I need to be available for my medical appts.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I have a huge scar across my neck and even though my hair is long, everywhere I go people stare at me. If I am fighting with my boyfriend they look and think....wow..maybe that scar was because of him. I tell people what happened as I used to always wear my hair up and now I can't. I feel like I always need to explain myself. I believe having heard I had cancer has made me appreciate the small things in life. To know my life will always be dependent on a pill every morning to start my day and in only 3 days I could be die without taking it is very scary. Many times if I am out at night I have to make sure I always get home or make sure I pack my pills for the next morning. On a good note, I am a survivor now three years and do believe that my life has changed but that I am a better person. I try to be the best mother and best friend and at work I always seem to work harder. I thank God for my great doctors and don't take anything for granted.

What is going well for you right now?

My kids and I are closer. I also have tried to help many of my friends appreciate their good health and learn from me that don't write off symptoms as stress or a bad day. To help others know and recognize if their health could be the issue.

What is not going well for you right now?

I lost another job. They got worried when my medical follow ups were getting closer. Now here I am again trying to find work.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Understanding why it came to me at such an early age. I sometimes get angry that it happened at 40. I always thought it was an older person. It has made me realize maybe my nutrition and lifestyle made me more vulnerable to the disease. I love life now and am realizing how very lucky I am to be here.

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

I worry if I am gone one day and that my kids are so young only 12 and 16. I want to be there when my daughter gets married or be there when my son turns 30. I feel scared like I'm on the clock. I try to stay focused on each day.

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

I life life and make most of each day. I try to really take care of myself and eat better. I try to rest more and also try to give encouragement to my children about careers as they get older and teach them how to live well and to love with all their hearts.

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

I was working the past 14 years full time. I have been unemployed just two weeks. I am hoping to find a great company that will accept me as I am a hard worker.

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

People got uncomfortable as soon as I told them I was a cancer patient but made it three years cancer free.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I am not sure I just know no matter how sick, I give each day the best of myself. I have a lot of energy people can't believe I had cancer.

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

Patience and a lot of surroundings by those you love.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Yes. I never gave up hope.

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

I would say we are only dealt one hand in life's card game. We can't change what we know or what we feel. We can choose, however, to keep fighting and use the love we have for our children and our families our pets and our friends and never give up. Don't look back. Just look ahead and keep a positive attitude.