Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Jo Jo C. on October 22, 2008
I was Diagnosed with:
Invasive Tubulobular Carcinoma
Date of Diagnosis:
February 8, 2008
Employment Status:
Full Time
Age:
41
Type and Description of Treatments:
Surgery 15 weeks AC 12 weeks taxol Radiation Hormonal treatment
How do you feel today?

Nearly three weeks after chemo, and I am feeling ok. I still tire easily. Radiation is the next big step, and I start that next week.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

A lot has changed in my life since diagnosis. I have cut back on travel extensively. I have had a lot of time to rethink priorities, and I am considering changing careers once treatment is over.

What is going well for you right now?

My employer has been very flexible, and has really helped me a lot. I also joined the gym at work, and you can find me there five days a week. I finished chemo in better shape than I started it in. I do 45 minutes of extensive cardio twice a week, and 25 minutes of cardio plus an hour of weight lifting three times a week.

Lifting weights has been one of the best things I have done. I wish I had started lifting when I started chemo, as it has made a huge positive impact on my body and how I feel about it.

What is not going well for you right now?

I am very tired and have to limit what I can do. Also, my white blood count is still very low.

It is frustrating that it takes a while to bounce back. Maybe cancer will teach me patience...

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

I think the lack of energy has been hard for me to deal with. I want to do things, but can't.

Facing mortality at 40 is also hard. It can disassociate you from your friends if you are not careful.

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

I am a member of YSC, an on-line community of breast cancer survivors who were diagnosed at age 40 and under.

I also am a member of a local young woman's support group.

Both are fantastic.

My family is there for me, but in a different way. I do not want to burden them with how I really feel.

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

I am thinking about taking a step back in my career, and taking a job with no travel so that my body has time to recover from eight months of chemo, four surgeries and radiation.

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

I work from home and from the office on a flexible schedule.

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

I am a lot less productive, and travel a lot less, than I did prediagnosis. I also don't sweat the small stuff.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I love seeing people at work.

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

It is tough, but you can do it. Take time off when you need to. And make sure you take care of yourself first. Eat a well balanced diet, and exercise.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I go to my on-line support group for help dealing with or preventing side effects of treatment, I search google scholar for information about my condition, and I call my doctor when I feel bad.

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

I would have done many things the same way, but I would have started to lift weights on the day of diagnosis, and I would have eaten more buffalo to help prevent anemia.