Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Rebekah D. on June 24, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage 2 Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
December 22, 2008
Employment Status:
Not Working
Type and Description of Treatments:
6 rounds of Carbo Taxol and 3 Brachytherapy Radiation sessions
How do you feel today?

Today is a great day. I feel full of energy, happy and almost back to my normal self which is saying alot. I'm just trying to remain mentally healthy through this whole ordeal.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I look at things differently now. Before everything was all about tomorrow. What can I do tomorrow, there's so much to do tomorrow....but now everything is about today. After my diagnosis things were brought back to now. There's not enough time, there's never enough time. I am just making the most out of every minute I have.

What is going well for you right now?

My health. I had to be put on a depression medicine and honest to goodness it has helped tremendously. Before I was crying all the time and blowing up at people which isn't me, rather, wasn't me until I was diagnosed. I give myself things to look forward to. Like walking my dogs or painting to listening to music. I know it sounds corny but if you set yourself small goals you get this overwhelming sense of accomplishment when you reach it and then the next time you give yourself something else to reach for. It's totally a mental thing.

What is not going well for you right now?

I'm not working (I'm used to working 8-12 hours a day) and right now I am going crazy being cooped up in the house. It's hot outside and I want to be out there but even with sunscreen I get burnt and I don't want to risk getting skin cancer on top of everything else. I'm reading a lot and it's keeping my mind off not being able to be out.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

The whole mental aspect. You can be healthy in body and mentally unhealthy. That's the path I was heading down. I was so depressed...not to the point where I wanted to harm myself or others but I curled up inside myself. I turned away from people. I thought, this was it. I began to let all my fears run my life then one day I said "Forget You!" It's true when people tell you that you have cancer, cancer does not have you. As long as you keep positive mental thoughts you can beat anything. Mind over matter.

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

I try to talk to my family but that really doesn't help because no-one in my family has gone through this. I thought about joining a support group but I get too emotional and would find it hard to even get through telling my experience. I found what has helped me the most is keeping a journal. Some days I write 8 pages and some days I don't write at all. I started it when I started chemo. I wrote how the chemo made me feel, who was with me while I was having chemo, whether or not I got sick and especially when I had my mood swings. Writing in the journal helped me say what I needed to say without hurting anyone. I could express the thoughts in my head without anyone finding out.

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

My long term goals haven't changed. I've always wanted to adopt children and maybe this was the push I needed to make that happen. I still have problems accepting I will never have my own children but slowly, very slowly that anger is releasing.

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

I still am not working. I've applied for a couple jobs in the HR field which is what I did before being diagnosed. Hopefully I will find something and it will keep my mind off things. I am however helping out my church with our Vacation Bible School stuff and that is taking up a lot of time.

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

Again, not working.

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

Try to stay positive. You can do this. You will beat this. Don't ever think this is the end of your life. This is the beginning. It will get better, you will get stronger and one day you will find peace.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I only got sick twice from the chemo. The worst part for me was losing my hair. That was worse than being told I have Cancer but you know, looking back, it's just hair. Sure it defines you but it's not you. Once I realized I looked pretty good bald I didn't have a problem with it. My sister bought me a wig which looked almost identical to the color and style I had before I lost my hair and she bought me scarfs to match almost every outfit I had. My aunt who lives in Alaska sent me hats and chemo caps. Right now I'm to the point where I am not wearing scarfs or hats and I'm loving it.

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

Don't worry so much. Don't stress yourself out over the little things. Pick your battles and think before you speak.