Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Tina P. on March 22, 2010
I was Diagnosed with:
triple negative ductal breast cancer stage 2
Date of Diagnosis:
March 23, 2009
Employment Status:
Type and Description of Treatments:
4/09 lumpectomy w/node dissection 5/09 cytox./taxo. 2Q wks x4 rounds then 6wks of radiation initially. New dx of lung cancer found 2/5/10, now on adrianmycin and cytox Q2 weeks for at 6 rounds, the third round this week.
How do you feel today?

On a scale of 1-10, today is a 8, not much pain, just fatigue. I generally feel tired like I'm just getting over a cold or flu while on chemo, take naps in the afternoons. Lung pain, shoulder pain only occasional since chemo. Appetite comes and goes, heartburn all the time with chemo both times, queasy more frequently with adrianmycin though

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

My life has changed, as well as my priorities since the second diagnosis. I pay attention to details more/my daily routine, finances.

What is going well for you right now?

My son is on the deans list. After my original diagnosis he transferred from an out of state university that he had a partial scholarship to, to a local college that he is taking loans to finish with 20 credits each semester. He is my life, so when he does well I feel better.

What is not going well for you right now?

Will lose my job and my insurance if I don't return by April 7. Have some other financial issues, and of course the medical bills.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

I guess staying positive as your world changes so quickly, and it sometimes feels out of control, but I'm a fighter, so f*ck you cancer!

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

My son is my best friend, we talk about anything and everything, always did. My best friend since I was 5. My man-friend is very supportive emotionally and a really good ear and shoulder. I also mediate and visualize and take it to the ancestors and the Creator.

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

Before the plan was what and when and where, because I just always KNEW I'd get old. How presumptuous of me! Now the plan is just to be there. To enjoy each day, to get old if I'm lucky.

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

Presently out on disability for my second round of chemo When working it is 8hrs at work with about 3-4 hrs paperwork, 5 days a week. The days are long and hectic so that's why I stay home. It's also difficult to get off for the numerous appointments and tests every week.

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

My stamina.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

When I was there, my patients, I did not want to stop working but my days were too long and I was too tired.

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

1. Organize ASAP. Things will happen very quickly from the door with work, doctors appts, tests, and later, when you have chemo brain, you will need to remember. Get a day planner for appointments, a file box, drawer or shoe box for receipts, test results, and medicines. This really comes in handy for taxes, flex spending accounts, disability, and the dreaded inaccurate billings we all get.
2. Realize you will need help even if you are wonder woman now, assign a job to each friend or family member, that makes them feel like they are doing something and keeps them from driving you nuts looking for a way to help you. Someone can drive you to chemo, another shopping trip or a meal on your low days.
3. Get somebody really truthful to go out to look for wigs-when you get the right one be sure to get a second-do it before you start chemo, make it fun.
4. Laugh as often and as loud as you can, everyday
5. Review your insurance policies at work, home, car, get paperwork in order, make a living will, it takes a burden off your family
6. No unneeded spending
7. Be truthful with who matters
8. Eat healthy. Cut out alcohol, sugar. Get rest!
9. Don't feel sorry for yourself, that doesn't change anything. Besides you are still here!
10. See a dentist before chemo, get a cleaning and repairs before you start.
11. Keep all your meds in one place, and in original bottles

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Nausea-crackers, small meals, avoided sweet drinks
Dehydration-sips of water, gatorade, no caffeine drinks
Hair-wigs, I had 8 yr old locs, and now I have whatever I feel like.
Hot flashes-a fan and cool cloth to my neck

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

Breathe, don't panic, take one step at a time, and all of the above.