Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Jeanne M. on September 24, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Recurrent renal cell carcinoma
Date of Diagnosis:
July 14, 2003
Employment Status:
Full time RN
Type and Description of Treatments:
I was first diagnosed with RCC (renal cell carcionoma or kidney cancer) in July 2003. I had a complete nephrectomy and was told I was cured and they got it all. No other treatment was offered. Two years later (July 2005) I again was told I had kidney cancer in the remaining kidney and had surgery again removing part of that kidney. Again, "we got it all and no adjunct therapy was available". I now have about a 95% chance of it returning again. Throughout it all, I continued to care for my children, as a wife, mother, daughter, etc and work full time as a RN. I still worry daily about the return of the cancer but try to live each day to its fullest so I have no regrets if it does return.
How do you feel today?

I still worry daily about the return of the cancer but try to live each day to its fullest so I have no regrets if it does return. I have some new symptoms that are creeping back in (flank pain, fullness, fatigue and night sweats). My next visit with the oncologist is not until January (4 months away) and my primary doctor thinks I am crazy so he doesn't believe my concerns. What will be, will be, and I go about everyday....

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

The cost of living has been difficult for everyone with the economic crisis we are in. It is even more so for those suffering with chronic illnesses.

I don't let the little things drain me of my strength. Thinks that really don't matter, like he said, she said, a red light, a difficult person. It just isn't worth my time or energy. I practice living in the moment as much as possible.

Some of my co-workers are returning to advanced nursing careers. I would rather spend my time enjoying classes in crafts. It brings me pleasure.

What is going well for you right now?

My teenage daughter is having a good day and this makes me happy.
As far as I know I currently do not have active cancer.
I am not working today!

What is not going well for you right now?

Finances have been difficult. I had to work overtime for almost a year due to decrease in my husbands work hours and increase in cost of living. Now, I have been cut hours as well. I am trying to get some more hours at another hospital but I am just so tired, I hate to commit to more hours and then not be able to keep that commitment.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

The constant worry and uncertain future.

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

I had gone to friends and family and co-workers, but quite frankly they are tired of all of it too. There is only so long people that don't have cancer understand and support. They are tired of living it with you so they don't listen anymore. I guess I go to the computer and look for support there.

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

I work as an RN in a labor and delivery unit. I work 12 hour shifts from 6:30am to 7pm, three days a week.

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

I get tired easier. I also am able to empathize with my patients better.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I rest on my days off more. Housework can wait and often does. I ask for help more often.

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

My treatment was surgery and continued observation.
Try to live each day as fully as possible. Observe the smells, sounds, feelings, etc each moment. It is hard to regret the past or worry about the future when you are living in the moment.

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

It will be ok.