Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Erin C. on November 26, 2008
I was Diagnosed with:
metastatic breast cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
April 12, 1991
Employment Status:
Type and Description of Treatments:
I am currently undergoing chemotherapy 1X a week for 3 weeks and off a week in addition to the abraxane I also receive avastin every other week
How do you feel today?

I have been on this protocol for about 6 months and am very tired and can't eat a lot. I have lost about 30 pounds in the last 2 years. I do maintain a full time job, and a mother of three children and am married. Some days I feel better than others. I am hoping for a break and there is discussion of a new chemo regimen.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I don't take things for granted. I try to live each day to the fullest and not put off doing things I want to do. I try to attend all the activities possible that my children are involved in. My Husband works way too much as he owns his own company and I try to make him take time off so the two of us can have some alone time. This is a nasty disease however I try to stay positive as it helps me get by.

What is going well for you right now?

I have the support of my family, friends and co-workers. My job site is so supportive and I don't think I could have stayed on full-time if they had not been so flexible. The fact that I have my life and can function fairly normal is a gift/blessing.

What is not going well for you right now?

I don't think that nutritionally I am doing well. I try to eat however I get full very fast or nauseas. I take meds but they don't seem to help. I think that this chemo is also wearing me down and it is time for a change.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

First accepting the fact that I have a disease that could take my life. I also have a hard time as a mother knowing that I may not be able to see my children grow up. Once in a blue moon the why me? I'm a good person? shows it's ugly face.

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

I turn to my husband, close friends, and the medical staff where I have been getting treatment, support and information for many years.

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

My goals are usually short term goals as it is difficult for me to predict 5 -10 years away. I wish I had that ability.

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

I continue to work 40 hours. If I miss hours I either make them up over a weekend or take family leave time. If I need to drop back my hours they would allow it. I also need to keep working so I don't sit home and dwell on my cancer.

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

I try not to let work stress me out as I know I should reduce all stressors in my life. People at work want to know how I am doing and coping so I am teaching folks about how to live with this disease too. Work still has the same expectations for me which I feel is good. I don't want to be a charity case.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

Not wanting to sit home and dwell on my cancer. I like focusing my energy on the work I love so much.

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

If you like your job and are physically able I think people should continue to work. It helps the head and keeps you away from the negativity of this disease.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I go to bed earlier and rest on the weekends when I can. I take meds to help with symptoms now and then.

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

It isn't the end of the world. People can live a long time with this disease. Think of it like diabetes or any other chronic illness if you can. A positive attitude helps a lot. Keep the faith, be strong and rely on your loved ones for support.