Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Michelle S. on March 29, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
July 30, 2008
Employment Status:
employed full-time as a medical secretary
Age:
45
Type and Description of Treatments:
I have had 3 treatments with Carboplatin and VP16 then started 37 radiation treatments in conjuction with weekly chemo treatments with Carbo and Taxcel. I finished these 4 months ago and was recently found to have a lesion in my brain for which I have recently undergone sterotatic radiosurgery.
How do you feel today?

Good physically but just a little tired. I have had some extreme tiredness lately.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I think people look at me differently. I try to be the same but sometimes people just don't want to let me. I hate being the center of attention.

What is going well for you right now?

Physically I feel pretty good. I am able to work my regular job full time. I am able to pretty much have my normal life.

What is not going well for you right now?

Mentally I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I get panicky about the future. I wonder if I will be here to see my kids graduate college, to see grandchildren, what will happen when I get really sick.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Seeing how it hurts my family. I seem to spend a lot of time consoling everyone. Seeing the fear in my parents and childrens eyes. Seeing my husband try to be strong and understand what all the medical talk means.

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

I haven't found that place yet. My husband is very supportive and tries very hard to understand but no one seems to want to hear what I am fearful of. They usually want to hear that I am ok and feel good.

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

Right now I am learning to appreciate every day for what it is. My long term goal is now to be happy for what I have and to teach my children to appreciate every little thing in their life. I want to do more, see more and love more.

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

I still work my regular full time job as a medical secretary. My hours are Monday thru Friday 8:30 to 5pm. I also work every Saturday morning for a chiropractor as a receptionist.

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

My employers have been very lenient with me as far as giving me time off for appointments, treatments, etc. My co-workers have been extremely helpful in being there to help me physically and emotionally.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I need to keep busy in order to not focus on my problems. I think that my work keeps me from being depressed.

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

Being physically able to continue working has been a blessing for me. Talking to my employers and supervisors regarding what you need is vital.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Other than being tired, I have been fortunate enough to not suffer many side effects. Initially I had some nausea with chemo but Compazine and frequent small meals seemed to calm that down.

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

STAY CALM!!! Listen to your doctors, take better notes. Knowledge is a blessing and a curse. Keep living your life, don't let cancer rule you. You have the disease, it does not have you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!