Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Debra W. on July 24, 2011
I was Diagnosed with:
Breast Cancer Stage 2B
Date of Diagnosis:
June 8, 2010
Employment Status:
Full Time
Gender/Age:
Female/60
Type and Description of Treatments:
I have had many very difficult biopsies followed by 2 partial mastectomies. I am scheduled to have a port placed in my shoulder on Thursday 7/28 to be followed by 20 weeks of aggressive chemo and 7 weeks of radiation. I am having the full meal deal.
How do you feel today?

Today I feel conflicted. I want to feel good because I don't really have any pain or discomfort today. The sun is shining, I worked in the yard earlier but 2 hours and I have this nagging fatigue. 3 months ago I could garden or golf all day. I feel dull and a little teary.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I am relying on other people more. I have learned how important small considerations can be.

What is going well for you right now?

I have more use of my arm, earlier than I was told I would. I still could not take anything heavy off of a shelf above my head but I can dry my hair and do most other tasks.

What is not going well for you right now?

I am worried about being sick. I have never been sick. I felt so good when this started. How can I be this ill and not know it. It's very scary.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Accepting it. I am a great helper. It's harder to accept help than to give help.

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

My old business partner and his wife. He wanted to retire last year so we sold our business after 20 years, he retired and I went to work as a manager for the new owner. They are very dear friends. Also the people from my church have been amazing. Many people have brought me food, sent me cards, come by to see me. It overwhelms me how kind they have been.

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

My goals haven't changed, I am just unsure I will ever get to do them. I wanted to retire in 5 years. I might not make that. Then again I might. So my confidence is shaken.

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

I am a salaried Manager. I work full time and/or until the job is done. My oncologist told me that I wouldn't be able to work. That would not work for me. Not only do I need the income I need the diversion.

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

Any changes have only been positive. I have been recovering from my surgeries so I was weight restricted a little. But all of the people who work for me and with me have been very supportive.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

My employer has been very flexible. I have used all of my sick leave at this point. But our conversations have only been supportive. The owner has assured me they will work with me throughout the rest of the treatment. I can only hope that's true. I have no reason at this time to doubt it.

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

I don't have enough time trying to work thru this yet to give advice on this. I worked as much as I could around my surgeries and tried to make my time away from my store invisible as to its effect. I did that by working more when I could and carefully assigning tasks for my away time.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I have learned to ask for help. I try not to show how uncomfortable it makes me.

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

I would tell me that I would be fine. That my ability to stay in the moment and focus only on what is happening today would help. To keep up the good work. Also to not look at the after mastectomy pictures on the websites and to not have that mini melt down at the pictures of the bald women on the back of the newspaper inserts.
It would only give me a headache.