Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Linda K. on March 6, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
stage four-non hodgkins lymphoma
Date of Diagnosis:
October 10, 2004
Employment Status:
oncology clinical social worker
Type and Description of Treatments:
original chemotherapy treatment: R-chop for five months, chemo every three weeks. Now maintenance Retuxin every three months for two years. CAT scans and PET scans alternating every three months for two years.
How do you feel today?

I feel blessed, hopeful and lucky. At times I am fatigued in a way that is hard to explain to any one who hasn't experienced chemotherapy.
Currently, I am in a remission. I have always had a positive outlook which helped during the more physically challenging chemo days. Life is a wonderful treasure.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I have had to slow down and nap. I have more patience and I seldom get upset about inconsequential concerns.

What is going well for you right now?


What is not going well for you right now?

Nothing I can think of besides the worry about the economy.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

One of my challenges in the beginning of my treatment, was just to understand this scary diagnosis, so I could communicate my needs to my family and support them as well.
At the present time, the most challenging is when fatigue takes over and my body just sort of shuts down to rest. I need to STOP what I am doing and take a break. My brain tells me one thing, but my body does not always cooperate

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

I have great support from family, friends and colleagues and I go to them when I need to talk.

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

My life goals are the same. My long term goals have only changed slightly. I recognize the fragility of life and I am more vigilant about listening better.

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

I am an oncology clinical social worker. My job is awesome and inspiring. I work 20 to 24 hours a week. My director is flexible and my hours can shift if needed.

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

A LOT. I can listen with a better understanding. I can hopefully better support and advise. I can recognize some care giver needs that I may not have been able to prior to my own diagnosis. I can share in stories about chemo if asked. And I understand what chemo brain is and also fatigue.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

The patients and their drive and needs.

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

Work to understand yourself. Listen to your body. Be sure to accept the caring from those around you. Work to stay positive and hopeful and set reachable goals.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

When I lost my hair, I found really beautiful and unusual scarves to wear. When I am fatigued, I am honest with those around me and I rest. When I can not retrieve a word, I usually attribute it to chemo brain...what of the plus's to blame the chemo...

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

I would say try to slow down the information overload and talk with some one who can help with the process. In the beginning, it felt as though I was hearing a foreign language.