Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Kate R. on February 17, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Date of Diagnosis:
April 1, 2004
Employment Status:
Employed Full Time
Type and Description of Treatments:
Mastectomy, total lymph node removal. Dose-dense chemotherapy for 3 month.
How do you feel today?

I feel good! I am approaching the 5 year anniversary of my diagnosis and I must say that I feel almost as good as I did the day before I was told I had breast cancer!

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

My son has graduated high school and is in college and my daughter will graduate high school this june. Life has gone on pretty much as I would have hoped it would. When I was going through treatment and in the early diagnosis stages, I prayed for the time to celebrate small moments and milestones. I am fortunate to say that I have been able to realize some of those moments!
Life certainly becomes more precious. You unfortunately learn to take each moment as it comes.

What is going well for you right now?

I am so proud of my children. My job is good. My friends are dear and my family is my greatest joy and strength.

What is not going well for you right now?

I still have weight gain, severe hot flashes and lack of energy.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

The challenges come early in a cancer diagnosis. The most challenging thing for me was surrendering myself to the endless doctor's appointments, treatment regimens, follow-up visits. Your life is not your own for a good two years.

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

I turn to prayer and meditation.

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

I work full time. I commute 1.5 hours to and from work. I arrive at 8:30 a.m. and leave at about 5:30 p.m.
I find that I am exhausted at the end of the day.

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

I have been promoted and received a generous raise. I seem to be more driven and spend more time volunteering for organizations that mean a great deal to me.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

Unfortunately, putting 2 children through college is currently my driving factor.

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

Do only what you feel you are capable of doing. If you are too tired, take some time off. You must rest in order to heal. They don't give out medals to people who push through cancer treatment and work simultaneously.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I always make my doctor's aware of any side effects. They can help overcome anything.

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

It's going to be okay. You'll get through this.