Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Margot Larson on October 29, 2008
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage 3 inoperable Lung Cancer (non small cell)
Date of Diagnosis:
August 23, 2007
Employment Status:
Self employed Consultant and Coach
Type and Description of Treatments:
Aggressive chemo treatment: Cisplatin + Etoposide daily for 6 consecutive days, two weeks off, 6 more consecutive days. Radiation 32 consecutive days up to a level of 60 on Gray Scale
How do you feel today?

I feel great. I look great and I am healthy.
Anyone meeting me would not realize that I had been seriously ill or a cancer patient.
I have worked hard not to look like a cancer patient.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I have learned to ask for help.
I am more conscious about respecting my priorities.
I make time for Friends and Family.
I do not feel obligated to put up with people whose company I do not enjoy.
I realize that I am not in charge of rescuing others or solving all the problems.
I have learned not to "raise my hand" too quickly.

I volunteer only for those causes for which I feel passionate. No more doing it out of "a sense of responsibility"

What is going well for you right now?

As long as I manage my energy, I feel like my old self. When I cheat myself out of sleep or push myself too hard, my body tells me in no uncertain terms. I can feel very fatigued if I am not careful.

I have always had a fast pace and am a doer.
I still do, I just moderate it a bit.

What is not going well for you right now?

I am such an optimist, that this is difficult for me to recognize.
My work load dropped considerably when I was unable to travel and to respond to potential opportunities.
My earnings were almost non-existent for more than six months.

After a great deal of networking this summer and fall, business leads are finally coming my way.

I wish I had a part time job with a regular flow of income.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Loosing my sense of safety.

If I didn't see this coming the first time around, how will I know early on if cancer comes back.
The fear of mastastis can easily control your thoughts.

I must continuously reassure myself, remain true to the life attitude I prefer to adopt.
And, I try to remember what my oncologist told me when I raised this topic. He said "Just go out and have fun".

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

I am lucky. I have a broad network of supporters and admirers. I have different people I can call on for different needs.

The biggest challenge is to be willing to be vulnerable and share how I really feel.

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

I am not working or pushing so hard. I do what I can.
I made a "Bucket List". Why wait?

I have learned to juggle.
I want to try acting with some amateur theatre this winter.
I would like to publish another book and get this one on the New York Best Sellers list. (That could be a stretch)

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

I work 5 hours a day.
I try to write, volunteer or read the rest of the day.
I could easily be a workaholic so I have to throw myself out of the office.r

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

I chose to work part time and opted to collect early Social Security.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I love to work.
I love feeling useful and helping others.
I get satisfaction out of productivity.

I will always do some type of work either for money or volunteer until I'm 100 years old.

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

Be realistic and get your priorities straight.
YOU must come first.
You must be healthy to ensure your future.
You don't have to prove anything.
You are aiming for a second chance. Don't spoil it.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Side effects during treatment are in the past.
I just don't want to think about it. Aside from the damage to my esophogus, my side effects were limited.

Post treatment, I am disappointed that my vision has suffered, that my memory is not as good as it used to be, but given the choices I was faced with, I accept these. I got my life back.

Now on the good side. My hair is great. It came back curly and cute. My complexion is excellent for 62. And I lost a few sizes in clothing. Some of my friends are jealous.

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

Make up your mind that you will beat this.
It's up to you and your attitude.

Do not allow fear and doubt to control you.
Be bold and be courageous.

Reach for your positive friends. Designate a few advocates to help you. Ask for help and accept the help that is offered. This is a wonderful opportunity to re-assess your life and to reinforce friendships.