Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Teresa M. on June 10, 2009
I was Diagnosed with:
Follicular thyroid cancer
Date of Diagnosis:
November 15, 2005
Employment Status:
stay at home Mom
Type and Description of Treatments:
I had two surgeries, the first to remove half of my thyroid to see if I had cancer, the second to remove the rest of my thyroid since I had cancer. Ultrasounds, body scans 131 radiation. Medication for the rest of my life.
How do you feel today?

I feel like I have been given a second chance at life. When I heard the news I was so dazed all I could think of was that my husband and I would not grow old together, I would not see my daughters graduate from school, I would not live to see my family anymore.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

My husband had an affair and moved in with a younger woman, he isn't sure how he feels about me. When he heard about me having to do another needle biopsy he didn't say anything and hasn't mentioned it since. He doesn't call our children, it is like he lost his mind and is someone else.

What is going well for you right now?

I am getting the opportunity to do all of the things I thought I would miss with my daughters, I am getting paperwork together for them to each go off to different colleges in the state, I am ordering prints of graduation myself. I am remembering my inner strength that got me through the first news of the cancer and readying myself for my needle biopsy and the news that may follow.

What is not going well for you right now?

My marriage, I thought vows meant something, that couples grow old together, they grow old not return to childlike behaviors. I am a rock in the marriage, where is my rock?

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Having my family get sick of hearing about it, like they want me to stop talking about it to be who I was before. Only I am not who I was before, I have been in a battle for my life and I am changed. I can't stop talking about it, I have to get tested every six months and perhaps have more surgeries.

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

In my room, I shut the curtains and sleep.

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

I don't see my life as me being 90, or maybe not even 60. I see that life can be stopped at any time, it is not the long life you think it will be, and it may not be a healthy life, and it may be a very sad life even though you did what you should to have a happy life.

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

I wanted to start working and then got the cancer, and now I am still not working. I feel like a failure.

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

I did finish a two year degree to help me get a job, in social science behavior, and then the news of the affair has destroyed my life and family.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

To just continue, my daughters, they deserve one parent even though I don't know how long I will be here, to be there for them.

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

Talk to your doctor, the staff, look for support groups or something. Remember there are children with cancer at least you have gotten to adulthood, so when you feel very sad remember those children.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

When I got very pale and looked dead, I stopped looking in mirrors.

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

You will find you are so strong, you will see that you will find the power from within and you don't need your spouse to support you, you will find that it all has to come from you. You will be amazed at how strong you are and you will find family members saying you are their hero.