Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Victor S. on February 25, 2012
I was Diagnosed with:
AML
Date of Diagnosis:
May 18, 2010
Employment Status:
starting soon
Gender/Age:
Male/52
Type and Description of Treatments:
Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and a stem cell transplant, I am post transplant by 180 days approximately. Transplant date was Sept 8, 2011.
How do you feel today?

Fantastic. I have swollen feet and ankles but my blood work and chemistry are OK per the doc/team as of my last visit to them. No liver, heart, respiratory or skin issues.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

Let's see, I lost my job, spent all my 401(k), scared my family & self, yet I am still here. I just landed a new job and I am looking forward to becoming productive again. I have been sitting around embracing my recovery since I could not work until recently. This journey has not been fun, yet I am truly blessed to be alive. My sister saved my life since she is my stem cell donor, (we are a 10 point match) but not identical twins; she's several years younger than I. How much of a blessing from God is that?

What is going well for you right now?

I found a company that is willing to hire me without reservations. I ran into an "invisible wall of" well we are going in a different direction from several employers after outstanding interviews

What is not going well for you right now?

I have concerns that this swollen feet/ankles issue is bigger than the doctors are letting on. I hope not. Maybe I am just fearful of another relapse.....2nd diagnosis was May 2011, after being in remission for seven months.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Most definitely keeping a positive attitude and believing that I was going to beat this thing.

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

Leukemia & Lymphoma society web site, family, transplant team and other patients that I know.

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

Live every day to the fullest. I don't know if busting my butt to re-invest in a 401(k) will have as much meaning anymore, and I am gonna buy a 5.7 liter Mustang....I've always wanted one, ( I'll still keep my trusty Camry though!)

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

I'll start a new job in March 2012.

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

My last employer fired me during my treatment for my illness.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

I could not work during my treatment due to the nature of the chemotherapy and the destruction of white blood cells I went through. I was really at a risk of infection. My doctors categorized me as disabled due to the leukemia diagnosis, (short term based on potential bone marrow transplant success).

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

I don't have any since I could not do this without putting myself at serious risk of infection and potential death.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I have just dealt with nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite etc as best I could. I held onto the fact that as I got better, my appetite would increase from one or two mouth fulls of food all the way back to my being able to eat a full meal ( even though my taste buds are not yet back to full strength).

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

Keep your head up and believe that the God of my understanding is telling the doctors how to treat this thing, even if no one else thinks like that. For my money, (and life) God gives the doctors the information through research and other stuff. They have to then apply that knowledge into treatment plans for individual patients. Since we are not the same, no ones plan works just like somebody else's. Unlike a broken bone, that if set properly, will heal, cancer attacks and reacts to treatment differently for each of us. Cancer has its own DNA principles just like each of us, so that is why one must have faith and trust in God to help the doctors make the right decision. Also make sure one participates in their treatment plan. You have that right!