Julie S. on March 7, 2017
I was Diagnosed with:
Diagnosed at 26 with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer to Bones
Full Time Receptionist and Administrative Assistant
Type and Description of Treatments:
Hormone Therapy, Tomoxifen, Zometa and Lupron. Currently on Zometa, Lupron, and IBrance. No chemo or radiation therapy. No surgeries.
How do you feel today?
I feel OK. I mean it could be worst, but trying to enjoy my life and stay positive. It is tough to be positive and have a great outlook. But every day you wake up knowing you have cancer and you have to continue treatment every month. I fight mentally to keep cancer and death from taking over my mind.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I was diagnosed at a young age so putting my college degree on hold, love, and relationships has changed my journey. It made me become more straightforward and blunt with people and my feelings. I don't have time for nonsense and people wasting my time because my time is precious. I find more time to enjoy things I want to do or try. I focused on graduating college and accomplished that. Stay alive for myself and people I love.
What is going well for you right now?
Having successful treatment and hope to continue with what I am doing now conventionally as well as holistic approach to boost my immune system to stay healthy.
What is not going well for you right now?
Monthly treatment and those darn tumor marker blood tests. The markers fluctuate a lot. Working is not going well for me, I am chained to the desk all day, and I feel like I am not doing anything exciting for myself and contributing to a cause that means something. I really want to travel and enjoy life, but it is so hard to take time off work, not have enough money because I spend it on bills and my health.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
It is an invisible disease. It is hard to find work and not be discriminated upon. Every time I apply online and at the end of the application process I am asked to verifty if I have a disability and you have an option to say yes or no or don't want to answer. It seemed like I was being judged by the disability and passed on. When I know I am qualified and have experience.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I talk to my mom or sister to vent. Sometimes I need space and time alone to think. I also turn to music to help me feel better.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I have to work my goals around the cancer. I can't do anything too exciting because of the monthly treatment. I have a degree in Business, and thinking about switching my career to Nursing. But IDK if I can handle the stress of 2 year nursing program. I love music, film, and drawing, but I am too tired to be creative. Current goal is to live as long as possible and accomplish something that would make me feel good.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work full-time 7:30-4:30 PM. I give my manager advance notice of my treatment appointments so I have someone to cover the reception desk for me. I am fortunate to have a flexible schedule and sick time hours, but it also permits me from advancing in my career when occasionally I need to miss work a few times a month for scans, doctor appointments, and treatments.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
I feel bored, tired, and uninspired by the time I am off work.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
To be honest pay off my car and bills. Working to survive. My goal to live the dream has yet to happen.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Go out and have fun with friends that will enjoy spending time with you. Check out local activities. Stay active, eat clean, and don't give up, have something to motivate you every day.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Ibuprofen occasionally, but I try to avoid that and deal with aches and pains in my bones
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Don't you ever go through the diagnosis stage alone! Always bring a close friend to help take notes and drive. When I found out I was in the middle of finals week. The surgeon called me in the day after the biopsy and sat me down at the end of the day to tell me I have Stage II cancer, but needs to double check with a scan. I went to my car and sat there crying and wondered why the universe was so bad. Then I thought stage II can't be too bad, but I was wrong stage IV is the worst.