Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Becky S. on August 7, 2013
I was Diagnosed with:
Invasive Lobular Carcinoma of breast
Date of Diagnosis:
May 22, 2013
Employment Status:
Full-time physician assistant student - was supposed to graduate this year
Type and Description of Treatments:
Bilateral Mastectomy with TRAM reconstruction done 7/10/13. Now awaiting oncotype of the tumor before starting chemotherapy. I don't think I will have to have radiation!
How do you feel today?

Discouraged. I keep waking up in the middle of the night and have trouble falling back to sleep due to a thousand thoughts running through my brain. I am frustrated with waiting...wanted to start chemo by now so it can be done before Christmas and my graduation from PA school, but we are still waiting on test results.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

I am so much more aware of other individual's needs and sufferings now. I have friends who are in daily pain, others who are dealing with grief and loss of loved ones, one that is wanting to have children but unable to.... Somehow, I missed this before, but now I am able to empathize with them in their situations. I'm thankful for my new insight and hope it will help me in my future career!

What is going well for you right now?

I recovered from surgery with ease. I still have days when my energy level is decreased, but I haven't had much pain and have minimal long-term adverse effects. My friends and family have been amazing for me!

What is not going well for you right now?

I'm under great stress with trying to juggle my clinical rotations for PA school, getting my 3 children to school and their activities, finding time to study, and waiting to find out when chemo treatments begin - I am a 'planner' type of person, and right now I cannot even plan next week. That gets frustrating!

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Waiting for results, decisions, dates to approach. Also, at the beginning my treatment plan changed with nearly every doctor appointment I had, and it was difficult to adjust each time.

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

My husband, friends, and God.

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

Despite the difficulties, I am staying on-track to still graduate PA school this December. My graduation date is the anniversary of the day cancer took my father thirteen years ago, and that has made for great motivation to continue my goals!

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

I took a leave of absence from school for surgery, but will be returning to "work" just four and a half weeks after surgery. I report to different medical clinics for training for school, and they are going to be flexible with me as I go through chemotherapy treatments. I will still have to keep as close to a full-time work schedule as I can, and I have to study every evening after working all day.

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

Energy level fluctuates so much. Some days I am bursting with energy and others I have trouble leaving the house.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

Motivation to still reach my goal to graduate! Also, I have daily encouragement from friends and family -- that has taken me far!

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

Be flexible if you can. It's hard to plan ahead, but knowing and accepting that somehow makes it easier.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

I haven't had too many yet. Praying that the effects will be minimal so I can still function as wife, mom, student, etc.

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

"Keep your chin up". Don't assume the worse-case scenario until you have the facts. Be prepared for others to control your life for awhile.