Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Maria L. on August 27, 2012
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage 1
Date of Diagnosis:
December 23, 2010
Employment Status:
Full Time
Gender/Age:
Female/52
Type and Description of Treatments:
Two Surgeries, six weeks radiation Therapy
How do you feel today?

I feel good!

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

When I was diagnosed, my world came crashing down. I was scared, and regardless of my support system, I felt alone. So many choices to make, so many decisions, it all happened so fast. But I decided to opt for a lumpectomy, had to have a second on because there was still some left, I was thankful I didn't have to have chemo but I had six weeks of daily Radiation. I still kept working - I took a total of two weeks off for both surgeries and no time during radiation. I learned how strong I am and how the people around me were really there for me.

What is going well for you right now?

While I was going through Radiation treatments, I designed an alternative gown for women to wear while undergoing Radiation treatments. Here's what happened: The Cancer Center I went to was fantastic; private parking spaces, fresh baked cookies, lending library, wide screen television, and a staff that was just wonderful. Every day I would walk in and my mood would rise as I was warmly greeted by the smiling staff and the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. But then I would walk into the changing area, and reach into the cupboard to put on that ugly hospital gown.

So that's where the idea for my design, "Radiant Wrap" was born. Putting on that hospital gown was the one part of the entire process that made me feel sick, because at that moment, I looked sick. My personality was taken away, I was uncomfortable, cold and embarrassed. For weeks I wore those gowns, and kept thinking that there had to be a better alternative.

So one weekend I took a few gowns home, cut them up and designed the Radiant Wrap. It meets all of the requirements for treatment, but at the same time made me look and feel beautiful. It is flattering, beautiful, and uniquely designed. Before I knew it, everyone was asking me about it, and that’s when I thought that this could be my opportunity to share, to give a bit of hope and radiance to all of the women in the world who have to go through this experience. My son and I started the business and we are currently in six hospitals and Cancer Centers in Northern California and are growing.

What is not going well for you right now?

I can't say that it's not going well - I think the hardest part is that even though it has been over a year and a half, everytime I get an ache or a pain I immediately think the cancer has come back.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Having cancer humbles you and makes you realize that you are not as solid as you thought you were - especially for your children.

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

I talk to my mother a lot - she is 80 and has dealt with Breast Cancer for over 50 years. She has had mastectomy and had five Breast and Lymph node recurrences. She is the strongest person I know.

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

My designing "Radiant Wrap" has given me an opportunity to turn a bad experience into something good. I feel as if I am sharing and making the experience a little bit better for other women going through it.

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

Full time- Mon through Friday 7am-5pm

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

Nothing

What has helped you continue to work the most?

Family

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

Please take it slowly and do not stress out. Take the time off that you need.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

Rough skin - lots of moisturizer.
I take it easy with my right arm.

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

Slow down, take time to think about what is happening, and take more time off of work to get through this. You don't have to be a hero all of the time.