Be the Boss Over Cancer

by Tammy L. on September 18, 2012
I was Diagnosed with:
intermediate grade invasive ductal carcinoma
Date of Diagnosis:
March 16, 2012
Employment Status:
full-time
Gender/Age:
Female/42
Type and Description of Treatments:
six months of chemo, followed by 30 radiation treatments... and I'm done!
How do you feel today?

Blessed. Relieved and yet still, honestly, a little anxious. Anxious that I could have to fight this battle again in the future. It was a long six months; but I realize I am very lucky... could have been a very different outcome, had I not found it so early. Glad that I don't have to drive 70 miles, 5 days a week for treatment, because of my insurance, and yet so happy that I did... so that I had such a wonderful medical team behind me.

Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?

It's hard. I try not to let stress get to me. I've always been one to feel like I don't do "enough" at work, home, etc... even though I always give, and give. I want my children to know that God has a plan, and you have to have faith in that. I pray more.

What is going well for you right now?

Work, family, friends. They are all so good to me. I am very lucky.

What is not going well for you right now?

Still the guilt of feeling like I should be doing more. I know that many others have fought a much longer, more difficult battle than mine. But for me, these last six months were about keeping our family normal... keeping the kids busy with activities, and making sure they know how much they are loved. So, with working full-time, juggling driving kids here and there, and doing my treatments... a lot of things got pushed to the back-burner.

What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?

Being ten places at once, and keeping everything together for the kids. It was exhausting because my kids were really involved in summer camp, plays. Sometimes you just want to say HELLLLOOO I'm going through something here... but more than that, I wanted them to be happy, healthy and NOT worry about me. I also worked full-time. It was not easy.

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

Talk to my husband, friends.

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

It makes me realize there are no guarantees. I work with people everyday who are dealing with "bumps" in their road, as an occupational therapist. I TRY not to take too much for granted.

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

I work full-time, 40 hours. This summer, through chemo and radiation, I did 32-40 hours a week.

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

Really not much. They are very, very supportive.. but I didn't change much about my schedule... really, only dropped a few hours to be with kids on their free days from camp.

What has helped you continue to work the most?

What I do! Being an OT. I LOVE what I do... people are amazing... they overcome incredible obstacles everyday. Helping these people makes me feel GOOD.

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

Have a good support system. Don't be afraid to cry when you need to... but then realize just appreciate every moment. Lean of friends, family. They WANT to help... even it's it's just an ear.

How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?

The most significant side effect was actually the protein injection after each chemo treatment. That was AWFUL. Chemo itself for me was ok. Radiation, too. But those injections just were terrible... about 2 days after, for about 3 days. Bone pain I will never forget. I just tried to do the best I could. Unfortunately my timing was crumby... I had kids plays, my anniversary, daughter's birthday.. :).. yah, not great. But I made it.
Now I'm on tomoxiflin (sp?).. I just get hot flashes.. but I can deal with that.

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

Don't panic. You have incredible support. More than you know. You have a wonderful husband, and great kids. You WILL survive. Stay strong. Have faith.