Tina S. on October 22, 2019
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage 1 HER2+ Invasive Ductal Carcinoma In Situ
Type and Description of Treatments:
My medical team and I agreed the best course of action was immediate removal, followed by chemotherapy, radiation and 5-year adjuvant treatment. My journey to being cancer free began with a lumpectomy and bi-lateral reduction on April 4, 2017. That was followed by 16 rounds of chemotherapy (Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol, Perjeta and Herceptin. Once done and with about 30 days to recoup, I had 25 rounds of targeted radiation. My last infusion was June 28, 2018 and since January of the same year I began my 5-year regimen of Tamoxifen.
How do you feel today?
Today I feel great. I am regaining my energy and focus but I never lost my drive, nor my faith. Everything before the diagnosis seems so distant but the diagnosis was the "best-worst thing to happen to me" The diagnosis caused me to get busy with the business of living.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I have made strides to take control of my life and the direction i see it going. I re-enrolled in school and am almost done matriculating for my Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. During the treatment however, my father succumbed to complications from alzheimer's so in his memory, I fundraise for various organizations and bring awareness to the disease. I work full-time still but have aspirations of becoming a FT entrepreneur in recruiting and staffing. I am also a real estate investor and am working on my 2nd self-published book, along with a few other business endeavors.
What is going well for you right now?
What is working for me is my fervor and "can't stop-won't stop" attitude. I find that I am not the same in the area of timidity. I challenge the status quo, leave nothing to be question and make sure my voice is heard. I have also decided that a change of pace is needed and am in the process of relocating from the North East to the South East.
What is not going well for you right now?
My finances post diagnosis took a hit and with my desire to continue my education, find it challenging to get above the "just getting by stage". The job search is challenging as well, because I desire to relocate and often applicants from another state have a difficult time getting the attention of employers.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
My emotions often get the best of me because I clearly recollect the hard times I had to endure and largely, by myself. My tears these days are bittersweet because cancer treatment while maintaining a full-time position was extremely challenging. My focus was my faith and that is the reason I made it through.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I turn inward still. My focus is my faith and because of the healing power of Christ, I am able to express to Him the hard times I face and He never disappoints. There is always someone to come to my assistance or something that I learn about myself when we have those peaceful and private moments.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I sometimes feel manic because I am trying to accomplish EVERY conceivable dream and desire post diagnosis. I don't feel like I will die any time soon but realize that prior to the diagnosis there was a level of my just existing. My long-term and life goals now have a focus and a date and I work on them each and every day.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I am currently employed full-time (35 hours/week) with Friday's off over the summer. I work Monday-Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
My relationships with my co-workers and my desire to make an impact on my organization by being sensitive to those who are in the fight for their life after being diagnosed with cancer. I had to speak up for myself and become my own advocate when lines were crossed and my protected class challenge in the midst of treatment. I seek opportunities to share Cancer and Careers and the toolkit for managers as often as possible in the hopes that my advocacy would be readily accepted.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
The fact that I will soon graduate with my degree and the people who make it enjoyable to come to work each and every day.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Do what is best for you. Don't take no for an answer. Know you are not alone and you have a witness of women who both worked through treatment and those who did not...but what is best is that you preserve your peace at all cost and if working through treatment is what you need then that is what you should do.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
A lot of my dealing with side effects of treatment these days (Adjuvant) is by trial and error. I find that the medical professionals treating em during active treatment could not support my desire to change lifestyle (healthy eating and nutrition) and aide me in managing some of the side effects of Tamoxifen without prescribing another pill. I have found MUCH relief through the institution of herbs and herbal supplements.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
"Girl, dry your eyes! God made you a promise and He won't go back on His word! The road to your destiny won't always be paved with ease, but just know that the end was promised before the beginning and after its all said and done - YOU WON'T LOOK LIKE WHAT YOU'VE BEEN THROUGH!"