Mary Anne C. on December 29, 2017
I was Diagnosed with:
1a, ER+, PR+, Her-
Principal of Elementary School
Type and Description of Treatments:
I had a lumpectomy with a second re-excision. My oncologist score came back at 14, so fortunately I was able to not have chemo. Completed 21 days of radiation. Now taking tamoxifen for the next 5-10 years.
How do you feel today?
Most days I feel pretty good!
I am trying to get back to more of my routine of regularly exercising like I did before diagnosis. Since radiation, fatigue still sets in by the afternoon.
I haven’t had any side effects from the tamoxifen other than dry mouth.
Mentally, I struggle more than physically with constant worry about every twinge. I am hoping as time passes, the worry will.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
My outlook on life has changed dramatically. Before diagnosis, I was a triple type A person with everything having to be just right. Wow, has that changed! Things just don’t get to me anymore. I don’t let people stress me, or things not done or not perfect stress me. Taking time to be with my kids and husband and close friends is my priority. I also really learned who my true friends are!
My approach to being a Principal has also changed. I now look at every situation a little different and really focus on the back story of what may be causing the conflict. I also take time everyday to celebrate, laugh and really enjoy my “Littles” as I like to call them.
What is going well for you right now?
My career, my immediate family.
What is not going well for you right now?
My struggle with the fear of it coming back. I am scared to death that at the next scan they will find it somewhere else.
I am also scared for my daughter. She is 21, and very similar to me with her monthly cycles. We have talked extensively about checking her breasts.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
The fear....the fear of treatments, the fear of being sick.
I am not scared of dying, well I am, but I am more scared of what it will do to my children.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I joined a couple of online support groups that have been very helpful.
I also have a very close friend that has been an amazing support to me.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I thought before diagnosis that I wanted to move up in the school system to executive leadership...I am technically four years away from being able to retire. I probably won’t retire, but I don’t see myself taking on higher levels of leadership. I love working with young children and their families as a principal.
I want to teach college kids that want to become teachers. I know that I don’t want the stress of running a school district.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work 50+ hours per week leading an early elementary school of about 400 children with about 80 faculty and staff.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
The way that I approach situations has changed. I realized that everyone has something going on in their head and the way they react is dependent on the way I react. If I am calm, kind, and positive, for the most part people will respond that way.
I have also learned to not own someone else’s problems. Lord knows I have enough of my own!
What has helped you continue to work the most?
I have the pleasure of working with 4-8year olds every day. They are the future and I live to see them grow!
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Balance...work can be a great distraction, but it can also be a huge stressor. I think you have to figure out if work can be that positive distraction or if you need to take a leave to focus on getting well.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Just fatigue. I am always tired, but I don’t sleep very well. It’s very strange.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Its going to be okay. Yes, you have cancer, but you are not going to die today, so go live today.