Home > Collective Diary > Finding purpose after cancer
Molly C. on January 7, 2017
I was Diagnosed with:
Adenoid cystic carcinoma
On leave and looking for career change
Type and Description of Treatments:
9 hour surgery on 8/19/2016 to remove tumor that had attacked my right perotyd gland. I was unable to open my jaw at time of surgery. Team of 6 surgeons removed largest tumor of this kind on record, it had begun to spread up around the back of my skull. Post op I have completed 8 weeks of chemo and radiation. I have regained use of my right eye. It took time to be able to blink and close my eye. My jaw was sawed open and 2 metal plates mended it back together. Tissue was used from my thigh to replace the affected tissue removed from my face. I still have a minor palsy on the right side. I can open my jaw a bit now. I'm still on soft and liquid foods. Pain is barely manageable with pain pills. If I refrain from eating solid foods and tall very little pain is manageable.
How do you feel today?
I feel scared. I know I am considered a success story as scans show no cancer now. This kind of cancer does have a high return rate every 10 years. I chose to do chemo to improve my chances of staying in remission.
I have bouts of depression that I try to hide from loved ones. They say I am strong and I have gotten through the worst of it. But the recovery of my jaw is very painful. I look different too and that makes me a little sad too.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I have not been working since surgery. I lost 30lbs and I was small to begin with. I have managed to get my weight back up a bit and maintain just over 100lbs. I'm hoping to make a career change. My past most recent career had me on my feet and lifting a lot of weight. I have great administrative skills though that was not my most recent job.
What is going well for you right now?
I have an amazing boyfriend. We only met a year before my diagnosis but he has stayed by my side and is incredibly loyal and loving.
My father also came to every one of my chemo treatments and has always been in my corner.
What is not going well for you right now?
The financial burdens are very heavy. My finances are wiped out and looking to switch careers in NYC is difficult. I have great skills and passion, I just need a chance. My boyfreind is a disabled vet, he does what he can.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
Fear. I also look a bit different. I was a model when I was younger. I could not do that now. I don't look deformed but I do not think I am pretty anymore.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I would love to help others. I would love a career, even if I started at the bottom in a clerical or administrative role where I was able to be a part of something great.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I am just returning. Hoping to find a job that allows me to grow and learn. I have just contacted my employer who put me on medical leave. I may not be able to return as I am no longer able to stand for 8 plus hours nor can I lift large amounts of weight.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
I miss working in an office environment. I have not seen most of my co workers though I have heard from them. I am afraid they will not be able to keep me.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Recovery always changes. I was always aware of the worst case but hoped for the best. I am considered a success and a survivor.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
I stay in contact with all my doctors. They email me back almost immediately. I take their advice.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
It will not be worst case scenario!