Chia W. on July 24, 2019
I was Diagnosed with:
Carcinoma in Situ Breast cancer
Type and Description of Treatments:
I received Proton Beam treatment. Proton Beam therapy is a relatively new radiation therapy. The side effects for his treatment are less severe than regular radiation therapy. I received a mastectomy of my left breast. They removed all breast tissue, however I was allowed to keep my silicone breast implant because it was so well placed and I also kept my nipple. I am on tamoxifen for 5 years post completion of Proton Beam therapy. Tamoxifen is a hormone blockage medication.
How do you feel today?
Wonderful and thriving.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
Cancer has changed my outlook on life. I feel deeply that stress was a large factor in the cause of my cancer. I had no family history or environmental factors but I had recently gone through a debilitating divorce and was struggling to run my business and support my 2 children and myself when I was diagnosed. I began to reevaluate my life and what I needed to do to recover and move forward. I work hard to let go of stress. I am passionate about my health and maintain healthy eating habits as well as doing yoga or hot yoga several times a week. I also sold my event planning business and started a new business based on support and education of cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones.
What is going well for you right now?
Thankfully my routine checkups and mammograms have all been clear. I continue to work on cancer prevention through diet adjustment, improved lifestyle, reduced stress, exercise and travel. I continue to educate myself on cancer education. I have started a new business which I am passionate about.
What is not going well for you right now?
Seeing more and more of my peers be diagnosed with cancer. I receive at least one call a week from a friend or acquaintance who is newly diagnosed and is seeking survivor information and strength.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
Letting go of everything that you thought that you had control of including raising your children, making payments for living expenses, running your business, etc. Your focus changes. These other things are important but you have to put your recovery to the forefront. Focusing on yourself and your health for a change is strange, but vital to your recovery. Don’t feel guilty about it.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
My doctors at MD Anderson, family and friends and the strength and relaxation I receive from yoga.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I am not putting the good china away for a special occasion. I treat everyday like a special occasion. I try to keep stress at a minimum. I am enjoying life and taking every opportunity to do the things I love and try new things. I like to travel, cook, entertain, spend time with my family and friends and take nothing for granted. I also took a long hard look at where I was in my career and whether it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I sold my business and got accepted into the Harvard Business Extension Program. I continue to work on my degree and have refocused my efforts into a new business which focuses on support and education of people recovering from cancer.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I am a self-employed entrepreneur which does allow me to work a more flexible schedule but it does not mean that I work less hours - in fact I work more. Luckily, starting a business does allow me to work remotely at times and I can work late into the evening if needed.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
I took a long hard look and evaluated what I wanted to achieve with my business. Surprisingly, I realized that this was not what I wanted to do. I had moved on and was ready to take on something that I felt truly passionate about. I sold my event planning business and began a new business, whose focus is through education, compassion and support we can add to the quality of life of those surviving with cancer.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
My children. I am a divorced mother of two with little spousal support. I needed to continue working to support my children and myself. I realized that I needed to know my limits and allowed myself to rest when needed. I changed my lifestyle in regard to eating healthier, continuing to exercise, and allowing myself to put my health and well-being first.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Know your limits. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Your friends and family really do want to help you. You need to tell them how. Change your lifestyle. Allow yourself to rest.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
I am faithful to my exercise routine of hot yoga or yoga 4-5 days a week which my doctor says has superseded the side effects of the tamoxifen regime I am on for 5 years. I think exercise is one of the key ingredients to a full recovery and cancer free life. Push yourself within your limits and you will see the benefits of exercise with your side effects, mood, health and overall out look on life.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Life is tough my darling but so are you.