Christina J. on June 9, 2022
I was Diagnosed with:
Metastatic/Stage IV Breast Cancer (MBC)
Full Time; Salaried
Type and Description of Treatments:
Targeted Treatment; CDK 4/6 Inhibitor; Ribociclib [Kisqali] (600mg - 3x200mg tablets once daily) Hormone Therapy AI; Letrozole (2.5mg table once daily) Zoledronic Acid infusion [Zometa] once per quarter Oophorectomy in Q2 2022 (Total Hysterotomy with BSO)
How do you feel today?
I feel okay physically, but worried about work.
Targeted treatment is 3 weeks on/ 1 week off. This is my off week. My last on week, last week, I had difficulty working past 6 hours a day due to fatigue.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
My life feels like it's completely turned upside down. I was diagnosed with stage IIa breast cancer in 2019. Since my metastatic diagnosis, I have to reevaluate my career goals. I can no longer concentrate on progressing up the ladder or working late to get projects done.
What is going well for you right now?
My manager has been very understanding, and had not dinged me in performance reviews for my decrease in accomplishments in comparison to before my diagnosis. People have been willing to work with my accommodation needs.
What is not going well for you right now?
I don't think that I'm a good fit for my current job. I feel less motivated now that I know I am unlikely to live until retirement.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
Lack of energy, worry about the future. The statistical 5 year survival rate for my type of cancer is 28% (according to Seer data). I don't feel as motivated at work knowing my survivability is so low.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I go to my friends and my husband. I have a therapist, but she hasn't worked a career type job in private sector, so her advice is limited in that are.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
Yes, I no longer expect to retire.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work salaried, so hours are not documented. But I generally am expected to work 8 hours a day 5 days a week.
I have worked at my current company for ten years, in a similar role. I generally have had promotions and significant job role growth every two years.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
I have been less involved in long term projects, because I've had to take significant medical leave (eight weeks in the last 26 weeks). I also have not been able to eight hours on some days when my side effects are significant. I find it difficult to focus or stay motivated some time.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
I want to keep using my skills and talents. I feel like I've invested too much to not use the experience I've gained.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
I'm not sure I have advice right now. Since I have MBC, there's no through treatment for me. My treatment will be ongoing until my end of life
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Most of my side effects are managable.
Hot flashes - Acupuncture
Nausea -- B6 lozenges and waiting, usually only 2 hours of nausea per day.
Itchiness -- steroidal cream and a great deal of willpower
Not sure how to deal with fatigue. Fatigue is the worst side effect.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Please start thinking about career adjustments day 1.