Amy S. on November 28, 2016
I was Diagnosed with:
Breast Cancer-ER PR + Invasive & In situ - In ducts and lobules
Contractor for 5 years at automobile manufacturing facility
Type and Description of Treatments:
Double Mastectomy, 6 rounds of chemotherapy, Anastrozile for 8 more years
How do you feel today?
Weak physically & scared mentally. I can’t get to sleep and I can’t wake up in the morning. I’ve gained about 45 lbs since my diagnosis. I feel very isolated. I feel like everyone expects me to be okay and I’m not. I sleep a lot and get anxiety attacks about money, bills, and my future.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I have become more sad. I don’t trust many people, even my own family members and friends, because they flaked on me when I was sick. I used to be very optimistic. I struggle to pay my bills. I won’t even consider dating because how do I explain what happened to me let alone trust someone again?
What is going well for you right now?
I’m cancer free. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. My children are healthy. I have a job.
What is not going well for you right now?
I need a new job with health and dental insurance. I have no sick days and only 1 week paid at my current job. I have to borrow money from my father to make my monthly bills, get groceries and gas.
I’m depressed and anxious.
I need reliable friends and family that has my back.
A mate/companion would be so nice. I feel so lonely.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
Wow, what hasn’t been challenging?
That’s really hard to answer because physically, I felt like the chemo almost killed me but I took it so much better than others from what I was told.
The isolation and loneliness have been very hard.
The worst has been the financial part. Trying to get the care I deserve. Fighting hard to stay above water.
My self esteem is so low.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
My friends on facebook. My Dad, daughter (18) and son (15). I have a best friend 500 miles away that I text every day. She’s kept me alive on my hardest days.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I’m more realistic about everything. Live for today and next week but a year from now? I can’t even think about what that will hold for me.
I want to find a job that is less stressful than the one I have now. I will probably have to take a big cut in pay but my current job doesn't offer me any support.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work 40-50 hours per week. I work 9:30 - 6:00 pm most days and work through lunch. My commute adds 2 hours to my day.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
Work has become harder for me. I can’t handle stress a lot. I do a lot of public speaking and presentations but I have to take a Xanax some days especially with my hot flashes.
I have trouble sleeping. I am coming off of a sleeping pill. I can’t go to sleep and I have trouble waking up. I need a job where I am valued, my experience and opinion are considered.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
Fear of losing my house. Fear of losing my car. Fear of not being able to purchase Christmas and Birthday gifts for my children .
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
I would have claimed disability if I thought it would have been approved. Move in with someone and take a break. Sell stuff that you don't need or use. I sold all of my gold except for one ring that my parents gave to me.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Not well, obviously.
I’d love to exercise but am too tired to do so because my work day is so long.
If I had the money I'd get massages and try acupuncture for stress.
The hot flashes- I have a fan at my desk at work. I wear layers and keep my house freezing.
The physical stuff like thinning hair, weight gain, scars, etc. have really humbled me.
I have tried to lean on God but I lose my focus daily. I can’t concentrate on anything.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Try to exercise.
Don’t worry about what others think.
Don’t be shocked when the ones closest to you disappear.
If anyone offers you help take it!
Cry if you feel like crying. It’s okay!