Beth K. on August 14, 2017
I was Diagnosed with:
Stage III colorectal cancer
Laid off from Fortune 500 company this spring after 30 years of service
Type and Description of Treatments:
24/7 chemotherapy during 25 rounds of radiation; colon cancer surgery to remove cancer; 3 of 12 prescribed chemo treatments; ostomy shut-down (February-October 2014)
How do you feel today?
AWESOME! Just got back from a week in San Diego to see my 25 year old son. Working on putting together a Shutterfly book with pictures to send to him.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
I no longer sweat the small stuff. I listen to my body and don't overdo things. I walk 5 miles each M-F morning to lose some of this weight I have packed on since cancer. I have always been about creating memories and capturing moments, but that is even more important now, even though I am currently cancer-free.
What is going well for you right now?
As I type this, I am getting a new roof! We had strong storms in the midwest this spring, so insurance is putting on a new roof.
What is not going well for you right now?
I was downsized from my company earlier this year after a 30 year career. I'm currently job hunting and not having much luck. Who knew that having cancer (in the past, I am currently NED) counted as a "disability" when it comes to job applications? Sometimes I say 'yes', sometimes - if I really am interested in the job - I say 'no'. Don't want to be eliminated because of something I used to have.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
While I no longer have it, I had a temporary ileostomy for five months. It was horrible, ugly, and I hated every single moment of having it. I couldn't sleep all night because I was afraid I would roll over on it or worried that it would burst during the night. I had to buy new shirts that were longer to cover it up because I was embarrassed to have it.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
Now, I go to colon cancer Facebook pages, but I didn't have that support during 2014 when I was undergoing treatments. Family and friends were helpful, but didn't really understand what I was going through. I wish I would have thought about looking for a FB support page in 2014.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I love to travel but plan to travel even more and see new things. I keep up on my dairy for my son that I started for him when he was an infant. I plan to retire early!
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
Unemployed, but actively looking for work in marketing, PR, or communications/writing.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
While I was working, nothing changed. I kept the same hours (when I was released to go back to work), so that did not change.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
Great co-workers and a great company.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
I would rest on a couch when I needed to. People understood and it was not a problem. Also, I requested a scooter from my company to use while in the office. I would get it at the door when I would come in from the parking garage for me to use getting around our large company complex. Don't be afraid to do that! Also, I took advantage of getting a handicapped tag to use when I needed it. It was short-term and I didn't use it everyday but nice to know I had it if I needed it. Ask your doc about getting a handicapped hang tag for your car.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
Occasional short-term memory loss (chemo brain), weight gain.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Listen to your body and advocate with your doctor for what your body needs. I changed oncologists mid-treatments because my oncologist wasn't listening to me.