Glenna S. on July 26, 2015
I was Diagnosed with:
Ovarian Stage IIB
20 to 40 hours weekly
Type and Description of Treatments:
2008: initial diagnosis treated with debulking surgery and 6 rounds of chemo with Carboplatin and Taxol. 2012: first recurrence treated with debulking surgery and 8 rounds of chemo with Carbo and Taxol 2014: second recurrence treated w/ dubulking surgery, 6 rounds of chemo w/ Carbo and Doxil, and planned radiation to my pelvis.
How do you feel today?
I feel realistically optimistic. I am very grateful for the generosity of my immediate manager to hold my work position beyond the 12 weeks of the federal guidelines in the FMLA act.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
After recovering from the initial diagnosis and treatment in 2008/2009, I lived with a fear of recurrence. I was afraid of what life would be like if I had to undergo the treatment again. Well, I have lived through a recurrence twice. I am now looking at something new, radiation treatments. Life keeps on "slipping into the future" and so must I to the best of my ability.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
With my initial cancer diagnosis in 2008, I had debulking surgery followed by 6 rounds of chemotherapy with carboplatin and taxol. After recovering from surgery and a DVT, I was able to return to work part-time through the chemo treatments. Working part-time allowed me to stay within the FMLA 12-week restriction. After I completed chemo, I gradually increased my hours to full-time at 36-40 hours weekly. I truly enjoy my work as a medical professional. I make a difference in patient's lives, therefore, it was easy for me to return to work.
Then I had a recurrence in 2012. Once again I was out of work following the debulking surgery and worked part-time through 8 rounds of chemo with same carbo and taxol drug combo. This time I went beyond the 12-week FMLA restriction. However, my employer was gracious to hold my job position. My recovery took longer, but I eventually returned to part-time work at 28-32 hours per week. Because I enjoy my occupation it was easy to return to work but this time I wanted more balance with my personal life.
Then I had another recurrence in 2014. I am currently on an extended Personal Medical Leave. My employer is, once again, graciously holding my position. I recognize this is very generous for my employer to offer and I am thankful. So, I have been through another debulking surgery and this time the chemo drug combo of Carbo and Doxil has curtained any participation in my occupation. I have been out of work for six months. Being out of work has allowed me to explore more resources available to cancer survivors. I don't know how long this Cancer and Careers website has been in existence, but today is the first time I've investigated all it has to offer.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
If you can, take enough time off to allow yourself to heal physically. Better yet, if you can, take more time off to allow yourself to explore what brings you happiness and make that happen.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Stop asking "Why me?" Stay focused on what you can do today or in this moment to make life worth living.