Carol S. on April 20, 2019
I was Diagnosed with:
Type and Description of Treatments:
Four cycles of chemotherapy, high-dose chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, maintenance therapy
How do you feel today?
I have some issues with fatigue, but overall I feel pretty good. It's eleven months since my transplant and I have resumed most of the activities I enjoyed before diagnosis.
The chemotherapy and transplant were a success. I am in complete remission.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your life?
Since my diagnosis I have become very focused on the people and things that are most important to me.
What is going well for you right now?
I feel well enough to resume running, which became so difficult just before my diagnosis and during treatment. It feels so good to move again and to feel strong.
I enjoy my job and the people I work with. I am so very grateful I have medical insurance that got me through all of my cancer treatments.
What is not going well for you right now?
Fatigue: I bonk a lot, and though I'm really tired, I don't sleep well.
What has been the most challenging thing about having cancer?
Taking so many drugs. Prior to my diagnosis I had no other health issues, so I had no experience with taking medications and dealing with all of the side effects. The first time I received chemotherapy I cried over the chemicals that were streaming into my body. I really had to work hard to make peace with the treatment I received.
When difficulties overwhelm you, where do you go for support?
I have an excellent treatment team that has guided me through the rough patches. My husband has been my caretaker and there every step of the way. I also belong to a multiple myeloma support group that has been an important source of information and support.
How have your long-term goals or life goals changed since diagnosis?
I don't really have long-term goals. Patients with my type of myeloma and response to treatment and transplant have an average six years without disease progression. My goal is to just enjoy all the time I have.
What is your work arrangement right now? What are your hours?
I work part-time, 32 hours per week. I schedule all of my appointments on Fridays, my day off.
Since the diagnosis, what has changed in your work life?
I have some short-term memory problems, and I have had to find ways to compensate for them. I struggle with remembering small bits of information--passwords and user names. I no longer try to multitask.
What has helped you continue to work the most?
When I told my boss about my diagnosis she immediately started advocating for me. She reduced my hours to 25 per week during my chemotherapy. That allowed me the flexibility I needed and it also helped me save my sick and vacation time and to reduce the amount of time I needed to take in medical leave.
What advice do you have for others trying to work through treatment?
Be gentle with yourself. Understand and accept that you might not have the energy and focus you once had. In addition to the treatments, you are dealing with some very large emotional issues that can take a toll.
How much would you like to disclose about what you are going through? It's your choice. I decided to tell just a few key people, and it was nice to have a place to go to every day where my cancer was not the focus--cancer has a way of taking over! It also allowed me some sense of normalcy. Before I entered the hospital for my transplant I told all of my co-workers in my department about my diagnosis and treatment and they became my cheerleading team.
I returned to work 45 days after my transplant, and for a week or so everyone treated me gingerly, not wanting to give me too much to do. Now things are pretty much back to normal.
How have you dealt with any side effects of treatment?
I had gastrointestinal problems and I developed peripheral neuropathy. My oncologist offered me medications to ease side effects, but they had their own side effects so I didn't take them for long. I found it was best to just try to take care of myself, get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and exercise.
If "today's you" could give advice to "day-of-diagnosis you," what would you say?
Hm....I don't have an answer for this one.