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Apr 25, 2017 01:37PM
Hello! I am sorry to hear you have joined the club. I am 36 years old and was diagnosed with triple positive cancer in September 2016. I have had fertility preservation, TCHP chemo, surgery and I have now started radiation. I am a nurse in an outpatient facility and work everywhere from primary care, peds, OB/gyn, and have a background in gyn Onc. I really wanted to work throughout treatment, but my oncologist highly recommended that I not work. Not because of the physical aspects of the job, but due to the emotional fatigue. As much as I love my job, caring for patients can take a lot. Looking back, I am glad I didn't work though chemo. It allowed me to focus on taking care of myself. I did work through fertility preservation and that was tough. I have been off work since October. I do desperately miss working, but radiation is about an hour away in no traffic and I think I have just accepted that I won't return until treatment is done.
I also struggle with the privacy portion. I have to get labs at the facility where I work and every time I go in, I see at least 5 people I know. I used to feel obligated to greet everyone. Overtime, I learned to let that go. The building where I work has about 100 employees. They all know me very well since I float to different departments. When I was first diagnosed I wanted to keep it a secret, but it was too exhausting to try and keep that up. Everyone always asked why I wasn't working. I ended up telling everyone. They have been really supportive. Now I don't know what I would have done without the support of my work family. They even started a fund that really helped ease the financial burden.
As far as the research goes, I completely understand. For me, the technical information is far easier to digest and I agree it allows me to separate my emotions. I was the same way with my questions. When I was first diagnosed, I created a spread sheet and coded each question by who I needed to ask it to (MO, PS, BS etc). I think it helped to feel like I was doing something. Now I make a list of a few questions, but I wait until the doctor is done and then ask if my questions weren't answered. I also record every appointment so I can be present in the appointment and not worry about having to remember everything.
I do feel lucky that I have this background. I have people that I know and trust to recommend good providers. I also have people to ask when I want to make sure I am getting the right treatment.
The hardest part in all of this is remembering I am the patient. It is hard to turn off the caregiving portion of myself.
Okay, long rant done. Know you will get through this. Allow yourself to be taken care of.
9/2016, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (IHC)
9/2016, DCIS, Right, 4cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2+
10/18/2016 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel)
10/18/2016 Herceptin (trastuzumab)
10/19/2016 Perjeta (pertuzumab)
3/1/2017 Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement
3/2/2017, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 0/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH)
3/14/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
Whole-breast: Breast, Chest wall