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Aug 19, 2019 10:54AM
DMHGF, I think that one of the biggest problems for me was the anxiety before my surgery. It was VERY hard to concentrate at work because I had so much to learn about cancer (reading studies, forums, etc). I also found that I didn't want to be bothered with little things and decision making on unimportant items. When asked where did I want to eat dinner I'd say "you pick" angrily! I just didn't care and felt like I had more to worry about than micro decisions.
I don't know how much of your job you can do from home from your computer, but that will make a big difference in how easy it is to keep working IMO.
I've been trying to be introspective a bit on this journey, and I found that I have a lot of supporting people in my life and I didn't really need much support other than knowing that they cared. I think the most important thing for me was having at least 3 different people who would listen to be blab on endlessly about cancer or whatever was going on with my doctor's visits. That really helped me think through things and almost get tired of talking about them.
I was lucky that my DH was a great caregiver and didn't get bored with my blabbing. But I also found that a lot of friends would have been willing to help. I have a neighbor who is a nurse who came over last night and asked what she could do for me during chemo. The answer was "nothing at the moment" because I'm totally fine, but the thought was uplifting.
I guess my real thoughts are that you may not need as much support as you think- just people to care and do little things. The bigger logistical issues for me were meals, laundry/household chores, and transport to tons of doctor's appointments. I didn't have the work issues as my coworkers covered for me, and I have no idea how you would go about getting a substitute if you are a sole proprietor with specialized skills. :(
For meals, we have a friend who makes them for us and we freeze them, but there is no reason that you couldn't prepare a lot of dinners and freeze them in advance. I cleaned the house before my surgery, and it stayed clean enough afterwards. DH did wait on me hand and foot and did all of the household chores, but I really didn't need it. I could have done most things myself except open jars or reach high things. I was happy to let him do laundry, although I could have managed it by making multiple trips up and down the stairs with the laundry basket. For groceries, we mostly ordered online from the grocery store and had them delivered. That was pure laziness, but it was nice to be able to do it. DH also took to all of my appointments, which was great.
I initially felt like my diagnosis was a very private matter, I didn't want to tell anyone. But as I got more comfortable with it, it became easier to talk about. I let select people know at first, and then at work I had to tell all of my direct reports before my surgery. That was when I decided it wasn't a secret, and now all of my immediate coworkers know through the grapevine, so that is about 80-100 people, plus my other friends. I haven't found a single person who isn't completely supportive. I joke about being "deboobed and reboobed" and it makes it easy for my friends and I to have candid conversations because I don't treat it like a secret. People routinely asked me how the boobs were doing as I went through tissue expansion. Most women wanted to talk about what size I'd pick and hear how it works. It felt more like a team effort to me once I let them in.
I had my surgery in mid April 2019 and I feel great now and have felt great for a while. I'm at 100% except for having somewhat weak pec muscles because I haven't exercised them much. I've completed one round of chemo and only have 3 more to go!
I felt much more in control once surgery was scheduled, and then I felt even better after the surgery. No more worry that the cancer was just that moment going from being in my breast to roaming around my body and that we weren't doing anything about it.
After my surgery and when I felt like I was at a good spot, I let me wider friends know via a post on Facebook. It was nice to hear how many of them went out to get mammograms that were overdue! Again, tons of support from everyone, and I hope it helped them to keep up on their medical checkups!
I was also a bit of a pain for my medical team, I like to think I'm now pretty informed on my cancer and the ways to treat it. I was a stalker to my BS's scheduler because if I hadn't been, it would have been an extra 3 weeks in my timeline and that was not acceptable to me.
I made sure I knew all of the different treatment options before I met with the MO so I could ask intelligent questions and also make good choices. For instance, my MO was explaining the different hormonal therapies, and I already knew what I wanted (OS + AI). I let her do all the talking, and although she started out talking about Tamoxifen, she ultimately recommended OS + AI, and I was like "perfect, that is what I wanted"! Had she not suggested it, I probably would have pushed for it anyway.
I think that being your own advocate is the best possible thing you can do for yourself. Keep it up!
Diagnosed at 42, Oncotype score 16, ITC in one node- considered node negative
4/8/2019, ILC, Left, 3cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
4/23/2019, ILC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
5/15/2019 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement
6/13/2019 Zoladex (goserelin)
8/5/2019 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
11/6/2019 Reconstruction (left): Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Silicone implant