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Nov 21, 2018 10:24AM
Like Pajim, I am incredibly fortunate. I have been very up front with my diagnosis from day one as I just feel it's the easiest path for me. When I was first diagnosed as stage IV my MO had me on Taxol to try to get the pleural mets under control. As expected, I lost my hair and refused to hide this fact, choosing to wear scarves and hats rather than a wig. My colleagues have all been very supportive with some checking in on a regular basis to see how things are going. (I did laugh at one particularly dense individual - I work in a large office building - He asked what my secret to hair growth was! I responded that I didn't know about the secret to growing hair but definitely had the secret to losing it - Chemo! Couldn't help myself.... ).
Given the nature of my employer, I have excellent medical benefits including a very good LTD plan. However, while I occasionally would prefer to stay home at times, I know that working is the best thing for me so I have taken very little time off. I took a couple of weeks off when I was first diagnosed but very quickly felt like I was going to lose my mind if I spent another day at home. I actually wrote to my boss from my hospital bed to discuss return to work after having the PleurX catheter put in! I was forced to do a gradual return to work despite my protestations but have been full time again since May of last year.
There have certainly been times over the last two years that I have considered scaling back. I worry at times that I am not giving myself enough "me" time, realizing how quickly things can turn for any one of us. The combination of early progression on Arimidex, symptoms from bone and belly mets, a lung infection and then a bout of pneumonia really made me wonder how long I could keep working full time. Fortunately Faslodex seems to have things under control, I'm feeling well again and enjoying the income from working full time (doing renovations on my house) so my head is back in a good space. I know my MO is of the opinion that I should keep working as long as I can.
Having said all this, I can't say that MBC has not had an impact on my job and career. I work in a highly competitive industry and prior to my diagnosis I was very focused on career progression. That's gone out of the window now. While part of me wants very much to take on new roles and challenges, I find I am not up to the long hours any more and no longer want to focus so heavily on my job. I also struggle with the idea of changing positions within my organization as I would not feel right interviewing for a position knowing that they will be taking on the burden of my health issues. It's tough with the uncertainty of never knowing when things will start to go downhill.
But to end on a positive note, I am lucky to work in such a great organization (despite the stress that can come with my senior management role). My work unit has been very supportive, even reallocating resources to hire a junior manager to support me. That alone has made a huge difference as I feel there is backup and continuity if I am not able to work for whatever reason. So far it hasn't been an issue but I feel that my organization is prepared. Great to have that piece of mind.
4/2001, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/10 nodes, ER+
5/10/2001 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary
12/17/2001 Whole-breast: Breast
12/20/2001 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
1/2/2007 Femara (letrozole)
10/22/2007 Arimidex (anastrozole)
1/3/2017, IDC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to bone/lungs, ER+/PR+, HER2-
1/27/2017 Taxol (paclitaxel)
3/28/2017 Arimidex (anastrozole)
4/20/2017 Ibrance (palbociclib)
10/12/2017, IDC, Right, Stage IV, metastasized to other
10/20/2017 Xeloda (capecitabine)
11/15/2017 External: Bone
1/18/2018 Faslodex (fulvestrant)
8/2/2018 External: Bone
11/5/2018 External: Bone