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Glad to be here!!!!

sandra1234
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2004

I am new to the group. I am 38 and was diagnosed with rectal cancer last October. I had a port-a-cath installed in November and had chemo and radiation for 5 weeks. Then I rested for 4 weeks before having surgery to remove my tumor.

I am so glad to be here or anywhere right now! I have a couple of questions for the regulars:

How do you live with knowing the cancer can come back?

Has anyone cut down on their hours at work after going thru this? I think my priorities have greatly shifted and am wondering how to tell my boss that I don't want to go back to 60-70 hour weeks.

Thanks! All of your stories are truly inspirational.

jsabol's picture
jsabol
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Sandra, and welcome. This is certainly THE place to be. I was diagnosed last Nov (age 53), had a resection in Dec, with 1 pos node, so now approaching chemo tx #6 with 5FU and Leuco. I will have 4 series of 6 weekly treatments.
I just met with one of my supervisors today to discuss taking "intermittant" leave during chemo. I am clear that, although I usually like/love my job, that my priorities need to shift for the short term. I suspect, for the long term, too. I remind myself often that in 10 years, no one will remember what weeks I worked or didn't, but it may effect my chemo outcome, and I hope to be around in ten years!
So...welcome, and visit often; this site has been a mainstay for me these last 2 months. Judy

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Ahoy, Sandra1234 -

Welcome to the semi-colons! We're glad you're here, too. Also glad to know that your treatments seem to be going well.

You know, it will be over soon enough and you'll be "in remission" (whatever that really means). I have been in remission for a while. You ask a good question; how do we live with knowing the cancer can come back...

In my case it's hereditary (a genetic condition known as HNPCC). So the active cancer may be gone, but the hosed-up DNA that causes it is still crousing through my body looking for another likely spot to start a fire. My mom - God love her - has put out three such fires (colon, bladder, and uterine cancer) and she's still kicking. How do you live with that? You take good care of yourself and maintain a good dialogue with your doc. Yeah, you go see the onc if you have a hangnail - but at lest you'll know that it's a hangnail and not some weird malignant growth hanging off your little finger.

The other thing - for me anyway - is that you treat peole with as much kindness as you can. You appreciate life and the people in it. You do good things and tell people how you feel. I want to leave this place knowing that people will remember me as being a good person. I think there is healing in that, too. Karma is a boomerang as i am fond of saying. I believe that being good to others helps to make us well inside ourselves.

Carpe diem! That's, of course, just my take on it all. there are probably as many different ways of dealing with the knowledge it may come back as there are survivors out there.

Again, welcome. I look forward to reading your posts.

- SpongeBob

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1246
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Sandra

I was stage 4, and even though I hold my breath with every test result until confirmed I'm "still clear," I don't let this silly situation of mine rule my life. By being on top of changes, you can address anything immediately that you may think is a recurrence. Detection is the key.

As far as work, most places are understanding. If you think working that many hours is too much, by all means, ask for an adjustment.

We are all here for you, and we all understand excatly what you are going through. That really helps, because people sometimes THINK they know how you feel, but unless you experience it first hand, they seldom have a clue.

Best wishes,

Stacy

efw
Posts: 20
Joined: Jul 2003

I was diagnosed a year ago. I'm 30 years old now and felt like I was just really starting my career, because I'd been in school for so long. I was at my current job for just 4 months when this all hit, but the firm I work for has been very understanding. I obviously missed a lot of work with 2 surgeries (initial surgery, and then colostomy reversal in Sept.) and with chemo for 6 months, but now I'm back to a regular work schedule (although I don't put in nearly as many hours as you do -- I keep it around 50 hrs/wk).

As far as the cancer coming back, I worry about it constantly, but try to keep busy with other things. I think the worry is good, though. You should run to your doctor if you have a new pain or lump. And all of this definitely makes you appreciate life more than the average person does.

pattieb
Posts: 176
Joined: Mar 2003

Welcome Sandra
My ca has come back as two small spots on my lung and two small spots on my cervix but I don't dwell on it I am the one who told my onc I don't want to wait for them to grow so I am in my third round of treatment, as far as work you will probably find that working those many hours is very hard You should talk to your boss and try to cut back alittle you do need your rest. I went back to work originaly in Dec 2002 and worked until Nov 2003 when they have a big lay off but They asked me to go out on disabilty so I would still have insurance and my job back when the disability runs out.
Keep us posted all the semi colons here are really great people
Pattie

cmcl's picture
cmcl
Posts: 79
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi Sandra! Welcome. I am also very new to the group. I wish I had done it long ago. I've been receiving treatment since Aug and my last treatment is next week. I'm a Teacher Assistant in a public school, and I can't even begin to explain how well they have treated me. The staff and administration have been so wonderful and supportive, anything I need to make this difficult time easier. I have a truly amazing story to tell, but I'll save that for another time. I pretty much work part time, every other week. I will go back to full time when I am finished with all my treatments.
I agree with SB.....Live life to the fullest.
Good luck,
Carolyn

2bhealed's picture
2bhealed
Posts: 2084
Joined: Dec 2001

Hi sandra,

Welcome to the gang. Glad you joined in but sorry you had to be here....as we all are I am sure. Would be much more fun being on the "We won the lottery" website support group.

To answer your question: How do you live with knowing the cancer can come back?

Some days in fear and some days in victory depending on emotional state, hormones, stress level, bank statements, and test results.

Today I am high on the hog due to clear test results yesterday. In 5 months I may think I am dying. All I know is that I try to live each day fully and in love. What does that truly mean? That I partake in activities that I enjoy and are health promoting. I stay away from toxic people. I kiss on my kids all day long.

But there are days that the anger pops up and a black cloud descends and there ain't nothin' I can do for the moment to dispell it. I acknowledge it and know that tomorrow is a new day.

You are still fresh to all of this and it takes awhile (or it took me awhile) to work through some of this stuff. I seeked out counseling which was very helpful.

Hope you keep coming back when you need to.

peace, emily

Sheepy's picture
Sheepy
Posts: 48
Joined: Nov 2003

Hi, only just got round to posting a reply.
I too was diagnosed at 38, and despie having had the surgery, and being halfway through the chemo, I still feel absolutely fine most of the time.

I cope with having had cancer because there is no alternative. I love living, I love my wife and kids, I love my work; I'm alive now and I want to be alive a while longer yet!

I wouldn't like to face it alone, but on the other hand sometimes I just want to get on with life without feeling like a victim; e.g. when I fancy a challenge at work family and friends tell me to take it easy. But I don't want to!

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