CSN Login
Members Online: 15

Cancer in college

jesss113's picture
jesss113
Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2007

Hey everyone, I was wondering if anyone would care to share advice/stories they may have from dealing with a situation similar to mine.

I'm 19 years old and in the most roundabout crazy way, my doctors found and diagnosed me with a strange instance of cancer. It was caught very early and most of it was accidentally surgically removed but I still have to go through chemo. I'm a sophmore (engineering major) in college and I am insisting on remaining in school while I do my 4-6 months. I start my treatments this Friday, 3 days and counting. Yesterday I had the a-port surgury.

What am I getting myself into?
Can college and chemo coexist peacefully?
Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.

DIVA's picture
DIVA
Posts: 38
Joined: Apr 2005

It may be challenging and one of the hardest things you have done but I think if you belive you can do it then it can be done. My doctors told me I could either work part time and do physical theropy or go to school part time and do physical theropy. I didnt have chemo. I had lung cancer at 21 and ended up with nerve damange in my left leg by "mistake" after surgery. My pain in my leg was unbearable because even though I couldnt move my leg or feel it being touched it felt like It was being electructed. pretty much like I could feel every tiny bit of blood flowing through it and I for months couldnt sleep. About 45 minutes a night. That alone can make yo u crazy but I was determined to do school full time so after 2 months of PT I could walk on it ok. and I kept at it though they said I was lucky to have my foot 100%. I went back to school FULL TIME thought it would be ok. THat people may understand but my first semester back was the hardest thing I have ever done. The stares my barely able to walk fast and people flying around me was hard to deal with at first. My main struggle is yes Im female and I had one night class downtown. And I live in a major city and took public transportation I kinda felt like I wouldnt be able to protect myself. I cried ever night after that class for a few weeks. I couldnt help it and I hated that because I at first hated that I was crying because I felt like I was pittying myself. I knew school was important to me I wouldnt let anything stop me from continuing and I didnt. I got through that semester and ended up with a D in my class at the downtown campus. THat was considered failing in my major for that class. that bothered me but with 5 classes and my school for the 5th class didnt cost any different then 4 its was oh well we will just retake it. I did well in all other classes. I had told my professors my situation. I sat in the back of classes so I could stand up at certain points because I could not sit long and I was working so hard on my foot and leg at the same time. ( its at 98% healed with the nerve it often can be 100% when I streach my legt and work with it daily) My stuggles through it all were hard mentally and physically (I know its not chemo like your having) but my body was exausted and frail. I had major surgery. I was weak. but I know how strong the mental aspect can help you prevail. I had stoped crying and fought for what I wanted. Just like when I was dianosed with cancer. 1st thing I said to my doctor after he said you have cancer was Ok then get this "crap" out of me. FIGHT bring Strength. I didnt know I had that. I had my bad moments. We all will. But now I see that fight that made me see my strenght. My doctors tell me I am alive because I wanted to be not because of science or medical anything. I had major complications from surgery that gave me a slim chance to live but my doctor knew from the 1st time I said to get it out I would fight. I did.

School is hard when your healthy let alone when your sick. It takes a stong and willful person to do what you are about to do but my gut told me to do it. and I did I kept going to school and graduated and my last day I walked to my car with no brace walking well and I called my best friend after my last final and I knew I passed all my classes. I said to her "can this really be this easy? I take 1 last test and walk off campus and never come back and Im a college graduate?" It was bittersweet. I felt like someone should of been or something sould of been holding me back in the end making the last step of it all complicated. but it was just take the test and that was it. i knew I had passed. Oh and that class I got a D in I got an A in the 2nd time around. And I never studied for a single test. The teacher wanted to know how I doing so well and it seemed easy she saw me before class every day and before tests she knew I wasnt doing the typical last minute cramming like most do. I had taken the class I knew the material and well my 1st time taking it was a problem with the professor not the material. That is something else that I struggled with. Some people care others will have an issue with your situation. I was glad I stayed and did that class no matter my issues with the professor because his ignorance fueled my fight and passion. I say if you want to fight and push youself do it. I felt on many occasions over 2 years that I was at a breaking point but each time I reminded myself of the begining of it all because that was my low. If your heart tells you and your soul says to do this then I say go for it. It may be the toughest thing in your life to this point but in the end it will be bittersweet and you can look back and say you turned the hardest thing in your life into something great.
There is a song that says:
"I wont give up, no I wont break down sooner then it seems life turns around. I will be strong even if it all goes wrong"

that is one that some of the lines helped me and there are many songs I took some of the lyrics to heart and they helped me through the stuggle.

Im sorry this is long. But I wanted to let you know I struggled in hopes it may help you.

Kristin

lyn33872
Posts: 7
Joined: Oct 2006

I am not young but my daughter was when she was diagnosed. She was in the middle of her senior year of high school. She scheduled her chemo tx on her schedule....usually Thursday afternoon so she would be over the nausea by Monday morning. She graduated third in her class, started work and graduated with an associate degree a year later. She took charge of her treatment instead of letting her cancer rule her life. She is now past 6 years cancer free. You can do it.

rthornton's picture
rthornton
Posts: 346
Joined: May 2005

Hi. I don't know if I'm exactly young, now that I'm in my mid-30s, but my cancer was detected at age 35 as I was taking prerequisite classes for a graduate program. Even through two major surgeries, and continuous chemotherapy since May of 2005, I have stayed in the graduate program. Sometimes I have had to drop a class here and there, so it's taking me longer to get through the program, but I can tell you that it's not impossible to get through college while going through cancer treatment. In fact, it gives you something to think about other than the cancer. For me, the teachers have often been understanding and accomodating.

Good luck!

Rodney

jessicawinters's picture
jessicawinters
Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2007

I am so glad that you posted and that I found your post! I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma when I was 20 years old (I am now 22 - almost a year and a half in remission), the summer before my junior year in college. My doctor recommended that I take a semester or even year off of school. I didn't consider this an option because I didn't want to graduate late. I stayed in school (I took 14 credit hours) and stayed involved (I serve in many leadership positions, all of which I held while I was sick). I truly believe that because I had to be well for school and well for my organizations I recovered more quickly from each of my treatments. I had chemo every other Friday for 4 months. I started in the summer and I was sick for much longer after each treatment before school started. School was motivation for me to do well and prove my doctors wrong. Do what you feel is right and learn to listen to your body. After my treatments I basically slept all weekend to be well for classes. Keep yourself motivated to be well and keep courage and hope - you can do it! If you ever feel like talking feel free to email. I know what you're going through - I've been there. I just wish I would have known about CSN then. Best wishes!

christy81's picture
christy81
Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2006

I was 23, just begining my master degree when I was dx with thyroid cancer. College was a motivation for me.

erolyn's picture
erolyn
Posts: 21
Joined: Dec 2008

I'm 20 with thyroid cancer, and school's been a motivation for me as well. Plus being at school I can try to live a normal life as much as possible, and not focus on being sick.

My professors were all very helpful and flexible when I told them I had cancer, and I'm sure yours will be too. Talk to your advisor and dean as well as your professors so everyone knows what's going on, and maybe people you know in classes also so you can get notes. Don't push yourself too hard if you're really feeling sick...my professors were really good about letting me move back due dates when I just couldn't get things done. I'm sure if you work and discuss things with them, you can find a manageable way to finish your semester on time, and it's certainly worth the shot. Good luck!

srisko's picture
srisko
Posts: 34
Joined: Apr 2008

I just want to say good for you to want to do that. I was diagnosed as a child so I can't really relate but I wish you luck!
Sarah

DIVA's picture
DIVA
Posts: 38
Joined: Apr 2005

I was in college when I was diagnosed. I had surgery and College was the best medicine. For me I refused to let cancer take away what I was working my butt off for. I didnt want to delay getting my degree. It was hard but well I used my being pissed that I had gotten cancer and there was even a thought from others that I should stop school for the time being. I didnt and I graduated on time. It was dificult but I wouldnt change my choice for anything

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network