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results of CT and several questions

StruTanToot
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

First of all, I want you all to know that I'm so grateful for this site and for all the help you provide. I received my diagnosis on Aug. 3, and the support from you on this site has helped me to replace fear with determination and embarrassment with openness and candor. Thank you.

I had my CT scan yesterday and met with the radiation oncologist. I received excellent news...Stage 1, and the doc said it was "completely curable." It was found so early because I've had recurring condyloma and I had to have surgical biopsies about twice a year.

My treatment will be six weeks of radiation M-F and chemo weeks one and five. The doc said I'd be fine the first three weeks.

First of all, will I be fine the first three weeks like the doc said?

Secondly, I work full-time from home. Next week, I start teaching two classes at a local university. The classes are MWF, 8am-10pm. My doc said I might not be able to stand and teach for two hours. What do you think?

For my full-time job, I work from home on a computer. My mgr has said I can have a flexible schedule. He also said I might want to take a leave of absence during treatment.

I hope he is trying to be helpful, but the danger is that the company doesn't have to take me back when it's over if there is no place. Also, I think I have to apply for short-term disability.

I have 92 hours of time off saved...so two weeks and 12 hours to use. My thinking is that I should work a reduced schedule during treatment, especially the last two/three weeks of treatment, and I assume the week after treatment.

I guess the question is should I just tell him I need to wait and see, that all people respond differently? Part of the problem too is that radiation will take around three hours a day with my commute, but I'm willing to work on the weekends if necessary.

Or should I just take the leave of absence? I can use my time off and then apply for STD. I just hate to go through that process.

Next, my doc told me that I would not lose my hair. Although I'm male, I wear my hair long, and of course, I like having hair. Will I lose my hair? I've read that my hair might thin...if so, how much?

I'm sorry for the long post and so many questions. I appreciate any help.

Thank you all...I truly feel like I have a new family.

Cheyenne's picture
Cheyenne
Posts: 72
Joined: Apr 2012

The biggest problem that I had was a low white blood cell count so I was told to avoid people that might have germs. I stayed home because I didn't want to risk getting sick and have treatment interrupted. That happened at the end of week 3.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2974
Joined: Jan 2010

Since I was not employed at the time of my treatment, it would be hard for me to answer your questions. I will say that each person's experience with this treatment is a little different, so none of us can tell you exactly how you will feel. I know that some people have managed to work completely through it, while others could not. If I had been employed at the time, I would not have been able to work after about week 2. If your boss is understanding, perhaps he will be okay with you playing it by ear and just seeing how you feel. As for hair loss, I would say I probably lost about half of my hair, which began coming out on day 21 of treatment. It really thinned. I just wore a ballcap. Some people do not lose any hair, so perhaps you will be one of the fortunate ones.

MyHopen413
Posts: 38
Joined: Mar 2012

The side effects do vary from person to person. I did lose my hair about 3 weeks into treatment. I was able to take off work, so I did about the third week of treatment. I mostly stayed home because I had diarrehea and fatigue. However, I think I could have worked from home. If you rest when you can and drink lots of fluids, you very well could continue to work. Towards the end of treatment, you might have trouble with radiation burn, which can be very uncomfortable. It's only for a few weeks, though. You will bounce back fairly quickly. There are helps for every side effects. My radiation nurse gave me specials creams and diets which helped. My oncologist clinic was very supportive with anti-nausea medicine, pain medicine and IV fluids when I needed them. If you are on a chemo pump, it is very easy, just a little inconvenient.
I'm so thankful you are at a very early stage. Best of luck to you.
Diane

Bella_G
Posts: 20
Joined: Dec 2011

I took 3.5 months off work as fatigue and the side effects of pain management prevented me from being able to work my desk job. I returned to work 2 months after completing treatment. The fatigue was pretty bad for the first month post treatment. I was tired just showering.

It helps to have a good support network to make meals, drive you to appointments once you start pain management, and assist with burn wound care.

I think working from home may be more manageable as it keeps you away from others when your blood counts are low and is better if you have frequent diarrhea.

I wish you the best for your treatment and recovery.

I completed treatment almost 6 months ago and am doing great! Hiking 6-9 miles, biking, swimming etc.

RoseC's picture
RoseC
Posts: 503
Joined: Jun 2011

Congratulations on having this cancer found so early, stage 1, and totally curable. Kinda weird to be congratulating someone on a cancer diagnosis but I hope you know what I mean.

I was able to work for the first four weeks full time, with the help of my company. My company is a large one and they have a special program for folks going through long-term treatments, such as cancer treatments and dialysis. They paid for the time I was at radiation, along with any other doctor's appointments I had, without me having to go on STD. I was able to go into the office during this time.

After week four I found I was too tired (plus the radiation burns were getting uncomfortable) and went to a reduced work week (20 hours/week, many of those from home). I may have taken some STD, I don't remember as it was almost four years ago. Because I had some unusual complications I wasn't able to return to work as early as I had hoped, but had the complications not occurred I think I would have been back full time after about three or four months.

You said the class you will be teaching is from 8am to 10pm? Or did you mean 8pm to 10pm? And I assume it will last for 12 weeks? It might be tough after 3-4 weeks of treatment to be able to teach (needing to go out of the home and all), but like we all know, everyone reacts differently.

Since your boss sounds very reasonable, yes, I'd suggest telling him you just won't really know what you're going to need to do till you get there. That's the way it is, we all react differently to the treatment. I would, however, recommend trying to save some time-off because you may need it later in the year for follow-up appointments and the such.

As for the hair, no, I didn't lose mine. But I know some folks do. Mine just thinned a little.

I'm so glad you feel comfortable here - we've all been through this and want nothing more than for you to get through it as easily as possible, be healthy, and return to your life.

StruTanToot
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you for the information. The classes are two, back to back in the morning. I decided to go ahead and tell the department chairperson. He is discussing with some other faculty to decide what will be best. He is concerned, of course, with getting and paying someone to cover my classes if I have to be out.

So...waiting to hear. I'm letting him decide. I'll try to teach if he decides to let me. I'm okay either way.

Another question...does on of those donut pillows help for sitting?

Thanks so much for everything.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2974
Joined: Jan 2010

Hopefully, the work issue will all be worked out with you and your department head.

As for a donut helping, I had one but rarely used it. I did more lying down than sitting when things got really uncomfortable. However, I was not working, so it was easy to lie around all day.

sephie's picture
sephie
Posts: 537
Joined: Apr 2009

actually i lay down or stood up a lot more than sat for months. if you can sit, get a solid foan type pillow because the tissue tears easily after radiation. the donut sort of opens each cheek and pulls on the sides of anus. this is what i had to do but everyone is different. i could not have worked at all for 3 months after tx. but i had a bad time of it. sephie

Dog Girl
Posts: 100
Joined: Sep 2010

If you work for a large company you may be eligable for FMLA which means they will hold
your job for up to 12 weeks if you are out for a covered reason and tx for cancer certainly qualifies. As far as filling out the paperwork for STD, I'd suggest that you go ahead and request it. My Rad. nurse filled mine out; all I had to do was do the personal info such as employee ID number, etc... Some companies let you take FLMA leave a few hours at a time. Check with your HR and see if they allow that. My boss forced me out on STD after one week. I probably could have worked another 2 weeks or so, but since I am in Sales and travel and couldn't because of daily radiation he said I wasn't doing my job. I had all kinds of pain in the a__ that year! :) I wouldn't have been able to teach a dancing class, but again everyone is different. You may just have to wait to see how you manage, but I was careful about being around crowds while my immune system was compromised.
My hair thinned a bit, but I started off with thick hair. I'm in Charlotte btw and my onc. dr (or as I call him my Dr. Dr. since he has his MD and his Ph.D) got his Ph.D. from Duke. I'd say you'll be in good hands either place.

StruTanToot
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

Thank you...I will talk with someone in HR. We do have FMLA, and my manager said I might want to take advantage of it.

I hope the HR person can explain everything in simple terms. I've been reading about both FMLA and STD, and it all sounds very complicated. I want to get all the forms filled while I'm feeling well just in case.

I hope anyone reading this thread is doing well, and I want to say again how grateful I am to each and every one of you. Bless you all.

AZANNIE
Posts: 390
Joined: Mar 2011

I was a teacher and diagnosed in March. I was on medical leave for the remainder of the school year. Even though I had planned to retire at the end of the school year, my oncologist suggested I apply for FMLA. Fortunately I had enough paid sick leave.
My hair thinned.
Best wishes to you!

Ann

rds711
Posts: 113
Joined: Dec 2011

I had stage 1-2 and am now NED. I was good through the 3rd week but then it got rough due to burns. I could not sit normally, had to sit on my hips or lie on my side. My energy levels by then were low so slept alot. I wore loose boxers until week 4 when I switched to nightshirts and a patient gown to allow more air to the area. Weeks 4, 5 and 6 were the roughest but after that I healed very quickly.

I did not loose the hair on my head but lost all hair in the radiation area which is now slowly growing back.

It sounds like you have quite a drive to get to and from radiation. I drove myself but I live only 5 minutes from the facility. It was difficult that last 2 weeks due to the burns. It might be a good idea for you to arrange with someone to stand by for driving, if you have not done so already, in case sitting is too difficult. Everyone's experience varies, you may have no problem at all, I hope that will be the case, but its good to be prepared.

I worked through the 3rd week, but then went out on short term disability and was out for 8 weeks. I too work part time from home and have a desk job so the sitting became impossible for me.

Stay hydrated and eat good lean protiens to aid in healing. Gatorade with protien was good as was instant breakfast.

You can do this, take it one day at a time. Remember its "Weeks for years!". I will keep you in my prayers.

Randy

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