friends and co-worker issues

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jphilpo
jphilpo Member Posts: 177
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I am really new to this site & so grateful for it! I have finished my treatments for stage 2 cancer ,chemo & rads. I am now in discussion about reconstruction.

I work in the front office of an elementary school and am surrounded by caring parents and co-workers who ask all the time how I am. My problem is my office mate. We are friends, but I have noticed a change in her behavior towards me. When the topic comes up about how I look,(my hair is growing in), she becomes quiet. If I get flowers or even a gift card from Starbucks, she makes a comment. She recently had her gallbladder removed & commented that she didn't get any notice because of it. I have had some"chemo brain" issues which are really hard for me. I have to repeatedly remind her that I am doing the best I can.

I also had a very close friend who called me a few times after my diagnosis. She cried each time & was very much a downer. Now, she doesn't call at all. It's been months. She wasn't there for me at all during chemo or anything. I know that some people just can't handle friends with cancer, but I just don't know how to handle my friend at work or the loss of a "dear" friend. Anyone have the same issues?
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  • TraciInLA
    TraciInLA Member Posts: 1,994 Member
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    We've all had similar experiences
    Welcome, and thank you for jumping in and sharing your experiences.

    One of the wisest things I read throughout my experience was by Idelle Davidson in the book Your Brain After Chemo -- A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus:

    "Cancer doesn't define you. It defines your friends and family."

    Can I get an AMEN?!?

    I think most of us here have had at least one close friend or family member just "drop off the planet," as I call it, at some point during our treatment. There are so many reasons: It's just too difficult to be around someone with cancer, it scares them to think it could be them next, "compassion fatigue" when we're still in treatment after months and months....I didn't say they were *good* reasons! :-)

    In my case, I had two friends who dropped off the planet shortly after my surgery, and were completely absent during chemo and radiation. I've had to look at each friendship individually, and decide whether or not the relationship is worth it to me to sit down and have an honest talk with them about why they pulled away and how it made me feel. I decided that one of the friendships is worth it, but the other isn't.

    The most important thing is to keep reminding yourself that IT'S THEIR PROBLEM, it's nothing you've done or didn't do, and it's much more about THEIR hangups and fears and ego than it is about you or your friendship.

    As for your co-worker -- she just sounds really petty for being "jealous" that you get all the attention, while her poor gallbladder didn't get any love! Any chance you're within driving distance of Los Angeles? I'd be glad to come slap her for you!

    Traci
  • Aortus
    Aortus Member Posts: 967
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    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.
  • TraciInLA
    TraciInLA Member Posts: 1,994 Member
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    Aortus,
    I've always known how valuable your knowledge and experience and perspective is to us on this board....but who knew that even your gallbladder would come in handy? Truly a Renaissance Man, you are!

    :-) Traci
  • aztec45
    aztec45 Member Posts: 757
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    TraciInLA said:

    We've all had similar experiences
    Welcome, and thank you for jumping in and sharing your experiences.

    One of the wisest things I read throughout my experience was by Idelle Davidson in the book Your Brain After Chemo -- A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus:

    "Cancer doesn't define you. It defines your friends and family."

    Can I get an AMEN?!?

    I think most of us here have had at least one close friend or family member just "drop off the planet," as I call it, at some point during our treatment. There are so many reasons: It's just too difficult to be around someone with cancer, it scares them to think it could be them next, "compassion fatigue" when we're still in treatment after months and months....I didn't say they were *good* reasons! :-)

    In my case, I had two friends who dropped off the planet shortly after my surgery, and were completely absent during chemo and radiation. I've had to look at each friendship individually, and decide whether or not the relationship is worth it to me to sit down and have an honest talk with them about why they pulled away and how it made me feel. I decided that one of the friendships is worth it, but the other isn't.

    The most important thing is to keep reminding yourself that IT'S THEIR PROBLEM, it's nothing you've done or didn't do, and it's much more about THEIR hangups and fears and ego than it is about you or your friendship.

    As for your co-worker -- she just sounds really petty for being "jealous" that you get all the attention, while her poor gallbladder didn't get any love! Any chance you're within driving distance of Los Angeles? I'd be glad to come slap her for you!

    Traci

    Amen, Sister.
    Amen, Sister.
  • m_azingrace
    m_azingrace Member Posts: 399
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    Rant
    How old is your co-worker? She sounds very immature to me, even if she might be chronologically an "adult". She should be counting her blessings that all she had was gall bladder surgery. And she should look on the bright side, that she doesn't have to be monitored for 5 years before she's declared "cured". And she should be happy that no matter what else happens in her life, she doesn't have to live with the constant fear of recurrance. Her gall bladder is gone forever, and good riddance. It's not like it's something she would miss...like a normal breast for instance.
    So, okay, maybe she's having some "attention deficit disorder". It's not your fault. And I dare say, wouldn't any one of us offer to trade places with her if we could? She can have my stage IV diagnosis, and all that goes with it, and I'll take the little 1" scar in my navel. Sound good to me.
  • aztec45
    aztec45 Member Posts: 757
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    Aortus
    Aortus. I love ya. You always tell it like it is.
  • aztec45
    aztec45 Member Posts: 757
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    It's Hard
    You know it is hard. This is probably the hardest thing for me about cancer other than losing my hair - the change in family and friends. Some can't deal with it; some try to act like it is as common as the cold; some are jeolous of the attention you get; some try to help but can't go the distance; some are supportive until you interfere with their schedules and on and on. It hurts. But I try to think about the people who have been there for me from the beginning. To me, these people will always stay in my heart and to hell with the rest.

    Welcome and hang in there.

    P
  • CarrWilson
    CarrWilson Member Posts: 111
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    Gallbladder
    Your post made me chuckle. I have repeatedly said if it "was just my gallbladder, take it out." The decision would be so easy. Not to minimize your surgery, but it is so frustrating to have to make so many decisions and not know if you are making the right one!

    In my case, I think it is very interesting to see who has rallied and supported me, and who has backed away. You can only control your own reactions, and everyone else has the option of how they will react. Your coworkers may come back once they feel you are "normal" again, everyone feels different about illness, some feel jealous of the attention you are getting and some just don't know what to do. I know I feel differently now about some friends, and some people that I thought were my friends.

    Best of Luck, gather your supporters close. - Carrie
  • jphilpo
    jphilpo Member Posts: 177
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    WOW!
    Thanks to you all for responding. I am sitting here smiling, which feels SO GOOD! I try everyday to put a smile on my face and be as upbeat as possible about things.. It's been a hard year & it just feels good to know that these thoughts of mine are not selfish. Thank you all.
  • sbmly53
    sbmly53 Member Posts: 1,522
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    I've had my gallbladder
    I've had my gallbladder removed and had bc. In a million years (pre BC) I never would have been so petty as to begrudge or compare my illness to someone elses. Heck, even now having had a lumpectomy and radiation, I am in AWE of the wonderful, wise and warm sisters (& brothers) on this site who have gone thru (and still going thru) so very much more.

    Your co-worker is a very small person. As for your friends, I'm ashamed to say that I have been a person who wasn't there for others at times, mostly because I just didn't know what to say or do. Now I know it only takes a minute to make a call or drop a note, email and maybe a meal or treat, no matter how simple, is so very much appreciated. I have learned alot - don't give up on them yet.

    Sue
  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950
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    TraciInLA said:

    We've all had similar experiences
    Welcome, and thank you for jumping in and sharing your experiences.

    One of the wisest things I read throughout my experience was by Idelle Davidson in the book Your Brain After Chemo -- A Practical Guide to Lifting the Fog and Getting Back Your Focus:

    "Cancer doesn't define you. It defines your friends and family."

    Can I get an AMEN?!?

    I think most of us here have had at least one close friend or family member just "drop off the planet," as I call it, at some point during our treatment. There are so many reasons: It's just too difficult to be around someone with cancer, it scares them to think it could be them next, "compassion fatigue" when we're still in treatment after months and months....I didn't say they were *good* reasons! :-)

    In my case, I had two friends who dropped off the planet shortly after my surgery, and were completely absent during chemo and radiation. I've had to look at each friendship individually, and decide whether or not the relationship is worth it to me to sit down and have an honest talk with them about why they pulled away and how it made me feel. I decided that one of the friendships is worth it, but the other isn't.

    The most important thing is to keep reminding yourself that IT'S THEIR PROBLEM, it's nothing you've done or didn't do, and it's much more about THEIR hangups and fears and ego than it is about you or your friendship.

    As for your co-worker -- she just sounds really petty for being "jealous" that you get all the attention, while her poor gallbladder didn't get any love! Any chance you're within driving distance of Los Angeles? I'd be glad to come slap her for you!

    Traci

    I love that line Traci
    Think

    I love that line Traci
    Think I'll steal it for my FB page! I just went through my own friend trauma when I had to go for outpatient surgery to have my expander removed and the implant put in. All those "friends" who just keep repeating the " just tell me what I can do" mantra...wow!
    How quickly they disappear when you actually need something!One canceled on me for work, one was going out of town, one was doing training to be a Cencus Taker, all legit reasons to bail ...but don't ask me what I need if you don't want to help when I need it! Anyway, the census taker friend came through in the end and all was well, but boy did I guilt the hell out of the others!Now every acquaintance in our circle is calling and asking what they an bring me.LOL! Anyway back to the initial discussion..your coworker is
    really being insensitive and selfish. I've had my gall bladder removed and I've had cancer.
    They are not comparable conditions. But since she is obviously feeling unappreciated, take the next opportunity(birthday, anniver.) and get all the coworkers to go in on a little gift for her if you really consider her a friend you want to keep.
  • KayNYC
    KayNYC Member Posts: 495 Member
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    aztec45 said:

    It's Hard
    You know it is hard. This is probably the hardest thing for me about cancer other than losing my hair - the change in family and friends. Some can't deal with it; some try to act like it is as common as the cold; some are jeolous of the attention you get; some try to help but can't go the distance; some are supportive until you interfere with their schedules and on and on. It hurts. But I try to think about the people who have been there for me from the beginning. To me, these people will always stay in my heart and to hell with the rest.

    Welcome and hang in there.

    P

    beginning to have similar experiences with friends and family
    Earlier this month, when I learned of my diagnosis and I disclosed it to family and friends, I found a range of differences in the way those close to me reacted. My only sibling compared my condition to her having cervical spine problems that were cured 20 years ago by surgery.She remarked that "no one made a big deal" or appeared to "care" back when she could have used more attention. She called back to ask what this "meant" in terms of her own health and likelihood of getting cancer asking if perhaps this was in some way my own fault, taking HRT years ago for menopausal symptoms.
    Coworkers were varied in their responses and now that I am home on medical leave for another week, following my surgery, some have been my biggest supporters while others are clearly absent.
    Several very old and dear friends that I have had limited regular contact with since we worked together years ago, have been calling and emailing daily. We are renewing our friendships and we have planned meetings and visits this week.One of those former coworkers, never mentioned before her own health crisis and treatment for breast cancer two years ago until she called me after hearing about my surgery this week. I have to confess, I felt terrible that she never told me about her own health challenge.
    A cancer diagnosis clearly makes people uncomfortable. Some don't know what to say or do and they feel helpless and try to avoid the situation. This is just acceptance of what is and not necessarily, approval or judgement of the rightfulness or wrongness of their behaviors. I am new on this journey and right now, I am accepting the support from those that can provide it and accepting too that some just don't have the readiness or the resources to do so.
    K
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
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    Your experience is not uncommon.....
    Your experience is not ( sadly) uncommon at all...I will bump up a post entitled "Welcome To Hogwarts" which might just give you some needed insight !

    Hang in there sister!

    Hugs,
    Chen♥
  • Skeezie
    Skeezie Member Posts: 586 Member
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    chenheart said:

    Your experience is not uncommon.....
    Your experience is not ( sadly) uncommon at all...I will bump up a post entitled "Welcome To Hogwarts" which might just give you some needed insight !

    Hang in there sister!

    Hugs,
    Chen♥

    Hooray for Traci!
    If I didn't live in Michigan, I'd come along and hold her while you slapped her!

    I love your definition tho. How true. I'm retired so didn't have to deal with day to day co-workers who sometimes at best can be trying. I feel very blessed that I didn't experience any pulling away of friends or family, maybe because I'm older and many of my freinds are mid 40's to 70's and have already experienced tragedy in their lives and have already been "tested" or maybe because my illness didn't get in the way of their lives. My hubby, Ralph, took care of me in everyway so no one had to actually "do" anything. I was able to hold it together (thanks to Ativan) when I spoke with anyone and although I was very serious about it, I was able to be positive. All the tears fell to poor Ralph to deal with. I wasn't acting, I always felt up and postiive around people. When I felt fragile, I didn't go out. But I did have one niece who had just been thru bc, and went thru much more than me, kind of fade out. But I think she is still trying to get back to her normal and couldn't face dealing with this so close up just a few months out of her treatment and big time depression. So it's more than ok.

    Gallbladder?!?!? Are you kidding me? I had an infected gallbladder and was in the hosp for 5 days after surgery on iv antibiotics and it was no big deal. This girl is very immature to be jealous. But to keep the peace, I would do something nice for her, it's no skin off your teeth and will probably make you feel good to see her immature ridiculous little face lite up. If most of your friends and co-workers weren't so caring about you, she wouldn't feel so left out, so you have some pretty good buds, the others will either come back when it's "safe" and if not, they weren't freinds anyway so good riddance.

    I hope you feel better and can get some encouragement from all your sister's here on this board.

    Hugs, Judy :-)
  • aisling8
    aisling8 Member Posts: 1,627 Member
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    Skeezie said:

    Hooray for Traci!
    If I didn't live in Michigan, I'd come along and hold her while you slapped her!

    I love your definition tho. How true. I'm retired so didn't have to deal with day to day co-workers who sometimes at best can be trying. I feel very blessed that I didn't experience any pulling away of friends or family, maybe because I'm older and many of my freinds are mid 40's to 70's and have already experienced tragedy in their lives and have already been "tested" or maybe because my illness didn't get in the way of their lives. My hubby, Ralph, took care of me in everyway so no one had to actually "do" anything. I was able to hold it together (thanks to Ativan) when I spoke with anyone and although I was very serious about it, I was able to be positive. All the tears fell to poor Ralph to deal with. I wasn't acting, I always felt up and postiive around people. When I felt fragile, I didn't go out. But I did have one niece who had just been thru bc, and went thru much more than me, kind of fade out. But I think she is still trying to get back to her normal and couldn't face dealing with this so close up just a few months out of her treatment and big time depression. So it's more than ok.

    Gallbladder?!?!? Are you kidding me? I had an infected gallbladder and was in the hosp for 5 days after surgery on iv antibiotics and it was no big deal. This girl is very immature to be jealous. But to keep the peace, I would do something nice for her, it's no skin off your teeth and will probably make you feel good to see her immature ridiculous little face lite up. If most of your friends and co-workers weren't so caring about you, she wouldn't feel so left out, so you have some pretty good buds, the others will either come back when it's "safe" and if not, they weren't freinds anyway so good riddance.

    I hope you feel better and can get some encouragement from all your sister's here on this board.

    Hugs, Judy :-)

    Hmmm...
    It's a two-hour drive from San Diego to Los Angeles, but hey, Traci, I'm in a slapping mood...

    I hear all of you -- people come out of the woodwork to support you and they also disappear into said woodwork. I went through this years ago when my son had a brain tumor and I took it oh so personally back then -- could be cause I'm a mom and felt protective. I'm older now, hopefully wiser, and I accept what's given and let people have their fears and foibles.

    Thanks for starting this thread cause it's all too common.

    Love to you all,
    Victoria
  • Cairmaid
    Cairmaid Member Posts: 64
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    m_azing grace's good idea
    If it were me, I would ask that co-worker if she would like to trade places, and tell her I'd gladly trade places with her. But, that's just me. Maybe her gallbladder surgery is the most serious illness she's ever faced and she doesn't have a clue.

    My co-workers have been great. The ones who were never friends are still not friends, but they haven't changed, at least. The ones who are friends brought me food, a basket of goodies, chocolate...heck, even the temp worker who took my place for the month I was off gave me a Pink fleece hoodie (Victoria's Secret, no less). I suppose it's because all of them have had someone in their lives with a serious illness or injury, and they know how it can turn your world upside down.
  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    i was once told by a fellow
    i was once told by a fellow sister... you will find out who your real friends are at the end of this.... They are the few who when you look to the right and left are still by your side. I found everyone is there in the beginning and as time wore on the numbers dropped over the months of treatment.

    As for your co-worker.... OMG.... get real, ask her next time if she'd like to TRADE, then she can have the attention!!!! I know i would gladly give up My breast cancer for a little gall bladder issue, in a heartbeat!

    I think we have ALL had our issues with those people who don't know how to handle what we're going through.. and yes, even the ones a little jealous of the attention we're getting.

    I personally, just don't really bother with the "friends" who couldn't stand by my side, but at the end of the day. If you really miss your friend, reach out to her and see what kind of response you get. Maybe she is just scared of what's happening to you...
  • e_hope
    e_hope Member Posts: 370
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    AORTUS... that was the
    AORTUS... that was the funnest post.. that totally made my day..
  • carkris
    carkris Member Posts: 4,553 Member
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    e_hope said:

    i was once told by a fellow
    i was once told by a fellow sister... you will find out who your real friends are at the end of this.... They are the few who when you look to the right and left are still by your side. I found everyone is there in the beginning and as time wore on the numbers dropped over the months of treatment.

    As for your co-worker.... OMG.... get real, ask her next time if she'd like to TRADE, then she can have the attention!!!! I know i would gladly give up My breast cancer for a little gall bladder issue, in a heartbeat!

    I think we have ALL had our issues with those people who don't know how to handle what we're going through.. and yes, even the ones a little jealous of the attention we're getting.

    I personally, just don't really bother with the "friends" who couldn't stand by my side, but at the end of the day. If you really miss your friend, reach out to her and see what kind of response you get. Maybe she is just scared of what's happening to you...

    I have had both and trust me
    I have had both and trust me BC is way worse for reasons I dont need to elaborate. Like preaching to the choir. I have had a couple of people drop off, my best freind since I was 16 and my next door neighbor. I am too tired to wonder why. and i dont know what I will do. I know my neighbor feels quilty because she hasnt been around and that makes it worse, the more quilty they feel the more they stay away. I told her that I was to sick to have people around, but whatever. the funniest thing is a relative is JEALOUS of my significant weight loss. (from being too sick to eat) my husband was like "jealous of your cancer?" I just done get it, I'm not sad to lose the weight because I needed to, but how weak I am is not fun. oh well, people are weird.
  • susanleeann
    susanleeann Member Posts: 58
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    Aortus said:

    GALL BLADDER?
    I had my gall bladder removed four years ago. Yes, it had been causing me a lot of pain from time to time. But one December morning I walked into the hospital - and about mid afternoon I was wheeled out minus my gall bladder. In maybe three days I was my old bad self again. A mere drop in the bucket - hell, a mere drop in the oil tanker - compared with what my beloved Moopy went through with her mastectomy, chemo, and radiation.

    I wish I could offer you some helpful advice - but I can tell you from my personal experience as a gall bladder patient, your coworker has NOTHING to whine about.

    two days before my scheduled
    two days before my scheduled lumpectomy, i had an very acute gall bladder attack. my oncologist and my surgeon both recommended gall bladder out before cancer. what if i had another attack during chemo. at that point infected gall bladder much more threatening than my cancer. got over gb surgery easy, lumpectomy went ok too, now in chemo. nothing is ever simple. gotta wonder what else life has waiting for me.