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cancer--need some motivators!

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  • cancer--need some motivators!

    this is an alter but not because I care if anyone knows who I am; mostly just because I don't want this post to spring up on google since I use my name for everything.

    I've just been diagnosed with cervical cancer, after being in remission for almost 5 years. i'm not even 25; I'm frustrated, hurt, stressed. i don't know how I'm going to manage my horse, dogs, and 3 jobs. my first thought was "this is going to be expensive" followed by "I don't have TIME for this!' It wasn't until I got home did I start thinking darkly about it; what would I do with my animals if I died, how will I approach my family, etc. Should I preemptively loose my part time jobs or attempt to balance them? I don't want to quit on short notice but I don't know how reliable I will be once I start a course of treatment. Do I HAVE to tell my full time job? I know I can continue to work (its an overnight shift which is largely sedentary short of emergencies, which are rare) so I am BEYOND fortunate to be in the position I am in. A year ago, working on my feet in 12 hour day shifts with no lunch break, I'd be in a cold sweat now.

    I am feeling a little alone because I have no family support. Due to other issues I am choosing to keep it my private issue...I'm really just feeling sorry for myself. I'm not really asking for sympathy though... I would really just love to hear success or tips or just good stories from people who have already been there. Were you guys able to work and do radiation--what about chemo? Did you make it out to the barn--is my horse better quietly rotting for a few months or did you pay someone to ride; should I lease her out? I am seeing a specialist next week about my course of treatment so I'm in the dark about how we will be proceeding so far. I really appreciate this board being here as I don't have much of another outlet.

  • #2
    I am a cancer survivor. I had breast cancer. I had chemo and radiation. it was hard but doable.
    i rode my horse fairly regularly. there were days I just walked, but it made me feel better.
    the hardest time is waiting to find out how you will proceed. my first worries were about my animals, too. It sucked.
    My best advice, which is really hard, is don't borrow trouble! Wait until you know more. If you have chemo and radiation, it tires you out the further you go, but it didn't make me feel horrible. You might have to miss work, in fact I'd plan on that.
    Please let us know how you are. You can find support here.
    Hugs to you.


    • Original Poster

      thanks for the advice, shea. I think I am just going to tell my hospital manager and make it no business of my coworkers; since I work in the medical field I dont want to hear/answer "who are you seeing, what are you taking, how is it going, what are you eating" etc etc. It is nothing but good intentions but I'm hoping to just run downhill through the treatment and get on with my life.

      Last time I did end up doing chemo, but I was in school at the time where they offer you much more wiggle room; I dread to my core loosing my hair. I was briefly told there was a potential for a trial on a chemo drug that is not typically used for my type of cancer, but is being tested and I am a candidate since I am young and otherwise healthy...it apparently very rarely causes hairloss. I hate to sound stupidly vain, but this would be a big comfort and help me move through things so much more seamlessly. Of course it will be some time before I know if I even qualify...and obviously I have to pick the treatment options that are the most potent, not the most aesthetically appealing. But I haven't actually had my hair cut since I lost it the first time and I dread it again.


      • #4
        Originally posted by irkenealter View Post
        thanks for the advice, shea. I think I am just going to tell my hospital manager and make it no business of my coworkers; since I work in the medical field I dont want to hear/answer "who are you seeing, what are you taking, how is it going, what are you eating" etc etc. It is nothing but good intentions but I'm hoping to just run downhill through the treatment and get on with my life.
        Social support can be of tremendous value and reading your posts, you tend to want to go the other, more isolated way.
        You soon will be able to divide the people around you that are seriously in helping and others who do this in a more instrumental way.
        Cancer it´s self has already a great impact on you, try to find support.


        • #5
          There is no right or wrong way to do anything so if it works for you that is fine. It sounds to me like you are adding to an already incredible burden by walking the path alone. You never know where your shining star, the one person, place or thing that finally gets you over the hump will come from if no one knows that you need their help.
          Come up with a standard line that you can use if people get a bit too nosy if you want.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • #6
            I have not been in your shoes, but know several people who have...

            All continued to work through their treatment process, and scheduled their chemo treatments in such a way that the hardest days were on weekends. (they had M-F office jobs) Also most were fairly open about their situation. One friend did her radiation first thing in the am on her way to work.

            I understand your desire to not deal with the questions that come from medical people, but it would be beneficial to have some support situation, someone you can just dump on or who can perk you up...

            Re the work schedule - This is a toughy given the financial reality, but I believe it is important for your morale to be sure you have time to spend with the horse and doing things that make you content. One friend of mine took up oil painting during her treatment, and is now, 7 years later selling her work. You will be better with an outlet/ escape time. Riding, (or just grooming) walking the dogs, etc.

            They aren't cheap but can you get a wig? I only know one person who did, but it was important to her, and made her situation more emotionally tolerable.

            Try not to fret the longer term right now, hard as that may be. Come back on here and post questions, vents, updates or whatever. Lastly, if you haven't read Leena's thread, check it out; an amazing woman, late stage ovarian cancer and her journey with her horses over the last year. Its in this section, title starts "update on me..."
            We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


            • #7
              ((hugs)) whether you want them or not

              I tend to isolate myself from others when I have issues... I get that. If you are going to go this road alone without family or friends then you will need your animals. So do not lease out your horse. What better way to vent then crying in your horse's mane? Or getting on and riding? maybe half board her if money is an issue, but do not lease her out... trust me...


              • #8
                Alll i can offer is a prayer for you, that the path you take will be smoother than you thought it would be, and that you will know you are loved!
                Little Star Chihuahua Rescue
                The Barkalicious Bakery
                On Facebook!!!


                • #9
                  Miracles do happen. My father was diagnosed with Stage 3 Stomach Cancer three years ago. Long story, but it is completely gone. No chemo, radiation. They found it, monitored it, and it just went away. A miracle. The doctors cannot explain it. They have never seen a case do this. So just have faith. Enlist your friends for support, stay strong, and pray for another miracle!


                  • #10
                    I had some precancerous cells a couple of years ago that really frightened me. I'm very lucky that the situation kind of took care of itself in my case. I'm so sorry that this has happened to you.

                    I don't really have advice on what to do about your jobs and your animals. I just wanted to say that you are under 25 years old. You're going to beat it!

                    As for your hair...if you can afford it, buy a wig. If you can't, why not get an assortment of pretty scarves? Having cancer isn't anything to be ashamed of. Don't feel like you need to hide it.
                    "A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio


                    • #11
                      i am a cancer survivor too.
                      hugs and jingles that soon enough you'll be the cancer survivor writing words of encouragement.


                      • #12
                        Cancer Services will give you a free wig, if you need it.


                        • #13
                          I am 66 and a cancer survivor. It sucks, it just plain sucks, to have to go through this twice. You seem to not want comfort, so I will be blunt and practical.

                          I have several suggestions along the lines of "Hope for the best, plan for the worst."

                          Make sure your finances are in order, and everything is up to date on your medical insurance.

                          You can't hold off forever on letting the people in your life know about this. Example: They would not let me take a tranquilizer before my chemo unless there was someone there to drive me home. You are going to need someone you can call on, who is willing to help and who is pretty matter of fact about medical issues. Hopefully you won't have to ask for help any at all, but if you do, it is better to have this person already lined up, with all your explanations made, their questions answered, etc. Call this person your caregiver or assistant or helper or whatever terms makes you comfortable. Be specific with your helper as to how much information is private, what can be made public, and then, when the news comes out, tell everyone curious about you to talk to them. NOTE: This can be a person you pay, if you are uncomfortable with allowing a friend or co-worker to help out.

                          Decide now, while you have a lot of time and are not - hopefully never - facing life and death problems, what you want to do with your animals. Don't casually say to someone, "If anything happens to me, would you take Sparky?" People will just as casually say, "Of course I would," when in real life they could not. If the dogs are old and/or have problems which would make them hard to place, remember that euthanasia is an option, too. I don't know what type/level/temperament of horse you have. People would have lined up and fought to inherit my gelding, so finding a home for him would not have been a problem.

                          You seem resistant to disclose your condition, but I urge you to talk to your BO/BM, the vet, the farrier, anyone else who works with your horse on a regular basis. They may not need to know right away, and you may want to postpone the conversations until you have a better idea of your treatments, how you respond, what the prognosis might be.

                          It is possible to schedule chemo so that you have the weekend to recover. You can't really predict how tired you will be, how sick you will get, etc. So much of that will depend on the treatment protocols, and how you as an individual respond to the drugs. Make sure your oncologists are aware that you are a loner. You may want to consider having therapy, just so there is someone with whom to talk.

                          On the subject of wigs - I bought a 'dress' wig but the one I wore most of the time was a 'middle finger to cancer' wig. It was platinum LIME GREEN. If this isn't your style, and you cringe at the thought of loosing your hair, then get a wig. They are not that expensive.

                          Good luck.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thank you very, very, very much everyone. I really appreciate your support and responses.

                            My hesitation in telling people comes in a few waves; the first is that I don't want to risk my job. I'm afraid I'm going to make myself isolated or 'weak' and since I CERTAINLY can't afford to loose it, I don't want to come across as unable to handle it. I also want to be able to go out with friends when I feel well enough and not feel coddled or babied; for example I went out to dinner with my roommate (who knows) last night and casually mentioned I was tired and ready to head home. It immediately became "YES you need the rest we MUST get home" when in reality...I was just run o' the mill tired. I don't want to tell friends NOT to care about me, that sounds self absorbed so I'd just rather not have to tackle it.

                            also, my generation is so involved in social media that there are many people I would not like to find out unless absolutely necessary (I am not one who keeps a very outrageous or candid Facebook, and am friends with people like my grandparents for example.)

                            I do need to find someone who is willing to come pick me up and the like.

                            I am on the fence about the wig; I think I am brave enough to just go with a scarf. Last time my experience with the wig (as it was summer) was that it was UNGODLY hot and just looked awkward. I need to start exploring a few good companies to get a decent one--but a fun one might be good too, and help with confidence. I think the lime green is awesome!

                            Its also weird since it is cervical, and the possibility of me having future children is nil...it makes things awkward. Awkward for potential dates, awkward for friends having kids. Its something I'm not having much problem working through personally, but socially its different.


                            • #15
                              Check to see if your oncologist/hospital has Penguin Cold Caps--or would provide cold storage for the caps, if you rented them. It looks to be a huge hassle but, if your hair is a priority, it's worth the time and money. I think they'd be too much to manage on your own with the coolers and transportation, but totally doable if the hospital has freezers you can use: http://www.msc-worldwide.com/

                              Something to keep in mind: you are so young that doctors will want to do the very most conservative therapy. Experimental cancer treatments, even really promising ones, are not usually appropriate for young cancer patients since the cancer is so much more unpredictable. Don't get frustrated if you aren't accepted in the drug trial--keep focused on the long-term!

                              Hugs to you. You sound like an incredibly mature, responsible, thoughtful 25 year old. Compared to you, I was a complete idiot at 25!!


                              • #16
                                Hugs - you need a support group - even if it only us on COTH. People can be amazingly caring over a long time, as I have foud out. There are a lot of stories
                                of success over cancer.
                                Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                • #17
                                  Been through chemo and radiation and all the stuff that goes with. I told a few people who needed to know, and for the rest, I made it a game to see how long it took them to figure out, if ever. Most ended up being shocked when I first went without my wig, when my hair was coming back in but not very long. I was hairless in the summer, too, but I work indoors and didn't find the wig that unpleasant; with the horses, I just wore a bandana. There are nice wigs available fairly inexpensively and also are resources that can provide them if needed.

                                  So sorry you are facing this, and at such a young age. I wouldn't worry about the social aspects at this point. The issues around having kids need not be an issue with others if it is not an issue with you--this is where having a therapist is probably really important, so that you CAN come to terms with this, if it is difficult for you. For the time being, the rest of the world is on their own as far as this is concerned.

                                  Anyhow, keep in touch with us--some of my best support came from this COTH group, people I've never met in person. And once one has had the benefit of that support, one is very willing to return the favor. If you have to go through this, please let us help.
                                  "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                  Spay and neuter. Please.


                                  • #18
                                    OP - as the prior poster indicated, the people on this board are really supportive; DO come back and post - the good and the bad, and you will find really helpful responses. They will come from those who just send hugs and good wishes to those who have been through the process and can give you the realities.

                                    Re your horse - do not presume you wont be able to ride - even if its not focused, training type riding. And you may very well WANT to be at the barn. Depending on your horse, perhaps consider/evaluate the possibility of a half lease, but DONT cut yourself off from the therapeutic value of being there and doing something...
                                    We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                                    • #19
                                      My husband is six years cancer free now; he was 38 at diagnosis. He was able to keep up with his hobbies pretty well - four wheeling, boating, playing cards with his friends. His chemo was five days in-patient every three weeks, which was rough, but we often hit the lake as soon as he got out, which really picked him up.

                                      I hope you'll have people who can help you and look out for you. It's an awfully hard road to go alone. (((hugs)))


                                      • #20
                                        If you have not already been reading this thread, I think you will find it quite inspiring:

                                        Good luck!
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.