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Teaching though Cancer treatment

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  • Teaching though Cancer treatment

    I will be receiving Radiation and possibly chemo (depending on if testing shows it will be effective) starting early november and am trying to figure out if I will still be able to teach my students, maybe even from a chair, during that time. I dont want to have to stop teaching AGAIN so any advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance.
    Mitkowski Equine Services
    Love my Fjord Magni "Tigger" and my HanoxTb Frescoe "Wenny" --- My boys

  • #2
    First, im very sorry to hear about your situation.

    Where is the cancer? My father went through 6 weeks of radiation this year. Cancer was in his throat/jaw area. He was extremely fatigued, and could not eat. Lost 40-50 lbs in that time. He was not well enough to do almost anything. Luckily, he's retired. But most days he could not even ride the mower to cut the grass. He just didn't feel well. Some of this was due to placement of radiation--it killed his taste buds. He also had major nerve damange and pain from surgery, so you may not have this much trouble.

    Also expect for the side effects to last well beyond treatment. My dad finished radiation in late may/early June ish, and still cannot taste many things, can't be in loud or busy places, and has a general tired feeling.

    Good luck. I would say take a brief break from teaching so that you can get well.
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


    • #3
      Been there, done that. It sucks.

      I can't give you a 'for sure' answer one way or the other. I was diagnosed in 2002, had surgery, chemotherapy, and then radiation. The answer is probably, you can continue to teach. It will depend on so many different things. How sick you get, how tired you get, how fit you are now, how big your lesson program is, how tolerant your client(s) might be if you had to reschedule, or teach from a chair, and of course, how well you can handle the mental stress. Just focusing on the cancer would be a major mistake. I wanted to still be 'me'.

      When I had radiation, I went every day, Mon to Fri, had the weekend off, until I had 17 doses. They were scheduled for right after lunch. It would not have been a problem for me to teach during the radiation, which did tire me somewhat. Your program could be very different.

      My suggestions are to sit down with your oncologist and have a good talk about what you can expect. I don't mean only in terms of side effects, fatigue, etc., but also in terms of scheduling, location, duration, etc. Will there be transportation issues? In order to use radiation on my neck, they had to make sure I could not move my head, and this involved literally fastening me down with a mesh mask over my face. I am claustrophobic and could not tolerate the treatment without a strong tranqualizer. If you should rest for x hours after each treatment, how will that impact when you teach?

      My next suggestion would be to have a talk with the clients, all at the same time if possible, because one thing you are going to find out is this is a strange disease. There is a mostly self-imposed etiquette when you have cancer, along the lines of: I must be brave and not upset people and I can't act annoyed when I have to answer the same fracking question 4001 times. I would suggest the use of some sort of social media that you can use to post information about your condition. I can't think of the name of the web site, but there is one that peole with a major illness can use to post info, so that they don't have to explain stuff over and over.

      You might even just use a special FB account, or something, and only friend your clients. You could use this site to give notice if a lesson had to be postponed. Don't say 'cancel', say 'postpone', it helps to keep the clients happy.

      If you have any secific questions you don't want to address in this thread, you can PM me and I will be a happy to answer you.

      And last but not least, good luck with your illness. If you have chemo and your hair falls out, would you like to borrow my platinum LIME GREEN wig?


      • Original Poster

        Thanks guys. Its incurable Brain Cancer from a low grade astrocytoma the radiation about 35 treatments i believe is to slow down my main symptoms speech difficulty and the declining loss of use of my left side leading to paralysis on that side. Clients are all aware and new clients are told immediately. I keep everybody updated through a carepages site that lets them know whats going on. A few have stuck with me throough my 11 month hiatus from a car accident and 2 brain biopsy's so I know they will stay with me. The new ones are aware of the fact lessons may be moved, cancelled, or I may not teach at all for a period of time but I have worked out a homework system in that case.
        Mitkowski Equine Services
        Love my Fjord Magni "Tigger" and my HanoxTb Frescoe "Wenny" --- My boys


        • #5
          ACP has said it all.

          It will depend on your reaction to treatment and also side effect. Do not force yourselff into anything, do not put any other stress on you. Just live it as it is and you will find soon if you can teach or not.

          I have my own story here on COTH that I update regularely; maybe my own experience can help you in some ways.

          Big hugs and Good luck ! xx

          Fighting ovarian cancer ! 2013 huge turnaround as I am winning the battle !..