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Cancer and starting a new job

Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Dec 20, 2019 6:04 pm

Hi All,  
It's great to find this site and I'm looking forward to reading about everyone's journey.  A few weeks ago I received my  breast cancer diagnosis (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma).  I'm in the process of getting an MRI because there is a discrepancy in the measurement of the size of the tumor between the ultrasound and what the surgeon and oncologist have measured.  The tumor, when measured by hand looks to be around 5.5 cm.   I also have a new job starting in a few weeks.  I didn't even know I had a tumor when I applied for the job.   This is a great job with lots of opportunities and for now its only a three month contract to start with.  I'm seriously considering delaying my treatment until after the three months so I can get my foot in the door.  I've waited a long time for an opportunity like this.  Wondering if anyone else was starting a new job when they received their diagnosis and what you did...or any good or bad experiences with employers would be helpful.  I haven't shared anything with my new employer.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 20, 2019 6:45 pm

Hi Turtles‍ 

I'd like to tag Runner Girl‍ into this post, as she has first hand knowledge of IDC Breast Cancer herself.

I just saw your post. Sorry that the timing of a new job was met with a cancer diagnosis.

If I may suggest, the most important thing is your health. I'd be discussing your thoughts of delaying treatment with your medical team, and understand the implications you could face in delaying treatment. Staging, size, treatment time frames and many other factors come into play toward the best possible outcome for each individual toward control of cancer.

Just my thoughts, and I truly do understand the situation you are in given both circumstances. Perhaps a discussion with your oncologist will make your decision making easier. You can always get a new job, but our health usually needs prompt attention to keep it at its best.

Once the MRI is done, and the follow up consult occurs, time frames will be clearer as well as the selected treatment path.

Breast Cancer: Understanding your diagnosis and Questions to Ask When You Have Cancer are two excellent links I've shared here from the Canadian Cancer Society website. Good basic information that can help understand your situation now, and as more evolves in your diagnosis and coming treatment plan.

Keep well and keep in touch.

ACH2015






 

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Runner Girl on Dec 20, 2019 8:02 pm

Hi Turtles‍ ,

Thank you for the tag ACH2015‍ .

I'm sorry for your diagnosis and I completely understand about the job thing.  But this is your life that is on the line.  

Let me tell you my story.  I was diagnosed with IDC on May 7, 2018.  I had 3 small tumors in my right breast, the largest was 2.2 cm.  I met my surgeon a week later and a week after that I had a lumpectomy.  My tumors were ER+, PR- and HER2+.  This makes it aggressive.  I did 6 rounds of chemo. 21 radiation treatments and a full year of Herceptin.  I am now on tamoxifen for the next 5-10 years.  Fortunately it had not spread to my lymph nodes.  

Might I suggest you learn the nature of your cancer before you put it off for 3 months.  If it's aggressive it could mean the difference of catching it before it spreads.  Your life is worth much more than a job.

If you'd like to talk further let me know.

I truly wish you all the best.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Buffythevampire on Dec 20, 2019 11:17 pm

Turtles‍ I too have IDC and agree with what Runner Girl‍ posted. Don't delay your treatment. Mine was caught early enough that it didn't go into the lymph nodes. I had a mastectomy with reconstruction (an expander so far). I didn't need radiation but did have chemo. Chemo, for me wasn't terrible and probably could have worked more then I did. I am still on herceptin (for me no side effects) for 6 more cycles. I recently started an oral pill Letrozole which I will take for 5 years.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Dec 20, 2019 11:54 pm

Hi Turtles‍ 

Life is nothing but challenging. I have Breast Cancer though it is a separate lung cancer that is giving me an interesting ride. From a treatment perspective I agree with the rest of them. Talk to your oncologist. While most of us would rush to get this foreign body out, a three month delay may not change outcome all that much.

I'm going to tag another person in with a completely different cancer to talk about their experience with work and treatment. Silver‍ had a few revelations along the way that may be helpful here.

My own experience says talk to the new employer after you have talked to your oncologist. If a treatable cancer diagnosis can't be worked around then the job may not be the plum that you think it is going to be. Some time off for surgery and recovery may be all that you need. But I can be naive in the ways of nasty employers. And there are certainly bosses that will run in the face of a cancer diagnosis. Is it a job that can be delayed for a few months while you receive treatment? Lots of information that needs to be gathered from the sounds of it. And then work out an agreement that allows you the best of both worlds.

Angus
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Dec 23, 2019 8:45 pm

Thank you ACH2015‍ , Runner Girl‍ , Buffythevampire‍ and WestCoastSailor‍ for your helpful comments.  I have now had my MRI and am waiting for the result to see what treatment options are recommended by my Oncologist and as I've been reading through this website, it seems that there are many paths to take for recovery.  I'd love to hear if you were able to work through your treatment without taking any time off.  I realize each individual responds differently to chemo and its not a one size  fits all approach.  Just taking it one day at a time.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Runner Girl on Dec 23, 2019 9:05 pm

Turtles‍ ,

I worked and ran thru my chemo and radiation treatment.  I missed one day of work when the side effects were affecting my inner ear and my balance was off.  

My oncologist called me his star patient.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Aries on Dec 23, 2019 9:21 pm

Hi Turtles‍ - I went back to work in August after 5 months of being at home; I was so happy to go back, I started at 3 days every 2 weeks on non treatment weeks and this November I added 2 days to my work week. Treatment week was for chemo (8 months) which was over 3 days but I chose to stick to work every other week.
My treatment is changing and I will be starting a daily treatment (pill form) this coming Friday; once I know what side effects I will have and how I will feel I will plan to either go back to work full-time (fingers crossed) or amend my part time hours or if I suffer then I may have to go off work again. I love being back at work as it gives me a sense of normalcy but everyone is different and I guess it depends on if you like/love your job!

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by ACH2015 on Dec 24, 2019 9:44 am

Turtles‍ 

Lots to absorb and to consider. I think you said it best "it seems that there are many paths to take for recovery" and "I realize each individual responds differently to chemo and its not a one size fits all approach.  Just taking it one day at a time".

That is a good perspective to have.

Arming yourself with knowledge and most importantly doing what you can in both treatment / recovery and work is balance you will come to know as your experience evolves. What's that old saying "prepare for the worst and expect the best"

I wish you the best!

Keep well, and keep in touch.

ACH2015

 
 
 

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Dec 24, 2019 7:31 pm

Thank you ACH2015‍ ☺.  I'll be sure to keep in touch.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Dec 25, 2019 9:17 pm

Turtles‍ 

I had a physically active job part of which required me to be able to perform CPR so I retired when I began treatment. Bilateral radical mastectomies might have made it a little tough. I requalified this summer as First Aid attendant and found that I actually did much better at CPR than most of my class mates. I would attribute this to my physical exercise and attention to flexibility. Experience may have had something to do with it too.

I ride two horses working also as a web designer which I found was affected by my tamoxifen treatment in terms of some cognitive side effects. Fatigue was also a huge factor for me.


Angus
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Dec 28, 2019 10:58 am

Hi WestCoastSailor‍ 
Thank you for sharing your work journey. I’m finding that many who say they “worked through” their chemo/treatment did so with some flexibility and days off. My new job will require me to hit the ground running with a clear requirement for no time off during this first contract so I definitely won’t be able to take a few days  to recover from surgery. I’m also wondering if I can schedule chemo at 6 pm on Fridays so that I can use the weekend to recuperate from any side effects. I’m currently waiting to find out the MRI results to see what the recommended course of action will be and then decide what to do. I found the lump in mid October and it’s taken about three months to get to getting MRI  results so I figure I can wait another three months to get through this contract and then start treatment. I know it’s a chance I’m taking but it’s been such a difficult road getting back to a decent job after being a stay-at-home mom that it’s a chance I’m willing to take. Working and feeling like a contributing member feels good which I’m sure in turn with whatever I will be facing. 

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jan 7, 2020 10:50 am

Turtles‍ - Just checking in to see if you have the results of your MRI?

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Lacey

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Jan 7, 2020 10:48 pm

Hi Lacey_adminCCS‍  - no I haven't received my MRI results yet.  Anxiously waiting.  I thought it would come through sooner but have been told that its delayed because of the holidays.  Thank you for checking in.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Jan 8, 2020 9:30 am

Turtles‍ -

Hoping you get them soon. Please let us know.

How have you been managing the waiting?

Lacey

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by JacquelineM on Jan 17, 2020 1:16 pm

Turtles‍ I found out August 1st that I had breast cancer and started a new job August 6. I had been unemployed for 6 months so to say I was terrified of my employer telling me to take a hike.  They did not, and have been very supportive over the past 6 months.  Neither they, nor I had not been counting on 4 rounds of chemo (initially it was just lumpectomy plus 5 weeks of radiation but my oncotype number was a bit high), and still we made it work.  I willed myself not to be sick, I willed myself to get up and go to work,  and I willed myself to make it through each day. Basically I took my chemo day (TH) as a vacation day, I worked from home the next day (FR) and was back in the office Mondays.  I did have the luxury of working from home, but only did so about 3 days.

Would I do this again? If I had to.  Would I want to do this again? NO way.  Both my employer and I, when chemo was all done, agreed that I really should have taken more time off.  Chemo brain is real.  Only now, 6 weeks after my last chemo treatment, am I feeling like I can actually think again most days, and even still, I can't remember things that should come easily.  I was exhausted always and only now am I working past that. Cumulatively, each chemo treatment was worse, and the last one was a killer. Fortunately, we had a couple of days off over Christmas so I slept and slept and slept.  Next week I start radiation for four weeks at PMH in Toronto.

Only you can decide what to do. And no one can predict how you will feel. But hopefully your employer will be very supportive. And hopefully you will breeze through treatments. But it will be tough, even when you think you are feeling relatively good.

I hope this helps. And feel free to ask me anything that might help you.  I wish you much strength as you go on this journey, and hope your have an easy journey.  Good luck.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Treepeo on Jan 18, 2020 12:35 am

Hi Turtles‍,

I went on a medical leave after I was diagnosed, and for me, it was definitely the right choice.  The tests alone caused me a great deal of pain, and I went through a lot of testing.  I practically lived at the hospital.  And when I went through chemo, I was exhausted.  When I felt tired, I HAD to sleep, otherwise I felt really sick.  I would never even consider delaying treatment for a job.  As it turned out, I have aggressive cancer in both breasts and in my lymph nodes.  I was then informed that it had spread to my lungs.  So if I hadn't started chemo immediately, who knows if I would even be alive right now.

No job is worth your health.  You need to put yourself first.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Jan 18, 2020 11:12 am

Thank you JacquelineM‍ and Treepeo‍ for sharing your experiences.

JacquelineM‍ - Wow! we have very similar experiences  I too was out of work for a few months and was fearful of losing my job.  The good news is that my employer seems willing to accommodate me.  I'm scheduled for a lumpectomy on Jan 31 which will then be followed by radiation however, the surgeon indicated that due to the size of my tumour (4.7 cm), the tests after removal might require me to go through chemo.  I will cross that bridge when I get to it but for now I, like you, am going to will myself to get through it.  My lumpectomy is scheduled on a Friday and I plan on being back to work on Monday and they tell me I can schedule radiation treatments after work so I can go there everyday after work and just get through the 3 weeks.  I have one friend who took 10 months off work but she had the luxury of being able to do that and another who is self employed who didn't have that luxury but was able to pace herself on days she didn't feel well.  I would love to hear how your radiation goes.  Please keep me posted.

Treepeo‍  - I'm sorry to hear that the cancer had spread to your lungs.  I know it seems crazy to swap a job for my health but I am now going ahead with treatment as my employer seems to be on-board to accommodate me.  Only time will tell.  My plan is to just get through it and push myself though that's easy to say now.  I couldn't tell from your post if you're now in remission.  Would love to hear more.  

Lacey_adminCCS‍  - thanks for checking in.  As you see from above, I am now scheduled for a lumpectomy on Jan 31.  I've reached out to a few friends who have gone through this journey and its been very therapeutic for me.  On a recent visit with a friend, we even talked about the blessings this journey brings.  She is younger than I and has gone through full treatment and I am just beginning.  Its wonderful to have great support and no matter what happens the love and support from my family and friends has brought me a lot of joy.

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by JacquelineM on Jan 19, 2020 12:20 pm

Turtles‍ I am wishing you much luck as you go through this.  Your mass is bigger than mine was, but I would recommend that you ask for your lump to be oncotyped after surgery. This is a test that identifies likelihood of getting secondary breast cancer, at least as I understand it. I am starting radiation tomorrow, but seems a simple enough process.  Like you, I asked for the 4p-6p window. I can let you know how that goes if you are interested, but expect it to be easy enough.

I am so glad to hear your employer is supportive.  I returned to work 5 days after surgery. For me it was enough time. My nodes were clear and my lump was small. And it is a desk job.  Hopefully it will be for you too.

Wishing you much love and support as you go through this. xo

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Jan 22, 2020 3:47 pm

Turtles‍  and JacquelineM‍  and Treepeo‍ 

Turtles, I'm glad your employer is accommodating you.  You are clearly a valued employee and they would be foolish to let you slip away. That said there are foolish employers out there.

I'm glad you have found each other and that as you walk through this journey together I hope find deep friendship.

Angus
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Jan 26, 2020 9:54 am

Hi JacquelineM‍  - Thank you for your advice re oncotyping  the lump.  I believe that is the plan though I did not good notes at my last visit and am now somewhat unsure.  I have to take WestCoastSailor‍ 's approach to taking notes as I find discussions become hazy once I leave the doctor's office.

How is radiation going?   Are you tired?  Are you able to manage having radiation and going to work the next day, every day? Would love to hear.  

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by JacquelineM on Jan 28, 2020 2:29 pm

Turtles‍ 
Hi there - sorry for the delayed reply.  
Radiation is a breeze, especially compared to chemo.

I am at Princess Margaret and it is a well oiled machine. I am in and out in less than 25 minutes - yesterday it was faster. Working, so far, not an issue at all.
My breast, after 6 sessions, is getting pink, a little swollen, and a bit tender - so starting to massage it.  But all completely easy peasy.  

I am a little tired. But likely more due to the fact that I am still experiencing chemo side effects than due to the radiation. However, this isn't interfering in my daily life.

How are you??
Jacqueline
 

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Jan 30, 2020 6:19 am

Hi JacquelineM‍ ,
 I’m really glad to hear it’s going so well for you. Your experience gives me a lot of hope! My surgery is tomorrow and I hope all goes well. I’ll update once I’m on the other side :)

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Runner Girl on Jan 30, 2020 10:13 am

Hi Turtles‍ ,

Best of luck with your surgery.  Check in with us when you are able.

Runner Girl
Never stop believing in HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!

Re: Cancer and starting a new job

Posted by Turtles on Jan 30, 2020 11:13 am

Thank you Runner Girl‍ ! Will do ;)