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Barbi View Drop Down
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    Posted: May 16 2011 at 9:37am
Ladies, Hope a few of you can relate and give me your experiences.
I am just getting ready to start my rads (simulation Wednesday, tx starts Thursday) and then embark on the rest of my noncancerous life.  Wish it were that easy!  I have been struggling for a while trying to figure out how to get back to it.  Do I start looking for a job while bald (maybe wear a wig to the interview), move closer to family just in case of the worst, move to the beach to fulfill my lifelong desire?  Now my sister, who is living for the next year in Russia, has invited me to come and stay with her and her husband for several months - for free. She makes this sound very lucrative by telling me how I would save money for several months so it wouldn't really deplete my depleting savings account (actually, what's left of my IRA), would be a nice break, etc.  I will take any thoughts on the above.
Other than just trying to figure out what path to take, I am afraid of actual physical harm with activities. So far, I do not have lymphedema, despite having a node dissection, and hope it doesn't happen with radiation on top of it.  If I decide to fly, I have a lymphedema sleeve on order, but do I need the gauntlet as well?  Has anybody actually returned to a fairly physical job after a node dissection? If I move to the beach, do I have to stay indoors (because the lymphedema people say avoid temps over 90 degrees)? Actually, I don't know where in the world you would live where it doesn't get over 90 unless it's northern Alaska, but Florida doesn't seem to be a choice.
As a single woman, I need to get to work and start increasing my retirement savings, but do I need to take a break first?  Probably I need counseling!! lol!! But unless my counselor is a "survivor", I would take their advice with a grain of salt.  Just looking for thoughts.
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Charlene View Drop Down
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Hi, Barbi,
I don't know if anything I have to say will be at all helpful to you or not.  I was able to retire from teaching shortly after my diagnosis.  I had pretty much planned on it anyway, so the cancer "sealed the deal."  I guess you could say that I have been "taking a break" for a year now.  I think it has been good for me to have time to reflect and be thankful for the blessings in my life.  I know they say that stress has nothing to do with cancer, but I think my reduced stress level has also been good for my health.  I certainly feel better!  None of us knows what's around the corner, so I try to not worry about things ahead of time.  I read my favorite quote every day and it helps me.  It's from the movie, Shawshank Redemption.  "Get busy livin'. Or get busy dyin'."  I've also thought of counseling, but I totally agree with you about finding one who is also a survivor.  Best wishes for your future in whatever you decide.
DX 3/10 @59 ILC/TNBC
Stage 1, Grade 2, Multifocal; Lumpectomy/re-excision
SNB 0/4 nodes, BRCA-; Taxotere/Cytoxan X4, 30 rads
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sue View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sue Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 16 2011 at 11:20am

I have gone through all of the same worries about getting back to work upon finishing my rads.  After getting myself all worked up (understand your mention of counseling here), I realized my energy level was not fully restored yet, and I was just putting too much pressure on myself too soon.  Now, 3 weeks later, I see my energy starting to come back close to normal, getting through a day of chores or visiting without wearing out by the afternoon, and feel I could accomplish more now.  Of course, at my age there is a question of getting hired at all in a job which would not be too far away from home and would cover my health insurance needs.  I have not had a lymphedema problem and hope not to, but I am always conscious of this possibility and find myself checking my arm often for swelling after a physical day.  I have read that many women who have had lymph nodes removed even work out.  I know of one woman who had a double mastectomy, full lymph node removal on one side who went to the gym while going through rads, and she has never had a problem with lymphedema.  

Wishing you the best with whatever road you travel.  
Dx 7/10, age 53. TNBC left breast, stage I, grade 3, IDC 0.5 cm, DCI 2.5 cm, 0/8 lymph nodes neg. BRCA-. T/C x4 finished 2/09/11, rads x34 finished 4/21/11.          
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