Back to work …

tired_kittenWell I went back to work on Monday and it almost killed me. Ha ha. I was so exhausted when I got home I was as weak as a kitten and could barely keep my eyes open during dinner.

I contacted my shop-girl Holly (who works for me 2 days a week) and asked if she wanted to come back to the store and she told me she could start the next day so thankfully I’ve had the last 2 days off to chill out and recharge my battery.

I’m feeling really unsure I can keep working at the store. This post-operative fatigue is really hard. It’s been 3 weeks (today) since my surgery and I still get pooped out so quickly. It’s like having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome again. Ugh. Enough already. 🙁

I thought I was ready to come back to work but I’m not sure I am. I’m going to work tomorrow (11-4) and see how I do …

I had a long talk on Monday with Shawna the RN at the Victoria Breast Health Center. She went over my pathology with me line by line and explained everything in full. She was fantastic. We talked about my upcoming appointment with my oncologist. It’s scheduled for May 15th and we will be talking about what they suggest for treatment. She told me to expect chemo. Everyone is telling me to expect chemo. Why? If they got it and the margins are good why the chemo? It’s preventative.

I’m young(ish) and they want to make sure they got every single cancer cell wiped out so I can live a long life. While what she is telling me is not set in stone …  she does this for a living and sees a lot of woman come through her door. She says for someone my age and my type of cancer, etc etc … this is probably what I should expect.

I asked her how many sessions to expect and she said 6-8. So that’s a session every 3 weeks. So that works out to be about 5+ months of chemo. Plus she thinks I’ll probably have radiation since they found one lymph glad that was compromised.

c4668d389251b8f86a0cc2d18f8e7688So my summer is going to suck. 🙁

After I have my meeting with the doctor on the 15th I’m going to get my friend/hairdresser Leah to cut my hair short … so I can get used to having short hair again before it all falls out.

Please don’t write me that you’re going to shave your head in solidarity. I’m not stressed about losing my hair. We all know I have a good shaped cranium.  🙂

If you truly want to support me – shave off your eyebrows. When I think about losing my hair that’s what I’m the most stressed out about. Just kidding. Don’t do it. You’ll look craaazzzy!

I had a talk on Monday with the manager of my building at Market Square where my store is located. They are being wonderful and supportive and are encouraging me to stay open (with limited hours) while I do treatment but I honestly can not visualize what it will be like to be shitty from chemo and work at the same time.

I’m really struggling with the idea of keeping the store open while I go through this. My store is like a living plant. It needs water every day to grow … I won’t be able to do that if I’m sickly from the chemo. Ugh. I don’t know what to do. Holly has offered to work with me during my chemo schedule but I’m not sure what I’ll be like. Can I even do both?

Have any of you done chemo and worked? Give me the low-down. I think I’m more scared of the chemo then I was of the surgery/cancer. Is that weird?


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17 Responses to Back to work …

  1. stephanie says:

    Oh darlin, I wish I was closer cause I would come in and do hours in your store for you, for free. Seriously. Many, many of my friends have been through chemo lately- I know, right? sheesh- and most of them have their butt’s kicked for a few days after. In my understanding, it’s dependent on the individual and the cocktail you’re on. One of my friends and clients gets treated once a month and he struggles but doesn’t lose work time; play it by ear and honour your self first and foremost. Has no one thought of an indie go go or kickstarter or crowdfunding solution? Another dear friend- 19 years cancer free, by the by- nearly lost his life while felling trees last summer and his brother in law started a crowd funding site and bingo bongo, we all covered lost wages and expenses and Pet’s good as new- better, actually. Just some thoughts. I’ll stay tuned in and if I can help in any way… xoxo:)

  2. Kuwanna says:

    Since cancer made its way into my family I have done a lot of reading about how many have treated and/or cured their cancers through macrobiotics or raw food, sometimes in lieu of chemo and sometimes complementing the chemo. Have you considered either of these?

    Hugs and blessings from Tejas.

  3. Susan Lahti (Corey's Mom) says:

    Hi Sarah,

    (Corey’s Mom here). The cancer clinic always recommends chemo. They have to. Even though I have the HER/2 gene I would have to have the chemo to get the herceptin which targets that particular gene. But when I went inside (meditated) and listened to my own body (I am very body intuitive) – it said no! So I didn’t do any of it. Not because I was afraid to do it but my own body wisdom said that that was not the route I should go. I know that is an individual decision and everyone has to decide for themselves. I have been healthy and strong and it has been 1 1/2 years now since the mastectomy. My surgeon has been giving me check ups every 3 months and I am clear. I begin reconstruction surgery (individual choice) June 19. I have no shadow of a doubt that it has been the right decision for me. I do my best to make my diet more alkaline. Cancer loves the acidity in our bodies. I exercise, meditate and practise staying in the immediate moment. I have had the almalgams out of my teeth and have done chelation (google it). I take the best supplements I can (sent the issue on supplements ‘Epigenetics and the prevention of chemo’) and eat a healthy diet (albeit with an added glass of wine here and there). I don’t have anxiety about it. I just know that in this moment I don’t have cancer. I am cancer free.

    Gosh if I was there I would work the store for you for all the hours you need.. I remember going to a staff christmas party about 3 weeks after surgery and seeing pictures from that night wondering why I looked so tired. I had to smack myself on the side of the head to remind myself that I had just had surgery 3 weeks prior.

    Sarah I don’t know what else to say to you. You have to make up your own mind about what is best for you no matter what the oncologist or cancer clinic says to you. It is your body and your life. Do what GIVES you life. FEEL IT! In the end it is your choice. I am here if you need me.

    Lots of love, hugs and blessings to you
    Susan (Corey’s Mom)

  4. danielle says:

    Hi Sarah!
    My husband who is 31 was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year. He had 2 surgeries one being a majorly invasive lymph node dissection in order to catch his cancer before it spread. After his radical surgery we both expected he was free that they had to have caught it all. After he came home and we went to his first follow up they explained to us there was some lymph nodes that seemed strange and they wanted to do preventative chemo…because he was young and this would drop his recurrence rate dramatically. All along he was petrified of chemo… he actually chose the radical surgery over chemo the first time… when we found out he needed preventative chemo we were both really scared. surgery is one thing but chemo is a constant ride of sickness and feeling better. So he opted to do the chemo because we trusted his oncologists and surgeons a ton. His first day of chemo they did a catscan per procedure and found he had tumors now growing on his lungs. Their suspicion of the lymph nodes was correct and in the 6 weeks post op it spread…so that day he found out he would have 4 rounds of chemo not 2 like expected. Testicular cancer, well at least the kind he had, requires 5 days of chemo for about 4-5 hours straight a day, then you get 2 weeks off to recover and do it all over again. He was devastated when he was told he had to have 4 now…
    he works at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary so even if he wanted to work during chemo he was told absolutely not…because it would compromise his immune system too much…
    his first round of chemo was pretty bad… we didnt know what to expect… but it really is how they explain it. you feel generally shitty during the time of chemo… then days after very sick…. then you feel pretty good but during the time you feel good is when your white count is the lowest and you are most susceptible to infection. So the only time you want to see people and do things is pretty much the time you shouldn’t be…
    i don’t know the regimen for breast cancer very well especially because the timing and cycles are different but just wanted to share that story…
    i think working may be very tiring for some during chemo and emotionally its a roller coaster along with physical symptoms. some days my husband Dave would want to go out so bad so we would go to dinner or the store… and he would feel fine but just get so exhausted we would have to go home after an hour or two. I would say that you may want to use your time to ensure you are resting and taking care of yourself in the best way possible during this time… a stress free environment i believe is key to kicking cancers shitty ass. I’m sure your store brings you happiness so maybe being able to be there every now and then would be a positive thing during treatment… its so hard to say as so many people react differently to chemotherapy. In my experience the most common thing you hear is exhaustion and nausea …and nausea is easily managed nowadays so the exhaustion really is what takes a toll on some folks!
    I don’t know if that was helpful at all… but i’d be happy to answer any questions or chat anytime… 🙂
    my experience as a caretaker for my husband is of course very different then dealing with the cancer itself…
    anyway you’ll kick this things ass and be able to look back one day and be like “did i really have cancer wtf”

  5. Hannah J. L. says:


    I haven’t personally been through chemo, but my dad went through a year of it last year, and I was right by his side. First things first, he didn’t lose any hair! Chemo doesn’t cause everyone’s hair to fall out, so there’s still hope on that one. Although at least hair grows back! He did get a couple of sores on his skin/head though, but they weren’t painful.

    While the chemo definitely wore him out and made him pretty weary and tired, it did not completely make him sick, and he was still able to work (part-time). He actually wanted to work! Event though he obviously wasn’t feeling at his best, he desperately wanted things to do; to keep his mind at ease and stimulated and to sort battle the cancer by slowly and surely keeping his life as normal and uplifting as possible. I think it really helped him to work part-time, emotionally and physically. That and writing!

    The thing that really got my dad through it the most, which I know you understand, is the love and support he received from his family and friends. Chemo’s no vacation, but you’re not alone!

    I’ll stop ranting now, but I hope at least some of that was helpful!

    Keep feeling the love and living as you always would, this is just a new chapter and it’ll only make you stronger.


    p.s. I’m thinking of moving to BC soon and if you need any help at your shop, I’d be more than happy to lend a hand, or two!

  6. Gabrielle says:

    You can refuse chemo if you want. I still encourage you to do your own independent research and not rush into anything. A lot of women refuse chemo and do just fine. Some go through chemo and and still get a recurrence of cancer cells. It is no guarantee. You have options. Research, take time. See “Crazy, Sexy Cancer”. Get to know Kris Carr’s story. Get to know Brenda Cobb’s story (check out The Living Foods Institute). You can step off the cancer conveyor belt if you want. And please read Barbara Ehrenreich’s ‘Welcome to Cancerland’: – I’m concerned for you and following your story while living my own (two years post diagnosis, no surgery, no chemo, doing great!).

  7. Joy Wickens says:

    Hi Sarah,

    You don’t know me but I am a friend of Kimmee’s. I live in Victoria and on occasion have time free during the week. I would be happy to help you in your store (no pay required) while you are going through chemo (should that be your choice). Contact Kimmee for a reference if you are interested. I’d like to be of service.


  8. Cee says:

    This is a long shot, but could you post to the Yes and Yes! blog’s Network of Nice and get more volunteers for your shop? Maybe volunteers are the way to go? I am thinking of you and sending you lots of light!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Cee
      I’ve thought about volunteers but that’s a lot of maintenance/training … I’m not sure that would be less stressful. 😉

  9. Deanna says:

    I worked throughout my chemo, except for my infusion days. Breast cancer treatment is different from what I had, so you definitely want to talk to someone who has been through the same treatment you will do. Some treatments are more harsh than others. I was able to time it so that my crash days were on the weekend. I didn’t feel great when I was working but it was better than staying home and thinking about cancer all the time.

  10. Cailey says:

    Hey Sarah! When I was in school in Saskatoon there was a psychologist in the community who went through chemo for breast cancer and kept working. She still supervised students and everything. I couldn’t tell whether it was sheer determination or whether she was one of those lucky people who have relatively “easy” chemo experiences, but it seemed to work okay for her.

  11. Connie says:

    Hi, Sarah! So glad you’ve come through the surgery and first weeks of healing with spirits intact! That’s a huge, humongous step! Just a little further now… I did chemo while working a really demanding job. It was extra challenging because my immediate coworker (and backup) got fired right after I started chemo, and her replacement went out on medical leave almost immediately…for the next 8 months. I got what was then the standard protocol: ACT – Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Tamoxifen. Because I was HER-2 positive, the ACT was followed by 52 weekly treatments of Herceptin for a grand total of almost 2 years of weekly infusions. While I was getting the weekly Tamoxifen infusions, I was also going on my lunch break for 37 daily radiation treatments. I never missed a single (long) day of work as an elementary school secretary (trust me when I say this is NOT a desk job). I only missed 45 minutes every Thursday when I had to leave early for my infusion. I remember being very, very tired but I think I really needed the normalcy of going to work each day. At the facility where I got my treatment, the infusion room was a single very large, beautiful room with glass walls on 3 sides surrounded by woods. As many as 17 patients got chemo at the same time. Of course we all talked about how we were affected by treatment. Just a kaleidoscope of side effects ranging from nausea (you’ll be offered great anti-nausea drugs. TAKE THEM. Ginger also helped me a lot.), tiredness, the way food flavors changed, low blood counts, nail discoloration, weight loss, weight GAIN, hair loss, etc. (Interestingly, the hair on my legs has never returned, 8 years later-a side effect that I am very happy with!) Gratitude, appreciation and joy are cancer side effects the media doesn’t seem to talk about as much. We all agreed on the generosity and kindness of people upon learning of our illness, our appreciation of the daily blessings in our lives, and the joy taken in normal, everyday activities. Working while getting chemo was challenging, but I was glad then and proud now that I did it. I really feel that (for me, anyway) sticking as close as possible to my normal routine was a healthy thing to do – cancer tends to kick “normal routine” right out the door. It’s good that you’re talking to lots of people, pros and civilians alike, and getting many points of view. The informed choice you make will be the right one for you. Best wishes, and blessings upon you and your family!

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