Anyone worked in nursing during/ after breast cancer?

  1. Just got the diagnosis- invasive ductal- and family and I are feeling a little overwhelmed. Haven't done the staging yet; just a needle biopsy. DH and I are going to see the Doc tomorrow to try to put together a battle plan. (Somehow I let the yearly mammogram go to almost 3 yrs...everyone go make the appointment NOW for self or loved ones!)

    I've been poring over my nursing text and various info over the Web. Can anyone give me info on the day-to-day experiences post-surgery, chemo/ radiation and rehab. I imagine it'll depend on exactly which course of treatment I go thru but any and all first-hand or otherwise experiences will be welcome. Especially- how realistic is it to continue working in nursing? How debilitating might it be in terms of using my arm. Has anyone had experience (or known anyone to do so) going back to working on a floor? ( I carry the insurance for the family but have been working part-time due to other family obligation and so cannot get disability). What other areas in the medical field have survivors been physically capable of handling if not able to continue in active clinical nursing?
    Lastly, this is my own personal nightmare because I can deal with absolutely anything except nausea. Really. If I didn't have a family I know I would just say no way can I do this. Has anyone NOT had the vomiting?
    Any and all input welcome. For now, just taking it-

    one day at a time
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    About Chaya

    Joined: Mar '03; Posts: 1,129; Likes: 511
    Specialty: 15 year(s) of experience in Rehab, Med Surg, Home Care


  3. by   indie
    Ask for Kytril or Zofran before/with/after chemo; your health insurance plan may require you to undergo a trial of one of the simpler antinauseants, but you truly can insist on the latest generation meds. I do believe there is a later version than these two too.

    I worked thru a year of old fashioned chemo given q3 weeks (dependent on blood counts) for a year. And only getting Compazine - this was the 80s. I was teaching nursing at the time, so perhaps had a bit more flexibility than you might have.

    I was mentally strong about it all, but only in my 30s. Had the chemo on Thursday PMs so I had Friday and the weekend to deal with the nasea. I kept the weekend totally clear. I think high dose chemo over 3 months might be preferable and it is probably what you will be offered.

    I'm a long term survivor; you can be too. I wish you well.
  4. by   Nurse2bNicole
    I can't really tell you much about working as a nurse during/after cancer treatment. But my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in Jan. of this year and has worked her full time retail job all throughout treatment. She is one of the lucky few who did not experience much nausea and did not lose her hair. Her doctor told her that if she needed to work, which she did, he would recommend going through chemo for a longer time period with a lower dosage of the medications because she would not get as sick. You might want to check with your doctor and see if this is an option for you. It extended her treatment time by 2 months, but I believe made a huge difference in how she felt. She also had her treatments on Thursday afternoons leaving her Friday and the weekend to recover if she needed it. Her worst side effects were fatigue and anticipatory nausea, she would start to feel somewhat sick before going to treatment. She swore that she could smell and taste the treatment before she got there, so she just kept some mints on her and ate them when she started to feel ill, which worked for her. Hope some of this helps you and best of luck to you....Nicole
  5. by   mona b RN

    One day at a time is the best way to deal with what you are going through. I can relate, I was diagnosed stage II invasive breast cancer 3 years ago and guess what?

    I am starting nursing school in January. You know, I would have never guessed that I would be where I am today. I took the diagnosis hard and I still have a hard time with it, but I have moved on. I, like you, had alot of questions about what I would be able to do after my surgery. Turns out, I can still do everthing I used to do, including mowing the lawn, working out, etc.

    I was 36 y/o when I got my diagnosis. I had a bilateral modified radical mastectomy with breast reconstruction. I went through 6 months of chemo. It was A&C and Taxol. I never thought I would get through those 6 mos but I did and you will too.

    If you want someone to talk to, please feel free to pm me. I will be happy to help you.