Yes it is hard. There isn't often any easy answers for any part of this journey including asking for support from others especially when they are overseas. Glad to hear that you have spoken up with family regarding the quality time thing!!
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Hi Pinkeye glad you've come to some decisions regarding work and that your wife is supportive and you're both in the position that you can live off her salary whilst you work out what you'd like to do and take some me recovery time.
It sounds like you have a lot of transferrable skills so will have a lot of options when trying to decide what you'd like to do as you have the existing skills and qualifications. Perhaps you could considering doing either a community college choosing your career type course or have some sessions with a career counsellor or both.
With returning to work the consensus is that we need to start off part time and build up gradually and we have a need for flexibility during treatment if still working (some prefer or need to work for various reasons which can simply mean having a sense of normality or not having to cope with returning after an absence) and even after treatment especially if energy levels remain low or we experience ongoing health problems not to mention needing ongoing checks.
I can certainly relate to not having tolerance for other people's s*** at work as it seems so petty. I work in a junior level position at work as I couldn't do the hours and needed either part time or flexibled houred work prior to cancer due to another health condition that impacts on my energy levels thus couldn't continue in fields of work I was qualified for so my experience became old, so cop a bit of that (I'm a this and you're only a that so I don't have to co-operate with or respect you) and have tended to change jobs every 2 to 3 years due to not particularly liking the work I could get so at least I wouldn't get stuck in one field with old any experience elsewhere and of course the vareity. So I'm going through my work options and needing to volunteer somewhere to build experience to become competitive again for work I enjoy so will be doing a choosing your career type course to firm up what I'd like to do and what type of duties I need to volunteer in to build that experience.
Cheers for now Deejjay
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I had a double mastectomy in October 2009 and now have 97% of full ROM etc and can do most things except for heave things ie moving furniture. I find I still find I'm having tenderness and tight pectoral muscles. I too am wondering how long it will take for the tightness and tenderness to go.
I was given exercises by the hospital physio and then did an Encore (through YWCA) exercise program including water classes which we can do twice in the first year (I'm waiting until radiotherapy finishes which I start 24 May) and find that being in the water helps ie breast stroke, doing my land exercises in the water and so forth/
So I'm also interested in hearing how long it takes to get full ROM and full relaxation of the pec muscles.
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Nicole gives some good advice. Firstly it's finding out as much information as you can and making use of the resources and support that are there to help you and your father through this difficult time.
How does your father feel about the length of time it took for his cancer to be diagnosed? And what would he like to do about it if he does feel there was unnecessary delays in further investigations etc when his symptoms didn't resolve? That will help guide what your actions would be there. He may well feel his doctor was proactive but took time to pick it up.
Then you can decide whether you want to get some legal advice, even if it is to set your mind at ease, and at what point you want to take action if you wish to. Your state health care complaints body is worth getting advice from and your local community legal centre for starters.
Hugs from Deejjay
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I'd also check out the Australian Human Rights Commission website section on insurance http://www.hreoc.gov.au/disability_rights/insurance.htm in relation to disability discrimination. Cases and conciliations seem to confirm the below.
My understanding is that most insurance including TPI and income protection won't cover pre existing medical conditions but should cover unrelated future conditions and situations, ie being hit by the proverbial bus.
But one has to be honest about everything when asked, say in their questionnaire, ie past any condition to ensure the insurance is valid.
However some insurance cover will still cover cancer. For example a past work place I worked at where their superannuation also offered TPI and income protection they actually did not ask questions about pre existing conditions and did cover claims. Their rationale was that the organisation was large with 14,000 employees of working age (15-65) which statistically this population in general has a low level of disability (10%) and thus the risk of covering an employee with a pre existing condition was was spread over a large range of low risk employees. There was also a 3 month wait for income protection to kick in and many conditions although serious are too short term ie heart bypass, minor heart attack, even major surgery without ongoing complications or treatment where most are back at work after 3 months.
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Firstly sounds like you're doing all the right things writing down your questions, writing stories and considering getting involved with caligraphy. Good luck with your next oncologist appointment.
Also given what you've been told by your oncologist I think it is very important to let your friends that don't already know know what are going on and ask for their support. Perhaps prior to speaking to all of them, including both that know and don't know, work out what support you need, it could be practical ie driving you, provision of meals, shopping, cleaning, coming with you to chemo or when you see the oncologist or could be emotional ie spending time together doing enjoyable activities, them doing the extra leg to come to you, a convenient to you location etc so you can be clear about that as people often don't know what they can do.
Also remember to make use of any health/govt services that can make your life easier as you need them, for example, meals on wheels, cleaning, drivers so you can call more on your friends for emotional support (although some people like to do practical things for their friends to show that they care) if their time is limited so the time they they spend with you can be doing something fun.
Good luck and hugs from Deejjay
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Glad you gave the public system a go. I do agree that in relation to the oncology department public is the way to go as they have a whole multidisciplinary team working together where one can be referred to other health professionals as required. They also have regular meetings where they discuss patients, their progress, their issues which has got to improve treatment even if we are only needing to see the oncologist as that person is more aware of us holistically. I was given a book on chemotherapy which included a summary of all the allied health professionals on the unit and what their role was.
A friend of a friend has mestatic breast cancer and is being treated by a private oncologist. She has no breast care nurse because there aren't any in many of the private hospitals and thus no support or someone who can co-ordinate which other health professionals you need to see.
Some people mention that in a public oncology department one may need to wait a while to see the oncologist as they often run late, sometimes because of things that come up with patients with appointments prior to you. Ie if a patient becomes very distressed or needs to ask questions or is not understanding something an oncologist does need to spend that extra time. But the upside is that conversations start up in the waiting room and friends are made especially as often it's the same people coming at the same time (ie morning)
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I agree Ms Reena. Cancer Council and other organisations talk of a new normal after cancer treatment as it does change us, life changes, our priorities change. This would naturally include work and some people even choose to change their field of work or do move on due to the combination of office pettiness and not really liking their jobs.
In your situation you mention you like your job but need to deal with the pettiness and office politics. Perhaps try to identify staff that you do like and connect with and aim to build your working relationships with them and just be neutral and polite with the others especially with those you have to work with.
At the beginning of the year I resolved that if I felt another staff member didn't like me (after gathering some evidence of this, for example, never speaking to me first or showing an interest in me after I'd shown an interest in them, say hi, ask how important things are going in their lives and so forth) that for those I have to have a reasonable working relationship with I would say hi but not initiate chit chat and with those I don't have to work with not even bother to say hi unless they do. Having cancer has certainly flushed out who these people are as they haven't ever asked how I am managing treatment or recovered after surgery (with one person I'd asked how he was recovering from his wisdom teeth surgery) or simply showed more an interest in me as support as it can be hard for some to say anything about how we are going with the cancer.
Interesting that approach has helped me to notice the really nice people in the office as instead of trying to get on with and befriend everyone I now notice who does say hi and start up conversations and those are the people I want to encourage.
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Hi Miss Reena, cancer certainly does change one's perspective on things, one isn't as petty but also I get annoyed by others being petty too. Anyhow it's great that more time is marching on for you since your last chemo session and thus more time to be recovering and hopefully starting to feel healthy and energetic again.
I'm enjoying my newly acquired PJ's!!!
Take care Deejay
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.