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Old 05-17-2012, 10:17 AM   #21
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Very sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I hope the surgery and treatments go well and your recovery is relatively quick. Fortunately it was evidently caught early and the probability of a successful outcome seems to improve dramatically with each passing year.

I agree with earlier posts about not making decisions before necessary. From what I know from your post, I'd leave the option of resuming your work open and think about relocation after your recovery. You can relocate and/or quit whenever and focus on your health and getting better in the months ahead. All our best...
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:31 AM   #22
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I'm sending all my prayers your way tonight. In addition to the conventional therapies, look into holistic and homeopathic treatments as well, like herbs, juicing, etc.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:32 AM   #23
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Very sorry to hear this update... I wish you the best during upcoming weeks/months.

You already probably did this, but... before you retire or quit your job, investigate all the benefits from your employer, i.e. FMLA, short/long term disability, medical coverage, etc. If you were needing individual healthcare policy, but have not purchased, this might a consideration... the longer you can stay on your group plan while on FMLA/leave, the longer you delay cobra, etc. if retiree benefits aren't available to you.
I have health coverage through my job and can continue at group rates after I retire although my premiums will be deducted from my pension check rather than paid by employer. I could get COBRA, but I'm single so it may be less expensive to shift directly to retiree coverage when I retire (whenever that turns out to be. So no worries there.

I could use sick leave to continue my income during treatment, but I don't want to burn it all up. One of the benefits we have is called VEBA--at retirement I will get 35% of my unused sick leave balance deposited tax-free in a tax-deferred medical account (similar to a HSA). I have over 1000 hours of accumulated sick time, so this is a significant amount of money which I have no way to replace. It's earmarked for any expensive dentistry I may need in the future.

I have applied for FMLA, but that's unpaid leave. I can stretch it out with vacation and sick time, but without my full-time income, the mortgage payment would bust my budget pretty quickly. I might be eligible for long-term disability if I need chemo, and perhaps during recovery from reconstruction surgery. But I've read the definition from my LTD policy and I don't think I meet it. It can't hurt to apply after surgery when I know what other treatments are in store and how long they might continue, but I don't really expect to get approved. I could go back to work, I just don't want to.

When I told my boss about my diagnosis, I said I didn't think I could do my job well if I missed a lot of time with doctor appointments etc, and the last few weeks have proven me right. My work load varies with the amount of construction going on and building is starting to pick up around here. I am running nearly a week late, which drives me crazy. Even though it's self-imposed, when I am in my office I feel under pressure until I get caught up. I took two weeks off to go to a niece's college graduation last year. It took me the better part of a month to clear the backlog after my return, and that was at a much lower work load than it has been the last month. I don't want to jump from recent surgery back into a high-stress job situation of trying to catch up from a two, three or four week hiatus, only to go back out for reconstruction, which has an even longer recovery time and thus will generate a bigger backlog. I just don't want that stress. But now I need to get out of here. I ai'n't retired yet.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:49 AM   #24
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So sorry to hear this news. Hang in there and keep us posted on how the surgery and the house sale progress.

I think the above posts about staying on at work but taking a leave of absence and maintaining your insurance are worth considering.

It's so nice that you and your mother are so close and support each other.
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Old 05-17-2012, 10:54 AM   #25
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Ch-ch-ch-changes indeed.

The diagnosis of cancer can knock the wind out of you. Try to take a deep breath....then, take it one day at a time.

I'll be thinking of you.
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Old 05-17-2012, 11:07 AM   #26
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Very sorry to hear this bad news. Try to keep your spirits up and I will be praying for your speedy recovery.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:11 PM   #27
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Sorry to hear it, best wishes. It sounds like a good time to retire to me. Keeping your options open while it makes sense of course.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:14 PM   #28
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We'll be keeping you in our thoughts. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:23 PM   #29
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The diagnosis of cancer can knock the wind out of you.
Yes. Even us bystanders.

Time to do what you want to do. Think about what you want to do. It is good you have choices.

Be well.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:25 PM   #30
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I wish you the best.
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Old 05-17-2012, 12:44 PM   #31
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Saying a prayer for you.
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Old 05-17-2012, 01:10 PM   #32
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Sorry to hear about the medical issue, sending good thoughts your way. Looks like for the short term you'll be getting to have mom take care of you while you live together, that's really great that you guys live so close and you can move in with her. Yay family!
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Old 05-17-2012, 03:17 PM   #33
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Sorry to hear about this---but your recovery is more important than any j*b. In fact, healing will become your job.
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Old 05-17-2012, 04:30 PM   #34
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Wow, sorry to hear of what is certainly a life changing diagnosis. Wishing you all the best with your upcoming surgery and treatment.
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Old 05-18-2012, 12:36 AM   #35
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Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes!

Maybe I should clarify a little. When I said I was thinking seriously about retiring now, I didn't mean that the paperwork is all filled out and ready to be sent in. I do see the logic of using whatever sort of leave I'm eligible for, as long as I can. It's more like, why not admit to everyone, including my boss, what I've pretty much already decided--that I won't be returning to work after treatment. It seems disingenuous, to say the least, for me even to imply that I might come back when I really have no intention of doing so. Why not just 'fess up? What are they going to do, fire me?
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:40 AM   #36
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I would keep silent with my boss for now and focus on the treatment and my well-being instead. Take care.
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Why not just 'fess up? What are they going to do, fire me?
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Old 05-18-2012, 06:34 AM   #37
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Thanks for all your prayers and good wishes!

Maybe I should clarify a little. When I said I was thinking seriously about retiring now, I didn't mean that the paperwork is all filled out and ready to be sent in. I do see the logic of using whatever sort of leave I'm eligible for, as long as I can. It's more like, why not admit to everyone, including my boss, what I've pretty much already decided--that I won't be returning to work after treatment. It seems disingenuous, to say the least, for me even to imply that I might come back when I really have no intention of doing so. Why not just 'fess up? What are they going to do, fire me?
Kyounge1956, being forthcoming with your employer is admirable. Another perspective, however, is keeping your option to stay employed without misleading your employer. What do you lose by putting off that decision until after your treatment? There is nothing unethical and it allows you to focus on just one thing - your health.
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Old 05-18-2012, 09:14 AM   #38
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Good advice from MichaelB. You have a lot to contend with - I can well believe that the diagnosis has turned your life upside down - and if possible it would probably be best to defer your RE decision until after your health and housing issues have first resolved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kyounge1956
My mom says "don't burn your bridges behind you" ... [but] I can't see myself going back to work after treatment. I'm very certain I don't want to, and not sure that I could do my job well again after a lapse of a month or more, even if I wanted to.
Mom knows best, at least in this case. If there is a possibility of taking an unpaid leave of absence rather than quitting outright, I suggest taking it. While your current feelings are understandable, there is no obvious downside to that strategy, since you can always tell your employer that you have decided not to return (or feel unable to do so): no reasonable boss is going to pressure a cancer survivor to return to work against their better judgment.

Best of luck to you.
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Old 07-28-2012, 11:02 PM   #39
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Update

Surgery was June 6, and I have pretty much completely recovered. It was nowhere near as bad as I was afraid it would be. I was really nervous about only being in the hospital overnight for what seemed like a really major operation, but I was more tired and sore after surgery than actually in pain...sort of like just getting or just getting over a bad case of the flu. I think some of the women in the online breast cancer forum I've been hanging out in since my diagnosis even had mastectomy as an outpatient surgery and went home the same day!

After surgery, I had a wait of some weeks before my first appointment with my oncologist, and after that a couple more weeks waiting for a test result to come back. The results of that test suggested that chemotherapy would be advisable, so I've just started a 6-month course of CMF, which is made up of two drugs by IV once a week, and the third in a daily tablet. This isn't the most modern drug cocktail currently in use for breast cancer, but the two-drug combo originally suggested by Dr. F has a potential side effect that really freaked me out--about 3% of people in the clinical trial for one of the drugs lost their hair permanently. The two-drug combo, called TC, has a two percentage-point net advantage over CMF (i.e. two more people in a hundred still alive ten years later), but I just didn't feel it was worth risking baldness for such a small difference. TC would have needed to show a much greater superiority over CMF to make me prefer it. CMF takes longer, 6 months vs 3, but has fewer and milder side effects than TC. There was a third option, but one of the drugs in that cocktail can cause heart damage. Dr F advised against option #3 for that reason and as being more aggressive than warranted for my diagnosis, and I had no argument with that advice, and if (heaven forbid) I do have a recurrence, I still have that more aggressive regimen to throw at it. As yet the side effects of CMF have been negligible, but it's only two weeks into the six months. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop, but so far it hasn't.

With chemo plus and hormone therapy, my chance of the cancer coming back should be greatly reduced. I have already had one consultation with a plastic surgeon about reconstruction. He likes patients to recover for a couple of months between chemo and reconstructive surgery. At that rate, by the time I'm recovered from reconstruction it'll be close to May 2013, which is when I was planning on retiring anyway. The longer I stay out of my office, the less inclined I am ever to go back. I've been telecommuting part time and occasionally going in to my office on Saturday when there's nobody else there. It's so much easier to get a lot done when it's quiet and distraction-free. For some reason I am reluctant to see people from my office while I'm in treatment. Fortunately this feeling doesn't extend to the folks from St. John's, who have been just fantastic, or I'd turn into a complete hermit (not that there's anything wrong with that ).

My townhouse went on the market earlier this month. I just got an offer on it yesterday, so now I'm waiting to see what the prospective buyer says to my counter-offer. Meanwhile, two weeks ago my mom & I drove down to Olympia to look at a couple of houses on the market down there. I saw one I'd like to check out further, a little two-bedroom bank repo, but it already has an offer on it and the agent isn't responding to my voice mail, so I guess they are sure enough of the sale they don't want a back-up offer, or already have one or more. It's a pity, it's a nice little house, close to pretty much everything and very inexpensive, but it's not the only one in Olympia, and anyway if it will be the better part of a year before I complete treatment there is no reason to be in a hurry. My mom is making noises about putting this house on the market next spring, but I don't see any movement yet toward clearing out the accumulation of thirty years' residence here. Heaven knows I have made noises about doing things well in advance of taking any action, so who am I to get impatient if my mom does the same thing? I just hope I still have enough energy later in chemo treatment to help with the packing up and winnowing down, because it's going to be a big job and I'm the only one of us four kids who lives nearby. The next closest sibling is in San Diego and my two brothers are both back east. Oh well, cross that bridge when we get to it. Mom will move when she's ready to.
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Old 07-29-2012, 12:38 AM   #40
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Surgery was June 6, and I have pretty much completely recovered. It was nowhere near as bad as I was afraid it would be. I was really nervous about only being in the hospital overnight for what seemed like a really major operation, but I was more tired and sore after surgery than actually in pain...sort of like just getting or just getting over a bad case of the flu. I think some of the women in the online breast cancer forum I've been hanging out in since my diagnosis even had mastectomy as an outpatient surgery and went home the same day!

After surgery, I had a wait of some weeks before my first appointment with my oncologist, and after that a couple more weeks waiting for a test result to come back. The results of that test suggested that chemotherapy would be advisable, so I've just started a 6-month course of CMF, which is made up of two drugs by IV once a week, and the third in a daily tablet. This isn't the most modern drug cocktail currently in use for breast cancer, but the two-drug combo originally suggested by Dr. F has a potential side effect that really freaked me out--about 3% of people in the clinical trial for one of the drugs lost their hair permanently. The two-drug combo, called TC, has a two percentage-point net advantage over CMF (i.e. two more people in a hundred still alive ten years later), but I just didn't feel it was worth risking baldness for such a small difference. TC would have needed to show a much greater superiority over CMF to make me prefer it. CMF takes longer, 6 months vs 3, but has fewer and milder side effects than TC. There was a third option, but one of the drugs in that cocktail can cause heart damage. Dr F advised against option #3 for that reason and as being more aggressive than warranted for my diagnosis, and I had no argument with that advice, and if (heaven forbid) I do have a recurrence, I still have that more aggressive regimen to throw at it. As yet the side effects of CMF have been negligible, but it's only two weeks into the six months. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop, but so far it hasn't.

With chemo plus and hormone therapy, my chance of the cancer coming back should be greatly reduced. I have already had one consultation with a plastic surgeon about reconstruction. He likes patients to recover for a couple of months between chemo and reconstructive surgery. At that rate, by the time I'm recovered from reconstruction it'll be close to May 2013, which is when I was planning on retiring anyway. The longer I stay out of my office, the less inclined I am ever to go back. I've been telecommuting part time and occasionally going in to my office on Saturday when there's nobody else there. It's so much easier to get a lot done when it's quiet and distraction-free. For some reason I am reluctant to see people from my office while I'm in treatment. Fortunately this feeling doesn't extend to the folks from St. John's, who have been just fantastic, or I'd turn into a complete hermit (not that there's anything wrong with that ).

My townhouse went on the market earlier this month. I just got an offer on it yesterday, so now I'm waiting to see what the prospective buyer says to my counter-offer. Meanwhile, two weeks ago my mom & I drove down to Olympia to look at a couple of houses on the market down there. I saw one I'd like to check out further, a little two-bedroom bank repo, but it already has an offer on it and the agent isn't responding to my voice mail, so I guess they are sure enough of the sale they don't want a back-up offer, or already have one or more. It's a pity, it's a nice little house, close to pretty much everything and very inexpensive, but it's not the only one in Olympia, and anyway if it will be the better part of a year before I complete treatment there is no reason to be in a hurry. My mom is making noises about putting this house on the market next spring, but I don't see any movement yet toward clearing out the accumulation of thirty years' residence here. Heaven knows I have made noises about doing things well in advance of taking any action, so who am I to get impatient if my mom does the same thing? I just hope I still have enough energy later in chemo treatment to help with the packing up and winnowing down, because it's going to be a big job and I'm the only one of us four kids who lives nearby. The next closest sibling is in San Diego and my two brothers are both back east. Oh well, cross that bridge when we get to it. Mom will move when she's ready to.
I am very glad to hear this encouraging news. Good for you!

Ha
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