A Mother and her Two Daughters

31 October 2010

Slowing Down to the Speed of Life

Dr. Nicholas Vogelzang, a well-respected cancer researcher, conducted a study among cancer patients that found nearly 70% described fatigue as the worst side effect of chemotherapy. 

Fatigue is common with cancer treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy and biological therapies. But fatigue can also persist with post treatments too.  A recent study in women who had completed adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer demonstrated the extent of this problem. Over half reported significant fatigue at 6 months, and after a year 20% had not recovered. The biggest drug related culprit in women with breast cancer is Tamoxifen and other hormones such as the aromatase inhibitors like Arimidex – they can all cause fatigue.  

Well, no wonder I stay so tired.  I’ve had eight rounds of Adriamycin and Taxol and two major surgeries. I’m taking an oral inhibitor each day (Arimidex) and will for the next five years.  And this isn’t even taking into account my next surgery (scheduled for November 15th) and my upcoming 30 rounds of radiation treatment.


A few weeks ago I returned to work pretty much at my full-time pace – attending morning meetings, afternoon ones too; writing PR plans, attending events, writing print and web site copy, conference calls, telephone meetings, lunch meetings, more writing and more meetings.  Between all of this, I’m returning phone calls, and reading and responding to countless emails.

For those who know me, you know how much I love my job.  Let me say it again:  I LOVE MY JOB!  I feel very fortunate to have one of those jobs where I get up each day and am excited about the opportunities I have to change the world, work for great clients alongside terrific colleagues.  But I think that my return to work has sent an erroneous signal to those who love and care for me -  “She’s well!”  The response to my improved condition has been new invitations, and a few expectations to be involved, contribute, or simply just participate in the fun.  My problem is, I want to do it all and it’s very difficult for someone like me to say “no.” 

By the end of this past week, the whirlwind of activity had caught up with me.  I’m very tired, my body is screaming for rest, pain has returned to my arms and legs, and I’m finding it difficult to feel mentally relaxed and physically comfortable. 

In my life BC (before cancer), living the frantic pace wrought with pressures from the modern world – well, I was one of those freaks that this lifestyle created true bliss for me.  While my intentions were positive, my life was sometimes a mess – or at least my calendar looked that way.  For too long to remember, I have thrived on a sense of purpose, mission, and a checklist of tasks completed.  This way of life has always seemed quite normal, resulting in pet names from friends like “Peppy The Wonder Squirrel.”  If you don’t understand, I simply cannot explain.  It’s just the way some of us are created, or maybe it’s just the life we’ve created for ourselves. 

But the bottom line for me right now is this – My body is not feeling well and I simply must slow down. 

Last night my dear brother gave me some sage advice.  “Make a list of all that you’ve committed to over the next two weeks, then scratch off those that are not 100% necessary.” 

So today I’ve committed to slowing down to the speed of real life.  While living a frantic pace has brought me a sense of happiness, it can definitely take a toll on my health – and your health too!  And my health must become a priority.  Without sacrificing my work productivity or penchant for being with those I love, I’m going to try very hard to change my attitude, to slow down my mind and focus on the present moment, to maintain a calmer, healthier state of mind, to make fewer plans and have fewer expectations of myself outside of what has to be accomplished each day. 

Wish me luck.  I’m searching for a more peaceful and simpler lifestyle.  This is going to be tough. 


  1. I am wishing you luck, Stacy. I sincerely hope your search will not be as difficult as
    you think and that you will arrive at your goal quicker than you imagine.

  2. Stacy - you said yourself - SLOW down and simplify!! I have been completely off work since my diagnosis, so I was in essence forced to slow down. This has been the best thing for me, otherwise, I would be trying to go 100% like you and feeling guilty if I wasn't. So - with the wonderful season ahead of us, find the time to read more books, and just relax. Your body will thank you!! Take care girl!!


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