I Started My Dream Job and Then I Received a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Imagine starting your dream job, excited for the new opportunities and challenges ahead, only to be hit with a life-altering diagnosis shortly after. This is the reality that Shannon Murphy faced when she was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Despite the physical and emotional toll of her illness, Shannon was determined to continue working and be open about her health journey with her employer. In this inspiring personal account, Shannon shares her experience of navigating her career alongside cancer, and how finding support and advocating for herself has allowed her to persevere and accomplish all she sets her mind to.

I Started My Dream Job and Then I Received a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Starting My Dream Job

The role I took on

About three years ago, I started my dream job as the vice president of recruiting for a legal services firm. It was an exciting opportunity for me to do something I love at a new company. I was eager to make a difference and contribute to the success of the organization.

Initial excitements and expectations

Starting my dream job came with a lot of excitement and high expectations. I was thrilled to be in a position where I could make a positive impact and help drive the company’s growth. I looked forward to working with a talented team and building strong relationships with clients and candidates. I envisioned a fulfilling career and the opportunity to achieve professional success.

The challenges and rewards of remote work

One of the benefits of my dream job was the ability to work remotely. This allowed me to have flexibility and a better work-life balance. I didn’t have to worry about commuting or being tied down to a physical office space. Remote work gave me the freedom to work from anywhere and set my own schedule.

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However, remote work also presented its own set of challenges. It required strong self-discipline and motivation to stay focused and productive. Communication and collaboration with colleagues became even more essential when we couldn’t have face-to-face interactions. Despite the challenges, the rewards of remote work were worth it. The freedom and flexibility allowed me to thrive in my role and achieve a better work-life integration.

The First Signs of Trouble

Experiencing UTI symptoms

While I was enjoying my dream job, I started experiencing symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI). I had the classic signs of pain, pressure, and an urgent need to urinate. At first, I thought it was a minor inconvenience that would go away on its own.

First visit to the doctor

To ease my discomfort, I visited my doctor, expecting a simple diagnosis and a quick resolution. However, to my surprise, my urinalysis came back normal, with no sign of a UTI. I was confused and frustrated, as the symptoms persisted despite the lack of evidence for an infection.

Starting antibiotics with hope

Despite the normal test results, my doctor decided to prescribe antibiotics, assuming it was a UTI that the tests didn’t detect. I took the medication with optimism, hoping it would provide relief and allow me to focus on my work without constant discomfort.

Struggling with Persistent Symptoms

Multiple doctor visits

As the UTI symptoms continued to persist, I made multiple trips to the doctor in search of answers and relief. Each visit brought a sense of frustration as the cause of my symptoms remained unclear.

Unrelieved urgent need to urinate

The urgent need to urinate became increasingly severe, disrupting my daily routine and causing significant discomfort. It became challenging to concentrate on my work or engage in meetings without frequent interruptions.

Impact on my work and self-esteem

The persistent symptoms not only affected my physical well-being but also took a toll on my mental and emotional health. I felt embarrassed by the constant need to excuse myself from meetings and worried about how my colleagues perceived me. It was a blow to my self-esteem as I struggled to perform at my best while dealing with these ongoing health issues.

Being Open About My Health Issues

Choosing to confide in my boss

Eventually, I made the decision to confide in my boss about my health issues. I knew that being open and honest was crucial for both my own well-being and maintaining a good working relationship. It was a difficult conversation to have, but I appreciated the support and understanding I received.

How I pushed for a specialist

With the support of my boss, I pushed for a specialist and sought out a urologist to help uncover the underlying cause of my persistent symptoms. I was determined to find answers and regain control of my health.

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I Started My Dream Job and Then I Received a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

A Visit to the Urologist

My symptoms escalating

By the time I saw the urologist, my symptoms had escalated to a point where the pain was unbearable. I was hunched over with intense pain, desperate for a solution.

Relief at being taken seriously

The urologist’s validation of my symptoms brought immense relief. It was reassuring to be taken seriously and have someone acknowledge that what I was experiencing was not normal. It gave me hope that we would finally be able to identify the root cause of my health issues.

Optimism for finding a cause

With a renewed sense of optimism, I underwent various tests and examinations, including a cystoscopy, to gain a better understanding of my condition. Despite the initial frustration of normal test results, I remained hopeful that we would find the answers we were looking for.

The Diagnosis Hurdle

The confusion of normal test results

After months of searching for answers, I faced another hurdle when all the test results came back normal once again. It was disheartening to have no clear explanation for my symptoms, but I refused to give up on finding a diagnosis.

The decision to go for a biopsy

To further investigate the potential sources of my symptoms, my doctor recommended a biopsy of tissue in my bladder. It was a difficult decision to make, but I knew it was necessary to move forward and gain a better understanding of my health condition.

Getting diagnosed with NMIBC

The biopsy results revealed the unexpected diagnosis of non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC). The news hit me like a punch to the gut. I was shocked and devastated, unable to comprehend how a UTI had led to cancer.

I Started My Dream Job and Then I Received a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Dealing with the Blow

Processing the shock

The initial shock of the cancer diagnosis was overwhelming. It took time to process the news and come to terms with the reality of my situation. I experienced a range of emotions, from fear and anger to sadness and confusion.

Dealing with the question of ‘how did a UTI become cancer?’

The question of how a seemingly benign UTI had transformed into cancer haunted me. I sought answers and explanations, trying to make sense of the unexpected turn my health had taken.

Worrying about work and health insurance repercussions

In addition to grappling with the emotional impact of the diagnosis, I also had practical concerns about how it would affect my job and health insurance. The fear of potential repercussions weighed heavily on me, adding to the already overwhelming stress.

Communicating with My Employer

Deciding to be open with my boss

Despite the fear and uncertainty, I made the decision to have an open and honest conversation with my boss about my diagnosis. It was important for me to establish clear communication and ensure that my employer understood the challenges I would be facing in the coming months.

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Creating a plan to work through treatment

Together with my boss, I created a plan to continue working while undergoing treatment. We discussed my treatment schedule and identified days when I might need to take time off or adjust my workload. Having a plan in place provided me with a sense of control and allowed me to focus on both my health and my job.

The support I received from my employer

I was incredibly fortunate to receive unwavering support from my employer throughout my treatment. They were understanding and accommodating, providing me with the flexibility I needed to attend appointments and recover from procedures. The support and understanding from my boss and colleagues made a significant difference in my ability to navigate work while dealing with my health issues.

I Started My Dream Job and Then I Received a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Juggling Work and Treatment

Going through tumor removal procedures and BCG treatment

Over the next few months, I underwent tumor removal procedures and received BCG treatment for bladder cancer. These interventions were crucial in fighting the disease and preventing its recurrence. The procedures and treatments were challenging, but I remained hopeful that they would lead to a positive outcome.

Negotiating work with treatment schedules

Juggling work commitments with treatment schedules required careful planning and communication. I made sure to inform my boss and colleagues about any upcoming appointments or days when I might be less available due to treatment-related side effects. Open and ongoing communication allowed us to manage expectations and ensure that work responsibilities were met.

Coping with post-treatment fatigue and pain

The post-treatment period often brought its own set of challenges, including fatigue and pain. I learned to listen to my body and make adjustments as needed. Taking breaks when necessary and practicing self-care became essential in managing my overall well-being.

Navigating Life Post-Diagnosis

Being an open book

Following my diagnosis, I made a conscious decision to be open about my journey with bladder cancer. I shared my story with colleagues, acquaintances, and even on professional platforms like LinkedIn. I wanted to raise awareness, debunk misconceptions, and provide support to others going through similar experiences.

Learning to give myself grace

Throughout my cancer journey, I learned the importance of giving myself grace and embracing self-compassion. It was not easy to balance work and treatment, but I reminded myself that it was okay to prioritize my health and well-being. I accepted that there would be good days and challenging days, and I learned to adapt and be kind to myself through it all.

Looking towards the future with hope

While living with cancer presents its own set of uncertainties, I chose to face the future with hope and positivity. I remained committed to my professional goals and looked forward to achieving everything I had set out to do. Cancer may have interrupted my journey, but it wouldn’t define me or hold me back from accomplishing my dreams.

Sharing my story to inspire others

Sharing my story has become a way to inspire and provide support to others who may be going through similar challenges. By openly discussing my cancer journey, I hope to empower others to advocate for their health, seek the support they need, and find strength in their own resilience.

In conclusion, my dream job took an unexpected turn when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The journey has been challenging, but with the support of my employer and a resilient mindset, I was able to navigate work and treatment simultaneously. I learned the value of open communication, self-compassion, and embracing life’s uncertainties. My experience has taught me the power of sharing our stories and providing support to others facing similar struggles. Despite the setbacks, I remain hopeful and continue to pursue my dreams while managing my health with determination and grace.

I Started My Dream Job and Then I Received a Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Source: https://www.healthywomen.org/real-women-real-stories/how-i-knew-i-had-bladder-cancer

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