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Coping with Breast Cancer

Marisa Renee Lee:  I am a crazy type A personality. Some people might call me a control freak, definitely a little bit of an overachiever and when faced with anything, whether it’s what am I going to wear to work tomorrow to my mom’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer; she already has MS; what are we doing

here; I need to come up with a plan; I need a plan; I need an Excel spreadsheet; I need different tabs; I maybe will need it to be color coded. I take it very, very seriously. --  I was always very realistic throughout this process and I tried as hard as I could to find logic and not necessarily control but okay, there are always things that we can control and what are the things that I can control here?  I am not an oncologist. I am not a researcher. I am not God. I can’t take this away and I’m not going to pray for a cure that she’s all of a sudden going to wake up one day and not have cancer because that’s just not- to me that’s not practical. I’m going to pray for resources. I’m going to pray that we somehow find the best doctors at home and I’m going to call every doctor that I know and make sure that the oncologist that we have is the best one in this county. I’m going to pray that we find the best doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering because she’s going to be going there as well. She will not be seen by just one oncologist. That was not acceptable to me clearly. I am going to pray that somehow she is going to do okay emotionally and psychologically through this process. I’m going to pray that she doesn’t lose her hair because we’re very vain and I know if she loses her hair she’s going to be really upset. I’m going to pray that she doesn’t gain any weight because if she starts to gain weight that’s going to be another serious problem for her. I’m going to make sure that she and my father have plenty of meals, that things are really organized, that we have a master calendar with all of the doctors’ appointments and even days when my dad’s taking off work to go fishing and give himself a break. And I’m going to try and find someone to mow the lawn every once in a while so that my dad has one less thing to worry about on the weekends and can spend time with her. I’m going to figure out a schedule for when she has to be in the hospital. Who’s going to stay with her because she doesn’t like to stay in the hospital by herself and I feel like

care is better when someone else is there to advocate on your behalf at all times even if that means me spending the night at Sloan, taking the train downtown to my apartment in Soho, taking a shower, getting dressed and getting in to the office at 10. That’s--  These are the things that I can control and that’s what I’m going to do

Question:  How are you coping today?


Marisa Renee Lee:
  It’s--  It varies. There are good days and there are bad days. I tried really hard to get back in to the city and get back in to things as quickly as possible because I know that that’s something that she would have wanted and I felt a personal responsibility both to my coworkers ‘cause we were doing a lot of time and more importantly to this organization.

A Type A personality, Lee approached her mother's breast cancer diagnosis proactively.

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