Dr. Mom, My Adventures as a Mommy-Scientist

Discussion of my journey from grad school to postdoc to tenure with two kids, a husband, (and a bit of breast cancer) in tow.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Better but not BETTER

So I finished chemo August 9th and started radiation in late August. Radiation is much easier to handle than chemo but it is everyday. So I can only work 5-6 hours on campus before my appt. Also, although I dont need as much sleep as I did with chemo, I still need more than normal, so my ability to work at night is limited. This leads to some problems.

I look "better". I am at work everyday. I have a near normal energy level. So people have started to add tasks to my list again. Because I was feeling better, I took on more of these tasks, but as the rubber starts to meet the road, it has become clear that *I am not all the way better*.

Last Monday we had our departmental retreat. Sunday night I found myself a basket case trying to figure out how I was going to accomplish 5 tasks that all had to be done and attend this retreat. I ended up calling in sick on Monday, sleeping in, and getting 1-2 of the tasks done, which made me feel much better.

I want to be better, to do my share in the department, and to contribute to the university, but the truth is that there are still limits to what I can do. I need to remember this.

Other than that, I am starting to get back into the swing of things. I've submitted 3 proposals in the last few months and a couple papers. So that's good, and my scans still show no recurrence so treatment is working.....

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Some of you have asked for an update...so here goes. I finished chemo two weeks ago (yay!). I start radiation in a week and that will continue for 6 weeks. Then I have a break for a few months before reconstruction surgery.

That's the semantics, but how am I really doing? Actually well. One nice thing about this job is that there is plenty to keep you busy. I have written and submitted several papers and am currently working on several grants.Tenure is official so you can call me an Associate Professor now.

There are many things that have come up in the last few months that I would love to talk about here, but in the interest of time, I will list some and provide only short comments.

  • Why am I treated differently for having cancer than women who have babies? I didn't have nearly the same problems getting people to take over my classes etc. as some of my pregnant colleagues.
  • Why am I not getting invited for external seminars? Is it cancer related? or am I not networking hard enough. And how do you get invited for external seminars anyway? Is it appropriate to ask?
  • Why do my papers in this one field keep getting rejected? I have some research in a new area and it is like pulling teeth to get papers published in this field. I don't know many of the key players and this may be why, but still, *someone* new has to publish there eventually.
I guess that's not much, but some short comments for now.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Chemo Report #3

So chemo #3 did not go as well as #1 and #2. It's probably my fault. Instead of being good and resting the week of my treatments I tried to come in and work Th and F afternoon, so no naps as usual. Unfortunately, this resulted in my being really sick all weekend. I was really, really nauseous. The kind of nauseous where even someone's cologne smell's bad and makes you want to retch. Spent most of the weekend with all the doors and windows open trying to air out the house.

Good news is by yesterday I was definitely feeling better. Better news is I only have one more of that particular treatment left and then I switch to a different drug with different side effects that do not include nausea.

Work is still going amazing. I really don't understand how my lab and my research have chosen this moment to become super-productive, but I'll take it. We have now been contacted by three different companies about licensing technologies. We have 2-3 papers in the mill that are likely to be high impact. I just came up with an awesome grant proposal idea that I can't wait to submit. So things are good.

One of the things that I am spending a lot of time thinking about lately is how to avoid being a one-hit wonder. We have had one technology that is really successful and are currently working through the derivative and application papers that go along with that. We will be able to do that for the next few years, but I need to start thinking about what we will do next. And in the spirit of my previous post, I want to work on the challenging but important problems, but figuring out what those are is half the battle.

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