Feeling bereft after treatment

I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost a year ago. Had a lumpectomy followed by chemo and radiotherapy . I was extremely poorly but that is all behind me now so why do I feel like I am going through a bereavement? I should feel euphoric as I look really well and my hair is growing back but I feel like I have lost a close friend. Am I going mad or has anyone else felt this way.

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Comments

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 14

    @Cloughie

    Hi Cloughie

    No, no, you are not going mad. You have had a life altering event and have had to fight for your life. Your body has been assaulted and you will be dealing with the lingering physical and emotional effects.

    A cancer diagnosis is not the same as that of any other type of illness. It is not unusual for the emotional reaction to come afterwards when you are released and life is supposed to slowly go back to normal again. Not easy.

    I do hope that you have family and friends around you. You certainly have friends in this community. We love to chat and support each other and I see that you have already been of great help to other members.

    By the way, if you have a MacMillans near you, it is worth popping in and having a chat. They are very helpful and supportive and usually have access to a counsellor who can be a great help to cancer survivors.  Another option would be your local hospice.

    Rob x

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Cloughie

    As Rob has already said, no you are not going mad at all.

    It takes a long time to come to terms with being diagnosed with cancer. At the time, everything happens so fast, with scans, mri's , appointments, treatment etc you don't really have any time in the moment to process emotionally what is happening. It can seem like before you have blinked, you are being moved on to the next thing.

    I remember at the end of each of my treatments, chemo, mastectomy and radiotherapy feeling a sense of loss, and bewilderment. I had come through it successfully, in that the cancer was gone, but everything did feel very strange. At the end of chemo, I felt a sense of bereavement. I think perhaps it was because I had spent so much time at the ward, and had got used to seeing regular people both patients and dr's and nurses. I was so sad that I may not see them again.

    When I had come out of surgery and the infection that followed and had recovered somewhat, the thought of not seeing my surgeon on what had become a very regular basis, I panicked. What on earth was I going to do without her? And then she went and left for a job at another hospital! When I had to go for a follow-up appointment and found out that news, I burst into tears.

    Then at the end of radiotherapy, which was the last part of my treatment, I walked out of the ward and once again was overwhelmed into uncontrollable tears. It felt so stupid at the time, because I couldn't see any rhyme or reason for it, now I understand what was going on.

    Recovering from cancer is much more than just recovering from physical events that have happened to us.

    The emotional turmoil we have been through shouldn't be underestimated, the side-effects, emotional and physical, can be long lasting. I know they have been that way for me.

    Life hasn't returned to normal, I have had to find a new normal. I'm still looking! haha.

    You will get there, it's a slow process. Be kind to yourself. You have been through a tremendous lot, it just takes time to re-adjust, and re-evaluate things.

    You are always welcome to come and chat here, everyone understands what it is like.

    Chat soon,

    Lou x

  • LindaLinda Posts: 9

    I know how you feel, I had 18 months of chemo and an operation, afterwards I felt really down, all signs of cancer had gone, and have to go for 3 monthly checkups.

    Was told any unusual symptoms to phone my specialist nurse, and she would book me in for a ct scan, as my husband was with me when he said this he is taking it literally, have had a cold and he keeps telling me to phone, I know he means well and he’s scared it will come back, but I cannot live like this, I have tried talking to him but to no avail, I really don’t know what to do without hurting him, now I don’t tell him if I’m not feeling well, as I need to get back to a normal life, and not to have to worry about it returning all the time, has anyone else had this problem?

    Would love to hear from you. Take care x

  • CloughieCloughie Posts: 11

    Thank you so much for your very wise words and good to know that I am not going mad. I have had an amazing support from family and friends but now that I am better the phone calls, texts, cards etc have diminished and I feel that I have been set adrift if that makes sense. We do have a Macmillan unit and I have a breast care nurse so I will contact them.

    I can understand your husband being really worried Linda maybe he needs to talk to someone for reassurance that every cold or ache is not the cancer returning. In all of this the carers do get forgotten and they have been there through it all.

    Thank you so much for being there 😊

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    Good morning @Cloughie 😊

    That is exactly how it is, I have said the same, set adrift in a dinghy on a choppy sea!

    I understand how you are feeling with regards to friends etc diminishing in contact. I am the same, I expect many feel the same as you too.

    Even now for me almost three years since chemo, I am still recovering, but it's not always noticeable unless people see me doing my old lady shuffle! 😂.

    I don't have many friends, in fact my husband and I do laugh that we are 'Billy no mates' ( no idea where we got that phrase from!).

    I have to say though that on here I know I have made friends with others, and that is a real blessing.

    I hope you have a blessed day.

    Lou x

  • CloughieCloughie Posts: 11

    The people that really understand are those that have been through it. It is so good to hear that you understand how I feel!! We moved house/area in the midst of all my treatments but I am beginning to get out and about and meeting people. I am joining a health walk this morning and looks like it could be a lovely sunny day. Take care and thank you. Xxx

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Linda

    You have been through a lot with 18 months of chemo! That is tough going! It is wonderful to hear you have come through it and there is now no sign of the cancer. Really good news!

    I hope your recovery is coming on. It's a gradual thing, when did you finish your treatment etc?

    Maybe it would help to ask your specialist what type of 'unusual symptoms' they mean. Then your husband may not be as anxious when you get a simple cold.

    That must be difficult for you, I get it. Living in fear of it returning is not living really. Waiting for it to jump out at you at any moment. I agree, not the way to live.

    We can't guarantee what does and doesn't happen in life, we have to live and then deal with whatever arrives if and when it does.

    Do you have access to any cancer support groups, I think as @Cloughie and @RobertA have suggested, it's a good place to start. There will be people who are able to support your husband as well as you.

    It is lovely to have you here, welcome to the group, chat soon.

    Lou x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Linda

    I know that I am repeating myself (and not for the first time🤐 ) but I truly believe that a cancer diagnosis is different to any other type illness. We know that it will always be with us. no matter that we may have been given the all clear.

    I require quarterly hormonal treatments and blood tests to keep my cancer at bay. I have side effects which include tiredness and concentration issues. This is my life now and as you said, we can’t live worrying about every little cough, ache, pain or blood test. We need to get back to normal living as much as we can. A cancer diagnosis though, is often devastating for our loving partners and after the medics have melted away, they want to protect us as best they can. That was my experience and as with you, I stopped telling my wife how I was really feeling just to keep things normal.

    My doctor sent us to MacMillans and through them, we learned that our experiences were pretty common and we were given advice on how to manage our new lives. We now go out for long walks, eat out at least once a week, tell silly jokes and pop down to the pub for an hour on Friday evenings. We try not to waste our time worrying and make sure we have some fun.

    Perhaps you could both pop down to your local MacMillans and have a chat.

    I am pleased you have found this community where we can say how we feel knowing that people will understand, often because they have been there themselves.

    Rob x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @4Gretton

    What a great thoughtful post. So many of us will easily identify with your observations.

    We have been lumbered with a disease we did not want and have no choice but to manage as best we can. Not quite the same as entering a burning building to save a life. Even so, it takes a lot of selfless love and courage to avoid burdening our family and friends with our feelings of anxiety and to put on that happy face. It takes courage to get up in the morning when you know you are going to have a bad day, and I know I have them.

    Yes, we have come a long way and we are still here to enjoy our families and look forward to the Spring. Life may never be quite the same again but we get used it and we have each other to chat to and to rant with which is great because we know how it feels and we understand.

    Lovely to have you in our community.

    Rob x

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    @4Gretton

    Hi,

    That is such a beautiful post, so eloquently put. I am sure we can all identify with every word written.

    Here am I sat on the second most glorious day of the weekend, feeling 'off'. It is probably the result of doing too much yesterday, still with the remnants of a cold hangjng around. But I do have to give myself a talking to from time to time!

    I think we are usually all so hard on ourselves sometimes and forget to give ourselves a break! Haha. I know I do that.

    So today I am resting, not thinking about the gardening I could be doing, I hope everyone else is having a good day.

    It is a good day, and I am very thankful for it.

    Lou x

  • 4Gretton4Gretton Posts: 29 ✭✭

    I do hope you are feeling a little brighter today Lou. Off days have a nasty habit of creeping up on us just when you don’t want them, but thankfully the good weather has lasted longer than we could have hoped for and maybe you’ve been able to enjoy some of it. I find gardening very therapeutic even if I can’t do it quite so energetically now

    I know what you mean by the knock on affect of overdoing things. I had my son and his wife staying last month and it took me a good 10 days to recover, the same when I have visits with my adorable granddaughters...but I’d rather “go for it” when family around and pay the price later.

    I’m trying to talk myself out of bed at the moment and down to local club for a swim. I’m playing my usual mind games.... have got to shower anyway, so why not just do it there with a float in the pool whilst there...etc ... have to say am very snug in bed with sun shining in. Having put it out there that I’m thinking of it has actually made me feel now I have to follow through....so maybe I should just get on with it!

    Have a sunny day everyone xx

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    Good morning @4Gretton ,

    It is a beautiful day, and I should also be at the swimming pool now as well! Unfortunately not, my ears and throat are not good, I have cancelled all swimming this week again! It is very frustrating, but I know if I go I will only slow down getting better. I hope you made it out from under the duvet! 😀. Do a few lengths for me please, I can imagine myself there.😁. 🏊🏊🏊

    I agree, we were all together this last weekend, which is why I did stuff, and it was lovely.

    But now I need to rest, when I can.

    I am so looking forward to getting back in the garden, it is my favourite place to be, always so peaceful for me. I might sit outside when the temperature has risen a bit more today.

    Have a great day!

    Lou xx

  • jacksprat_x1jacksprat_x1 Posts: 162 ✭✭✭

    This is the site that just keeps on giving! All your thoughtful, wise and funny comments are tremendously helpful for someone just starting this journey. I have so many random thoughts in my head and to hear that You are not mad for thinking them is soooo good. Rob, Lou and Gretton that was such a lovely exchange, which I will revisit in my times of need. Thank you Regards Jackie x

  • jacksprat_x1jacksprat_x1 Posts: 162 ✭✭✭

    I am sorry, very selfish of me, I hope you all have a very good afternoon and find peace and comfort in the coming days. Jackie 🙏

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 303 mod

    @jacksprat_x1

    Hi Jackie,

    Not selfish at all! Your lovely message sums up exactly how we would want the community to be, to help one another. If something we may say is helpful or encouraging for anyone, that is brilliant. Your post the other day was encouraging too.

    I hope you are having a peaceful afternoon too. 😊

    Lou xx

  • CloughieCloughie Posts: 11

    Good afternoon all

    It has been so good to read all your comments, knowing that you are not on your own and other people are feeling just like you means so much. I have my first mammogram since diagnosis on Thursday and I have to say I am not looking forward to it but it has to be done!!!

    Hope everyone has been enjoying this amazing weather, is it really still February!!!

    Lots of love 💕

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    @sunshinedaff

    Hi Lou

    Sorry to hear you are still unwell. Hope you had a nice relaxing day in the garden. You have been through a lot these last few days and deserve a rest.

    I have been a bit lazy today myself, though I don't have a good excuse. In fact, I am getting a bit overweight and Mary has refused to let me have any cake or chocolate biscuits. 😡 Looking forward to a nice Apple instead.

    Rob x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @4Gretton

    I do hope that you managed to get down to your club and enjoy a swim today.

    It is great to share our thoughts and feelings with each other. Although we may have different cancers, the emotional effects are often the same and I find it comforting to know that others feel the same as I do.

    Lovely to hear from you.

    Rob x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Cloughie

    Lovely to hear from you again. Yes, we are here for each other and you are definitely not on your own.

    Keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

    Rob x

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    @RobertA

    Hi Rob!

    Thanks for your lovely message, I have had a resting day, but no garden in the end. This afternoon I did take a cup of tea and book out to sit, but I was faced with too many cobwebs to get through. I could have cleared them with the broom, but I knew it wouldn't stop there so I came back indoors! I was feeling very unwell all day, well still am really, but hey ho. It will pass eventually. Hahaha. Tonight Mark watered the plants for me, and k think he probably walked through all the cobwebs doing that. At least tomorrow I can get out if it's nice again.

    Mary's so good to you! 😉

    Apple, mmm, yum. You should bake it with a few raisins and sultanas! Of course then you'd have to have custard or ice cream with it, so that won't do! 🤣🤣.

    How's your day been otherwise?? It was 17 ° here today, gorgeous.

    Chat soon,

    Lou xx

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Cloughie

    Great to hear from you.

    It's been fabulous weather hasn't it! I need this weather all year long though! It makes such a difference to me I find.

    I will be thinking of you on Thursday when you go for the mammogram. I guess then it will be a couple of weeks til you get results. It's hard not to get worried or anxious when these check ups come around. Plus it is jolly uncomfortable too, Although I think if we were to write down in words the actual process, we could make it sound hilarious! 😃.

    I am glad you have found you are not alone in your thoughts and feelings by being here. It is reassuring to know that so many of us go through the same thing, terrible as that is. But you are not alone.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Speak soon

    Lou xx

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    @jacksprat_x1

    Hi Jackie

    You are so not selfish as @LouiseJ Lou explained so eloquently.

    Your story is fascinating and it was courageous and so helpful that you were willing to share it with us.

    If there was ever anything good coming out of a cancer diagnosis, it is the kindness, frienship and goodwill of people who care. They have certainly kept me going and I feel as though I have made lots of friends through this community of wonderful people.

    Your kind comments mean a great deal and it is special to hear that we are able to give each other support and comfort in our journeys through cancer.

    Rob x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    @Sunshinedaff

    Hi Lou

    Yes, Mary keeps telling me that. 😇 Mark sounds pretty good to you too.

    Your apple recipe sounds good. I was thinking toffee apple.

    Mary was out with a friend today so I did my blog about the prostate cancer.

    We couldnt be bothered to cook so I went out for 🍔 and 🍟 for tea. Yes, yes, I know👿

    Last day of Sun tomorrow so will be on the beach with a bit of luck.

    Rob xx

  • CloughieCloughie Posts: 11

    Hi Rob and Lou

    Thank you for your kind thoughts. Weather so amazing again today!! Have decided to go swimming this morning first time for 12months so really looking forward to being in the water again.

    Whereabouts in the country are you? I am in Somerset.

    Have a good day. ☀️☀️☀️

  • LouiseJLouiseJ Posts: 303 mod

    Good Morning @Clougie,

    I feel a tiny bit better today, Mark has cleared the cobwebs for me, so later when it has defrosted outside I shall sit in the garden for a while.

    Swimming! yay! I am looking forward to getting back to it too once I am over this thing.

    Enjoy!

    I am in Dorset, not far from Bournemouth, it is beautiful here too again.

    Hope you have a good day too.

    Lou x

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Cloughie

    Trust you enjoyed your swim today.

    I live in Jersey. I have posted a couple of pics of our lovely island elsewhere and here are a couple more.

    I have an appointment with my urologist tomorrow. Like you, I am not looking forward to it, but it has to be done and good to know we are being looked after. All the best with yours.

    Rob x

    Hi @Sunshinedaff

    Love your new photo. Hope you are fully fit now. It helps if you don’t keep banging your head.🤯

    Rob x



  • CloughieCloughie Posts: 11

    Hi Robert

    I had a lovely swim thank you even though I only managed 8 lengths- baby steps!!!!

    What beautiful pictures you really live in an amazing place. Have been to Guernsey but not Jersey.

    Hope your appointment goes well.

    Love Carol

  • SunshinedaffSunshinedaff Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    @RobertA @Cloughie

    Good afternoon,

    Hi Rob, that is a beautiful pic of St Helier, I said to Mark, we need to go visit! haha. I'm working on it!

    Carol, glad the swim was great.

    Hope both your appointments go well today.

    Lou xx

  • RobertARobertA Posts: 538 ✭✭✭✭

    Hi @Cloughie and @Sunshine15

    All OK, many thanks.

    Rob x

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