What do I do now?

BettybooBettyboo Member Posts: 33
edited October 2018 in Health and wellbeing
Hi everyone, I havent posted for a while as I was going through radiation, after my surgery, which is now completed and I did okay, just treating the leftover burns and itchiness which is apparently new skin growing through. Im pretty lucky all considering, but will have to report to an oncologist and surgeon, every three months. Breastscreen doesnt want to see me back there, so I guess mammograms will be arranged for me via the oncologist/surgeon.

Im seeking some advice for  life in general, and wondering whether I am suffering from depression. In the last year, prior to my diagnosis, I retired from working life, moved to an area a long way from friends, but close to my only grandson, my daughter's son. They then decided to move to Queensland, and leaving in a couple of weeks. Another daughter lives in Queenscliff, a distance away. Im a bit too far away for friends to want to visit, though some do, now it is expected I will visit them, and I want to, but Im frozen, so things are dropping away. We are all getting older. Im feeling somewhat trapped here, depressed and lonely, though not in a life-threatening way. I dont know what to do next. Ive asked for advice to see if I can find something to move back closer to friends, and familiar surroundings, but things change, and there is expenses attached. Ive looked at a couple of houses, but too much work - my unit is new, and the neighbours arent very social, everyone has their own lives, and a couple are not nice at all. Happens anywhere, guess my tolerance is low because I was used to being in my own home. I have an elderly border collie and a cat - they are my family.

My medical practitioners are a distance from me, back in familiar territory where I used to live. Im getting older, 67, and Im feeling very isolated. The local retirement village seems to be calling out to me - it is kind of affordable down here, and they arrange lots of stuff, and a couple of ladies from the arthritis group live there, and they say its excellent. I know I have to make my own decisions but lots of people are telling me not to go to a retirement village as I will hate it. Im listening to everyone, but not able to decipher anything. I did make a phone call and someone will call me tomorrow, so maybe I can have a look through.

I thought I had a plan for my retirement, and it seemed to work until now, or did it?  Did the breast cancer throw this into disarray? I pretty much coped with it all on my own. Is it because my daughter is leaving the state? She is a tough cookie anyway and places too much demand on me, very critical of all I do, so in a way there is some relief attached to this departure. I have to look after their dog until he gets picked up after they leave, and I think that will bring me undone as I love him to bits, and he seems to like me. I put on a good front, but I feel very lost right now. 

I thought I would post my message here as many of you have such extensive life experiences that I could learn from. Any advice you might have would be very much appreciated. Thank you. 



  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 2,227
    Family is great but, as you suggest, occasionally greater at a bit of a distance! My mother moved to a retirement village when she was about your age. It was new, started with only a few units and gradually expanded. Most of the first residents were about my mother's age too, so the community aged with her and she was very happy there. Not sure she would have been if the majority of residents were in their 80s and 90s. As I finished active treatment, at 68, I found a short stint of counselling really helpful to re-engage with who I was, what I wanted and what I didn't want. You are probably not depressed, I wasn't either, but the patterns you have become accustomed to recently are changing, and it's not unusual to feel a bit adrift. Talking to a stranger, who is only focussed on you, can be immensely, surprisingly and usefully revealing. Best wishes.
  • BettybooBettyboo Member Posts: 33
    Thank you both so very much - so much helpful and sage advice in two messages, eye-opening, I really appreciate it. I had counselling when I first moved here as I was struggling with the criticism, which seems to have anger attached to it, refusing to believe I had breast cancer until she saw me being wheeled out of surgery, and then the floodgates opened, which surprised me.  

    'Feeling a bit adrift' describes it well, but its nice to hear also that I can give myself time to make decisions about what to do next, also considering my financial situation. I will make a phone call. xxx
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 2,522
    Hi @Bettyboo - the girls above have given you some wonderful advice and counselling - and you are definitely not alone in this feeling.  Your 'planned life' has been knocked off it's rails & you've had some hard things go on over the last 'x' months ..... congrats on getting thru your rads OK!  Hopefully your skin will settle down nicely - mine did (altho the boob stayed SO WARM for so long!!)  

    I reckon every one of us goes thru a form of depression at times - particularly after the active treatment has finished (surgery, chemo, rads) and you are then on meds & 'on your own'.  

    Do you have any favourite past-times that you enjoy?  Be it knitting, singing, cooking, painting, volunteering in local hospitals, lawn bowls, gardening etc that you may be able to get back into?  I find that being kept busy helps .... if you are concentrating on things, it diverts your mind from worrying about things - even if only for the short term.

    'Feeling a bit adrift' nails it on the head!  What a great term!  I am great at some decision making - but the one to declutter the house in the event of a move to a smaller one in the next 'x' years is the one I just can't motivate myself to do!  :(  I will do anything else BUT that!   But I know I will have to do something sooner or later!   So far, it will be later!  LOL

    Some retirement villages allow you to 'stay there' for a week or two, to get the feel of them (there may be a fee for this but often it is waived if you then DO decide to move in.)  Just make sure you get a solicitor or accountant or someone you really trust to go over the 'deeds & rules' before committing to it.  Especially re 'exit clauses' - you need to understand how that works.  Some retirement villages have savage 'exit clauses' in case of hospitalisation etc!

    Take care, and all the best for your ongoing care & treatment xxx

  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 4,870
    I personally think retirement villages can be fantastic for single people as it can give you a sense of community. Particularly ones marketed just at over 55s. 
    Other ideas are getting involved in community groups or dare I say it...looking for a house buddy. There might just be another lady (or man) like yourself who'd love a share situation.  It would take some screening and trial for the right person but certainly might be an option. And it can solve issues if wanting to go away as you have a live in house sitter. Just an idea. I watched a program recently about aging  singles and those were great solutions. 
  • TonyaMTonyaM Member Posts: 2,562
    Hi Bettyboo, sometimes these big decisions are best put on hold if you aren’t sure what to do.The realestate market isn’t crash hot at the moment anyway.Have you thought of joining a bc support group in your area?Quite often we hold it together and stay brave to get through treatment and then afterwards we try and process what just happened. We can feel abit lost and it’s reassuring to connect with others in the same boat.Take your time and do activities that bring you joy.
  • Riki_BCNARiki_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 203
    Hello @Bettyboo please don't hesitate to contact the BCNA Helpline to speak with one of the cancer nurses on 1800 500 258 who can also help you tap into some local support including connecting with others as TonyaM suggested, if that is something you would like to do when you are ready.
  • Beryl C.Beryl C. Member Posts: 142
    Bettyboo the replies to your post are GOLD! I was diagnosed seven years ago and treatment continues. I am 71 and retired from part time work last year. This year has been difficult and I've been a bit of a recluse. About seven months ago I was seriously ill and bed-ridden for about a week and called on friends for help. A very close cousin insisted on having the talk we had to have. She made a list of things I had to get done, 1. make sure my Will is up to date, 2. attend to Enduring Power of Attorney (my husband), 3. attend to Enduring Power of Guardianship, 4) Complete a Health Care Directive, 5) ACAT - this one is a very convoluted process and I needed help to complete the paperwork. All this official stuff made my head spin but my cousin was right - this is about attending to my ongoing health and well being. I took my time getting it done but its a good feeling to know that everything is now in place should I need home help. I'm not sure if BCNA can actually help with these processes, I'm sure a phone call will put you at ease.
  • BettybooBettyboo Member Posts: 33
    Thank you arpie, more wise words which I very much appreciate - I will print out these messages, and hopefully it will all help me formulate a plan.

    Riki and Tonia, that is a great suggestion for me and I will make contact to meet up with others. I did see a sign at the radiation place, and I think I took a copy for myself, will have to find it.  Beryl, thank you for the advice, I have those plans in place already, though probably not the ACAT, will explore that. 

    Thank you all, you are all amazing. :smile:
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 6,869
    I wish I was closer to you @Bettyboo. We could have a cuppa and chew the fat. I'm lost in survivorship as well. I'm seeing a new psychologist tomorrow, hoping that she can throw me a mental lifeline so to speak. I think the best thing for you to do would be to find a support group or two that meets regularly. If you put your postcode into this Cancer Council search page you might find something nearby. Best of luck. K xox

  • Blossom1961Blossom1961 VicMember Posts: 944
    @Bettyboo Are you in the Geelong region? I saw you had a daughter in Queenscliff which you say is a fair way away. I am in Geelong and going to a morning tea tomorrow morning. I have never been before but It is for all BC persons. It is held at the Hub in East Geelong. Hopefully you are local and I will see you there.
  • Blossom1961Blossom1961 VicMember Posts: 944
    Oops, 11am
  • BettybooBettyboo Member Posts: 33
    kmakm, I know what you mean. I feel for you and I see how supportive you are of everyone else. I know I had a bit of a weep when I saw your article in the Sun, and that was before I 'met' you online. I hope you find a good psychologist to help you through. Blossom, I am in Pakenham, quite a distance from Queenscliff, but thank you, I should have said Ocean Grove. I have been looking to see whats available around that way in my price bracket, but I have a sneaking suspicion my daughter wouldnt be happy about me invading her territory. Just a feeling I have - she is gorgeous and caring, but likes her space. 

    Another good saying to add to my collection ''lost in survivorship' - you are all amazing, thank you!  <3
  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,386
    Hi @Bettyboo, heart goes out to you as you are at the cross roads of what to do and feeling perhaps a little bedraggled after going through treatment!  The remnants of treatment seem to linger longer than we anticipate and family and friends don't seem to always understand, we look fine and they are into their own problems and lives.  That is what is so valuable about this forum as we get it!

    Great advice thus far! 
    Have you had a look at your local Shire's website for community groups or is there a community Health centre in your area that has gentle exercise, counselling, friendship groups or as someone suggested already, volunteering at the local hospital.  I recently experienced volunteers at the Sunshine Hospital, they are fab, the group I experienced were to take you direct to where your appointment is.  There's also baby cuddler volunteer Melbourne and most States have this program.  The options are endless if you are that way inclined.

    Or go to the local library to check out the local information at your own leisure!  
    Most groups allow anyone to come along as a guest for a couple of times before deciding if it is for you.  It maybe CWA, local walking group, photography, quilting, gardening or something that may tickle your fancy!

    I guess what you really need to decide is, are you happy where you are, can you make a lifestyle that will suit you and your pets and you have hinted maybe the local retirement village - then make it a project, check it out, do your research 

    You have hinted that moving near your daughter may not be the best move, then perhaps give that some consideration in another 5 or so years.  In the meantime, make your area where you are a project for you to settle into and become part of a community.  It is there, sometimes you just need to go and look about!

    Take care 

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