Dealing with emotions

SharonPSharonP Member Posts: 2 New Member
Hello ... I'm generally not a joiner in community forums of this type, but here I am ... 
I was diagnosed on December 23 last year (2018) and had surgery (lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy) on January 15. I start radiotherapy on Feb 18. I've recovered physically really well: my surgeon is great, she's done a fabulous job and I don't think I'll have a scar - so probably no permanent physical reminder. I'm back at the gym and am walking regularly and I hope to start running again soon. 
So the physical side of things is okay. I have a wonderfully supportive husband and even though my grown up kids live in other states (as does my sister, my mother, my brother and every other family member plus my best friend) they're all really caring and fabulous.

But my emotions are a bit all over the place at the moment. I don't want to think of this as a big deal, but for some reason it kinda feels like a big deal. Is it? Or am I just making something big out of something that's ordinary and routine and not really a big deal at all?

Does anyone have any tips on how to deal with anxiety about returning to work? I've been working from home this week, but today decided to go in to work. I drove (for the first time since my surgery) and when I parked the car I felt really anxious. It took a while to get up the courage to go into the office and now I'm not super keen to go back tomorrow.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.


  • Blossom1961Blossom1961 Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 1,370
    @SharonP Yes I hear you. I hit panic stations every time I need to go to work. My first day back my daughter had to come get me after the first hour. The trauma of getting the BC in the first place seems to set us on a roller coaster, and not a fun one. I attend mindfulness classes which help but are not the complete answer. Everyone responds differently. You may need to speak to someone about it and decide your next step. BCNA are available to talk to as a starting point. Believe me, you are not alone in these feelings. 
    Sending big hugs xxx We get each other through but it isn’t an easy ride
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,441
    Welcome @SharonP .  You are not making too much of this - it is a big deal.  Most of us have been through it or are going through it.  The shock to both your emotional and physical well-being is enormous.  You'll find a lot of support and even more important, understanding on this site but you may be wise to also see a counsellor who understands the effects of cancer.
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 3,239
    Hi @SharonP - welcome to the forum - I hope we'll be able to help you along the way - ask away any questions - as we have been there before you.

    Your surgery was literally 1 year after mine (Jan 17 last year) .... and my emotions were (sometimes still are) all over the place.  It is totally normal.  Sometimes I think the BC diagnosis, surgery etc  is as much a mental hit as a physical hit - it mucks with our brains.

    Where abouts are you (city/town) - we may have members nearby who know what resources are available to you?  If you feel distressed, you can always  ring the Helpline here for a chat .....  Helpline      1800 500 258

    You may have to have  a rethink on your work - particularly when starting rads, as you will be having treatment every day, not necessarily at the same time.   Do you have any sick leave up your sleeve?   Can you chat with your boss about flexible hours or taking the time off during rads, as it can make you tired/fatigued - and is a tad mentally challenging too sometimes?

    Facing your work buddies & having them all want to ask about how you are going just brings it all back - I think you are AMAZING for even contemplating returning to work in such a short time!!   

    I am retired, so I just tried to keep myself as busy as I could the whole time ..... my ukulele group kept me REALLY busy (which was good) as I lead the group!  3 weeks after surgery, we attended the big Uke Festival in the Blue Mountains (on again this weekend) and I was really chuffed that I was able to be there, as initially I thought I may not make it.

    Be kind to yourself - take it easy.  When you get spooked - take deep breaths, take time out if you can - get a coffee ..... 

    take care & big hugs coming your way xxx
  • ~Millie~~Millie~ Member Posts: 60
    Diagnosed July 2018, finished active treatment October 2018, emotionally unstable today. This week I found out my sister has a close a friend with cancer, supplier whose Dad is dying, client whose friend has just passed. All made me tear up. Only met one of these people, and once. 

    I think after the cancer diagnosis I’m just fragile. My resilience is pretty much depleted. I’m also trying to deal with insurance issues- cancer at 42 isn’t great for you risk profile. 

    Celebrate your wins. Going back to work. Interacting with you work mates. Driving.. Everything. I’m pleased I’m no longer struggling with like brain fog. Swelling down. Can now sleep rotisserie style. Etc.There are a lot of small achievements we all need to give ourselves, and our bodies credit for. I try to go with the flow. Do the best I can. Celebrate small wins. There is always the opportunity for things to improve. But we’ve all made giant progress with the journey we’re on.

    Sending you love and strength. Xx
  • kitkatbkitkatb Member Posts: 441
    Hi @SharonP    I think most of us know exactly how you feel.  I had my GP consultation a couple of days ago and the discussion of going back to work. ( 3 x Surgeries and Chemo last year from May to end of October ) I finished work in April when I was diagnosed. I think what bothers me most about the whole thing is that I have always been such a confidant person and strong minded with my work and what it entails and now the mere thought of it I'm struggling with.  I asked my GP for another 6 weeks off and then I will go back a few mornings a week which she wholly agreed with but if I was honest with myself I could have started back a lot sooner than that.  I know that it is inevitable and I will be dipping my toes in soon enough.  Maybe it will be fine and it will be like I never left ( I'm hoping ) but I know this bitch of a disease changes us and the way we perceive things. I also know I will have little patience now for the day to day dramas of some workmates about insignificant issues in the great scheme of things and maybe that's what worries me as well.  Time will tell.  I wish you all the best and agree with @Afraser life is very precious indeed.  xox
  • kezmusckezmusc Member Posts: 1,315
    Hi @SharonP,

    Glad you decided to join us.  Welcome lovley.  

    The wave of emotions that hit after the treatment takes most of us by surprise and you're not even done with treatment yet.  Rest assured that it is very normal and takes a bit of time to work through.
    Everybody responds differently but there is definitely a lot of commonalities.  You're so busy getting through the treatment phase then out of the blue this stuff hits and you don't know quite why or what to do with it.

      Personally, I couldn't wait to get back to work just for the normallity of it all.  But I do only work a couple of days a week outside of home. The mundane conversations at work will possibly annoy you for a while but that will pass.  Maybe it's a little soon to go back full time especially with rads coming up. 

     Listen to yourself, if it's too much then it's too much and there is nothing wrong with that right now. You have to do what's best for you. It does get better but just know that's its normal for a while and we are all her if you need a shoulder to cry on or vent to.  We get it.

  • SharonPSharonP Member Posts: 2 New Member
    Thanks so much for your responses @kezmusc @kitkatb @Afraser @~Millie~ @arpie @Sister @Blossom1961

    I really appreciate you taking the time to reassure me that being all over the place emotionally is a normal part of the process.

    On top of returning to work, I've also just started a course which runs for three hours two nights a week for 16 weeks - and then 20 weeks in the second half of the year. I'd signed up for it before the diagnosis and didn't want to put it off for another year. I might just have to muddle through this semester and give it my full attention next semester. 

    @kezmusc - I hear you about wanting to get back to the 'normality' of work. I think a bit of normality would be good right about now. I might be expecting a bit much trying for normality when I haven't even started treatment, so perhaps I should cut myself some slack.

    My manager is great but I'm beginning to feel the pressure from other colleagues (who only know I've been unwell rather than what's been happening) and I'm not sure whether to tell them. 

    Anyway, I'll work it out. Thanks again. It's great to be able to read others' experiences and to know that dealing with this is personal but that there are parts of it that are common experiences.

    I'm in Melbourne and have a lovely (all female) team. I've read some posts where it seems not everyone has compassionate, caring professionals on their team and that must make the whole thing much harder, so I'm very grateful that at least I have that.
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 2,612
    It's a really personal decision but I told my work team immediately after confirmation of diagnosis and it was a good move. I knew I would have chemo, I wanted to work through if I could and I felt it would all go better if we just got it dealt with at the start. But it has to be something you feel really comfortable about. I'd worked with someone who had done the same thing, and wasn't too worried about the responses. If and when you do tell, let them know what you want. I didn't want sympathy or special treatment (other than TELL me if I am getting chemo brain - they would have and I didn't!) and established that jokes etc were welcome. That way peole don't get all awkward and add to the things you have to cope with unintentionally. Best wishes. 
  • Beryl C.Beryl C. Member Posts: 176
    Sharon you mention semester so is this a university course? The time commitment you mention is very significant for someone who's had surgery and radiation. I understand that attending a course is one way to feel 'normal' and in control - we all need that. Thinking ahead, it may be worthwhile asking about flexibility if there are assignments or any form of homework required. I was working only a few weeks after my masectomy but was involved with planning which involved only one other person. I welcomed the 'normalising' opportunity provided by work.
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