trying so hard to be 'fine' ahead of radiation

LisaJHM Member Posts: 22
edited June 2019 in Health and wellbeing
Hi Everyone - I've been in and out of the forum for the last 6 months trying to keep my discussions focused on treatment. But I need to just let things out - I had a major panic attack on Sunday that took a lot out of me. At the centre of it all was a lack of feeling safe (emotionally mainly) with old traumas & stressful situations all coming flooding back. I've finished my chemo, had my surgery & am cleared to start radiation next week. I should be happy that I've had such positive results so far, but there is part of me that is afraid. There has been a lot on my plate work & family wise and I believe this is why the panic attack came on so strong as I've been trying to be 'strong & ok' for a long time. I'm struggling with finding ways to be positive about my situation & feel guilty for not doing so. As I'm sitting at home on my own a lot & not 'busy (i.e. distracted)' again yet with treatment I've got too much time to think. I'm scared of what the future brings & whether it will be 'rosy & fullfilling' or just more of the grind & stress that I've faced in the last few years, which I fully believe contributed to my breast cancer. I wonder if anyone else has felt like this? Thanks in advance.  


  • Michele B
    Michele B Member Posts: 136
    Hi @LisaJHM,
    Sorry you have been going through such a hard time lately! I think we all have those times when we feel totally overwhelmed and anxious about what lies ahead for us! I try to rationalise it by thinking that really no-one,  affected by cancer or not, really has any control over what happens in our lives. I am four and a half years out now, and just am teying to take each day as it comes, and make each day count. That's not to say tho, that there aren't days, and nights, when the dark thoughts still sneak in.

    After a particularly rough patch last year, my oncologist prescribed Lexapro for me, which seemed to help with the number of days where things seemed to get to me. Migh5 be worth having a chat to your dr and telling them how you feel.

    Like you, I only contribute here occasionally,  but am forever grateful for the fabulous support and advice I have received here. 

    I do hope you can get some support and start to feel better. Im sure there are some tough days, but also some fabulous ones ahead for you.
    Best wishes, Michele xxx
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,668
    edited June 2019
    Hi @LisaJHM -  I think everyone has 'some' panic attacks to some degree & struggles with ongoing treatment ..... yes, after surgery, lots of family & friends 'think' it is all 'over' - but we all know it isn't.   It is totally normal to be a bit scared of the future - it SHOULD go back to rosy & fulfilling ..... it just may take a while!  

    Well done on getting thru your chemo, too!!! 

    To be honest - Many of us find that the Radiation treatment is relatively 'easy' compared to the surgery & chemo - but everyone is different, too.  What affects one person badly may NOT affect another person.

    Make sure you lather up with the lotions & potions between each session - I was doing it 3 times a day (only AFTER treatment each day) and altho I had some 'dermatitis' type spotting - was lucky without having any real burning tho my skin was red & itchy.  During your treatment - if you notice ANY area that is redder than the other, of if it just seems 'wrong' - make sure you mention it to the Rads Nurses there before you leave that session.  My nurses were brilliant - checking up on my every 'other day' as I had the daily treatment.

    Try not to be too apprehensive about the Rads ..... most don't have any issues with it - tho you DO need to be aware that any 'burning' will continue for up to 2 months, after it has finished, as it is deep seated & slowly works it's way to the surface.

    Keeping busy definitely helps stop the mind from taking over ..... 

    take care, thinking of you xxxx
  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
    This is not a feeling that is helpful, but often cancer stirs up stuff we may have been carrying (sort of successfully) for a while and it can really tip our sense of balance. It’s not at all surprising but can be very disturbing and confusing. One thing at a time - focus on the good news of getting on with your next step of treatment, and how well you have been doing. But then have a think about how counselling might assist you in dealing with the stress you are still carrying. Many of us have found that a trained objective professional
    ear (not a friend, not family) has proved valuable, sometimes very quickly. It’s no weakness just good medicine. Best wishes
  • Sister
    Sister Member Posts: 4,960
    @LisaJHM Your trauma and response is personal to you but if it makes you feel any better, it's not uncommon to fall apart at this stage of treatment.  I certainly did and it did not surprise my medical team.  I think it's low resilience, realisation that the slog of active treatment is coming to an end and maybe the time when you lift your head and realise that all the s&%t that was happening before diagnosis is still there and quite possibly worse.  And you have no reserves left.  Try to find a counsellor or psychologist if you can, accept that it might be necessary to try anti-depressants (I couldn't cope with them but most people seem to manage well) and take it a step at a time.
  • kmakm
    kmakm Member Posts: 7,974
    Yes. What @Sister said. I tried, but a few months into survivorship my mental health deteriorated. Life was difficult before. A dollop of cancer on top has made it harder. I take anti-depressants and see a psychologist. I keep trying. All the very best. K xox
  • Zoffiel
    Zoffiel Member Posts: 3,373
    My long suffering shrink, generally refered to as 'That poor woman'' came into my life following my first head on with BC over a decade ago. I wanted to see a mental health professional like I wanted to contract anthrax, but she has been incredibly useful. When I had to go through it all again in 2016, I found her number and booked another appointment.

    Like you, my back story has some things lurking in it I'd rather not keep looking at. Three's nothing like a life threatening illness, loss of body parts and treatment that brings you to the point of death to let the gremlins out of the box.  I was prepared to be asked all manner of probing questions --expected to be made to bare my soul and it wasn't like that at all. Yes, as the relationship progressed, I did throw some pretty dark stuff at her, but it was such a relief the get it out of my head. It was getting pretty crowded in there.

    What I did come away with was a series of coping mechanisms. The one I find most useful is to look at the rolling Trainwreck that BC can be and think 'isnt that interesting?' Because it is. If I mentally pick up the  individual elements of what is distressing  me, examine them and put them down again I can distract myself and focus on one thing at a time. It's a diversionary tactic which helps me calm down.

    Once you accept that you can't really change things it's common to have a meltdown. You may never have another, which would be just splendid. Good luck and keep plodding forward. MXX
  • Mira
    Mira Member Posts: 678
    Hey @LisaJHM , You don't have to be happy, or sad, or any other emotion.  It's okay to be you.  Be gentle on yourself and take whatever time you need.   Have you tried journaling to get things out of your head?  I find it really useful, especially when I am going through difficult times. Writing things down can help me put them into perspective, I find it gets it all out of my head and onto paper (or the computer screen) and I can look at it more objectively, one thing at a time if necessary.

    I use to keep a personal journal (no one else can read it, which could be a good thing haha!) but there are other journaling options online.  It's free, always available day or night, and when you've been doing it for a while (over 10 years in my case) its really interesting to go back and see what you have written in the past.
  • KarynJ
    KarynJ Member Posts: 193
    Hi @LisaJHM you don't have to feel positive about any part of this BC stuff.  And you certainly don't need to feel guilty about not feeling positive.  Because you know what?  The whole thing sux.  Big time.  It doesn't matter if you only had a little tumour or you got through treatment relatively well.  Don't compare your cancer situation to other people's.  I'm notorious for trying to minimise things and it's not helpful.  If you want to compare your situation, compare it to someone who doesn't have cancer.  That has helped me put things into perspective a lot better.  Best wishes to you for your next round of treatments. 
  • Flaneuse
    Flaneuse Member Posts: 899
    Hi @LisaJHM . What the others have said - especially @KarynJ . There's nothing you SHOULD be doing, except simply allowing yourself to feel what you feel. I've had some very low phases since diagnosis and during treatments, and have blamed myself for not "getting on with life" more positively - which is rubbish. We each need to deal with this burden in our own way, and feelings come and go in waves. My degree of positivity can skyrocket or plunge from one minute to the next, one hour to the next - depending on triggers.

    For me, in comparison with chemo, radiation was easy, though tiring; but everyone is different. One plus is that you're seeing those people every day, and you can ask questions about anything that's concerning you.

    Counselling has helped me a good deal on many occasions in life, and with BC. Just to talk stuff out is so useful. And it doesn't HAVE to be about the cancer; I felt loads better when I got my feelings about my adult son (playing up like a second-hand lawnmower) off my half-chest.

    An effective strategy suggested to me has been scheduled worry management. If a worry comes into your mind, say, "Yes, I'll deal with that in my worry management meeting at 3 pm." -  scheduled for 20 mins max per day, then shut off until the next day. Don't do it within two hours before bedtime. I was astonished at how well it works.

    Take care. 
  • LisaJHM
    LisaJHM Member Posts: 22
    thank you everyone for your support I really appreciate it. I've made it through my first week and truthfully it gives me a routine which I love. So far I'm doing ok - bit of pink skin (as I'm really fair) but I'm still getting to the gym each day. Fingers crossed I can continue as its doing wonders for my mental health :) Hope everyone has a lovely Sunday.
    @Flaneuse @Romia @KarynJ @Mira @Zoffiel @kmakm @Sister @Afraser @arpie @Michele B 

  • Romla
    Romla Member Posts: 2,092
    @LisaJHM just a small caution expect at the end of radiation to be temporarily very tired - sleep when you need to and keep life simple.It only lasts a few days but is surprisingly engulfing. I too am very fair but found the skin damage manageable with loads of daily creaming up.