Home Now what? The highs and lows of survivorship

How to curb the fear

Cook65Cook65 Member Posts: 733
Hi everyone,

it has been quite sometime since I have been on the network.  We have had other dramas in our life and my focus has tended to be on that.  A couple of weeks ago my psychologist commented on how sever my anxiety and depression is. I have struggled so much emotionally since finishing my cancer treatment back in 2015.  I coped so much better whilst I was having treatment.  so much has happened though since then.

Now my anxiety is off the ritcher scale.  2 weeks ago I developed a pain in my "good" boob.  I wasn't too concerned, maybe a cyst.  I couldn't feel a lump though. I saw my GP last Wednesday as it wasn,t improving and she referred me straight back to the breast surgeon.  I have an appointment for this Thursday.  In between times the pain in my breast has gone into my under arm and now the entire breast hurts.  It is swollen and I have an ache going from the top of my shoulder into my neck.  There is still no noticeable lumps.  I haven't had any temperatures, so I don't believe it is an infection and I am post menopausal thanks to chemo, so I don't believe it is hormonal.  There is no rash or discolouration but I am absolutely terrified that it will be inflammatory bc.  I am struggling to sleep, partly from pain but mainly from anxiety.  What if, what if, what if?????? I just don't know how to curb the fear.  I have had several scares over the last few years and I have been a mess each time until I get the all clear.  How do you deal with the fear and the anxiety about it coming back?  I am and have been convinced that the cancer is going to return just because my original diagnosis was very aggressive.  



  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,417
    This is a very tough thing to
    have to cope with. Cancer is never going to happen to us, so when it does we cross a line. If it can happen once, it can happen again. Well done for seeing a psychologist, the pains of the head and the soul are every bit as real as the pains of the body and benefit from good professional treatment. Living with fear is a pretty good recipe for depression. You can push it away for a while but maybe the best long term resolution is to come to terms with it - take the power out of the fear. Your psychologist may be able to help you with this if you are prepared to take on a different way of thinking. When I was waiting for my biopsy results, I foolishly googled and of course my symptoms all matched inflammatory bc. Not good. Particularly as I didn’t have it. Fear can convince you of almost anything. Of course I hope that your appointment will alleviate your anxiety but that fear may still come back. A high degree of anxiety also makes it harder for you to think positively about any more treatment, should it ever be necessary. First things first, check everything out at your appointment. Then have a think about taking the beast on, which will take time and energy but may also offer a renewed joy in life. Best wishes. 
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,958
    Hi @Cook65. I'm a fellow traveller with post-active treatment depression and anxiety. It's shit eh. Mine ratchets up and down. Lately I've been having a lot of dreams about my deceased (from BC) sister. They are very visceral and hard to leave behind as I head into each day.

    I've been having persistent and worsening pain in my lower left rib. I think it's nothing sinister, as does my BS, but to put that tiny kernal of worry to rest, today I had a CT and a bone scan. Despite the fact that my BS had ordered a chest scan only, they did a full pass of my body and went back and did two extra on my abdomen.

    So of course now I am off the charts anxious that they've seen something sinister. I'm trying to breathe through it. It's beyond my control. Nothing I do now will make any difference. So it's one thing, one day at a time. How well this works varies from hour to hour. I'm dreading going to bed... I don't want any more dreams where I find my cancer has spread.

    Hang in there. People tell me it gets better. I'm not there yet, but know you're not alone. K xox
  • SisterSister Adelaide Hills, SAMember Posts: 4,864
    There's nothing that I can say that will alleviate the anxiety.  We know that the news isn't always good for everyone but most of the time it is.  I too choose to accept that I am cancer-free and live to that but I would not ever be surprised if it comes back so I get you @cook65 and @kmakm.  Hang in there as best you can - much easier said than done.  And breathe.
  • Cook65Cook65 Member Posts: 733
    Thank you everyone. It's a relief to know it's not just me.  I too am having dreadful nightmares.  During the day I can seem to go with my old mantra "it is what it is". I get on with what I have to but then when I'm on my own or lying in bed at night my mind just goes into over drive.  I have recently lost friends and another, who I did treatment with, is starting to go downhill fast. It's like it slaps you in the face.  I only saw my bs a couple of months ago for my 5 year check and everything was fine.  I still have immunotherapy every 6 months for another condition, so I guess im still dealing with the treatment side of things.  That is for the rest of my life so that isn't going to change.  I have planned to do something nice today, I will go and have lunch with my brother.  I will also plan sa me nice things over the next few weeks to get me through. Kmakm, the post treatment depression certainly is shit.  I so wish I could just move on from it all. 
  • KarynJKarynJ SE QldMember Posts: 188
    I'm sorry to hear you are struggling particularly with anxiety and depression. If this is something long term and persistent you may want to speak to your GP about a referral to a psychiatrist who specialises in TMS - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. It's an inpatient treatment in a private hospital so you would need private health insurance. It's a much nicer variation on the old electro shock treatment. 
    They place a Magnetic coil at a specific spot on your head and when the machine is going you feel a tap tap tapping on your head. Not painful but a bit uncomfortable. It helps with rewiring your neurons and alleviating your mood. You stay awake throughout. It's good for people who are very resistant to medications. Here's me having a treatment this week.
    I'm attaching a photo using my mobile phone so not sure if it will work.

  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,958
    Photo works beautifully @KarynJ. I love the goofy look on your face! How soon do you feel the benefits of this treatment?
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,958
    Me too @Cook65. Planning nice things is a good way to proceed, but it makes me feel as if I'm ignoring 'the problem' and as if I'm not getting on with my life. But maybe it is getting on with my life? I don't know anymore! I'm so confused by the new normal.  :#
  • CRMCRM MelbourneMember Posts: 84
    @Cook65  I am newly diagnosed and am suffering from extreme anxiety.  I wake up feeling sick in the morning and the tightness in my chest is like nothing I have ever felt.  For the first time in my life I am investing money in myself.  My goal this week has been to put in place counselling and acupuncture sessions to see if that helps and also planning a long bike ride then massage this weekend!  I know these services aren't cheap and add up when you do it regularly but if you are in the position to do so then try locking in a few different treatments to help you relax.  Good luck xx 
  • Cook65Cook65 Member Posts: 733
    Thank you.  The counsellor I see is a trauma counsellor.  I have been seeing her since half way through treatment.  She has also had breast cancer herself so she really gets it.  She is wonderful and we have come a long way.  I have been told previously that I have a disassociative disorder.  I tend to pretend that everything is fine and ok and focus on others and most of the time it gets me through but every now and then, it all gets too much and it comes to a head. I'm feeling better today since my little melt down.  I only see her once a month and of course this has all this is happening in between appointments.  I can't go into everything on here, but there has been so much of late, you just wonder when enough is enough.  I wish you all well, particularly CRM who is just starting out on this bloody awful process.  Thanks again xx
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,958
    I'm glad you're feeling a bit better @Cook65. K xox
  • KarynJKarynJ SE QldMember Posts: 188
    @kmakm Hi. Like all treatments in life it depends on the individual. Some feel effects straight away, others maybe in the 2 to 3 weeks post treatment feel a slow steady benefit. Others it may take more time and gradual improvement. It can vary depending on how many sessions you have. Last year I had 30 over 3 weeks for mood disorder/depression. This time 17 over 12 days for anxiety because I could only take 2 weeks off work. I do TMS in conjunction with taking an SNRI. I can't tolerate a high dose of the medication so TMS helps the med work more effectively. Plus of course working with a psychologist on a regular basis.
    @Cook65 sorry if I've hijacked your thread. But I just wanted to let you know from personal experience that there are other treatments out there but you have to know what they are in order to ask for them. I'd never heard of TMS but just happened to be referred to the right psychiatrist at the right time.
  • kmakmkmakm MelbourneMember Posts: 7,958
    Thank you for the info @KarynJ.
  • Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,398
    During high anxiety I like to go for a walk by myself and just marvel at nature. I also take medicinal cannabis oil which tends to keep me centered and calmer but not doped.
  • BlackWidowBlackWidow Lake GardensMember Posts: 213
    It is surely about time cannabis oil was made available to us without having to jump through hoops, me thinks.
    If the evidence is there then why not ?
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