Home Now what? The highs and lows of survivorship



I don't feel like myself

Capricorn68Capricorn68 Melbourne, VictoriaMember Posts: 1
Hi, I'm new to the BCNA Online Network and have spent a little time today reading through some of your posts - just wanted to say thanks as I'm finding the posts useful, in some ways a little scary, but reassuring.  I'm 54, I was diagnosed with early stage DCIS in late May this year - one week after starting a new contract job - and then it all just happened so fast.  Thankfully I didn't need to have chemo and had radiation treatment about 6 weeks post surgery.  During all of this, our family was dealing with dad's declining health (Parkinson's/dementia) and I took on the job of being with mum while working from home, visits to dad in hospital all while arranging a place for him in an aged care facility - I was desperate to get it all done before radiation treatment started.  Yep I had a bit going on.  I've been taking anastrozole for almost 3 weeks and the anxiety and low moods are really affecting me (hot flushes and night sweats aren't fun either but I can manage them).  I'm also very emotional - just typing this makes me teary.  I think my current role was a trigger for my anxiety and mood.  I've lost confidence in my ability to perform the role, I feel like I'm letting my team down and myself - I feel silly for feeling this way.  I'm currently off work because I had a meltdown (at work) and during this time off, I've been realising that roles with high stress/responsibility are not for me right now.  My employer has been fantastic - very supportive and understanding.  I'm pretty active and have a good diet and keep these practices going, even though some days are a struggle - it's one thing that's helping.  I'm also seeing my GP this week to talk about all of this and about the medication - I feel like there is a lot more information I should know.  But I'm not keen on treating these symptoms with anti-anxiety or anti-depressants.  I'm interested to know if anyone has a recommendation for a naturopath that has experience in treating women dealing with the effects of hormone blockers. Thanks for "listening" - just sharing this has helped. 

Comments

  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,978
    Dear @Capricorn68

    It’s tough, everything seems to
    happen at once. Reactions to AIs can vary a lot and sometimes are worst at the beginning so I hope things settle down. It’s also possible that you are reacting to the undoubted emotional
    impact of everything that’s been going on. You’re dealing with your father’s declining health, your mother’s anxiety and sadness, a new job and, irrespective of a good prognosis, the impact of cancer, which may be a greater impact than you realise. Cumulatively, it’s wobble territory. Throw in reactions to medication and no wonder you feel teary. Many of us have found a short stint with an experienced counsellor useful. We do all the stuff about looking after the body, as you do, and some of it is good for the mind too but sometimes a focus, with a disinterested but enabling other, can at least help develop coping mechanisms and possibly unlock some long term strengths and resilience we never knew we had. Best wishes. 
  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 5,146
    https://www.bcna.org.au/health-wellbeing/physical-wellbeing/fatigue/

    Hopefully the link above will help as you've been juggling lots, physically and emotionally 

    BCNA Helpline maybe worth a call 
    https://www.bcna.org.au/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/

    As @Afraser mentioned earlier a Counsellor can help with coping mechanisms.

    As to the Aromatose Inhibitor  sometimes our bodies seem to take time to adapt to the medication, add menopause if you haven't got through.......it's a roller coaster 

    Don't be too hard on yourself you've got lots going on

    Deep breaths 
    Take care ⚘️ 
  • Julez1958Julez1958 SydneyMember Posts: 547
    Hi @Capricorn68
    The emotional/psychological aspects of a breast cancer diagnosis can be just as challenging as the physical impacts.
    Like you I didn’t have to have chemo but did have a mastectomy, radiotherapy and have been on aromatise inhibitors for 18 months.
    I am a person who most people would describe as resilient and in control but I was a bit of any emotional wreck for quite some time after my diagnosis.
    I actually think it’s a bit like grieving a death - it’s the death of your formerly bulletproof self.
    I did see a psychologist who specialised in treating cancer related stress for a couple of sessions and that helped.
    I also saw an exercise physiologist and acupuncturist for a few months and both helped too.
    I do find exercise helps with my moods as well as physically - 2 years on from the diagnosis people tell me I look well and I am in a much better headspace .
    I was lucky I was semi retired when diagnosed at age 62, I still do some work but at a pace that suits me.
    I also find it easier to say no to things now as a cancer diagnosis does lead to a certain re calibration of what is important.
    Take care and I am glad you found this website and forum there is a lot of very useful stuff on here and everyone on the forum “ gets it” in a way someone who hasn’t been 
     there never will.
    🌺
  • arpiearpie Mid North Coast, NSWMember Posts: 6,245
    I think most on the forum can relate to your post, @Capricorn68 .... as we've been thru it too.  This disease really mucks with your brain virtually as much (or even worse) than the physical surgery & ongoing treatments .... 

    Check out this link, where an Oncology Psychologist discusses her own ups & downs with Breast Cancer .... as it is only once a specialist/surgeon has been thru it themselves, that they can fully understand the things the diagnosis/surgery/treatment does to you. xx

    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/23866/podcast-series-upfront-about-breast-cancer-what-you-don-t-know-until-you-do-with-dr-charlotte-to/p1

    Another Blog to check out, is a British BC Surgeon who also was diagnosed & had a recurrence - she was just amazed at how much she hadn't understood about the ramifications of a diagnosis, surgery, treatment & how it affects HER as a person, even now, some years later.
    Read it 'in order' from the start .... it is very enlightening.

    http://liz.oriordan.co.uk/

    Also, check out this post, as it points you to various areas in the Forum that you may find helpful to you - including art, craft, gardens & more ..... There is a link at the bottom to some 'tick boxes' that you can check out prior to any upcoming reviews/appointments ... 

    https://onlinenetwork.bcna.org.au/discussion/23477/a-big-welcome-to-all-our-new-members#latest

    take care & all the best - and definitely be kind to yourself xx
  • ZoffielZoffiel Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 3,336
    @Capricorn68 at the risk of sounding a bit 'Pollyanna' (I'm assuming you are old enough to understand the reference) don't write yourself off as being not up to the new job quite yet.

    Current stats suggest that 1 in 7 women in this country will be diagnosed with breast cancer. I think we can be confident that the majority of those will either still be in the workforce or have family who are.

    There's a fair bit of coverage of brave struggles and tragic endings but you don't see much about the tedious reality of dealing with a life threatening event (yours or someone else's) while trying to plod through not just the next weeks or months but keep yourself on track for the rest of your working life.

    It's not that long ago that going to work pregnant was frowned upon. Not appropriate. Those women who did it anyway set the standard. Attitudes and workplaces changed.

    I like to think that those of us who are juggling cancer and work can, perhaps, change things for the better by hanging in there if we can. By taking the mystery out of it all. By proving that a couple of bad weeks isn't enough reason for anyone, including ourselves, to write us off.

     If you previously had a good work ethic, nothing has changed. You are just under more pressure than usual and might need some flexibility for a while.

    This can happen to anyone. And it does. Best of luck. Be kind  to yourself and accept kindness if it's offered. Mxx
  • AfraserAfraser MelbourneMember Posts: 3,978
    edited September 20
    @Zoffiel, as usual, makes a good point. Long before I was diagnosed, I had a colleague with breast cancer. She scarfed up, made terrible jokes about her port and generally just got on with things. She gave me a reference point for handling a mastectomy and chemo. Not everyone can, side effects can make it impossible but many do. Both our bosses were supportive, both of us did our small bit for ‘normalising’ an all too common disease. ‘Support’ can take many forms - for some, it’s facilitating treating cancer as an illness not a curse. Fiona Patten’s statement today about her cancer diagnosis is a case in point. 
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