Processing the journey

Mez_BCNA Administrator, Staff, Member, Moderator Posts: 921
Moderator moved @Tania_G post from activity section to 'General Discussion' section:
Hi everyone, 
Was diagnosed back in July 2023 stage 3 HER2+ breast cancer.  Have done two rounds of chemo. Had surgery in December 2023 and am now getting ready for radiotherapy.  I'm experiencing a lot of confusion and loss as I now begin to process this journey. Getting used to my new body and trying to work out who I am psychologically. Any advice?


  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,390
    I had a bit of that experience - not depressed, getting on with life (worked through treatment) but a bit unsure of who I fundamentally was any more. Losing a breast was the least of my concerns, but I developed an arrhythmia - what I mentally named a Heart Condition (with capitals!). The me I knew didn’t have a Heart Condition! Was I some sort of quasi invalid? Should I be ‘taking things easy’, a highly unattractive thought? I discussed maybe needing a support group with my very smart senior oncology nurse. Who nudged me towards a one on one counselling session. Best thing I ever did. A good counsellor, who understands cancer but can also see beyond it, is possibly someone we all should engage, even for a short time as I did, cancer or no cancer! She sorted out my physical issues in no time and equipped me to deal with the underlying ones (a fear of ageing and death) myself. The insights she facilitated have kept working for me ever since. Best wishes.
  • GorgyS
    GorgyS Member Posts: 83
    I can relate to your situation, Afraser, and I found your comments reassuring. I am 64, and I believe that 'my breast cancer' is age-related. Therefore, I am not overly concerned about physical appearance, as there are many other health issues that I might experience as part of aging, and breast cancer as a systemic disease that requires systemic treatment. By the way, these physical appearances can be managed with wigs, scarves, prostheses, implants, clothing, make up and the list goes on. The only way for me to navigate aging and age-related illnesses and conditions is through a 'positive aging approach.' This means looking after my health through regular check-ups, medication, and treatments, trusting in medical teams, and staying mentally and physically active. I trust the Australian public health system.  So far, I have been very well looked after. I am also not depressed but very much anxious about what is ahead. Not everything can be controlled. I will definitely be looking into counseling. I cannot comment or give advice to younger women, especially those with small kids who still need help from their mom. By sharing our stories and views, I believe we support each other. I definitely feel supported through this network and BCNA. 
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,742
    Welcome to the group you never thought you'd join (along with the rest of us!!) 

     Have you been assigned a Breast Care Nurse?  @Tania_G that you can chat with?  Where abouts are you?  (You can add your Town/area to your profile.)  Members may know of services nearby that can help you. 

    Your surgeon will either have their own BC Nurse, or refer you to the McGrath Nurses ...... Sometimes they can sit in on your appointments with you, to make sure you understand fully, everything that is going on xx

    This bloody disease really 'does' muck with your brain even more than your actual body.   If you are feeling anxious & sad, give our helpline a bell on Monday-Fri on 1800 500 258 - or you may prefer to chat with your GP or ask to see a counsellor? xx

    We have a series of podcasts to listen to from Charlotte Tottman - a BC Psychologist who has had a double mastectomy a few years back (no reconstruction) and the 2 seasons of podcasts are just great to listen to.   She is very 'easy' to follow & she was surprised at her OWN emotions when diagnosed/treatments etc .... as she understands the process more now, herself!

    You can read about her a bit here (document BELOW):

    take care - keep as active as you can (relative to your treatment) and keep doing things you love doing (or try something new, to keep you busy) xx