Work/grief/sadness

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Hi all,

apologies if this has already been discussed but I couldn’t find anything elsewhere. 
I’m 46, had a right mastectomy (Diep flap) and left reduction in early December for stage 2 invasive lobular carcinoma. My recovery went really well, no pain whatsoever. I still have another procedure to alter the flap and then have nipple tattooing but have to wait until later in the year. Started on Tamoxifen in Jan.
I went back to work at the start of March and since then have felt the wheels come off a bit. I went back on reduced hours but in a different role to what I usually do (but just as busy!) 3 weeks in I was feeling overwhelmed and crying at the drop of a hat. This role was only to cover someone else and when I asked for more time on reduced hours/duties I was given yet another new role which is totally unfamiliar to me. Consequently I ended up leaving work early this morning as I was in tears. I think because my recovery went so well I hadn’t properly processed everything that had happened before (diagnosis to surgery was pretty quick). And work seems to have triggered a huge reaction that I didn’t expect. It feels like the reality of all this has hit all at once and I’m on a huge emotional rollercoaster. I am seeing a counsellor and she’s been amazing. Plus I’ve started acupuncture. 
I’m so used to be busy and I used to love it but at the moment, I just don’t have the capacity for it. Has anyone else had a similar experience? 

Comments

  • Afraser
    Afraser Member Posts: 4,388
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    Good for you in choosing to see a counsellor. I didn’t have your experience but a cancer diagnosis can result in all sorts of reactions and sometimes delayed ones. Your brain and your emotions may be as affected as your body and sometimes unresolved issues from your ‘old’ life can present in new and unexpected ways. Keep with the counsellor and see all this as part of developing a new part of your life. Best wishes. 
  • Blossom1961
    Blossom1961 Member Posts: 2,396
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    @RedRose77 I can totally relate. I have done customer service all my life but after returning to work, the minute a customer walked in the door I fell apart, started shaking and took off. It took me twelve months before I could handle work again. A cancer diagnosis leaves us feeling completely betrayed by our body and we lose confidence doing what used to be natural to us. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself time to mentally heal.
  • RedRose77
    RedRose77 Member Posts: 15
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    Thankyou, makes me feel better that I’m not the only one 🥰
  • arpie
    arpie Member Posts: 7,677
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    I am so sorry that you are having such a hard time of it @RedRose77 .... this bloody disease really mucks with our brains even more than our bodies (which is bad enough!), I reckon xx. It is a real emotional roller coaster.

    That is terrific that you are seeing a Counsellor - it will definitely help xx  Is there any way you can negotiate a break from work to 'find yourself' again? Or can you work from home, maybe on reduced duties?

    Have you checked out Charlotte Tottman's podcasts yet? She is a BC specialist Psychologist, who had a double mastectomy & stayed flat - who'd been 'counseling' patients for years - but only realised just HOW debilitating a BC diagnosis is, when she was diagnosed herself!  Start on No 13 (the first of the first series) then go back to No 1 - the first of the 2nd series. She is incredibly easy to listen to & relates to most things that we go thru too  xx


    Be kind to yourself, and take care xx Wishing you the best 
  • RedRose77
    RedRose77 Member Posts: 15
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    Thankyou @arpie! I will definitely have a listen to the podcast, thanks for the recommendation. The mental healing is much more difficult than the huge surgery I had (which I definitely wasn’t prepared for). I think I will take more time away from work (I’m a nurse so working from home is hard!)

    Thanks again, I will remind myself to be kind! X
  • Tri
    Tri Member Posts: 67
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    Hi @RedRose77 so sorry to hear about the roller coaster you’ve been experiencing.
    Yes facing a drop in capacity is so confronting. You have voiced something I have encountered and I felt it went to the heart of my professional identity. 
    I’ve now come to terms with adapting commitments and expectations of myself around work. 
    My oncologist reminds me that it’s ok to feel depleted after the 14 months of treatment, surgery and radiation therapy.
    It’s been important to me to keep doing what I love but I have accepted that it’s going to need to be in a different gear. I also find that I’m best working shorter days: 4 hours max daily, rather than a 7.5 hour day. This might sound whacky but I also find if I start the day with a bit of a walk or yoga then my head works better once I start working or meetings. 
    It sounds like you have mobilised professional support too - that’s terrific. 
  • RedRose77
    RedRose77 Member Posts: 15
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    @Tri thankyou, it’s so true about professional identity- such a huge part of who we are. I think I need to take a step back and stop trying to push myself back to my old normal!
  • Locksley
    Locksley Member Posts: 938
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    Working after a cancer diagnosis changed for me.  Im customer facing in health care and I can now only do a couple of days a week as well.   I get very anxious at the drop of a hat.   I lost my confidence and it's taking some time to get back that confidence.   I just put one foot in front of the other and plod along.   I sometimes get rude patients who are quite demanding and I would love to say walk a day in my shoes. Being kind costs nothing.  
  • Locksley
    Locksley Member Posts: 938
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    @RedRose77 I'm learning to find a new normal.  I can no longer do the old normal and now I don't want to.  I pushed myself for others for  long time. 
  • RedRose77
    RedRose77 Member Posts: 15
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    Thanks @Locksley,
    I work in healthcare too so I understand how you feel. I also don’t want to push myself like I used. We just need to be kind to ourselves and as you said, one foot in front of the other 🩷