Home Supporting someone with breast cancer

Am I just a sook?

JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20


It is a year since my first and second Breast cancer excisions and lymph node biopsy. The first was on 3 March 2015 and the 2nd a week later on 10 March 2015. Apparently there was a second cancer near the skin which was missed by all. Not blaming my surgeon who is esteemed by all in the know and friends of friends who have experienced her care. However I was quite shattered by the discovery of the second cancer and the need for another surgery so soon. However the prognosis was good after this and I escaped chemotherapy but had 16 radio therapy treatments. Other than a painful and frustrating frozen shoulder for 12 months which has now sorted itself and the usual tiredness and frustration with not having my usual energy everything has been going ok.  Oh, I did have to have a Gall bladder 6 weeks after the breast surgeries with that surgeon and the radio oncologist discussing how to fit it in around radio treatments!  So in all, not the worst of things to happen.

My problem is how I feel about the lack of sympathy and emotional from my family. My husband has always been helpful around the house and is regarded well by all. However 3 days after my second Breast surgery he asked ' shouldn't you be over it by now?' Maybe I was being a bit emotional but that shattered me. That someone so close to me and who professes to love me could be so callous. However I tried to put that behind me (never forgiven though as you see).  My 2 married daughters were soliticious in the first week or so but soon decided I was not seriously ill - which I wasn't but I can't help wanting more emotional support and understanding of my experience. I suppose the 2nd crunch ( after my husband's comment) came this week when visiting a daughter overseas, my 10 year old granddaughter told me that I didn't have cancer because 'the doctor took it out so you are alright now'. I assured her I was alright but felt hurt that this had been dealt with in so perfunctory a manner. Now my youngest granddaughter has developed chicken pox and while there has been much discussion about whether her other grandparents should visit (one has Rheumatoid arthritis so naturally concerns are raised) when I wondered aloud whether I need to be careful about contact, my daughter just said blithely'too late now'.

Sorry about this long essay but I guess I am feeling unloved and certainly lacking in any family sympathy. Perhaps just a sook! 

Thanks for ' listening'





  • Cook65Cook65 Member Posts: 733
    edited April 2016

    Hi Jenny,

    you definitely aren't a sook.  The thing is, people have this perception that breast cancer is bald head and sick from chemo. The reality can be far from that though, especially if you haven't had chemo.  I did have chemo and lost my hair but I continued to have active treatment for 8 months after chemo. Peoples expectations qof me have been oh well your done now, you should be fine. My family also expected this. It wasn't until I broke down crying and told them about the troubles I experience due to treatment and how tired I am that they have changed their attitudes. Regardless of what stage of bc you have, it is traumatic and a horrible thing to go through. The emotional toll, let alone the physical toll is huge and unfortunately many people don't realise this. Be kind to yourself and remember that you are recovering. Take care. Karen xox

  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Thanks Karen. Your response made me cry ...so I am a sook!  Just kidding. I think I am just missing that level of understanding and I should have sought it from people such as you a lot earlier. I guess I thought I should be able to get on with things by myself. I know I will now seek help more often from the network...all of whom after all knows what some of what I am feeling. Likewise I think it is helpful to me to read other posts to reflect upon my experience and also to offer support to others.  Thanks again.

  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 5,030
    edited April 2016

    No you're not a sook! We're all living similar things. Family or friends that assume you're back to your old self. If only it was that simple. Don't let them get under your skin. They haven't a clue.

    Be kind to yourself and find a coping strategy where you can zone out and block the negativity. A walk or listening to music or a chocolate or a good book.

    Take care 

    Christine xx 

  • primekprimek Broken HillMember Posts: 5,392
    edited April 2016

    3 surgeries in 12 months is a lot for anyone to cope with without radiotherapy and the mental anguish women with breast cancer experience. People just don't understand the various aspects. ..tiredness, body image adjustment, effects on sexuality and then there is the very real fear of the constant thought of "what if it returns". It is exhausting. So no....you are not being a sook. Physically you are healing but mentally you are only just beginning. Depression is a very real aspect of cancer treatment. You might find some short term counselling beneficial. Try to find some joy in each day doing things that make you happy.  Slowly build your exercise tolerance as this can help with both fatigue and depression. When we are depressed passing comments are often much more hurtful and play on our minds. And do keep blogging. ..writing stuff down can really just help us get it all out of our heads.

    I am currently having chemo and only go out when I feel well enough...and after I apply makeup that makes me glow. I am sick to death of people telling me how well I look. They don't realise it probably took me an hour as I needed to rest after showering etc before I could leave the house.

    We all get it. Take care. Kath x

  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Dear Kate

    I have suffered from depression in the past so I guess not surprising the anxieties of the past year are pressing in on me. And you have made me realise that because I am on an extended visit overseas to my daughter and family that I have totally stopped my exercise routine which I keep up when I am at home. So in all there a few things bringing me down. Thank you for outlining some good strategies.  Good luck with your chemotherapy. I hope you continue to be kind to yourself. Best regards, Jenny



  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Sorry, that should read, Dear Kath! Darned predictive text!

  • Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,409
    edited April 2016

    Jenny your post is exactly what we need this forum for. We "get" it. We have all stared death in the face with cancer and we have managed to put it off with treatments. That's not to say we have returned to being the same people we were before cancer as it is a life changing event. Other people just don't get that. We will always be a little more careful of ourselves and have that worry in the back of our minds that one year cancer may return. All any of us can do is try to make the most of our lives the best we can and share our worries and our triumphs of clear test results on this forum with those who understand.

  • CosetteCosette Member Posts: 638
    edited April 2016

    You are most definitely not a sook. If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to find a local support group. Getting together with other women who understand can be very nourishing.

    Have you talked to your family about your experience and their support (or lack thereof)?

  • annebirdyannebirdy Member Posts: 69
    edited April 2016

    Hi, sorry to hear you aren't getting the support that you need from family. I think there are quite a few posts on this forum about the lack of sympathy from some friends and family - I think it is because people don't understand the time it takes to recover from surgery and also don't understand the emotional implications of breast cancer and treatment. I think a few of us have experienced an outpouring of support at the beginning...that dries up not too long afterwards. In my own experience, I have just finished chemo and have been doing cold capping. Because I still have my hair, some people assume that I haven't been doing 'serious' treatment. It's hard hearing others 'whinge' about their daily dramas when you are dealing with BC!

    On hearing about your 10-year old, I wouldn't read too much into it. I would think from her perspective, it would be easier for her to process that the BC has gone, rather than worry that you may still have it or that it may reoccur. I imagine that would cause her more stress as she'll worry that she may lose you in the future. I have a kid and its been interesting seeing how he internalises these things. I know it is important to him that my BC has gone (i.e. he knows the dr has cut it out) and that I am just getting medicine to make sure it really has all gone and make sure it never comes back.

    Perhaps with hubby, get him to go to your next GP/dr visit/checkup so he can hear himself how long your recovery will be and how long it will take your immunity/energy levels to pick up....or even how to watch out for issues arising following a BC diagnosis. Hearing it from the 'horses mouth' might be good for him. 

    In the end of your can't get a bit of sympathy from your family...well, you sure can on these forums so vent/complain/whinge whenever you want on this forum - its very helpful and we all understand!!


  • GeorginaMaryGeorginaMary Member Posts: 63
    edited April 2016

    I think that you are a brave woman who has held in her feelings for too long, and I am glad that you have vented them.  My family and friends are generally wonderful.  I had two unsuccessful lumpectomies in February, and am now one week out of hospital after a mastectomy, rebuild, and also reduction of the remaining very large breast to match.  I am single, and my married sister is staying with me to help me shower, cook meals, etc. and is wonderful.  I had a difficult time in hospital after the operation, (intensive care needed), and stilly tire very easily after the smallest exertion.  

    Yesterday my single brother said that I sounded and looked very healthy, and he thought that instead of him, I could take our other sister with Alzheimer's to an important appointment in two weeks' time, and thus resume the responsibility of taking her to all of her medical appointments!  He just has no idea of the physical and emotional toll that the diagnosis and three operations have had on me, let alone recovery and treatment to come.  I haven't even driven again yet.

    i agree that you should get your husband to go with you to an appointment with your doctor and start a discussion about your feelings.

  • jacquippjacquipp Member Posts: 73
    edited April 2016

    Dear Jenny my heart broke when I read this. I ,meant to reply sooner but.... I know exactly how you are feeling. You are not being a sook. Even though I am at the beginning of this journey I am quickly realising that a lot of people have no idea and just dont know how to respond. I am sure your husband was not trying to be hurtful but just showing some of his frustration and helplessness. A few days before my surgery my housemate made a very thoughtless hurtful statement. Its not like I am actually sick or anything so just get over it, and it is just as bad for him. Thankfully since surgery he has pulled his socks up and actually been looking after me. 

    Take care of you dear lady. Try not to get dragged down by your family if you can. Can you get some time for yourself? It sounds like you are on holidays with them right now, I hope they realise how important you are. 

    Hugs, Jacqui 

  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Oh my gosh. What trials you have had! I feel a bit inadequate when hearing of your operations. I am now understanding how it doesn't serve us as well as we might think to crack hardy because then people close to us think we must be fine. Perhaps we do need to tell them that while we are trying to be positive, it is actually quite hard. 

    Take care.

  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Thanks Cosette. Actually since I wrote on this network I have felt much better and especially with the responses of people such as you giving me support. I should have done this much earlier. I have spoken to my husband but he doesn't really get it. He thinks he is doing all he can to support me... and he is really.  He just doesn't understand that I need emotional support as wel no matter how often I tell himl. I don't want to go into with my children because I don't want to alarm them or my granddaughters.

    However with this forum I am feeling much more positive to myself and I do try to be kind to myself which doesn't come easily to me. Thanks again.


  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Thank you Anne.

    I really think people get quite a shock when someone close to them gets a cancer diagnosis but when they see you still upright and with hair they soon decide that you really can't have a real cancer after all! Perhaps this is a mechanism for them to deal with it, I am not sure. And yes, I was careful to assure my granddaughter that I was ok. I certainly did not want her to worry. But....it wouldn't hurt my husband or my daughters to worry....just a little!  Just kidding! I really just need to keep using this forum and 'talking' to people who do understand.

    Take care, Jenny

  • JennyhoJennyho Member Posts: 20
    edited April 2016

    Thanks for the hugs Jacqui. I am very grateful for your support. I hope your arm does not worry you too much....although I know it will!  But I hope the knowledge that it will be ok (in a year or so) makes it a bit easier to bear.

    Look after yourself. Jenny


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