Counselling after BC on the NHS?

Hi everyone,

I wondered if anyone has any experience of this
I finished my treastment for BC a year ago- after having chemo, mx with recon and radiotherapy.

Despite feeling well recovered on the whole, I am not sure I have emotionally dealt with the ordeal. I did a good job of putting on a brave face during my treatment, and I am not sure I ever fully come to terms with everything.

I am very anxious about the BC returning, my fertility in the future, and I am very worried that intimacy will never get back to normal.

I was thinking of going to my GP to ask if I can have counselling of some sort. Has anyone done this? I can’t afford to have counselling privately.
Having finished my treatment a year ago, I don’t feel that I ask my BCN.

Any help of similar experiences would be gratefully received!

yes i did and it did me the world of good it really helped me a lot

Speak to your BCN! I finished all my treatment except Arimidex in January, and was ‘fine’ up until then. The best way I can describhe it is like being on a treadmill during treatment - and then the treadmill stops … and you fall off the end with no support - or so you think.

I struggled on my own for a while - I have a few tools in my armoury having suffered from severe clinical depression for years and having had various counselling from psycholgists in CBT, CAT and general talk therapy. Still I struggled - mainly with thoughts of secondaries etc - and finally spoke to my BCN. She referred me to a psychologist at the hospice, which seemed a bit weird on my first visit - but its certainly helping me.

Just go for it!! (The ‘advantage’ of going via BCN is the lack of waiting lists which can exist via GP)

Hi dollface
Yes I did have some counselling sessions on the NHS. I experienced similar feelings and concerns to those you talk about when my treatment was close to finishing. Like you intimacy was something I worried about, and it wasn’t something I talked about to anyone-so it was good to be able to express that to someone who wasn’t a friend or relative.
I think I’d kept my head down and ploughed through it until I’d had chemo and surgery and then I had time to pause and the reality hit me during the wait for rads. The hosptial I received treatment at has a number of sessions available to all bc patients, I don’t know if that is the case elsewhere. My first port of call was the BCN-she was great-knew who to refer me to, and reassured me. I don’t think a year is that long-I think the BCN’s get calls at lots of points-my team have always said to call if I needed to.
take care
C xx

i would agree that your bcn is your best bet. I am midway through chemo and mine just arranged a referreal- i went for the first time on thusrday but they had a locum helpinng in the department, who i saw, and he was a consultant psychiatrist with not much clue on cancer, let alone breast cancer, and most of the appointment was taken with an in depth analysis of my gcse and a level grades, career and family ie, how many siblings and what do they do? Der, i was perfectly fine well adjusted woman til i was diagnosed with bc at 36yo, 4 months ago, and i just want someone to vent to!

I saw my bcn after the appointment and she agreed that the referral had gone pear shaped and is sorting out something more appropriate, and she was great about it.

Good luck,

Vickie

Hi, I can’t comment on what is available on the NHS, but I do feel that you l should get some sort of counseling , Broomsticklady is right about falling of the treadmill after treatment is over. I remember in 2003 I had a bottle of champagne waiting to celebrate the end of my treatment. We never drank it. I was lucky to find an amazing lady doctor that helped me over the “end of treatment blues”. It took me over 2 years to get my confidence back.
Hugs Maria

I was told that I could go on the waiting list for a maximum of 4 sessions of counselling via the local Big C Centre. I never bothered with it because I didn’t like the idea of only having access to sessions once my name came up on a waiting list. (I have also experienced truly lousy counselling for something unrelated to BC and it has left my very cynical about some of these “trained” counsellors. When it is good is great - whern it is poor it can be very damaging.
I was never offered anything on the NHS in my area. Perhaps it is a case of if you don’t ask you don’t get.

Thank you for all your replies. I find the forum so helpful, with people willing to offer advice. I think I will give my BCN a call tomorrow to refer me. I hadn’t thought of waiting lists, but would be good to bypass those if possible.

Thanks again ladies, wishing you all the best.

dear dollface, I work in a low cost counselling centre and you pay what you can afford. I would look in your area as there are quite a lot about. As for getting a counsellor you are not keen on,or feel they are not any good, always ask to change to someone else.
good luck I would thoroughly recommend counselling, as I see my clients work through issues and grow and change. A cancer dx is such a big thing in our lives, get as much support as you can, it will help in the long run
Best wishes
Leadie

I found the oncologist counsellor myself from a leaflet in the cancer reception. I’d been coping pretty badly beforehand and was disappointed that my BCN hadn’t referred me!
I really hope your BCN is supportive but if not you can apply yourself.
My oncologist counsellor has been so supportive and helped me through some really difficult topics including issues with my BCN. They are very professional and I am grateful to her for how I’ve moved on into real recovery.

However, because I have suffered with depression in the past and I have a history with the psychological services my GP referred me to the same services and they were absolutely hopeless! Worse than hopeless as the two month wait after assessment was just so terrifying and all my fears were just left to spiral out of control…
When face to face contact was eventually arranged it consisted of only five appointments. So, with hindsight the oncologist counsellor saved me from the depths of despair and the other NHS support was not worth the wait!!!

Hope you find the same support with someone you can relate to.

Welsh girl

your BCN has no time limits… the BCN can probably get you counselling with a psychologist within the cancer service whereas your GP maybe only able to provide generic psychological help.

id suggest speaking to your BCN initially to see if she can refer you or who to direct you to… there can sometimes be quite a waiting list to get seen.

i was referred to see a psychologist in jan but was about march before i saw her and only needed a few sessions for me to gte my head sorted but for some people it can take a wee bit longer.

if your into talking therapies then its probably quite useful to you.

Lxx

Hi there

I had counselling a few months after diagnosis and don’t know how I would have got through without it.
I was lucky because I was able to use the cancer counselling trust which was a phone service but they are a charity and closing down due to lack of funds. I know someone from BCC was going to look into whether part of this service could perhaps be taken up by BCC but haven’t heard any more.

I agree that starting with your BCN is probably best. It doesn’t matter that it’s a year down the line. In fact I would think that’s quite a normal time for things to really hit home. If you can get specialised therapy all the better. If not, then your GP. As Lulu says you may need to expect a wait.

take care
Elinda x

I had counselling during my treatment, as my mother had also died at the same time. Although it was arranged via the NHS, it was actually with a local charity - the other alternative for me would have been with the local hospice, it just happened that the charity had a space before the hospice.

I had counselling via my breast clinic after I finished Herceptin treatment. My clinic had psychologists attached to it. However, they asked me to get my GPs permission to refer and he actually flat refused when I went to the surgery to see him. According to him I didn’t need clinical psychology, I just needed to accept I’d had cancer, and as I had finished the treatment I should just get on with things. After this I had to see another clinic about menopause issues and the Consultant wrote to him saying she recommended counselling - he sent the letter for filing marked “no further action”. My oncologist overruled him as she thought he was being ridiculous - both her and the psychologist said they often get problems with GPs, the local Maggies said they get patients with GP problems re counselling all the time. The psychologist told me she worked in another health board where all cancer patients were referred by GPs as standard, she was finding that GPs in my area were not happy to do this.

What irks me is my surgery routinely offers psychotherapy referrals to alcoholics and drug addicts! The cynic in me says they must get more money for this. When I think back to it now, I should have made an official complaint, but at the time I was extremely fragile.

Thankfully the counselling helped me immensely and I learned a lot of CBT type techniques and meditation stuff that I still use now. It helped my confidence and I would recommend it, but I know it’s not for everyone.

I was sent from the bc clinic for councilling as my onchologist thought it could help me. My life was just one disaster after another at the time.So many terrible things had been happening - I was attacked and had my ribs broken during chemo,then TWO dreadful car accidents involving my chldren - one leaveing my son handicapped, a stilbirth, suicide attempts, even my best pal,7yr old Bruce the rottie was found dead outside my bedroom door one morning. We’re just an ordinary family and none of these disasters was expected but in the end I was afraid to answer the telephone! I only went to one session as the physciologist told me she wouldn’t be able to cope any better herself!!..But just to let you know that I’m still here and well 6yrs later dispite a poor diagnosis and that my life has returned to normality once again. My onchologist has said that if stress brought bc back I wouldn’t be here now!!

almost a year since treatment over, yet i still cant look in a mirror or undress in front of my husband. feel everything i do is affected. why cant i just be happy they got the cancer in time? as most people think i should feel.sometimes wish i’d not had surgery and gone out fighting as a whole person. does anyone else feel like this?