Diagnosed today and terrified

I have just been diagnosed with metaplastic breast cancer today. I have a date for a mastectomy of 3rd October, and I know that it hasn’t reached the lymph nodes.

The operation doesn’t bother me, but I’m terrified of the Chemo, any suggestions? Will read up on your leaflets tomorrow, but don’t want to scare myself witless. Kaye xx

Sorry you’re joining the gang, Kaye. I want to give you a big hug and say it will be bearable. My advice is to be proactive NOW. I really didn’t worry about breast cancer - all I cared about was that chemotherapy would make me sick. You haven’t said why you are terrified of chemo but I can assure you that, if you are open from the start, they will do everything they can to prevent whatever it is you fear. They arranged for me to visit the chemo suite at a quiet time (6.30pm and no one vomiting, everyone relaxed and chatting over mugs of coffee). They alerted all relevant staff to my ‘special needs’ and arranged for me to have my first couple of treatments in a quiet area where, if I had a panic attack, I wouldn’t feel like a public spectacle. I never did. Miracle. They were also ready to extend the anti-nausea treatment if necessary - but it wasn’t. I didn’t experience even nausea in the 4 months (just everything else but no nausea so I was ok with being a zombie) but I was taking cyclizine from my GP. Most helpful/generous, the oncologist would prescribe 2 tablets to take just before each treatment (lorazepam - no woozy buzz, just feeling perfectly normal in circumstances that would freak anyone out!). That gave me confidence and I stopped worrying.

 

For me, each chemo treatment was therefore entirely bearable and I wasn’t using the lorazepam by the end. The times in between were another matter - but that all depends on your body, how you will react to the treatment. I was pole-axed for most of the time but there was a purpose so I got through it and slowly the side effects are easing off, months later.

 

Please get back to your team and talk about your fear/terror and ask how they can help you (I found my GP practice almost useless tbh). You won’t be the first and hopefully your team will be as kind and respectful of my needs as the team I had was. Wishing all the best,

 

Jan, Queen of the Phobics.

And yes, steer clear of anything but the most basic information if you know your inner alarm will go berserk. Sometimes ignorance is better than knowledge when you’ve got a lot to get through! I didn’t ask any questions not relating to my phobia and researched nothing. Steer clear of Dr Google if you can and don’t go looking up prognoses etc. Wait till you’re in a better place x