Does a BC dx make you become a drama queen?

Finished my treatment end of Oct '08. Originally dx Dec '07 with a primary triple negative, grade 3, 3.5cm tumour - treatment consisted of chemo 4x AC/4x Taxotere, mast with immediate recon (expander implant) followed by rads. Throughout the year, my partner was supportive (or as much as men can be supportive !! ha ha), but I found that since my treatment has finished, he will not entertain any sort of discussion about BC and calls me a drama queen if I dare mention anything about an ache or pain. Now I just completely keep everything to myself and feel like I am slowly, but surely going mad. Part of me thinks that after a primary dx of BC, you will always worry about it coming back for the rest of your life, but the other half of me thinks has he got a point and am I acting like a victim and allowing cancer to define who I am.

My head keeps going around and around in circles. I don’t want to feel like this, but being scared seems to be a part of my life now - I would love to run away from it, but it keeps drawing me back. I try to be as positive/happy as I can be, but I feel like I am living my life in black and white whilst everyone else (at least those who have never been dx with a life threatening illness) are living their lives in full glorious technicolour. At the back of my mind is a constant sadness that I cannot shake. Does anyone else have a similar story?

Hi Oscar1

I don’t have a similar story as I’m still undergoing chemo due 5 of 6 FEC on 12th Jan then on tamoxifen. I would just say though that if you only finished your treatment in Oct then it is still early days for you and of course you are bound to still think about what you have been through and of course the possibility of it coming back. I would imagine that your hubby just wants to put it all behind you both which is why he can’t understand your point of view however I do think that normal for anyone who has had cancer will change dramatically and you will now have to get used to a new sort of normal. Try and understand from his pointof view, he probably is just as scared as you but is putting on a brave face, perhaps he thinks thats what you want to hear? Try and talk to him about it and let him know how scary it still is and probably will be for a while. Don’t apologise for how you feel, there is no right or wrong way to deal with cancer and its aftermath. You are normal, it is hard, and only people who have been through it will truly understand how you feel.

Hope this helps
Take care
Caz x

Hi Oscar!

You pose a very interesting question. I finished my treatment in September 08 and find it very difficult to “wean” myself off this site, but always switch to something else if my husband or son come into the room as I know they wouldn’t be able to understand why I come back on here almost every day. I suppose they want to feel that we are “better” and don’t understand the worries about recurrence and/or secondaries. I think perhaps we have to keep our worries to ourselves in the main and only mention things that really could be serious. I’m sure if it was them they would be on about it all the time - but that’s men for you! I do try to live my life not missing out on things because I’m frightened about the future all the time. But sometimes easier said than done.

Hi all,

this is a very interesting thread Oscar. I can’t comment with any experience yet as like Caz, my treatment is still ongoing, but I have been thinking about how I will feel once the treatment is complete. I worry that I will feel a bit “lost” - although going through chemo and surgery and rads is difficult in so many ways, it is at the same time something tangible to hold on to, and also evidence that you are being looked after by the medical world. Once there is no more chemo or rads session booked, I imagine it can be quite scary to face up to the world on your own again, and like Redders I can well imagine myself wanting to stay part of the community here, but perhaps feeling a little guilty about it too.

I do think that just eight weeks after finishing your treatment is still a very short time, and am not surprised that you are still coming to terms with your feelings Oscar, and the same must apply to partner too. Hopefully 2009 will prove a much better year,

Best wishes
x

Hello Oscar

I think the fear is something we all experience. I’ve had reactions from friends like - ‘are you still talking about that?’, ‘of course it wont’ come back’. etc. But my breast surgeon and BCN have said to me that it’s very normal to be afraid and that all the women they see worry about it coming back.

My diagnosis was 2 years ago so I’m a year ahead of you although because I was HER2 positive I finished Herceptin treatment only last May. In my case I try to keep busy doing a little bit of work which I love and lots of hobbies and other things which interest me and so on. I suppose to a certain extent I push the thought of cancer to the back of my mind whenever possible. At the same time I am aware of the possibility of a recurrence or secondaries and keep vigilant about those but try not to be too paranoid about them. I still find it helpful to look at this site and because I live alone am able to do so without someone looking over my shoulder !

There’s a very good article - written by a doctor I think - about how we feel after finishing treatment. I’m not sure where it is, but JaneRA has recommended it to people several times, so hopefully she or someone else will be along soon to post a link to it.
No - I’ve just found it - I had saved it on Word so am copying it below. It’s rather long - sorry - but I hope it helps.
Take care
Anthi x
No - the site won’t let me copy it - says it’s 15,951 characters too long… It’s by Dr Peter Harvey. Is there a link to this article anyone?

Hi Anthi, and thank you so much for this.

I googled Dr Peter Harvey Cancer, and found the article, entitled “after the Treatment Finishes, then what?” easily. It is very well written, and easy to read, and captures exactly the fears and worries that face us.

Thanks again,
Julie
x

I think the Peter Harvey article is good.

I also think that feeling fearful after primary breast cancer treatment is perfectly normal. Breast cancer is life threatening, and particularly for those of us with poorer prognoses it seems to me that what would be ‘abnormal’ would be to pretend that that diagnosis isn’t in some way life changing and significant.

There is a hugely influential breast cancer culture which suggests that breast cancer is nothing more than a routine blip on life’s highway… something life affirming sent to strengthen us and make us better people. Tosh!

I think many people (its not just men and it’s not just people who haven’t had cancer) cannot bear to contemplate the possibility that breast cancer kills and that it might kill us. IIts as though talking about the possibility of recurrence, of death, of illness, is too awful to bear and pressures are put upon us to keep silent about our fears.

Oscar…its a very short time since your tretament. In my experience feelings change as times passes, and you do get to integrate the fears into your new way of living. In the two and half years between my ending treatment for primary bc and getting recurrence I hated it when people refused to listen to my fears or belittled them with trite statments about knowing I would be all right. Fortuntaley my partner never did this but I had freinds who did.

Its strange isn’t it how easy it is to feel that we are being a drama queen. Now I have an incurable rgeional recurrence which I know will kill me, there are still people who tell me that will not be so, or suggest that in saying it will be I am hurrying death along. I sometimes think I am thought to be crying wolf when I am simply saying what is real.

I don’t think that thinking about cancer defines any of us as ‘victims’. Its easy to think that others are living their lives in glorious technicolour whereas the reality is much more complex.

Jane

Hi Oscar, i really relate to the feelings you have expressed. I’ve even being accused of being selfish !! My Oh and family think I have ‘lost perspective’ when i get upset about work (but it is all tied up with BC and my dad’s death). I do not think they have accepted that bc could return and think i am ‘cured’. I know that is not how it is. I could have a reoccurence or secondary tomorrow or any time. I think they say these things to make themselves feel better. i know everyone’s life is not a bed of roses but those around me manage to be more productive than me and have achieved something in their lives where as I have done very little.