Does life improve?

Firstly, I’m so sorry if what I say in this post is insensitive or offensive to anyone in a much worse situation.

Today it really hit me what I’ve been through and I can’t stop crying. I worked all the way through chemo (remotely) and got through lumpectomy surgery with little side effects, just the expected numbness which has now worn off. Aside from the SNB scar, you wouldn’t know I’d had surgery as I’m healing so well and you can barely tell the difference aesthetically. I also got through radiotherapy and I’ll continue my Herceptin injections. I used the cold cap and aside from a lot of thinning, I kept a full head (my biggest fear was looking ‘ill’ so I should be happy about that). My eyebrows and lashes were slow coming back to start with, but suddenly also came in out of nowhere. I look the same as I did before I was diagnosed. You wouldn’t have guessed what I’d been through by looking at me. I should be happy.

But I’m so sad. It’s getting worse each day as I realise I’ll never be the same person again. I’m sad because I’m 33 and I feel like I don’t have a future.

Back at diagnosis I was offered egg harvesting which would delay chemo by 5 weeks. Even though I was extremely worried as I had a grade 3 HER2 aggressive tumour, I decided to go for it, as my rationale was that I only wanted to survive if I would then still be able to one day have children, as I knew I’d be completely depressed if the chemo also made me infertile. I only got 8 eggs, which is better than none, and I am grateful for that, even though the odds of a live pregnancy are extremely low, and was told I’d have a much better chance of using a sperm donor and freezing embryos, but declined that option. I also received Zoladex to supress my ovaries during treatment, but my periods are yet to return (my oncologist’s face said it all the other day when I told her that they haven’t returned yet, after 3 months), so I’m imagining that I’ve gone through menopause. Due to my high grade I was only allowed one shot at egg freezing before getting going with chemo, so if I’ve now gone through menopause I can’t even try to self fund a cycle to try and get more.

I’m at the age where I feel so stuck. I don’t have a partner, and am in no place mentally to be dating, as I’ll probably burst into tears over dinner. I also have no libido (went straight away with Zoladex), so there’s really no point is there if I’ve gone through menopause and that won’t return? Ever? It’s so hard to also congratulate friends and family who are all either pregnant or have their families already.

I also, like many others, have an intense fear of recurrence. This also makes me question why on earth I went through IVF, as I’m a high risk for recurrence, so part of me thinks why would I risk it to only possibly go through this again in the future, but also have a young child. My rational head tries to justify that I could have had children already and still get it, like many women, yet, somehow, I feel that I’d be so stupid to even try now that I’ve already seen what cancer does to you and your loved ones. I also feel the same about dating. Why would I (potentially) meet someone and put them through this if/when it comes back? I’m also not going to be much help to them if they want children, so I’m already envisaging so much rejection that I’m probably going to be too scared to put myself through that as I know it’ll make my depression worse.

I find myself on Instagram a lot and can see other women who are so positive and loving life. But they also have partners and families. I live alone and I am alone. I feel awful knowing that others haven’t had favourable responses to treatment and I feel so guilty that I have when they are so desperate for good news. We are so lucky to have free treatment and I’m getting sucked into gofundme stories of women in Canada and the US who are desperate to get some medication to prolong their lives or get into a trial which is their only option. I feel like I’ve been on autopilot and now treatment (aside from the injections) is over I really don’t know what to do. I wasn’t ‘happy’ when my oncologist told me I had the all clear- I didn’t really feel anything, which is ridiculous, I know, but it’s so hard to try and feel happy when I’ve seen so many women online get the all clear and celebrate, to only have it return quickly anyway. Scrolling through these boards is also awful as I read the side effects so many are experiencing, years down the line.

I miss the old me. So much. To the point where I’d give anything to just have one more day feeling happy and normal like I used to before I found the lump. To not have every single day since preoccupied with awful thoughts and anxiety about the future, as I feel screwed either way- whether it comes back, or if it doesn’t and I’ve wasted my time ‘waiting for something to happen.’ I know that happy person is gone. I’m so angry, yet don’t have anymore ‘fight’ in me. I hated people telling me “you’ve got this” and “you’re so brave”. No, I had two options- go through brutal treatment or die. I would have never responded to someone like that as I know they had my best interests and were trying to support me, but sometimes I just felt like screaming when I heard those words.

If you’ve made it through to the end of my pity party, well done. I hope I haven’t upset anyone, I just needed to get it out. I don’t really know what I’m looking for by posting this, maybe some reassurance that it might get better? It’s helped me to stop crying, so I guess that’s something, and I know it’s still early days. I will be exploring some therapy, but I don’t want to do that over zoom, so that may be some time off yet. Thank you for reading.

Dear Alone,

Was just off to bed as I have to be up early in the morning but saw your message and couldn’t not answer. Just replying briefly as others will respond who have more experience of the issues that are making you feel so depressed now.  I’m a lot older than you and so haven’t had the painful dilemmas about fertility that are going through. My heart goes out to you. I didn’t have to face chemo either just lumpectomy, radiotherapy and letrozole for 5 years (3 more to go) although I am on my own. 

It is so common, though, to feel like you do at the end of active treatment when everyone expects us to feel great and grateful. I certainly felt flat and tired instead. Life did improve. There’s a good article ‘After the treatment’s finished, what’s next?’ (or what’s now? by Dr Peter Harvey (I think)- lots of us on the forum have found it a help and I keep going back to it. You could also try ringing the Breast Care Nurses on here tomorrow, others have said they’ve helped a lot and there is also the ‘Someone like Me’ 'option on the website - there will be other women who have come through what you’re going through. 

Don’t beat yourself up about how you’re feeling - you feel the way you do. Just look after yourself instead.



I too was 33 when I went through treatment, slightly different journey as I was just treated with a mastectomy. But I remember feeling everything you have described once it was all over and I was ‘fixed.’ In many ways the part after treatment is harder as you don’t have the routine of hospital appointments keeping you busy or the constant support of the doctors and nurses around you! 
You can still ring your breast care nurse for a chat, and also the nurses on this site are lovely too. The thing I found most useful was the Someone Like Me service which one of the nurses from this site referred me too. It was so great to speak to someone who had been through exactly what I had been through. I remember crying on the phone to her for an hour, then crying most of the rest of that day. But then felt like a weight had lifted! Like I’d been able to release weeks of pent up emotion! 
You will start to feel better I promise, but now is the time your brain will want to process the whirlwind of treatment, plus you’re also dealing with side effects from treatment. Try to do the things that make your mind and soul happy - for me it was pottering round the garden, and walks with friends and on my own! But allow yourself to feel all the feels! As you said you felt a bit better for writing it down, perhaps a journal could also help you to process your thoughts? 

Hope that helps a bit, take good care of yourself, 

Becky x 

Also, just to add, 

You say you worked remotely through chemo, that’s incredible! But also must have been super tough. Would it help to take a bit of time off now to rest,  recover and allow your brain to process everything? Just a thought, though I know sometimes keeping busy is helpful

I see it’s now 2 months on since you wrote your initial post. Just wondered how you are doing. I’ve come back on tonight after quite a few months as am really struggling so do understand some of what you’re going through. I am older than you and don’t have the problem of fertility ( atleast not through cancer treatment but other medical issues meant I was told at 19 I wouldn’t ever have children so do understand that feeling of being on my own, no-one going to want me if I can’t give them a family etc). Thankfully I was eventually lucky enough to have two children and I truly hope you will be too one day. 
you will find someone who loves you for you, despite fertility issues and any health problems. I really hope you are feeling a little better than you did when you first posted and you found some of the suggestions others made helpful.