Living on your own

Hello Everyone, I have just had my lump removed on Wednesday along with a SNB and am awaiting results next Thursday, what I wanted to know was if there was anybody else out there who was living on there own as I am and how you were coping.

I seem to be on a bit of a roller coaster ride of emotions, not sure how much is related to having just come off HRT and how much is just the nature of this BC?
Steph x

Hi Steph

I was living alone when I had my surgery. My Mum wanted me to stay with her but I couldn’t bear the thought of being fussed over. I managed fine. I now have a lodger and she was here when I had my chemo. However, I like to be on my own when feeling ill so I just retreat to my room. I’m out the other side now so it is doable.

Julia xx

Hi Steph,

Yes, I live alone (had WLE & SNB in March). My Mum wanted me to let her take care of me from the moment of diagnosis (bless her good heart). I’ve been living alone for 3 years now and think it suits me and like Julia, I’m not good at being fussed over.

I think it can depend on whether you are normally a very social person and whether your treatment will limit that to such an extent that you start to feel isolated. Only you can tell what will feel right for you and it may not be what felt right before - frustratingly. I still keep in close touch with friends & family, but more online and by phone now than in person.

The emotional rollercoaster could be either. Personally I’ve had far worse mood swings due to hormonal fluctuations than because of BC. I think they feel worse because being emotional about BC is perfectly reasonable, whereas hormonal mood swings seem to be so extreme, with no particular reason to them. I’ve ended up in a state of virtual mania with hormones, whereas with BC - one good cry and I feel better!

Be good to yourself and try not to be to demanding of yourself whilst you’re healing. Once you’re at full strength after surgery, make whatever practical preparations you can to make your upcoming treatment easier on you. Most important of all, keep in touch on here, I’ve found it an absolute godsend.

Debs x

Hi Steph
I too live on my own (children grown up and flown the nest). I had WLE and SNB in early Jan followed by MX in late Jan. I am now nearing the end of chemo with rads to follow.
I also had to come off HRT at diagnosis so very similar to you.
Yes it is a roller coaster ride of emotions but I have coped reasonably well (I think!). This forum has helped as I keep in regular contact with a group of ladies going through similar treatment and it has certainly made me feel less isolated. I have also allowed my family to help me more than before. I talked with them at the start about the type of help I really wanted and they have been great.
I find it is the little things that count like a text each day immediately after chemo from friends and family and I make sure I tell them how much that means. Also let your friends know that you still want to be included in events. Often they are not sure whether to invite you or not.
As far as going through treatment on your own I have not had any problems so far. As I have said my family have been there if I needed them and they have always voluntered to transport me to chemo sessions etc.
Keep in touch.

Pam x

Hi Steph

Technical hitch there, but I am another living on her own… No family near at hand but I do have a very good circle of friends and this site is invaluable.
Take care,
Eliza xx

My mother technically lives alone although she is also a carer (for a child). She’s having a masectomy next week and seems to be coping ok with everything, although clearly I can’t know for certain. She doesn’t like a fuss made and prefers to manage things herself to keep going. She will have some help from social services once out of hospital to help with her caring role. Hope your treatment goes well x

I also live alone, had surgery last July, followed by 6 chemos, last one on 18th December, & rads. Now have Herceptin at home every 3 weeks. My children are all grown up & I thought I could manage alone but the first chemo proved I could not. I spoke to the kids & from then, 1 of them stayed a few days with me each time. We are all different & I know I’m a bit of a wuss, but for me there was nothing so lonely as being ill on my own, just having somebody else in the house made it much more bearable. Even in the night when I couldn’t sleep, the other (sleeping)presence helped me.

Hi Steph,
I live with my 5 year old and 9 year old - their dad died 5 years ago, so although I don’t technically live on my own, I do not have the support of a partner. I do, however, have some support from my family, but - I often feel - not enough (I have felt like this for several years, so not to do with the BC). Also I have had terrible mood swings and depression for many years. I find living without a loving partner to be very isolating, as I would love to go and enjoy family outings with my children, but cannot find the motivation to do so alone. On the other hand, I have got used to living on my own and think if anyone did come along they would probably annoy me if we lived together! Also the other (HUGE) worry is, how the heck am I supposed to meet someone after having bilateral mastectomies? It was hard enough before I was dx!! Having said all that, I have found it a comfort reading (and writing) on this site in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep!
Good Luck to you, Samm x

I was dx last August and had two lumpectomies in quick succession in September and October 2009. People in my world were shocked and there was a lot of support in the form of cards, visits ,flowers etc during the first three months as it was very new to me and everyone else. One or two visitors were able to predict what needed doing practically but I’m not one to direct people! I then had to wait 10 weeks for my mx in February 2010. I found that people had developed compassion fatigue by then and it was indeed a very lonely and isolating time…

I hadn’t discovered BCC at that time. I lived on my own with siblings who lived abroad and friends who didn’t really understand how breast surgery affects your physical capacity to live independently. If I had my time again I would be far more direct with friends and ask them to do more practical tasks as people do enjoy helping. Even friends are not mind-readers and I got very upset that people didn’t realise I didn’t have the strength to put the washing out or change the bed… I paid for household tasks to be done by an agency and they were great.
So if you are able to direct friends and family I would definitely advise you to do that and make lists of jobs that need doing. I also paid a friend to cook and freeze meals for me when I was too tired to prepare food. This meant I ate good food despite the exhaustion.
I found social interaction quite tiring so I relied on e-mails to keep people informed of any changes. I just sent one and copied it to everyone which saved on energy.
I recovered by watching TV, jigsaw puzzles etc and nothing cerebral at all!!! I couldn’t even read a book at that time!
The waiting and the long drawn out recovery was difficult for me and I got very depressed. I really hope this doesn’t happen to you as I found the depression far worse than the BC. I think the isolation led to my depression. Hormonal changes can cause havoc too and it is very debilitating living on your own when you feel so anxious and scared. There is no one to calm you and present reason. At those sort of times you can feel as if you are spiralling out of control…

A few days before my mx I discovered this site and really wished I’d found it earlier… I had real practical support again after mx but when it became lesser again I turned to this site and found wonderful compassion here. I’m sure you too will find the same support, camaraderie and advice that many of us have discovered. It can present a real lifeline if you are ever feeling alone or frightened.

It’s not easy going through BC on your own but at least there’s peace and quiet in your home, there’s no problem eating at midnight or watching the TV at 4.00am or sleeping in the afternoon…
You can direct your own recovery pace. Call your friends for practical help and company if possible and dream about servants who will tend to your every need…
Probably no one has that level of care!!!

Good luck and if you ever want to PM me for any other support, please do. I’d be only too happy to help now that I’m almost recovered and back at work again. Don’t worry too much about the future. When the time is right you’ll know what to do and make changes appropriately…
I’ve just given up 50% of my work because life seems very different after BC now. I’ve gained a lot of wisdom through this experience. It isn’t all negative.

Best wishes
Welsh girl x

Sorry to have gone on and on here but responding to your situation has helped me evaluate mine!

Something that I sometimes found difficult (or irritating) was the way people so often advise you to take someone with you to appointments. The only people I’d have wanted with me were/are too far away to make this practical.

In fact this turned out to be no problem at all. I prepare carefully for all appointments and make a list of questions or things I want to raise and then take notes at the time. Some of Breast Cancer Care’s publications are very useful for the preparation. My surgeon set the scene by making me feel that it was perfectly reasonable to have a question list and be taking notes and I’m quite comfortable asking the spelling of something or for some further information if I’m unsure.

Eliza xx

Eliza, I agree & have done this from the start, & have never been made to feel that I’m taking up too much time or anything. I start my list way before appointments, I just know I would forget something I wanted to ask otherwise. Before I go I re-write it as a list of points I want to raise, with space after each to briefly jot down the replies, ( & make sure I have a pen with me).

Hi Eliza & Diwy1 that is such a great idea - I wish I had done it. I have been having problems with seeing different onc’s as my usual one is on maternity leave. They have all been saying different things and I do wish I had kept copies at the time. I hope no-one else has this problems but I strongly advice everyone to do the same so you can see in black and white what exactly has been discussed. Got an appointment with BC consultant - now where’s my pad & pen!!

Thanks Anne x x

Thank you so much everyone, it really does make a difference to know that other people can get through this on their own. It took me quite a while to work out how this site works (don’t usually have a problem with technology!) so have only just found your wonderful replies a few minutes ago.

I am quite independent and haven’t minded going for appointments on my own, but can recognise that it is much easier to let people know that you need help and it’s not always something that I’ve been good at, as I can sometimes see it as a sign of weakness on my part, even though I can rationalise that it isn’t the case.

I think it was Debs who said that the emotional roller coaster was more likely to be hormonal and I think I’m finding that to be true because I do seem to be able to have “one good cry” and feel better about the BC.

I split with my partner of 16 years, 3 years ago and find it interesting that even with BC I am in a much stronger place emotionally than I was just before he left. Therapy has helped and continues to do so and I have at least learnt the need to talk about stuff rather than always looking like I was coping.

Thank you again and a big hug from the sunny north,

Steph xx

Hi,got diagnosed 5 wks ago and had 1st op 3wks ago,had wle and snb but it’s spread so know having all lymph nodes out on tues,am single apart from my two dogs,will admit it is hard at times but getting there,have hated the no driving bit,hate relying on other peeps,but hopefully thats soon over,unfortunately my roller coaster has been more downs thenups at the mo