Mourning the person I was pre-diagnosis

I wonder whether anyone else feels this. I am 41 and was diagnosed in Feb 2011 and have done chemo and surgery and are waiting for rads. I also found out I am BRCA2+. While busy with treatment I didn’t have much time to reflect but in this pause some new feelings have surfaced. I am fine when I think about myself now, treatment is hard but life goes on and now that the most painful and unpleasant things are over I feel really quite happy in my little life.
I get very very sad, however, when I think about myself before the diagnosis. I had my work and my kids and my husband and … I lived thinking that I would be an average person falling ill at some point in my 60s or 70s and then live for a while longer with an illness before giving up the ghost.
I now feel that that person has gone and she will never come back. I will now live the rest of my life as a person who’s had cancer at 41. Nobody knows how long my life will be, but in any case I am now a very different person to the one I was, simply because even if the cancer has gone (best case scenario), the fact that I’ve had it has changed me.
I feel so sorry for that person I was, for what she didn’t know was coming, for her innocence, for her hopes, for how hard she worked to build the life she wanted, not knowing that a very powerful force was going to arrive and turn everything upside down.
I am not sure I am expressing myself well … perhaps if some of you have had the same feeling, perhaps we can help each other to articulate how we feel.

I miss me too…x

Hi Barbwill,

Firstly let me say how very well you’re expressing yourself, or is it just that i can relate to it so well i could have written it! Its certainly “a game changer” isn’t it. I felt so sad to read what you’re describing, it was like holding up a mirror.

I’m a wee bit further down the line, dx Jan 10, all i can say to you, in total honesty is - I’m not mourning it quite as much as i was. I hope it continues to fade. Somebody asked me today if i was “all clear” - i gave the usual response "its not quite as easy as that with BC etc etc and when i returned to my seat i found myself looking at the other 30 folk in the room, thinking I’ve lost so much of who i was and none of you know it. - but again i’ll say it - it passed and wasn’t quite the “ouch!” it would have been 6 months ago.

I hope you can take even a wee bit of comfort from what i’m saying but i do honestly “get it”


omg i know exactly how you feel. I wish i could have that naiive innocent person back, the one that could make plans for the future, assume she was going to see her kids grow up and get married. Im envious of other people when i hear them talking about their future…cause in the back of my mind i worry if i actually have one?! I have felt alot better in the last month since I have started since a life coach who actually had breast cancer herself and who knows exactly how i feel. perhaps its worth looking for extra help to help with your feelings. please feel free to pm me for more information. You are definately not on your own with your feelings!!!

big hugs



That how i feel. I look back on how i used to be and it makes me sad to. xx Had my work, my daughters, grandchilders and my pet dog love it.

I was always in good health and i remember thinking when i get old thats when i will get all the illness lol* no i was to be the one in 7. It had changed me to. But i going to fight and love life.


I also get absolutely what you mean. I was diagnosed with secondary bc at the same time as primary bc. I had so many dreams - a lot of them I fulfilled, albeit rather sooner that I thought through necessity, some I will never have a chance to fulfill. However, I’m glad the person I was pre-diagnosis in 2006 didn’t have any inkling of what was to come. I miss that innocence and ignorance I had back then. The future seemed to last forever - now it’s month to month or week to week. You do become used to the different ‘you’.


You have summed up exactly how I feel & brought tears to my eyes. I miss the old me so much it hurts sometimes …

I think your words will touch a lot of people thinking the same as you, I know I’m one of them, hugs to you xx

Me too! I’m nearly one yr on from dx, I didn’t have chemo, but as soon as I heard the words ‘i’m sorry, its bc’ at 37 I felt like a statistic, as someone else has said, time does make it a little easier, but there are times when I wish I could just go back to how I was :frowning:

Take care x

Hi Barbwill

I am 41 also and was diagnosed October 2010 so am a bit further down the line, but not much! I think you have explained very eloquently what a lot of us feel and I have definitely felt all of what you are going through.

AS it comes to the year anniversary of my diagnosis, I am feeling much more positive - treatment now finished (apart from tamoxifen and a bit more cosmetic surgery), my wig gone and I’m back to work full time, I really feel that I’m coming out the other end. I am desperately trying to accept that this has happened to me and BC will be a part of my life story and to get through all this I must be an exceptionally strong person - this is my mantra!

I’m off to see a CBT counsellor tomorrow (although I needed this counselling months ago as I was really struggling at coming to terms with BC) and I’m not sure if I still need to, but she might be able to give me some more tips on moving forward.

I wish you all the very best. Be kind to yourself, you may not get your old self back fully, but maybe a reconditioned version with a different outlook on life - I know this is the case for me.

Yup, can relate to so much of this. In the quiet ‘eye of the hurricane’ bit between chemo and surgery/rads, and although I was quite cheerful through most of chemo, all the bounce has gone out of my bungee rope at the moment (to use a phrase). Trouble is, it’s lost me a friend because I ranted at them, and they didn’t understand. And somehow people expect me to just carry on as I was before and somehow life is so very different now.
I think when we spend months staring down the ‘gun barrel’ of cancer, we end up a lot…wiser/more sober about life (neither of those is the right word but I can’t think what is…)
Ann x

Barb, you have expressed yourself, and us, so clearly.

I think it’s the loss of innocence and ignorance that we mourn. And those bloody Macmillan ads all over the telly really don’t help, do they!

CM,yup. And every bag I get from the chemists, and every shop with their BC Awareness fundraising, and emails from well meaning friends about breast cancer further fundraising efforts etc. Sometimes I want to talk, but right now I want to have a day…just one day…where I can be me and not BC.
Ann x

Totally totally agree with everything said here!

I am also 41 and was diagnosed November 2010. I think you have explained exactly how we feel and I have felt all of what you are going through.
I am “moving on” in my life going back to work etc but I still find it hard to digest the “trauma” my body and mind has gone through since dx, it has definitely changed me as a person. Before dx I was a very confident and outgoing person but now I am totally different but hopefully that will change as time goes by.

sending love to everyone
Lizz xx

I just feel like i am stuck - carn’t go backwards and carn’t seem to move forward :frowning:

when i walk along i’ve got my usual bounce and i’m still smiley and upbeat-but it’s false-inside i’m scared the real me has gone forever-even piggin coronation st which i don’t watch but as i’m off work have caught it a couple of times-some blokes having radiotherapy !!!then the adverts come on !!!-so i read my book-it’s a murder-one of the characters is only dying of bc-arrrgggghhhh-i can’t i’m back on here-with people who understand ! the old me may be gone-but i’m going to make the best of the new me-the healthy eating-exercising-hardly drinking any alcohol me-x

So so true, all the things said so far here are what we all probably feel. Cancer is something that happens to other people, not me, not us.

One of my favourite sayings was ‘when I grow old I will wear purple’. It had that certainty that I would grow old - and wear purple.

Dementia was my fate, late onset - about 80ish - that’s what runs in my family, and is what I worried about. Now its my goal!!

I now realise I loved the person I was before diagnosis. Not perfect, not terribly successful in the big scheme of things - no kids was my biggest issue I guess, but untouched by tragedy and probably a bit smug. But one thing this has made me realise - I’m the ‘other people’. I no longer have that detached position from people whose lives are touched by tragedy.

Would love to go back a year and to all those petty concerns.


sheil-my mum is 79 and has dementia-as did her dad-i know what you mean about hoping to be around that long-long live us all !! stella x

Thanks so much for your post - it really summed up how I felt - but not how I feel now. Maybe I’m deluding myself , I’m certainly not denying I’ve had cancer and I have only one breast afterall to remind me - but 18 months post diagnosis,( 2 operations, chemo and rads) I really do feel like myself again- more attentive to everything like friends and fitness, but gradually getting myself back to the confident person I was …no sure I’m not as carefreee, but not careworn either …
best to everyone,