Newly diagnosed and feeling lost


i found a lump in my left breast and was sent to the breast clinic where I had a mammogram, scan and biopsy. I was told that they believe it’s cancer as I have a few lumps and some under my arm.

I went into shock I think as I felt like I was going to be sick and had a wave of what I would describe as grief. I’m told it’s two weeks to wait till I hear about stages and treatment but one minute I’m ok and the next I’m broken.

im a single mum and the absolute fear of not being here for my boys is making me feel so ill. 
is this normal feeling? Big hugs xx

Hi Mel

If it’s any consolation, many of us could have written the same post. I’m so sorry it’s happened to you but the fact is, it has happened and you are probably now on the breast cancer rollercoaster. It’s hard at first but, once you know your diagnosis, things will fall into place and the uncertainty will ease.

It’s important to remember that most cases of breast cancer can be cured so rid yourself of the feeling that you won’t be here for your boys. There will be times when you need their cooperation/help and it’s important to talk to them about their fears, once they know what’s wrong. But it’s too early to be jumping the gun as to what kind of treatment you have so it will be too early to talk to them.

You have, at best, two weeks now before more questions are answered. I say at best because many of us are given a diagnosis, have another test and then receive a revised diagnosis. I had 5 in 4 weeks. I found shock and numbness were my first reactions but acceptance soon followed so my problems were with the  treatments, not emotions. Now is the time to put a concerted effort into building up your resilience. You may already have ways to deal with anxiety but, if you haven’t, then running, yoga, mindfulness, meditation, fun with the family - anything to take your mind off things. Calm and Headspace are 2 NHS-endorsed apps that may help. Practising diaphragmatic breathing can help. I use YouTube videos by Progressive Hypnosis and have done for the past 4 years. But you really must commit yourself if you want to develop that resilience that will help you deal with this emotional rollercoaster.

So yes, to answer you question, your reaction is completely normal. Don’t imagine for a minute that those Cancer Warriors you see on tv haven’t had meltdowns. ANY emotion you feel is justified. Fear is not something to be ashamed of - but keep it in a context - fear of what the treatment plan may be is completely normal. Fear as a result of trying to second-guess the future is pointless, a waste of energy. You may feel broken but you aren’t and you wont be. It’s all manageable, believe me - not easy but manageable abd usually nowhere near as bad as you fear.

Make sure you have someone you trust with whom you can talk about what’s happening. Build up a network of helpers - as a single mum, there may be days when you need someone to drive you somewhere, take the boys off your hands, do some cooking… you’ll soon find out what you need once you start treatment. But it’s essential not to do it alone. Cancer can be a lonely experience - but it needn’t be.

Wishing you all the best for whatever lies ahead,

Jan x

Hey Mel !

I see the wonderful Jaybro has given you one of her super messages below, and covered many important points, so, I won’t add a huge amount. I just wanted to say that your use of the word ‘grief’ is an interesting one, as when I had cancer counselling during BC some years ago the counsellor used the word ‘grieving’ for the feelings after diagnosis. The shock, fears, terror, and then acceptance that life is somewhat different for the time being (during treatment) and might be slightly different after…was a process of 'grieving for the lost ‘you’ and your life. It doesn’t mean of course that ‘you’ aren’t still there, and ‘you’ does come back, but most people will agree that they are somewhat changed in certain ways after having been through this process and the ‘blissfully unaware’ days of thinking everything was just fine are missed.

The feelings you describe are entirely normal at this stage, you’ve been given the (probably) bad news, and know nothing more at this point except that you have this ‘thing’. Your brain has a lot of time to come up with awful frightening scenarios and the not knowing everything is very challenging to anybody. When you start hearing about how they are doing to ‘sort this thing’ and start sorting it, then some control will return and glimpses of positivity. Swinging between ‘ok’ and ‘broken’ is something that many will recognise, it can bedramatic and extreme at the point you are at now, but as time goes on the ‘ok’ becomes more regular.

Hi, this is the same as me it’s very nerve racking in every way, but try to think positive and have good energy around you! My son is keeping me going and if I don’t laugh I will definitely cry! They pick up easily so keep smiling and together we will beat this!!

Good morning @Mel00  

I am sorry you’re experiencing this fear. It is natural to feel worried when you’re waiting to hear more from your health team.

We have this page regarding coping with anxiety which may be helpful while you wait for this info.

I hope you find other people’s stories on the Forum useful, and if you need to chat to one of our breast care nurses, remember we are here and ready to talk things through. You can call us on freephone 0808 800 6000 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm; Sat 9am-1pm), or you can leave a message in these boards.

Sending our love