Not Coping v Coping

Not sure if it is because l have not started treatment (chemo) yet, but l am finding some days really hard to cope with. I have been diagnosed since 9th Feb, Lumpectomy, then another op for more clear margins, now waiting for results.
So l am trying to put my stress days down to the long wait, but a question for you ladies.
How do you cope on a bad day? today l have surrounded myself with my family, but l feel ‘not me’ when they are here, l am putting a brave face on, although they know how l feel, but obviously l need to try and live in some sort of normality!
But l dont know what normal is anymore. The few days l have when l feel ok, and quite happy, l almost feel guilty, asking myself “why are you smiling, you have BC”
So when chemo starts, do you feel a little more normal,(if possible) as though something positive being done!
Even my ‘subject’ says it all, instead of ‘starting’ with Coping l have started with Not Coping!!
I just want to scream and shout but is that the answer? yes l cry,l talk until l am worn out, l want to get myself in control again, without the aid of a happy pill.
Perhaps the truth that l can’t accept is, l have BC and l need to get myself in control, l just don’t know anymore.
I am beating myself up and tomorrow will be the same, perhaps a better day, but then another sad day to follow.
Really sorry if this upsets anyone, just need to get it out of my system, if at all possible.
My life is full of fear, and finding it really hard to cope with, so any suggestions would be appreciated.
Sandra x

Please don’t beat yourself up over how you are feeling…its all natural/normal.It is so scary to feel out of control.Sometimes it may be easier to “go with the flow” knowing that you will be in control again sometime soon.
I think we would all agree that waiting on results is THE worst time as once you have a treatment plan you begin to feel a bit more in control.
Be easy on your yourself,take care and you CAN do this.
Love n hugs

Hi Sandra,

Rant away. My op was at the end of my treatment a change from initial decisions but as info came change did too.

I think when diagnosed you do go into “the end is nigh” mode and can’t think straight no matter what you think.

It is only now, 8mths on chemo over, op done that I now am trying to really get my head around what has happened. Whirl wind or what!!!

I found when the chemo started you get taken on the crest of the wave. I found my first combination of chemo the most emotional, was this because I was trying desparately to get my head round what I had been diagnosed??? Possibly.

Found my last combination of chemo although much worse physically, I found I didn’t have time to be emotional as such, just trying to get through the treatment.

As I say though not sure if I have come to terms with the initial diagnosis let alone the treatment and now results. The whole thing is a surreal whirl wind.

Your very very normal I hope though you do find an inner peace. I found a bearable one during my treatment.

Sending you lots of hugs,

take care Joanna x

hi sandra i too felt like you really down could not think about anything else ,still think the waiting is the worse i am having my second chemo on fri i can honestly say the thought of it was worse than the treatment ,try and take one day at a time here if you would like a chat jane xx


firstly go easier on yourself! Your life has been hit by a huge truck and you are still reeling and in shock. What you are typing is what most of us feel at first, its just that lots of people don’t express it as clearly as you do and haven’t got the self insight to look at it in the way you are able to.

I personally felt a lot better once I had my operation results in and spoke to my oncologist. On a bad day I just wait to go to bed and cry a lot. I also try not to read too much on here or elsewhere as i focus on the bad and see stuff which scares the sht out of me. I also scream and shout a lot.

I try and blank negative thoughts now and box them up to get through the day. I also have a shower, put proper make up on and do my hair and get out of the house as otherwise i get too depressed. I also read books again now ( could only flick through magazines for weeks)and when i was in the “can’t sleep/feel worse cos tired so can’t sleep again” cycle, i took nytol which got me back on track. I am much more despondent when i am tired. Try your GP for some sleeping tablets maybe if thats a problem?

Have you tried talking with your breast nurse again? Also, the chemo nurses I met last week on our ward were lovely and told me I could go in and scream or cry whenever I need to. Try and meet yours maybe for a pre chemo walk round. Try talking to the counsellors on here too, when i have rang them at the depths of my down days they have really helped. You can also be referred to pyschologists for counselling, my chemo nurses said they do that quite a lot.

hope that helps a bit, but it really just is rubbish isn’t it? Try and smile, it makes your brain think you’re happy…


Hi Sandra,
I know how very scarey all this is for you right now, being DX with BC is such an emotional rollercoater , its still early days for you at the minute and what you are feeling is completely normal. Its such a shock to be DX with BC , when i was DX i felt like i was on the outside looking in on someone elses life, its a very surreal feeling and the worst part was the feeling of being out of control.

It does get better i promise , once you get your treatment plan and get started on treatments you will feel a lot better and you will get some control back in your life knowing that the treatments are getting rid of the bu–ers.

Waiting for results is always the worst bit in all this rubbish, so try and keep as busy as you can and do lots of nice stuff ,the most important thing of all though, is to be kind to yourself and just try and take one step at a time so you dont feel so overwhelmed with it all.
Its good advice not to read too much on the forums at first as it can often be scarey and very sad sometimes ,so i would say try to only read what applies to your situation , remember that most people post when they are having problems and that everyones situation is different. I know its not always that easy though .

I think it is only natural that we find ourselves in a dark place at times ,i know i did many times, but i can say that there will be many more good days too, it certainly is a bloody emotional rollercoaster no doubt about it , but there definately is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will get there .

I was DX July 2007 , i had WLE/SNB Chemo/Rads now on Tamox , back then i never thought i would ever be happy or normal again, but here i am 3 yrs on ,out the other side and life is good. I still think about BC everyday , i expect i always will , but life is for liveing and thats just what i intend to do , so for now, im sticking 2 fingers up to cancer , its no longer the first thing i think of anymore when i wake up in the morning or the last thing i think of when i go to sleep at night.
Remember you are never alone , there will always be someone here to help/advise if they can, because all of us here are walking this road together.
Good luck to all of you Ladies who are newly DX and are going through treatments. Stay Positive.
Huge hugs to you

Linda x

Hi Sandra,
What can I add to all these wise comments, except to say I am in a similar boat, waiting to see the oncologist, I still don’t know what to expect, and so I sympathize completely. The waiting is the worst of all. But then we are always waiting for something. Tests, results, op, chemo, rads, more tests, more results…
If a doctor offers you a Happy pill , take it. You won’t need it forever. Don’t be brave.
Love Maria

PS you look great in your photo.

Hi Sandra

I am sorry to read that you are feeling so low at the moment, I can see that you have received some wonderful support here from your fellow forum users. In addition, please do call our helpline for a ‘listening ear’ and our helpliners can talk to you about our other support services which we can offer you. The number to call is 0808 800 6000 weekdays 9-5 and Sat 9-2.

Take care

Sandra, it is a pile of sh*t… (hope I don’t get told off for that!)

Don’t beat yourself up for feeling crap allow yourself to be sad and cry, be angry and let it all out - The worst we can do is hold in our feelings.

Coping - well we are all different and I think we develop our own coping mechanisims (or try to). Mine is (sounds corny) but to take one day at a time and break it down into little bits - so I have little ‘milestones’ that I get past and have achieved. My last milestone was to get the first Chemo injections over (I did that!) now I am working on getting the first ‘cyle over’ so I can assess the side effects and see how I am. I am trying to stay upbeat and positive (I know some people hate that terminology) but I have to or I will drive myself mad! I do get down though - even on Saturday went to Supermarket and when the till girl said ‘have a nice day’ - I walked away with tears streaming down my face - how on earth can I have a nice day when I have BC? But I can! and I will! Like people have said and will continue to say - It won’t leave me ever but I am gong to try and control it the best I can and won’t let it take over me - it will be part of me but not the whole…

I am planning on returning to work after my first cycle of treatment (my next but one milestone) that will give me some other perspective on life and help me stop dwelling on whats happening to me (hopefuly) - I am lucky I have a very flexible job and employer and can work from home/go into the office dependant on how I am feeling - they have also said I can work partweek/partdays if that helps - so I am giving it a try.

In addition, as its going to be a pretty cr*p summmer (for me anyhow) I am arranging short stay holidays with husband/family/friends around the coast - again to give me something nice to look forward to in between treatments

I also have a clear ‘end’ date for all this which helps a lot. I know my chemo should finish (hopefuly) in August and Rads by September - I think when the ‘active’ treatment is over then ‘normality’ is probably easier to find - although for me things will never ever go back to how they were before.

The whole experience is very emotional, its not just about physical effects ie, losing breasts, hair and side effects it goes so much deeper than that - we all all very strong ladies and I am sure if it was just a bit of physical discomfort we wouldn’t need these types of forums, its the mental and emotional toll the whole diagnosis and experience brings and that eats away at us.

Once you have got through the next week or so, got your final results and at last start your chemo you will be able to gain control and get yourself a plan - I call mine my summer plan! I do think the hardest part was ‘between’ stages so if you can get through the next week or so you are through the worst!
Take care

ps love the photo!!

Hi Sandra

Like you I found it really hard being around people (other than immediate family) at the start - was constantly on the verge of tears, and found discussions of normal life so irrelevant that it was hard to contribute. But it slowly changes. Once your treatment starts, it gives other people something to talk to you about rather than all the sympathy about the dx itself, that I personally found very hard to cope with. Does that make any sense? Going through chemo becomes all encompassing and you focus much more on the day in front of you, side effects etc.

Bad days are really hard and I guess every one has to find a way. Sometimes I just give in to it and spend a day moping around - sometimes I use distraction - certainly during chemo I would watch a lot of TV / DVD’s - something I never did pre-bc. If you have the energy going for a walk always helps - having dogs forced me out twice a day all the way through chemo, and I was very glad I had to do it.

As all the other ladies have said - you are at the toughest stage just waiting - it will get easier. Good luck. finty xx

When I was first diagnosed I wasn’t coping, it helps when treatment starts as you feel at least things are moving along. You get swept along once it starts, even coping with the side effects (& I was lucky I didn’t get many SE). The hairloss is not as bad as I thought it would be, mine is just starting to grow back, my head feels like a peach all furry. I finished chemo early Feb 2010.

It is important to try and see a good or funny side to situations if you can, I learnt this when I went for my bone scan less than 1 week after diagnosis. I was very tired as I couldn’t sleep and it was very quiet. The 2 young men operating the bone scan said my OH could stay in the room. My OH suggested they tell me afterwards I had fallen asleep and had been snoring really loud. They came to help me off and asked if I had found it ok, I said yep and think I fell asleep at which point they said we noticed you were snoring really loud. I was horrified and so embarrassed. I was only in the car going home that my OH could not keep a straight face anyone and confessed. We both had a good laugh, I immediately felt so much better and felt a great weight lift off my shoulders. We vowed from that moment to try and find as many moments like this that we could over the coming months and we have.

I think its only natural to want to protect the ones we love and I do protect my family, my daughter in particular, but she is an only child of a single parent and I feel her burden is especially hard. However, I placed a heavy burden on my youngest sister in asking her to take care of my girl … I was asking in terms of supporting her during my treatment, but she knew I meant more than that and I am unendingly grateful to her for not ducking it. I also protect most of my friends - those people who I trust sufficiently to cry in front of are rare beings, but they are my pillars. I have 4 and even though they put themselves forward, I had to surrender my naturally independent nature and accept the hands they were holding out to me. Although I live by myself, they’ve ensured that I’ve not once felt alone. Everyone needs people like this and you need to grasp the hands which are being held out to you and trust them with your sadness.

But … without humour, none of this would’ve been possible to bear. When I sent out the text to my group of friends waiting for the result of my mammogram recall, I said that I needed laughter as much as I needed kindness. I have friends who have stayed irreverent and have me chuckling often, whilst another sends me regular one line messages calling me brave - I know which ones I look forward to hearing from. Another friend told me the following: that Alan Bennett didn’t have a pet name or euphemism for his cancer, he didn’t think they got on well enough to be on those sort of terms. I like that attitude. Cancer is not my friend and whilst I do take it very seriously indeed, I am doing my utmost to minimise its affect on how I live my life - otherwise even if it doesn’t lessen my life in terms of years, it will have lessened my life in terms of joy and I’ll be b*ggered if I allow that.

A HUGE hug to everyone having a difficult minute, hour, day or week.

Debs x

Debs4 ----Re Alan Bennett- it was specifically the abbreviation ‘chemo’ that he wouldn’t use…and I so agree with him.

I always talk about chemotherapy!

Hi Sandra,

As everyone says, try not to beat yourself up over this. Easier said than done I know, but true even so. Linda has written a lot of good advice from the perspective of one who is a few years on. I too was dx in 2007, in Feb, so can support what she says.

A few words about ‘normal’ as you say you don’t know what it is anymore. Your world has been turned upside down, so nothing is going to feel normal just now. That’s how it is for all of us. Very unsettling & difficult, but to be expected. Eventually, after your treatment is over, you will find a ‘new normal’ - not the same as before dx, not worse, just different. You will learn to live with the uncertainty of a cancer dx, it will be something you put to one side mentally and get on with your life. There will be times when it will upset or scare you, but mostly you will just get on with the business of enjoying life.

Thanks for these posts although it wasn’t me asking it was just what i needed today.

Lots of love

Jayne xxx

Hi Sandra,
I’m in a similar position to you, dx 9th March had lumpectomies(WLE) on both sides, node clearance and SNB on 7th April after various scans etc. Got results from left side last week but have had to wait till weds this week for results from right side. Yes the waiting is fustrating and I have drifted into a kind of…I don’t even know what to call it…its a kind of… can’t do anything about it, scared if I think about it, sheer panic if I really think deeply about it, not sure what the future holds, just get on with one day/minute/second at a time depending on how I feel…kind of feeling…i think they call it existing!!!
I try to stay upbeat, forget whats going on (not easy when its on ur mind 24.7)and most of all keep busy (also difficult as still recovering from ops on both sides. I can’t drive yet so am grounded too.
Loads of friend and family visiting but I know what you mean…it’s not a ‘real’ situation.
But I think we do find our own way through all of this , mainly because we do not have choice anymore…what we do have choice over is our attitude towards this evil thing and probably what keeps me going the most is proving to me and IT that I will not acknowledge it or let it rule my life (even though it clearly does but can’t let it know that!).
Hope this helps…reading it back not sure that it will :frowning:
Message me if you need to chat…I;m here grounded…but checking in between minor tasks which I have set myself each day.
Hugs to you and all others in this position.
Sue xxxxx

To all you lovely ladies who have supported me, and those that have just read the post’s and found support in them, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!, notice already l didn’t put ‘sad’ heart! so you all must have done something to me.
I felt quite ashamed reading some of the posts, obviously you all are going through the same thing, some handling it better than others, but as you all so rightly say ‘you all have your moments’

I think the main thing on my mind is those dreaded 16/18 positive nodes, keeps jumping up in my face!!!
I really do try and go with the flow, but waiting for results and scans!! l feel as though l am one step forward and two steps backwards.
Tomorrow l will find out if l need a mx or the margins they took were clear, also to see how the bone scan went. If things go well l will be looking at starting chemo, and meeting the oncologist, it seems a long way before l start ‘my plan’ but l know it will come.

My bcn is wonderful, but also very busy, and l know she will be the first to say to me tomorrow, “why didn’t you ring me”? but sometimes in this life you have to get on with things, So l am grateful l have you ladies to rant at!

Strange as it may seem l manage to sleep for about 6 hours, so l feel happy with that, l try not to go to bed until midnight then l know l should get through until 6am. I shower and wash my hair every morning, then l take my two dogs for a walk. And l try and keep myself busy in the day. I work out the day before what l am doing, that way l don’t sit about wondering what to do or where to go!
Oh for the days when l just chilled out and had a lazy day, too many thoughts to do that now!!!

As far as reading too much on these forums, l certainly DO that, and that has to stop from this day. Looking at ladies having problems with things l shouldn’t be looking at! is not good, and very stupid of me, as you all so rightly say ‘stop looking too far ahead’ dreadful enough if you get to that stage!

Families and friends, what would we do without them? l am lucky enough to have two sons that are married, so they, and l have their partners and a husband, for support, So once again l am ashamed, because like some of you that are a single parent of only children, just so very glad they have Aunts and Uncles for support, the extended family? how lucky we are!

I had to smile with your ‘sainsburys’ experience, because l had the same last week, think we need to speak to sainsburys and ask them to tell their staff to say something else…other than “Have a nice day” any suggestions? Or perhaps once again we are making too much of a simple saying…we are far too sensitive…me being the most sensitive at the moment!

Ladies you have shown what a wonderful supportive group you are so a Very Big Thank You. Even got myself together and took my Mum to Marks and Spencers!
I will save these posts for when l no doubt will feel rotten again! Love and Hugs to you all
Sandra xxx

Good luck with everything Sandra and if i can help at all just let me know.

Lots of love


Hi Sandra
I found your post to be just what I needed to hear. I have just had my third diganosis of cancer, my second with bc. Awaiting for results on Wednesday before finding out how much more surgery I need on Friday. I had a lump removed at the same time as my long awaited nipple reconstruction to both breasts. Took the dressings off on a Sunday delighted with the results , then found out I need to lose my right reconstructed breast with no chance of another for a long time, if at all. I feel extremely fed up. Finding it hard to be the ‘strong’ person everyone says I am. The ‘strong’ person I want to be.
It was good to read that someone else has bad days. In the last week and a half everything has been an amazing battle. Not sure I have got much fight left in me. But I guess we will find it from somewhere. Not much option.
Right now I am not coping but reading the thread has reminded me that things can and do get better. I am just not there yet.

Take care