Not sure what or how to feel

Two weeks ago, I thought I was imagining things. So I’d found a lump. Surely it would turn out to be nothing. (the same thoughts I imagine most people have at that time, I suppose) Saw my GP, referred for tests just to be sure it was nothing to worry about. And then 2 days ago came the news that has turned our lives upside down. And so my cancer journey has begun. Am not quite sure yet how I am supposed to be feeling or doing. I want everything just to carry on as normal. My op to remove the lumps(!) and nodes is just under 3weeks away. I’m in the process of telling my family & friends but can’t believe I’m actually having these conversations. We’ve been told how much different our lives are going to be for a while & I can hear this but it doesn’t feel like it’s really sinking in. What should I be doing to prepare for what is obviously about to happen? I don’t feel any different in myself physically. When will this really hit home? Will I reach a point of ‘panic’ as the realisation comes that I’m about to lose control to this disease? I’ve been told that chemo is planned for 5 months, followed by radiotherapy. Am I going to be able to work during either of these? My brain is saying of course you can, but I’m being told to prepare myself for the probability that will not be the case. How much of the coming months do I just let happen? What can I do to reduce the impact it will have? I must remember that there are other people going to be going through every step of this with me. I must try to get at least some sleep, this is crazy. This may not make any sense to anyone, but if it does, please, any advice you may be able to offer may be just what I need to hear to start to accept all of this madness.
Thank you so much for listening

Dear frenchfancy, I am sorry to read of your recent diagnosis and can assure you that the way you are feeling is normal, I am sure your fellow users will be along shortly with support and shared experiences and in addition our helpline is open 9-5 weekdays and 10-2 Saturdays on 0808 800 6000. Please feel free to call for further practical and emotional support.

You may find the following BCC ‘Just diagnosed’ and ‘Treatments’ links useful, you will find lots of information relating to diagnosis and treatments along with further support ideas here:

http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/diagnosis?utm\_source=Homepage&%3Butm\_medium=help\_you&%3Butm\_campaign=diagnosis

http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/treatment?utm\_source=Homepage&%3Butm\_medium=help\_you&%3Butm\_campaign=treatment

Take care

Lucy

HI Frenchfancy, I got the same news as you just 2 days before you. It has been without doubt the most absolutely horrible time of my life. I have only used this website a few times but every time I have, like magic, some wonderful person will reply and offer you some words of support. I don’t feel I am in a position to do that yet, all I can say is that they have told me that all those questions and all those emotions are felt by everyone. I have rung the advice number on this website and the nurse was just brilliant. I still don’t feel I can use all the abbreviations that people use, I am getting to grips but I have worked out that BCN = breast cancer nurse, and they really were helpful.
I don’t want to pry, and I fully understand if you don’t want to say, but what kind do you have? What sort of operation? When are they proposing chemo? Your name attracted my attention - I am a French teacher, and they have told me to plan to be off work for the best part of a school year from September. Grim, as I love my job. What do you do?
Sorry not to have been more helpful, all I can say is that I understand fully your pain, your confusion, your anger, your frustration. On this site they send “cyber hugs”, I have just learnt what they are, and I would like to send you some.
((()))) Jo x

Hi Lucy

I’m sorry you have found yourself here, as sorry as we all were when we also found ourselves here. HOWEVER…you will find a very kind , caring and loving group of people. We all look after each other. Welcome to the fold.

You will need time to adjust to what seems like devastating news. But I try and stay calm and have faith in the professionals around you. Since my diagnosis in May I have been so impressed by the care I have received so far from the teams looking after me. The thing that struck me was that my Breast Care Nurse said to me that the rationale for any treatment plan is for you to come out the other end living to be a very old lady! So they do everything in their power to make that happen.

In the meantime, try NOT google, stick to this site. Try not to make up dark scenarios for yourself (easier said than done) and take ONE step at a time, dont make it bigger in your head than it needs to be at the moment. We are all with you xx
Take care xx

JF x

Hi Frenchfancy, sorry you’ve had to join the club nobody wants to be in but as Jo says you’ll find a wonderfully supportive community of ladies and men here to help you. I was diagnosed in Jan this year so am a lot furtheralong this journey. What you are feeling is completely normal, we’ve all been there but I can assure you that once you have your treatment plan and your results you will feel much more in control. I didn’t need chemo as my SNB was clear so I can’t comment on that but on this forum the ladies that have chemo starting in a particular month tend to start a thread which they all join, I’ve dipped in and out and they give each other such fantastic support re SE’s, emotions etc. they really are amazing. Try looking at some of their posts. Re working during chemo it appears to be very much an individual thing, depends on how you react to the chemo, what your job is-physical, working with children-, you’ll just have to wait and see what you are advised. Rads are a lot easier, just depends how far you live from where you’ll be having them as to whether you work or not, my round trip took between 2 and 3 hours depending on the traffic and I found the travelling very tiring. It’s nearly 3 months since I finished RAD’s and I’m just beginning to feel more like myself again, not the same as before BC but okay. Accept all offers of help from family and friends, you really need to put yourself first at this time. Please keep posting and let us know how you are getting on, as JF said we are all with you, take care Pat xx

Hi frenchfancy…sorry you’ve had to join this club.

Your post made perfect sense to me…they’re certainly the same sort of thoughts I’ve had in the 11 days since I had my diagnosis! How can I have this awful disease when physically I feel the same as I did before? I’ve had times when I’ve felt emotionally very down (usually in the early hours of the morning and usually about how I’m going to cope financially.)

It still doesn’t seem real when I say “I’ve got breast cancer.”

You’ll find the support on this site fantastic. Everyone understands what you’re going through and no-one tells you to buck up or pull yourself together.

Sending you (((hugs)))

Maggie xx

Hi Frenchfancy,

I am also sorry you find yourself joining this club, but you will find so much support and advice on the forums.

I was diagnosed in December 2012 with invasive ductal grade 3, HER2 positive. Since then I have had a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy (4 nodes removed, all clear, no evidence of vascular invasion, small invasive lump of 15mm plus some DCIS mixed in with it). I am now on chemo plus Herceptin, and will also be having Radiotherapy.

My way of coping with it right from the day of diagnosis was to put myself in control of the situation. I made sure I got copies of my histology reports, simply because the medics filtered out any details they decided I wouldn’t need to know. Once I had my surgery (and the histology report) I knew exactly what I was dealing with and was able to research my own particular type of BC and the types of treatment I would need. I was determined not to bury my head in the sand. I still feel in control now. I realise we are all different, but this has worked for me.

Good luck xxx

Hi frenchfancy, you have just described me. Got the news 17th may, all you are feeling is normal , anxiety takes over and you feel you have no control. You are not alone , but this site is really helping me, stick with it as the people here are lovely and lots have been there and can help so much. Like me you are at the start of this journey but we will get there , we will have good days and bad days but there is an end of the tunnel it’s just a bit off at the moment. Hang in there, chin up , girl power. Keep in touch I’m off work at mo so I’m around if you want to chat xx

Hi frenchfancy…I was diagnosed 18 months ago, and remember exactly the emotions you describe. This site can be very helpful; you may be a ‘forum’ person and find it helpful to join a group going through the same treatment at the same time, or you may not be (I just lurk!). Some of the most helpful things I have read here were to ‘live in the moment, and try not to think about the whatifs’ really tricky but if you can it does genuinely help. Don’t google, stick to trusted sites like this, cancer research and MacMillan that are factual and current…where all your questions (and those you haven’t thought of yet) will be answered. Don’t ‘over prepare’…every diagnosis is different, as is every treatment plan and your team will give you all the medication you need plus help and advice. I wish I’d given more thought to my wig…having thick curly hair meant that the one I’d bought was never worn as it was far too big once my hair had disappeared!! Accept all geniune offers of help…you may get no side effects from treatment, a few or lots (no-one can predict) and every offer of shopping, cleaning, cooking, walking the dog etc. can be really welcome. Remember that unusually it is the treatment not the disease that will/may make you feel ill/tired.
I worked (school business manager) throughout chemo which was 3 x FEC and 3 x Docetaxol with my Oncologist’s permission…although she made me stay at home on the few days of each cycle my immune system was likely to be low. I personally needed this, and despite side effects, managed OK. However, I realise this is not/cannot be for everyone. Looking back I realise how hard it was i.e. 5 minutes to walk across the playground instead of 30 seconds! Radiotherapy apppointments were at the end of the day on my home, so no arduous journey…again up to you and how you feel. Amongst all this I helped my daughter plan her wedding…the bald, fat alien trying to squidge into her Mother of the Bride outfit, ditching the false eyelashes that looked like caterpillars is another story!!! Basically what I am trying to say is what feels right for you IS right for you :slight_smile:
Keep a diary…I am not a diary person but found it invaluable…helps as a reminder for medication, side effects, emotions, planning treats etc. On 30/6/12 following my final chemo infusion and before radiotherapy my diary reads ‘head feels spaced out, achey legs, horrible mouth, no taste or appetite, 8 para and 3 ibuprofen for pain relief, flushed face, mouth ulcer, looking forward to stroll over heath later if I can summon the energy!’ On 30/6/13 I have just helped to dig out a base for 2 new sheds, planted a few bushes and trees, been to the car boot sale, eaten a hearty breakfast and looking forward to walking for 45 minutes in preparation for Race for Life in 3 weeks! I also have a sparse head of hair that looks like a haircut of choice that I am very proud of.
With the love and support of your family and frienda, you WILL get through this…it will be challenging, it may not be pleasant but you WILL come out the other side and look back at what you went through, amazed at your resilience.
Offering you good wishes for your treatment…and this time next year you may be writing a reassuring post too…xx

Dear Ladies
You could be telling my story. My head is reeling since the news on Wed 26th June. At this stage I haven’t had ‘it’ confirmed but they have told me to expect bad news. I can’t say “I’ve got breast cancer” either. Maybe I haven’t. Maybe they’ve got it wrong. I am imagining all sorts of other pains now. Actually the pains are real and have been there some time but now they could be connected couldn’t they? Normal fears I’m sure
Thank you for the time you spend in reassuring others

Hi
Your head will be all over the place at the moment. Just don’t google too much. It’s dangerous.
What you’re feeling is entirely normal. We’ve all been there! It will get better honestly, but not for a while. I know I planned my funeral! The plans are still there 5 years later.
I remember reading a post from someone whose onc said ‘give me 1 year and I’ll give give you your life back’, and that sounds about right when you’re having surgery, chemo etc.
The big problem with all this is that you feel fine & don’t feel ill when first dx. It’s the treatment that makes you feel that way. Having said that, if I can cope with it, anyone can. The time soon passes.
It’s not pleasant although everyone is different with regards to side effects. A friend of mine is currently having chemo and has no side effects at all, but I think most of us have some.
As to work I can only say how it affected me. I had a high pressured job and was determined that I would carry on as normal. I took a couple of days off each cycle and then went into work mornings, hit a brick wall by lunchtime, and home to bed in the afternoon. Looking back I wasn’t fit to work. Each of us is different and you will have to see how you are.
I was dx over 5 years ago and am doing great, but it does take longer than you think. It’s not like having a dose of flu! It’s hard on your body.
You’ll do fine. Just take one day at a time, and cross one bridge at a time. Batten down the hatches and you’ll soon be out the other side.

I was diagnosed June 2012 and like you, I felt my whole world was about to end - to say I didn’t take the news well is an understatement! I was so terrified of anything to do with cancer and the thought of losing my hair just made me feel sick - pretty stupid in the grand scheme of things, but that’s just how I felt. But, once my treatment had started (8 x chemo, mastectomy, r/therapy and Herceptin), I very quickly came to terms with everything - it certainly wasn’t a walk in the park but neither was it what I thought it would be.
I managed to work during my ‘good’ weeks of chemo but I didn’t do full time hours and to be honest, I wasn’t very productive. Luckily I have a great manager who realised I was working more to keep in the loop (and to eke out my pay!) and all my colleagues were really supportive. My best advice is to do whatever your body tells you and if you’re tired, then go and have a rest. I still carried on doing bits of housework but even after washing up, I’d need a 30 minute sit down on the settee!
I know that at the moment it’s a very scary time but you will get over that and still enjoy life - I had some really nice times during my treatment and if nothing else, you’ll find out how just how fantastic your friends and family are.
good luck

Julia
x

Dear French Fancy and Beam57,
I’m so sorry for both of you, but all I have learnt is that I need to listen to my body. I’ve worked through it to date and found the occupation helpful, but have reached my limits so stopping at end of this week. Your body is different to anybody elses so do what feels right - not anything much will feel right at the moment. You are not going mad - although it will feel like it at times.
Take care.

Deborah

Dear ladies, French Fancy and Beam 67 (by the way, I’m a French teacher too! please feel free to PM me!)
Everything you say is totally understandable, I remember thinking it was all happening to someone else, and maybe even now, I still don’t really believe that ‘it’s cancer’.
I have started on the chemo train (a June Jewel) and while it’s early days, it’s manageable, and the support I have from ladies here and friends and family make it even more so. I just want to add to what people have said, and repeat, that while we are all in this position, our individual experiences will be different, our reactions emotionally and physically are unique.
I wish all of you the very best of luck with your treatments and look forward to catching up with how you’re doing. Cress xxxx

Hi frenchfancy…
Another June Jewel here,
Just to say everything you are experiencing is what we have all been through at some point over the last few months. Its hearing that awful phrase, “im afraid you have cancer…”.
Knowing what is to come, not knowing how it will affect you, feeling perfectly well yet knowing you are going to delibrately harm your body short term for the long term good, doesnt make sense does it…How can i have cancer when i feel fine, when i live a good healthy life, when im not “old” etc etc…All these things and more race round your head, and nothing makes sense anymore!!.

Please just remember that at some point you will get answers, you will talk to people who have or are going through this, and you will see that although a really rubbish thing to face, it is do-able. There are so many wondeful people here, both going through cancer treatment and nurses etc, so dont ever feel you cant come here and find answers or comfort.

As to what you personally can do, its all dependant on how you feel and the treatment you face. In my case, I have had a mastectomy, full node clearance and just started chemo, after which i have herceptin, radiothrapy and tamoxifen. I have worked all the way through so far apart from 2 weeks off post op. Healthy living and fitness plays a big part in my life and i do think thats helped me so far, but you will find strength you didnt know you had.

I hope your journey is not too bad and that you find the support you need, from both friends and family and from others going through similar experiences.

Take care and dont ever feel youre facing this alone…

xxxx

Hi Frenchfancy, so sorry to hear your news - but so glad you have joined this club (you know, the one no one wants to join) and I hope your treatment plan all goes as smoothly as possible for you.
I can only echo some of the helpful comments from all the other ladies above - All your feelings/confusion sum me up too over this past 11 days since being diagnosed with invasive ductal and lobular BC - surgery due next Wed 10th. Good advice from everyone above, try to take one step at a time - your fears may sometimes feel like they are stampeding through your normal life at an impossible pace, it is strange what one first worries about on hearing the news - my partner was actually kind of amused when all I seemed to be most worried about that day was that I’d only just started a brand new job, so how was I going to tell them?
I feel incredibly lucky - weird tho that must sound. I felt nothing you see, no lump, no pain. You see I only was called for my first ever mammogram at the end of May, and assumed all would be fine - until I received the recall letter. The most frightening thing I heard was from the BCN who first told gave me my results - she thanked me for turning up for the mammogram and said that on the same day 10 other women who were booked to have the test failed to turn up. If I had followed my natural tendency to bury my head in the sand and not go…well, the treatment may be something none of us wish for, but the chance of a long and normal life post-treatment has to be worth staying positive for.
Good luck with everything to you Frenchfancy and to all you lovely ladies. And please don’t stress out about your work as a French teacher - I’m sure all your colleagues and pupils alike will give you so much love and support until you’re ready to resume your vocation. (By the way, when I was at school last century (!!) French was my favorite subject! Don’t know if I would still remember any of it now though - such a beautiful language)
Keep smiling and stay in touch! Virtual hugs all round!
Christine xxx

Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone for all the wonderful replies. I have taken a few moments each day to re-read them all and this has truly helped to start putting things into perspective. Each time I have spoken to my nearest and dearest it has become, if ever so slightly, a little easier to accept what’s going on. My diagnosis at this time is stage 2 ductal cancer and I am scheduled at the moment for a WLE & axillary clearance on the 19th of July. My ideal scenario is being off work for a little while after this op and then being able to work as and when I feel upto it during chemo/radio etc. I accept this may not be possible but I also know that I have the full support of all my family, friends & co-workers and they will help me achieve this where possible. Its office work mainly so could be doable. Ive also thought about the time I will be at home, things I should still be able to do, learning French/ making cards/ reading/ gentle exercise. May seem boring, but my life as normal. As I already said previously, I would like to keep as much control over this as humanly possible. However, jusft as I have started to understand what’s about to happen, the goal posts have moved ever so slightly. My consultant called me back a couple of days ago to tell me that they’d like to do an MRI before going ahead with planned surgery. She explained an area of concern on my original scans/mammo that needs further checking and depending on those results, it may be better to perform just one operation rather than risk the possibility of having to do a second after my WLE. I know this now means a mastectomy and am now trying to contemplate how this is also going to change my life. I also know that in the bigger scheme of life, this would be much preferable to the alternative, but cannot even begin to imagine how this will make me feel about myself or how much it’s going affect my relationships with other people. So many people I have spoken to, stories I have read and all the kind messages here have told me to think about the here & now, just day to day, but it’s still impossible not to think about where I will come out the other side given the way this seems to be going. I am absolutely positive this site will become a part of my life for the foreseeable future and look forward (not sure if thats the right way t put it!!) to being a very small part of this wonderful space. I’m sorry to have waffled on, can’t seem to stop once I got started.

Once again, thank you all so much for listening.

Kim (Frenchfancy)

Hi Kim my diagnosis sounds similar to yours stage 2 ductal invasive , your sounding in good spirits and sending you all the same wishes I hope for myself. I have had the WLE and sentinel node treatment which showed 2/4 nodes affected went on to have axillary clearance which showed 15 clear ( phew lol) next step for me is scans and heart tests to check no further spread, then on to the joys of chemo and rads . It’s a very difficult time and I get lots of wobbles even palpitations, it’s all the damn waiting that is the worse at mo. I hope all goes well for you , I have only just joined this site and like you have found it a big help to know people here know exactly what we are going through

I think you mean grade, not stage. The two are completely different and neither will be know properly until after surgery. Good luck to you both.
PG

Your right pg, I did mean grade and not stage, I’m gonna say it was a “blonde” moment while I still have my hair, Thank you for your good wishes