Pain in ribs


i had surgery and rads for a 40mm lobular in my left breast last summer. For the last month or so I’ve been getting pain in my back ribs on the same side, bad enough to disturb my sleep and not very responsive to painkillers. I’ve been referred to have a bone scan later this week but I have become increasingly anxious. Everyone around me is saying it’s probably nothing - I had a very low prosigna score - but I am besides myself with worry, can’t sleep and feeling tearful all the time. I’m not sure how I will get through the next few days, let alone the next week or two before the results. I just can’t think anything other than the worst and the pain is really unbearable. Any suggestions about how to cope? 

Hi @basilsmum  - first of all I want to send you a big hug. Waiting for test results is so so hard. I’ve had to have a couple of biopsies at my annual mammograms and so I really do understand how you are feeling.

I had some counselling following my treatment and was given a few ideas to try - but I’m not always very good at putting them into practice myself! First, try to take one day at a time and remember that “fears are not facts”. Try to focus on what you know, rather than what might be - because it might not be. Secondly, see if you can “lock away” the subject for some of the day - perhaps allow yourself a half hour “worry time” at a fixed time. This is supposed to help you to get on with life and not let the worry take over every waking moment - of course easier to type than do.

Then there are also ideas to try to distract yourself - maybe walking with a friend/a box set of an easy to watch series/whatever helps you best. Have you tried mindfulness to help you to stay in the moment?

If however it all gets too much, do give a health professional a call. Perhaps the lovely nurses on here, or your own BC nurse from when you received treatment, or your GP.

We are all here for you to chat or listen anytime, and to hold your hand through this. If you just need a hug please come on and ask. Evie xx

Hi basilsmum

A few months after I had radiotherapy (which I sailed through, unlike chemo), my back started itching at exactly the same spot (geometrically (?) as my scar. I had a burn mark too It made sense - the radiotherapy had to come out the other side so both back and front were affected.

This is no diagnosis, especially since I only get neuropathic pain in my front ribs, but it may help ease your anxiety if you consider the possibility that it might be the long-term effects of radiotherapy rather than the nightmare scenarios going through your mind right now.

There’s no point in people saying it’s probably nothing. That makes them feel better because they think they’ve reassured you. Only the test results will reassure you but it is less painful to keep an open mind rather than jump to the worst conclusion. There are several possible explanations - I cracked some ribs the only time I’ve ever had a cough and a bone scan revealed a badly healed fracture of my sternum, which a CT scan had identified as a possible area of cancer! Like I said, there are lots of possible explanations. Trust your team. They will, hopefully, arrive at a definitive diagnosis for you but really all you need is the elimination of the possibility of more cancer.

Meantime, Evie’s advice is wise - make time for your emotional wellbeing/sanity. Try practising meditation, mindfulness, go running, dog-walking, whatever makes you feel good. I’ve only just come round from an hour with Progressive Hypnosis (free videos on YouTube) which always lower my levels of anxiety or stress. I’m practising for treatment later on today! Trying out a range of those videos (just plug in some ear buds) will get you though the next few days/weeks. I wish you all the best.

Jan x

Hey chick,

I would get back in touch with your doctor hunni and explain to them how bad the pain is etc, hope fully they might send you for a scan or something , I do hope that they are going to get you checked out try and keep your chin up hunni I know it’s harder than you think but if you have good support you will get through all of this with help .

take care CATT57 xxxx