Panic attacks

Hi - so a little about me. I’m 39 and was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. I’ve been so lucky and have “only” needed a double mastectomy as my lymph nodes were clear and am now undergoing reconstruction.

Obviously it’s been a hard journey but really feel like the worst is over and am taking many of the positives in that life is too short and I want to pack in as much as possible into my life now.

However for the first time in my life, I’m really anxious about a few things, but especially driving. I used to be very confident and commuted 80 miles a day on the M4 and worked abroad and happily drove in other countries. Now I get anxious about getting in the car and have had a couple of panic attacks on the motorway where I’m hyper ventilating, shaking etc and have to talk myself through to the next exit.

Is this normal? Is it related to my cancer - either medically or emotionally? Has anyone else found that elements of daily life is suddenly frightening? I really don’t want my life restricted by this. Thank you in advance.

hello runner girl … i think its something we all suffer from… i certainly do … not surprising after the rollercoaster ride from hell that we found ourselves on … obviously if your having them often and especially when your driving you need to see your GP … im sure there will be something he can prescribe to help the symptoms. panic attacks are horrible… and they scare you so much… but there are things you can have to help… dont forget… its early days and your bound to have some ill effects … angie xx

I too had to acknowledge I was having panic attacks.Not easy when just prior to diagnosis I felt invincible- full time job -supporting elderly parents 4 hour drive away - including my Mum who was dying of terminal Bowel Cancer -she also had Breast Cancer.

And then my world fell apart.
So, Yes, I did have panic attacks -no panic attacks now , nearly 2y on but still unpleasant symptoms of anxiety at times,still avoid going out if I can possible avoid it, and I have retired from work.
It is really hard working ones way slowly towards acceptance of a completely different way of life.
I think your symptoms are completely understandable in the circumstances. I would advise not taking on what you feel you cant cope with.Be happy with what you manage to achieve , especially when its coping with a difficult social situation.

I had them too. Kept me off work for a lot of last year.
Cutting a long story short. I use Betablockers, it’s been over a year now. I had a couple of slip ups after dx, but right now feel calm and confident and like I did a few years back.
Have a chat with the GP and take it from there. I really hope I never go back to the experiances I had a year ago.

post deleted

Hi ladies - so a massive thank you to you all for taking the time to reply so promptly; it is so appreciated. I had been going round in circles on this as the logical and rational side of me was thinking “but this is ridiculous; I used to do this all the time without thinking twice”.

Now that the worst of my treatment is over, I really thought I could just pick up from where I left off, and that’s what I was doing. However this latest attack and other things has made me wonder if I’m not coping as well as I thought I was. And just that realisation is making me feel better.

I had been thinking that I need to tackle the driving fear head on and get back on the roads as much as possible, which was making me even more nervous, but your advice has reassured me that I don’t need to do anything until I’m ready. Your stories also give me confidence that it will get better.

I’m off to see my GP later today to talk it through. Thanks again for sharing your experiences and best of luck to you all with moving forward.

Hi Runner-girl,

So sorry to read that you are experiencing horrible panic attacks, I to have started having them, had a really bad one today that has made me feel not so good tonight?
They are horrible and I’m not sure about you but to me I feel a loss of control, I also had my first one whilst driving home from work on the motorway and now I try at all costs to avoid the motorway!!
I did see my GP but he wasn’t really sure what to do or say, just said try not to be so anxious, easier said than done eh??
I do believe it is quite common to experience this after traumatic times in your life such as medical/life threatening illness, I believe that this year has been so tough with surgery, chemo, rads, Herceptin and now tamoxifen and the fear of breast cancer has all caught up with me, it was like a whirlwind and now it has started to settle as treatment starts to end, I think reality has started to kick in for me, and maybe this is the same for you?
I do hope things start to settle for you and feel rest assured that your not on your own we are all in this together!

Hope you get some help and reassurance from your GP

Best wishes

Donna x