panic attacks

Evening ladies. I had 3rd EC cycle last week and it had knocked me for six. Still very tired and suffering with nausea. I’m now dreading cycle 4 as I start with docetaxel which means new side effects. I am typically a worrier and do stress about “the unknown” but I’m starting to have panic attacks if i even think about the next cycle. I’m convinced i won’t be able to even enter the chemo unit.

Anyone got any advice?

Thanks Helen x

Hi Helen,I haven’t been through chemo but I have suffered from panic attacks so I can totally sympathise it’s horrible how anxiety can get a grip of you and dominate your life .I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to stay in the radiotherapy room as I would feel trapped and was sure I would get up and run ,got myself in a right state.I persuaded GP to prescribe some Valium which took the edge off the panic ,didn’t use them much but felt less anxious knowing I could take them if needed.I think we all surprise ourselves in the end what we are able to deal with ,the thought of things is very often worse than the reality .Good luck ,fingers crossed for minimal side effects this time round for you .Jill.

I agree, go to your GP and ask for something to tide you over the current stresses. Let’s be honest, it’s not like any of us have time to have proper treatment for anxiety issues through this period, things move too fast and are on a set timescale. hopefully what we are facing isn’t a life event we will be repeating ( unlike things like flying and spiders lol)…so going down the avenue of cognitive behaviour therapy and the like isn’t quick enough or useful enough for your feelings right now.

Your anxieties also have a very clear and understandable cause and panic attacks are a ‘flight response’ to highly stressful situations which feel threatening. It is hardly surprising you are feeling fear and feeling threatened, given what you are going through. I had a terrible time leading up to my surgery, I only had to think about it before a rush of adrenaline hit me and I was full blown panic…in the end I got some lorazepam prescribed. Like Jill, I hardly used it, and only used a teeny amount if I did, but it gave me an escape route, and it helped knowing it was there…which is what you need right now. I would also suggest learning to do deep meditative controlled breathing and some relaxation techniques, I’m not sure if the breast cancer nurse can point you in the direction of some good information on that front. Give her a call…you won’t be alone in or the first who finds themselves in this situation.  

I’ve  not had chemo, but can guarantee I would be like you, especially if i felt tired and ill. I think it helps when people know how you are feeling, and maybe the chemo nurses could help you if they were are too ?


charys x

Dear Helen, dont isolate yourself stress is a very real problem and whilst tablets may help in the longer term find yourself a cancer care centre and get some advise. Having gone through the operation then chemo and now herceptin it all feels like your on a a train you cant get off and have many stress attacks. However it wasnt until I had to attend a cancer trust centre last week that I suddenly found out that this stress is normal and we do need longer term alternative treatments that deal with us as people. Do make a big effort, dont bottle it up. All my love to you Sue x