personality change?

Does anyone else feel like their personality has changed since having to deal with BC? If so, has it been a good thing?

I feel like I’m in a strange inbetween world and things will never get back to normal.

C x

I feel a different person after my treatment but I can honestly say for the better. It has put other troubles in life in perspective, showed me who my real friends are and made me listen closely to my body because I know that the sooner any problems are dealt with the more likely the outcome will be good. There are downsides…the constant fear at check up times etc and never forgetting what you’ve been through…I’m sure I have more grey hairs now! But I am proud that I got through it all and I appreciate life a lot more now. You do learn to smile again…I promise!

Twinky x x

I’m a lot less resilient than I used to be. It’s much easier to upset me, and I am much more liable to burst into tears than I used to be. And I don’t think that’s a good thing.

I wouldn’t say my underlying personality has changed to any great degree but my relationships with my children has changed a bit. Perhaps for the better but it was ok before and I would have been happy for it to stay JUST the same if it meant doing without BC.

i have to agree with choccie
i was already disabled before but the effects of bc (mainly getting loads of lymphoedema but also things like excruciatingly painful frozen shoulder from where it gets pulled forward by tight scar tissue, not being able to do my stretches for arthritis, huge increase in the number of drugs i take & in the drug-induced fatigue, & don’t get me started on the hot sweats & flushes) have made life much worse
i’ve been ill-health retired, i’m knackered & sleep huge amounts of the time, i’m in more pain than i was before (which was already plenty), i’ve had to change all my routines for everything from going to the loo to chopping veg, to keep my gloves clean & reduce my cellulitis rissk, i’m crotchety & short-tempered & i’m sooooooo boring cos all i do is be at home & go out for healthcare appts so i’ve got nothing to talk about when friends come round or t’wife comes home from work - i bore myself when i listen to myself talking
& now i’m about to blow up like a balloon wth 3 months of steroids
i was already good at hiding my feelings if i wanted / needed to so didn’t need any more practise at that, & used to be chatty & outgoing, generally seen as a good laugh, i could concentrate & multi-task & enjoy a demanding job
now i feel like a boring, fat, useless lump - not exxactly a change for the better
i know i feel particularly sh*t at the moment cos of the steroids thing - really don’t want to take them but i’ve got to - & can usually laugh things off more easily, but the quality of my life (interesting things to do, energy to do them, enough money not to have to worry too much, lively social life even if it was mainly people coming to us, not needing couples counselling!) has changed beyond recognition
i know that difficult life experiences can be positively transformative for some people, but i’m not one of them!

I’m still on chemo, my last Tax 12th Jan. I am hoping once I’ve finished chemo and got through all S/E’s my personality changes will sort out.

I have lost all confidence and am practically a recluse, going nowhere other than Hospital visits. I find the Hospital easy as all other patients are in the same boat as me, but socialising I cannot do. I used to be (pre chemo) an outgoing person, and enjoyed nights out with friends, family and colleagues. I haven’t been out once since starting chemo, the thought of it scares me stiff. It has nothing to do with having no hair - I like wearing my wig, and I’ve mastered applying make-up to my eyebrows for them to look OK, I’m unsure why my confidence has done a runner, but maybe it’s because my chemo brain fog has affected my concentration and my communication skills. Sometimes it takes me what seems like forever to string a short sentence together, and I need either my husband or daughter with me at all times to put in my missing words. Yesterday I had my pre-op assessment, and found it very difficult to answer the nurse’s questions, most of them she had to repeat as they just didn’t sink in. I was lucky that the nurse was very kind and understanding, she kept saying ‘don’t worry’ and ‘we’ll get there’. She really was a lovely person.

I’m worried that my confidence won’t return and I’ll be a permanent stay at home woman, that I’ll always be afraid to go anywhere without the backing of my OH or daughters’.

Has anyone else lost their confidence, I find it very frustrating and worrying.

I still have a sense of humour with my family, and I aren’t bad tempered though sometimes I can be defensive about certain comments made, but mostly take them as they are intended eg a joke.

If anyone finds my confidence please send it back to me.

Libby x

You are not alone.
I went into complete melt down at the time of my diagnosis and couldn’t really cope with any routine of normal daily life.I had previously worked full time,in the public sector in a very responsible roll.I found the unwelcome change in my life devastating.I too lost all self confidence.I too feel I had chempo brain and some days felt I just couldn`t think straight.

My most comfortable default was to bed,sometimes just moping and sometimes reading - got through 57 books in year 1 post diagnosis- and I really didnt want to see anyone at all. I felt least comfortable with aquaintances - most of whom I know meant well, but I really did not want to see them. I was most comfortable when out in an environment where I would be unlikely to meet anyone I knew. I didnt get much support from the hospital - the BCN discharged me when I started chemotherapy as she said I would have a one to one relationship with a chemotherapy nurse, The NHS is very idealistic and throughout 18m of treatment had 12 different nurses attend to me.This was really not the time for them to chat - and I have really terrible veins!
Close friends were a salvation and I even though did become a master at avoiding socialising I was dragged out for short walks and cups of tea. I too had Taxol and probably suffered most of the side effects Taxol can give - the worst was facial and scalp oedema which took 6 months to fully settle.

All the generally awful effects of having cancer and cancer treatment does have an effect on who one is. Having the diagnosis removes any control one has on life . There is nothing we can do about it and that alone is very hard to deal with.
On a more positive note I am now 2 years on from diagnosis (anxiously awaiting the result of my 2nd follow up mammogram). I have retired from work but have gradually, and initially tentatively, re involved myself with girlfriends. Cant cope with table suppers as I still cannot face possibly being asked about, and having to talk about my cancer diagnosis. It is for me a very private matter.

Hope this ramble helps - in summary you are not alone, chemo brain is a reality and it will improve.

Norma x

I think I’d better put my earlier positive comment on personality change into context. I am six years from my original DX and treatment (MX, immediate tram flap recon, chemo) and not yet started anything for the new DX so I am not in the same position as the ladies still undergoing or recently finished treatment where SE’s are still affecting you and scars still healing etc. I was just hoping to reassure you that in the long run you find a new kind of ‘normal’ and you can enjoy life again. I did have counselling. Initially tried NLP but hated it and then found a kind old wise man who gave me counselling sessions. Other than my BCN he was the only other person to acknowledge I’d been through a terrible time and I really needed someone to say that rather than just be trotting out lines about being strong & positive. That was the turning point for me together with finally giving in to the doctor and taking a low dose AD (fluoxetine) that seemed to settle the chemical imbalance after all the treatment and settled my emotions back down ( was determined to do without them but I must admit I was foolish to think I didn’t need them ).

My life did turn around after that. When I was DX I was living on my own for the first time in my life having moved to a village where I knew no one after my partner of 8 years ran off with a ‘friend’. My family lived 2.5 hours drive away & I don’t think I could have picked a worse time to be ill. Met my ex when I relocated to the Midlands so the circle of friends I had was through him and they all buggered off and left me when he dumped me! Charming. Got to say my feelings about my self worth were at an all time low when I was DX and the news I was to have an MX seemed worse than the cancer DX. How weirdly does our mind work! The thing that meant I was really lucky was the presence of private health care through my employer. The hospital became my second home (despite having to drive a 60 mile round trip to visit) and I had (and still do) a fantastic BCN. All the staff were kind to me because I was on my own and I have to say that made it so much easier for me.

So fast forward to today and facing treatment again. Not looking forward to it but I came through once and I can do it again and this time I have a loving husband to hold my hand. He loves me despite all my scars and took me on despite the ever present threat of a recurrence.

I really feel for all of you in a dark place right now but it will get better.

Twinky68 xxx

My personality has changed big time, i use to be happy go lucky nothing bothered me, now i am aggressive, panicky, paranoid, i would love to have the old me back but that wont happen so i am trying to work on a new me but its a struggle…

Twinky, your first comment didn’t come across as “happy-clappy” at all, and it’s really good to read that in spite of all the crap you had first time round you were able to get through and out the other side to find your new normal.

I’m still looking for mine. Thing is, I had just managed to find my own “new normal” after a life crisis 6 years earlier, so really didn’t need to have to go through the hunt again. I just get cross when people say “you’ll be stronger when you get out the other side”, I really don’t find that comment even slightly helpful. While it may be true (though it doesn’t feel like it at the moment), I was actually quite strong enough after the last lot of rubbish I had to deal with and really didn’t need to have life turned upside down again.

But hey ho, we didn’t get a choice in all of this so all I can do is hitch up my trousers, put on my wellies for wading through all the rubbish, take a deep breath and just get on with it. Oh, and stock up on the tissues for the teary moments, of which there are many more than there used to be. Might take a while to get used to the new me, but I’m sure I’ll get there.


I don’t think you could have summed it up better - this isn’t a rant but I’m sick of people assuming I’m brave. It’s not a case of being brave like you say it’s a case of getting on with it and making the most of a bad situation.

I’m still in active treatment so trying not to worry about who I will be in the future but that day will come all too soon- not sure who I will be? Answers on a postcard please!


Hi CM (always get a hunger pang when I see your name). Yes people who haven’t been through this are not good at understanding and I do tire of the ‘chin up & be positive’ comments from them which is why it’s great to be in touch with people who are going through/ have gone through this. It’s good to have a mixture of both types of friends, those with & without experience, to help balance life a bit because it’s a rotten card to be dealt plus all the treatments seem to be designed to attack our very womanhood to fight the disease. The best we can do is share our thoughts and fears. Cry and let it out when we need to and help one another along, finding humour where we can. We’re only human after all. At my darkest point going through chemo I found that being single & alone left me no reason to get up at the weekends (normal time for family or couple stuff). I ended up getting a rabbit (who ended up a house rabbit) and she gave me a reason to get up (at a sensible time each day) and carry on. She made such a huge difference to me…and I’m now good at mending chewed cables…lol.

I am glad for the BCC site though as it’s important to know there are people in similar situations who do understand and give us the strength to deal with those who don’t (my boss is spectacularly ignorant on this matter and managed to give me a bashing by e mail last week complaining about my work timescales sliding since being DX…deep breath, count to ten). I’m moved by all of you on here and will help anyone that I can x x

Good luck to us all

Twinky xx

Hi, before I was dx I enjoyed having a drink, I loved eating cheese! Mixing and going out with friends, I also enjoyed sex, three months after being told I have bc and I didn’t need chemo, I’m scared to drink eat cheese and feel that everytime I speak to my friends I depress them and me. I’m on tamoxifen and have no iibido, my real fear is not seeing my boys grow up. This consumes my life, I constantly feel my boobs to check. Everyone says be positive and I do try but when I’m on my own I could easily run away. You read a paper its there, you watch the tv its there. I pray every night to take the fear away and hope that with time it gets easier. Then you read about lifestyle and food being a factor, and that makes me worried. I’m probably slightly depressed but I’m even scared to take a painkiller, but other than that I’m good, ha ha. Certainly changed me and hopefully for the better. Love and hugs 2 all of u, karen x

Hi Ladies

Twinky, can I just say that your story is one of the most inspiring and moving I have read on this forum. To go through this horrible BC alone at a time when your partner and friend had betrayed you must have been absolutely horrific. And to come out with optimism and a joy for life is truly heroic.
I am very spritual and truly believe in angels, spirit guides, God. Some of you may think I’m a crackpot, but I sincerely believe that I am being helped and just have to ask for help in my low moments and I receive it. I believe that all things in life are sent for a reason. I have a son in Australia who has been in a helluva lot of trouble and I haven’t heard from him for over two years. I worry myself sick, as any mother would, and was even thinking of spending all my savings on flying over there, finding him and dragging him back here to the UK. I look upon this breast cancer as a way of stopping me doing that, as obviously I aint goin’ nowhere for a while now! Life is a big jigsaw and it’ll all make sense one day. In the meantime, all any of us can do are roll with the punches. BC’s not nice, but there are many other things in life that aren’t nice. Without my spiritual beliefs I truly think I would spend all my days howling with rage and sadness. My angels and guides keep me calm.

Mabeline, I certainly don’t think of you as a crackpot. I too believe in angels and god, and believe everything happens for a reason. I had just started university to do my nurses training (I’m 41) and four wks into course was dx, but I was having doubts before I started! I admire your beiiefs and hope your son contacts you when he his ready. Karen xx

Karen, there’s no harm in getting additional help if you’re feeling low all or most of the time, and there are things you can do that don’t necessarily involve drugs (though anti-d’s can be brilliant, as long as you’re careful which one you take. Tamoxifen and Prozac don’t mix.) You may benefit from some counselling, which will help you get your perspective back. Your BCN should be able to point you in the right direction, and if you find someone you get on with, it could be really helpful for you. Worth a try at least.

As for looking for lumps, I’m constantly checking mine now. Don’t know how often we’re supposed to check, but it’s at least twice a day!

I still eat cheese and dairy, I still have the odd drink, and I REFUSE to feel guilty about my cancer. It can be so difficult to get THAT part of things into perspective as well. This “40%” statistic is dreadful, but let’s look at that for a moment. The statistic is talking about all cancers, not just BC. I don’t know what the figure is for BC in particular, but even so, 60% of cancers are NOT caused by lifestyle. The best we can do is to try to be good to ourselves but I’m NOT going to do it feeling guilty all the time!

Oh yes, forgot the other personality change. I’ve now become a real grumpy old woman! :wink:

Thanks Karen.

And yes, I do agree with Chocci that we should still enjoy cheese, wine and anything else we fancy - all in moderation of course (that’s the bit I always get stuck at!!) In fact just talking about it has put me in the mood, so I’m off to pour myself a large glass of wine! Ooooh, I am awful.

Cheers ladies.


Chocciemuffin and mabeline, thank you both, when I read my comment I actually do think that speaking to someone would benefit me. Its hard knowing what’s good and bad, but everything in moderation is fine. It certainly helps seeing others view, thank u x

hi there,

just been reading everyones comments. gordok1 it might be worth asking your bcn for advice about some counselling. mine has suggested it to me and has she will refer me. i havent had any yet but will give it a try.

with the diet, i have been exactly the same thinking what should i eat what shouldnt i eat. i didnt drink a great deal before anyway to be honest, but i havent had one since dx which was only in november, but normally i might have had one over xmas and new year, but didnt dare. but i didnt really feeling like celebrating anyway or have much xmas cheer going on! i didnt think my diet was too bad before, maybe more fruit and veg and less sweet stuff, but i am not over weight at all, i could with a few pounds on if anything, but now i darent eat any sweet stuff either!

my heads a shed!

TTM xxx

Hi all personality change is definitely a SE of breast cancer ,i get really angry now when people moan about trivial things .Think I’m gonna be awful when i go back to work as i work in a tearoom and people constantly wing about the most stupid things.I used to panic about everything but only panic about health issues now everything else will just sort itself out.
My two main things are diet and body.
Diet …i have become obsessed with everything i eat so have become boring and sad and not much fun really. I always loved all the wrong things ,i work in a bakery !!! Not good love cake,chocolate ,wine sweets and eating out. I used to have wine nearly every night as we used to get to nine o clock and sit with a glass or two of wine.I stopped altogether when first diagnosed but now have about 9 units a week at the most even at xmas and new year. Don’t really always enjoy it as i sit there feeling guilty every time i have it.
Next is the food so no red meat , no fat no dairy ,acid not alkaline but some fruit is acid some alkaline ,some turns to alkaline when digested .How do i know i need a dietician to tell me what to eat. I went out for dinner today ordered jacket with coleslaw so i could have cake ,while hubby had yorkshire pud with beef in ,much to my disgust they smothered it in butter so i had to sit and eat it as i don’t like to complain .Then tom night its my birthday and i love indian so I’m gonna sit and feel guilty on my birthday meal too . Im so scared i bring it back from what i eat.
Then its my scars on my boob ,they are very lumpy and i go between being scared to check and then feeling lumps and wondering if its back when i have been told its scar tissue!!!
So yes it does change you and i feel really sad sometimes ,despite this post looking negative i do manage to smile most of the time and it is early days .I think we just all feel robbed of living a normal life xxx

Lisha, See if your GP can put you in touch with a dietician. There is no cause to get completely hung up on food but it’s so easy to do as there are so many stories out there - some of them are a complete load of twaddle but how are we to know which.