psychological help

Just about half-way through radiotherapy and finding the psychological effects probably worse than the physical ones. So feeling pretty low and then feeling guilty when I see other ladies who have obviously been through chemo as well because I didn’t have to do that so i think i should feel grateful etc…Also at the moment , only want to see and talk to people like me , who are either going through it or have been through it and reluctant to see my friends because I don’t think they can understand really.
So are all these feelings normal ? is there anybody out there feeling exactly the same way ?Would welcome any tips how to cope thank you.
Froggy

hi froggy

yes the feelings are normal. I did do rads and chemo but had a WLE not a MX and felt guilty because of that. I am further down the road to you on all this but when i was going through rads is when i first came on here because i found I could laugh at,cry at all the cr*p and sometimes just chat. Where as I struggled with family and friends.

rhian xx

Hi there,

I had pretty much the works: double mx, axillary clearance, chemo x 8 and rads. I only say this because my view is that in no way should either of you feel guilty becuase you had less done. The thing is that every part of treatment is quite traumatic and getting the diagnosis certainly is.

I found rads quite difficult to get through psychologically. I think I found it quite scary as unlike surgery and chemo it seemed less physical just a bit of reddening. I think was also the first time that I got to really think about everything after a whirl of more debilitating treatment.

I think sometimes we put huge pressure on ourselves to be positive. Treatment is tiring and a daily reminder of the illness.

So please don’t be so hard on yourself. As Rhian says those feelings are entirely normal.
take care, Elinda x

Froggy, don’t think that any of the chemo ladies feel you don’t have a right to feel crap too, or that you have a “lower rank” of cancer. From my own perspective I’m absolutely delighted for you that you haven’t had to have the full works, but that doesn’t take away the fact that you’re having cancer treatment of whatever kind, with all that carries with it.

I think what cancer does to the inside of our heads has as much impact if not more than what it does to our bodies, and “even” someone who “just” (please forgive the words in quotes, it’s not how I feel) has DCIS, a bit of surgery and gets sent off with no further treatment at all still has the cancer crap to deal with in their head.

How to cope? Acknowledge to yourself that this really is life-changing. Allow yourself the bad days - they’re crap but they’re real. And for goodness sake, don’t feel guilty for ONLY having surgery and rads, no-one else going through this will feel that way.

Oh, and come on here and rant and rail when you need to, and laugh and share the fun here as well, just to show you that we’re all in it together, whatever your own particular diagnosis and treatment.

Hi Froggy

I felt exactly the same as you - wanting to rant but feeling I couldn’t because other people had it so much worse. My GP gave me a really good talking to for feeling guilty - as she said, how would it help anyone else if you too were having to have more treatment? Just feel lucky, if you can, but don’t beat yourself up over what others have to go through.

I hated going through radiotherapy and feeling like a piece of meat on a slab, made worse by the frequent delays to treatment and having to sit in a waiting room with other people discussing their treatment and side effects.

I used to take a really good book that I could get stuck into and make it plain that I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

My top tip is make sure you take someone with you for your last session. I felt it deserved a celebration and was very upset when I walked out of the hospital on my own after finishing treatment.

Sarah x

Hi froggy

I know how you feel; I was dx with DCIS any lower grade & it wouldn’t have been called a “stage 0” cancer/pre-invasive.

It doesn’t help when members of the same team call it different things when it is the same disease. My surgeon called it stage 0; I may have been less scared if she called it pre-invasive like her registrar did.

Don’t feel guilty, the other people who had their rads at the same time as me earlier in the month were really supportive, no matter why you need rads the treatment is the same just a different part of your anatomy. I felt more guilty that I only needed 3 weeks and not 6 or 7 like some of the gents undergoing rads for prostrate cancer.

I also had what I called a mid-rads crisis. Radiographer was brilliant; gave me advice/a big hug said it was OK to feel like ***. It does get better and after final session I skipped out of the hospital.

I feel lucky that I didn’t have to face chemo, and hope following my follow up appt I can get on with my life.

Although BC takes many forms and some are obviously more serious than the DCIS I had we all have the same emotional crap to deal with wating for results/surgery other treatment. A friend of mine who did have to go through the whole works has been so supportive of my journey through this even though mine was non-invasive and hopefully cured.

Take care
Lynne

HI froggy, hi everyone - as usual the words of wisdom in response to your thread are fabulous - don’t think I can add anything nearly so beautifully except to say that I found rads (after 2 ops, and chemo) really really hard - I just found the daily process and the feeling of being a lump of human flesh very difficult. I had a total emotional blow up after my first week and told the OH I wasn’t going back - then had a good chat with the radiographer and got it sorted, but rads is hard - its so in your face really and being naked everyday infront of people isn’t my best thing to do of a morning!!!
Be good to yourself - you do, after all, have a cancer diagnosis, which is so shocking in itself …
take it easy girl, Nicola

I know someone on another thread thought “rads only” people felt a bit belittled because people have often said rads is easier than chemo, but I hope you don’t feel that. It doesn’t matter which is harder, it’s not a competition and it’s all crap. (I’m sorry - this made me smile and groan at the same time - if it’s a competition, we’ve all won the booby prize. Sorry…)

I’ve also heard you keep cooking for a couple of weeks even after it’s finished so don’t let anyone pressure you into getting on with life the day after your last rads session as you will still feel knackered for a few weeks, or possibly longer. Others might not understand this, but it’s not unusual.

CM
x

Hugs Froggy,someone on another thread put it really well…If you don’t have it…you don’t get it. Family and friends basically don’t have a scooby what we have to go through,whatever the treatment for “our” cancer.It certainly did my head in some of the time.
Would also say that once you finish rads be prepared for some people giving it "oh you are fine now ! " and expect you to go back to normal,what ever that is… However, the end of treatment is a weird place to be,having “coped” with it all for the months before you are then sort of left in limbo.It affects everybody differently and just remember we are all here to help each other through it.Good luck.

Sandra x

Oh Choccie you made me lol - booby prize - classic!! You also quite scared me with the new photo, think I preferred the cup cakes or your plait!!

I “only” needed surgery,rads and HT, (although had WLE and SNB on different days). I felt then that I was “lucky” in comparison to what so many others have had to go through, and understand your retiscence Froggy about posting when our “lot” seemed a whole lot easier than others. BUT … I just finished rads on Tuesday, am very tired, have achy armpit and now feel I’m in a BIG void cos I feel I am on my own again. But I hope I can get on with my normal life now and believe “what will be will be”.

Pauline x

Pauline, you ARE lucky, and there’s no-one happier for you (other than yourself, of course) than those of us who didn’t get off quite so likely.

It might be a bit small-minded of me, but in my darker moments I’m actually quite jealous because that’s where I was supposed to be according to initial biopsies. But then I consider that I’m luckier than other people who had positive nodes and have had to have TAX, or those who’ve ended up with mastectomy when I “got away with” WLE, SNB and re-excision, not to mention those who have recurrences, mets, secondaries and very poor prognoses.

We’re all in different parts of the boat, but it’s the same boat.

There is a really good article written by Dr Peter Harvey on a site called something like Cancer counselling (can’t remember off the top of my head) which discusses the feelings people have at the end of active treatment. It’s very well written. I found it by googling +“Peter Harvey” +cancer +counselling and this was the second page. Take a read, it’s well worth the time, you can almost hear him speaking to you.

cancercounselling.org.uk/northsouth/extra4.nsf/WebResClient/10F4C04D29781E7980257512004935B8?OpenDocument

Thank goodness I came across this thread. I too have been feeling guilty as I only had WLE, 5nodes removed(negative) and 15 sessions of radio therapy. I kept saying how lucky I was that I didn’t have to go through chemo and felt embarrassed when chatting to some of the other girls I met at radiotherapy who had had the “works”.

I hated radiotherapy and also felt like a lump of meat on a slab, why is there no screen available for you to undress behind.

I had a bottle of champagne waiting to celebrate when I got home after last session but couldn’t drink it as I had the most awful heartburn. I have to say it’s long gone now!!!

What a great article Choccie. I found it really helpful, deals with all eventualities. Everyone should read this.

Pauline x

I can’t take credit for discovering it myself, it was mentioned on another post a couple of months ago by someone else (thank you, whoever you were).

I was just browsing through the threads on rads, and came across this. How lovely. I feel so much better!

I come from the different perspective, of having done chemo, including the dreaded Tax, done mx, done full node involvement and removal, and was think, ‘phew, JUST rads to go!’ Or other people, including my partner would say, ‘oh, it’s just radiotherapy to go…’ Perhaps not surprisingly then, it all came as a bit of a shock!

I’m sorry people have been through such difficult experiences, but so glad I am not alone in feeling like ‘a piece of meat on a slab.’ I burst into tears at my first session (having breezed into the hospital earlier)! And for those of you who were lucky enough not to need chemo, or a mx - just feel grateful, not guilty! You have still been through such a lot. I think that moment, when you hear it is cancer, is among the worst bits, and we have ALL heard those dreaded words.

Thanks again everyone, Tracey x

CM - spent the best part of a day reading and thinking about those Peter Harvey articles you recommended. So, so helpful. I’d thoroughly recommend them to anyone going through the post-treatment blues. I was totally unprepared for how hard it would be mentally and emotionally. So thanks again for the link.
Lilac x

Hi CM I too found these articles some while ago. At the time I was too distraught to even be able to read them all, tears all the way. But I have now printed them off and go back to them time and again. They really sing out to me. I really like the saying ‘If you haven’t got it ,it you don’t get it’ ( My colleague keeps trying to tell me that she ‘knows’ as a personal friend has just been dx and then says the most crass things to me and about her friend )Lilac yes I too had been completely unprepared for how BC would affect me emotionally/mentally. I think the physical side of things with Oncs and surgeons has gone well for me but there has been no psychological support which I have really struggled with. But the sun is shining at the moment and I only came in from the garden for a cool down.J xx

Hi CM and everyone contributing to this thread. I’ve just gone to the link with the article and have started to read it. At last some acknowledgement of how hard it is after the treatment is over. I’m not there yet,7 rads down, 18 more to go. I lost it with a radiographer this week who said to me that it must be a piece of cake compared to chemo… I said no, not really. I felt really angry and tearful when I left the hospital. I’m tired of people saying it’s all over now (ops, chemo etc) and I’m left feeling that I’m just making a fuss, if I say no it isn’t. So, thank you all for helping me feel more normal in what has felt like a bit of a mad world lately.

I’ve asked for some psychological support as I have been feeling in need lately (tearful, angry, alone, lost… sound familiar to anyone else?). I hope to have an appt in the next week or so. I hope it’ll help.

The sun shining is def helping! I took a lovely walk along a canal today and tomorrow I’m off to Brighton for the day, oh to see the sea!

Take care and thank you all for being ‘out there’, it really does help. Dxx

Hi everyone i,m new to the site …its soo good hearing that there is someone else out there with the same feelings as myself …i had 2 lots of surgery had 5 lymph nodes removed but they were fine …i am currently going through rads last one on tues num 16 …i to have really guilty feelings when i speak to women that have had chemo and lost their hair i didnt need chemo …i am finding it very tireing …when in seeing the doctor after rads last wk i just broke down and she was soo nice she said im nt talking bout it enough and suggested i go to the maggie centre and have a feel good look good glass but i said i cant do that i haven,t had chemo and still have my hair i wld feel soo guilty going to one of these classes and she said dont be stupid you you have came through the same trauma u were diagnosed with breast cancer …needless to say i didn,t go …but on mon my dad passed away funeral was yesterday i feel i haven,t got the strenght to deal with it .

Oh moglie I do feel for you at this very hard time. As far as bc is concerned I too felt guilty in that lymph nodes fine, no chemo or rads but mastectomy and expander implant. That was 4 months ago and still having fills. After my surgery I cancelled my appt for lymphodema, phsio, etc talk with 6 other ladies post surgery. Then I was invited to the support group - that was a big no no too.As I was being treated for depression before diagnosis I knew I couldn’t handle sitting with others being expected to contribute and feeling guilty that they had been through so much.In the end I did see the cancer counsellor attached to the unit and she has been great. As she says it is still a lot to go through just hearing the diagnosis and continuing treatment whatever that might be. On top of all that you have also got your bereavement. Can you ask your GP or bc nurse if there is anyone you could see? I am slowly talking to the couns but know I still couldn’t do anything in a group.Please try to find help before you feel any worse - you deserve it. Take care. Liz x