Recovering physically but struggling emotionally with the shock and aftermath

I am posting on this forum to share my story as I have found reading other posts very helpful. I was diagnosed with high grade DCIS in January following my first routine mammogram and due to the large size of the affected area, decided to go for mastectomy and immediate reconstruction with an implant and reduction on the other side for symmetry (Feb). This was all a huge shock as I had no signs or symptoms. Prior to this, I had never had any significant health problems or time off work and considered myself strong and healthy.  When I received my full pathology report 2 weeks after the mastectomy, they had also found a 1cm area of grade 2 IDC but said all had been cut away with deep margins. As it is ER+ I am now on tamoxifen for 5-10 years. I was very happy with the outcome of my surgery as I feel it looks quite neat compared to my natural shape before this.  On another positive note, I have been taking tamoxifen for over 3 months and have had no side effects.  I am back at work as a teacher on a phased return now and another reason for my post is that I have met very few ladies in the same boat.  Although people say I look well, I don’t feel like I will ever truly be the same again after this experience.  I have found myself analysing why this might have happened to me, when there is no history of this in any of my female relatives and I breastfed 4 children, with my first 2 being during my 20’s. Sometimes, even in my busy workplace, I feel sad and alone deep inside.  I also now feel anxious about doing the right things to look after my body as best I can and tend to worry constantly about eating healthily, taking regular exercise, etc.  I also feel less concerned now about my job or other things that I used to get really uptight about.  I feel bad about feeling low sometimes, especially given that I was lucky enough not to need chemo or radiotherapy and my consultant had told me that my results were very favourable. Does anyone else in my situation have similar feelings?

Hi Cornflower ,your thoughts and feelings ring very true with me :I keep in touch with a group of ladies who were diagnosed at around the same time as me and we all agree that we will never be the same again ,this experience changes you ,being faced with your own mortality really shakes you up .Hard for anyone who has not been through it to understand .Dont give yourself a hard time for having down days ,cancer is cancer no matter what treatment you have and whatever the prognosis is is bloody scary !!!

Hi cornflower, 

Your history sounds almost identical to mine. I was diagnosed in Jan15 with DCIS in two places in left breast after first routine mammogram aged 50. No symptoms and not ill. Had mastectomy 25th Feb 2015 with immediate recon . I am also a teacher and returned end of April on a phased return. It really knocked my confidence in the job and as you say it doesn’t seem important. When they operated they found a 3mm invasive tumour so I was put on tamoxifen for 5 years. No real side effects but today I have been for a scan to investigate spotting and have to have a further test as there is thickening of the endometrium, so I’ve been thrown back to worrying again. I think it’s always at the back of your mind and people don’t really want reminding once you are “better” apart from others who have been through it so if I need an ear I contact one of my friends who have had BC as they understand, or post on here! Generally though until today, I was thinking of it less and less and felt as if I was genuinely moving on! I am running again and did a 10k in April. I also didn’t need chemo or radiotherapy but as someone else said it is still cancer and it makes you look at the ageing process very differently, each year is a bonus not something to moan about! Good luck, I hope you will begin to feel stronger soon, it will happen ,but chat on here if you need us! Nic xx

I’m a bit the same. On Wednesday I got the results that all my large dcis had gone and I needed nothing further after a left mastectomy. Euphoria has swiftly been replaced by feeling like I’ll still never be normal again both emotional and physical. Sleep patterns are disrupted and energy levels still low. I know it’s very early days and patience was never my strong point. And I also know I’m much much luckier than most . Them I feel guilty. Due phased return back to work  fortnight today, I’m a child therapist. 

As I said to Cornflower ,cancer is cancer , whatever the prognosis all of us have been through a trauma and been faced with a potentially life threatening disease ,it would be a bit unusual if it didn’t affect us for some time .Good luck with your return to work,I found going back very hard as I felt like a different person and it affected my confidence ,I feel I am just getting back on an even keel 12 months on.

Hi cornflower, and other reply-ees,

 

i know now exactly what you mean, the trauma of the whole diagnosis and treatment feels as if it changes you and your thinking. Have you considered asking to be referred for counselling? I was referred right after diagnosis, and stopped going during rads, but started again after rads and they are going through to September. I was glad it was after active treatment as only now do I feel it is hitting home what happened. the BCN said ‘it a life changer, a big thing’ and She s not wrong. THe book called ‘rise…surviving and thriving after trauma’ by Sian Williams seems good, I’ve not read a lot of it yet but I like the philosophy of it. 

What I find strange is that everyone expects you to just slot back into normality, and be just as you were before all this happened, but I’m finding that hard to do, so I empathise. 

 

CX

There is no doubt about it Charys this experience changes you ,you are not the same person you were before the cancer bomb exploded in your life .When you finish treatment and the dust begins to settle you realise just what an impact this has had on you.I think pretty much everyone feels the same ,this takes some getting over .

Hi everyone, hope you don’t mind me jumping in. I am at the end of my radiotherapy today and so at that odd ’ what next stage. Things are different and I am determined to find and keep the positives in the front of my mind. I have read the Sian Williams book Rise and found it really interesting and a good read. There are parts of the book which really helped me to see that other people were thinking the same way as me. I think the part about communicating - talking, writing, singing - is spot on and where this forum helps so much. So I would fully recommend it.

 

Best wishes to everyone.

 

Jill X